waxantiques

Gold & Silver Boxes

Browse our collection of Small Antique Silver Boxes including Vinaigrettes, Novelty, Snuff and Tobacco Boxes, Nutmeg Graters

Vinaigrettes, popular from the late 18th century through the end of the 19th century, were small containers used for holding various aromatic substances, usually dissolved in vinegar. A tiny piece of sponge, soaked in the liquid, was contained beneath a grill or perforated cover. Ladies used to carry a vinaigrette with them to combat the aroma from the waste products common in cities. Likewise, the practice of wearing tight corsets also regularly caused woman to faint, requiring the need to carry smelling salts.

Snuff boxes and Tobacco Boxes.
Tobacco. Tobacco was introduced into Europe circa 1580 however the first tobacco box, with the typical oval form and dome top pull off lid, did not appear until circa 1650. A smoker required a table to set out his “equipment” which included a long stemmed pipe and a pair of ember tongs.
Snuff. It is generally thought that snuff boxes, which were originally designed to be portable, had hinged lids to enable single handed use. The practice of grinding tobacco leaves to inhale the powder was first recorded in 1650 and it’s quick popularity created a demand for snuff boxes. The boxes were made in two sizes; personal boxes to fit in a waistcoat pocket which would hold a small quantity, enough for immediate consumption, and communal boxes made for table use. People of all social classes used these boxes when snuff was at its peak of popularity and the wealthy carried a variety of fancy snuff boxes in precious metals, with jewels, enamels and portrait miniatures. Boxes made for the poorer snuff takers were more ordinary; popular and cheap boxes were made in papier-mâché and even potato-pulp, which made durable boxes that kept the snuff in good condition. Even after snuff-taking ceased to be a general habit, the practice lingered among diplomats, doctors, lawyers and other professionals as well as members of professions where smoking was not possible, such as miners and print workers. Monarchs retained the habit of bestowing snuff-boxes upon ambassadors and other intermediaries as a form of honour.

Nutmeg Graters
Prior to the development of the nutmeg grater box in circa 1670, nutmeg was grated at the table using a steel grater. Early nutmeg graters were either heart shaped or teardrop form, of small size just large enough to contain a nutmeg. The box had two hinged lids, top and bottom, one side with the steel grater, the other containing the grated spice. Other early forms include the tubular variety with pull off lid and silver sleeve, and the rare silver mounted cowrie shell with strapwork mounted grater.
During the 18th century designs progressed to include both functional and very charming novelty and decorative varieties.
The use and manufacture of nutmeg graters was circa 1650-1865 (ref. Eric Delieb “Investing in Silver”) but the earliest fully marked boxes didn’t arrive before circa 1697. The nutmeg originated from the Indies and is mentioned in early literature as a fumigation against the plague.

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Gold & Silver Boxes

Browse our collection of Small Antique Silver Boxes including Vinaigrettes, Novelty, Snuff and Tobacco Boxes, Nutmeg Graters

Vinaigrettes, popular from the late 18th century through the end of the 19th century, were small containers used for holding various aromatic substances, usually dissolved in vinegar. A tiny piece of sponge, soaked in the liquid, was contained beneath a grill or perforated cover. Ladies used to carry a vinaigrette with them to combat the aroma from the waste products common in cities. Likewise, the practice of wearing tight corsets also regularly caused woman to faint, requiring the need to carry smelling salts.

Snuff boxes and Tobacco Boxes.
Tobacco. Tobacco was introduced into Europe circa 1580 however the first tobacco box, with the typical oval form and dome top pull off lid, did not appear until circa 1650. A smoker required a table to set out his “equipment” which included a long stemmed pipe and a pair of ember tongs.
Snuff. It is generally thought that snuff boxes, which were originally designed to be portable, had hinged lids to enable single handed use. The practice of grinding tobacco leaves to inhale the powder was first recorded in 1650 and it’s quick popularity created a demand for snuff boxes. The boxes were made in two sizes; personal boxes to fit in a waistcoat pocket which would hold a small quantity, enough for immediate consumption, and communal boxes made for table use. People of all social classes used these boxes when snuff was at its peak of popularity and the wealthy carried a variety of fancy snuff boxes in precious metals, with jewels, enamels and portrait miniatures. Boxes made for the poorer snuff takers were more ordinary; popular and cheap boxes were made in papier-mâché and even potato-pulp, which made durable boxes that kept the snuff in good condition. Even after snuff-taking ceased to be a general habit, the practice lingered among diplomats, doctors, lawyers and other professionals as well as members of professions where smoking was not possible, such as miners and print workers. Monarchs retained the habit of bestowing snuff-boxes upon ambassadors and other intermediaries as a form of honour.

Nutmeg Graters
Prior to the development of the nutmeg grater box in circa 1670, nutmeg was grated at the table using a steel grater. Early nutmeg graters were either heart shaped or teardrop form, of small size just large enough to contain a nutmeg. The box had two hinged lids, top and bottom, one side with the steel grater, the other containing the grated spice. Other early forms include the tubular variety with pull off lid and silver sleeve, and the rare silver mounted cowrie shell with strapwork mounted grater.
During the 18th century designs progressed to include both functional and very charming novelty and decorative varieties.
The use and manufacture of nutmeg graters was circa 1650-1865 (ref. Eric Delieb “Investing in Silver”) but the earliest fully marked boxes didn’t arrive before circa 1697. The nutmeg originated from the Indies and is mentioned in early literature as a fumigation against the plague.

  • Circa 1635

    Simon and Willem De Passe

    9993 Charles I Antique Silver Box

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    A charming piece of early silver. An antique silver counter box of cylindrical form, the openwork sides pierced with fanciful birds and scrolling foliage. The cover has a bust portrait of Charles I, the base has a bust portrait of Henrietta Maria. This box has no counters.

  • 1675

    Isaac Dighton

    9172 Antique Charles II Silver Boxes

    £6,950

    A very rare matching pair of early antique silver boxes of octagonal form, with pull off tops, dating from the reign of King Charles II. Sterling silver. Simple plain form with a large hand engraved crest within tied plumage, very typical of the date. Superb antique colour. At this date boxes of this type would have originally been part of an extensive toilet service. Total weight 239 grams, 7.6 troy ounces. Height 3.5 cm. Width of top 9 cm. London 1675. Maker Isaac Dighton, London.

  • Circa 1680

     

    9568 Antique Dutch Silver Marriage Box

    £9,500

    A 17th century silver gilt casket of traditional rectangular form. The domed top with swing handle is hand engraved with a bridal couple surrounded by birds and foliage. The body, standing on four ball feet, has a front locking catch in the form of a flower, and is hand engraved with old testament scenes. Initials to the front of the lid. Weight 162 grams, 5.2 troy ounces. Height 7.7cm. Length 8.5cm. Depth 5cm. Stamped underneath twice with a maker’s mark (anvil?) unidentified. Circa 1680.

  • Circa 1690

    Anthony Nelme

    9371 Antique 17th Century Silver Boxes

    £3,750

    A pair of early English antique sterling silver toilet jars with lift off lids. Plain octagonal form. The tops have a hand engraved armorial within plumage feathers, typical of the Charles II/James II period. These unusual miniature toilet jars are very charming. Superb antique colour. At this date boxes of this type would have originally been part of an extensive toilet service. Total weight 148 grams, 4.7 troy ounces. Height 6cm. Diameter of lid 3.8cm. Makers mark only for Anthony Nelme. Circa 1690.

  • 1690

     

    9997 William & Mary Antique Silver Nutmeg Grater

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    A charming little late 17th century silver nutmeg grater of teardrop form, one side fitted with a serrated rasp. Each side has a hinged lid with stand-away hinge. Both covers are hand engraved with simple foliate decoration. Weight 29 grams, 0.9 troy ounce. Height 2.5 cm. Top 3.7 x 2.9 cm. Total spread across the covers 8.3cm. Unmarked silver. English. Circa 1690.

  • Circa 1690

     

    10151 17th Century Antique Silver Counter Box

    £1,150

    A late 17th century silver counter box of typical cylindrical form with pull-off cover. The lines of hatched engraving resemble that on English silver nutmeg graters circa 1690 and there is a small comical face showing through the border on the lid. Weight 44 grams, 1.4 troy ounces. Height 4.3cm. Diameter 4,.2cm. Unmarked silver. Probably English. Circa 1690.

  • Circa 1714

    John Swann

    9803 Antique Silver Snuff Box

    £695

    A little period gem. A small rectangular silver snuff box with simple plain styling and gilded interior. Queen Anne or George I period. Weight 37 grams, 1.2 troy ounces. Top measures 5cm x 3.5cm. Stamped inside the base with a single makers mark “IS” with the distinctive swan for John Swann. London circa 1714. Britannia standard silver.

  • Circa 1740

     

    9621 Antique Gold Pique Box

    £3,500

    An antique tortoiseshell box of circular bombe form inlaid overall with gold pique dot work. The cover and base are overlaid with solid gold cut work ornament of classical figures and motifs. Diameter 6 cm. Height 3.1 cm. Circa 1740. Probably English. Unmarked gold.

  • 1740

     

    9957 George II Antique Silver Cashew Box

    £675

    An attractive little antique sterling silver cashew box, or silver snuff box, of heart shaped design. Original gilt finish. The embossed lid decoration shows a young man playing a lute with a putto in the background. Weight 40 grams, 1.2 troy ounces. Height 2.5cm. Top measures 6 x 5cm. London 1740. Maker “LM”. Sterling silver.

  • Circa 1750

     

    9674 Antique Silver Perpetual Calendar Snuff Box

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    An 18th century silver snuff box with rotating dials to both sides. Very charming and retains the interior gilding. The panels have scrolled flower and chased decoration. The top side has the rotatable “Calendarium Perpetuum” which shows the days of the week (in old German script, and marked with their planetary signs) against days of the month. The reverse side has seven readout windows described by the headings on the rotatable disk (in old German script) – 1) month of the year with its number of days, 2) the important saints’ and feast days in the month, 3) sun’s Zodiacal position (represented by amusing little hand engraved zodiac symbols), 4) length of day, 5) length of night, 6) time of sun rise, and 7) time of sunset. A good example in very good condition. 126 grams, 4 troy ounces. Length 8.4cm. Width 5.5cm. Height 2cm. German. Probably 18th century circa 1750. Unmarked silver.

  • Circa 1790

     

    3289 Antique Continental Silver Tobacco Box

    £550

    A good 18th century silver tobacco box with long hinged lid and original gilt interior. The bright cut decoration is particularly fine. Weight 229 grams, 7.3 troy ounces.Length 14.5 cms. Depth 6.25 cms. Height 3 cms. Continental silver hallmarks (2 silver marks stamped on the inner rim of the box). Circa 1790.

  • Circa 1790

     

    9643 Antique Tortoiseshell Snuff Box

    £225

    A pretty little tortoiseshell snuff box of oval form with a hinged lid and gilt brass banding. The top has intricate silver pique work and a central agate plaque. Top measures 8 x 4.1 cm. Height 2.5 cm. English. Circa 1790.

  • Circa 1800

     

    9601 Antique Continental Silver Box

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    An antique silver box of interesting design. The lift off cover has a finial shaped as an antique soldier figure raised on a tall column. Heavy quality. The body has a deep chased foliate decoration. Weight 533 grams, 17.1 troy ounces. Height 9.6 cm, 20 cm to top of finial. Top measures 13 x 8 cm. Stamped with continental silver marks, assay scrape to the base. Circa 1800.

  • Circa 1820

     

    10135 Antique Dutch Silver Box

    £975

    An attractive little antique silver casket in the 17th century style with a hinged lid and squirrel finial. The openwork cast body is smothered in cherubs, flower heads and scroll work. Weight 158 grams, 5.1 troy ounces. Height 7.6cm (to top of squirrel). Length 8.4cm. Depth 6.1cm. Unmarked silver. Probably a Dutch marriage box (wedding casket). Circa 1820.

  • Circa 1840

     

    9600 Antique Dutch Silver Box

    £225

    An antique silver table snuff box with hinged lid and silver string decoration overall. Original gilt interior. Weight 179 grams, 5.7 troy ounces. Height 2.7 cm. Top 12.8 x 7.7 cm. Stamped with Dutch silver marks. Circa 1840.

  • 1854

    Yapp & Woodward

    9838 Antique Silver Table Snuff Box

    £2,750

    A magnificent antique sterling silver box of military interest. Substantial size and weight. Original gilt interior. Crisp cast borders and engine turned decoration to the sides and base. The top bears a regimental inscription. This box is likely to have been used in the Officer’s Mess for the Loisel Regiment of Militia. Weight 572 grams, 18.3 troy ounces. Height 5.5 cm. Top measures 12.5 cm x 9.3 cm. Birmingham 1854. Maker Yapp & Woodward. Sterling silver.

  • Circa 1856

     

    9948 Antique Silver Cowrie Shell Snuff Box

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    Of nautical interest. A charming antique silver mounted cowrie shell snuff box with flush hinged cover, decorated with bright cut engraving and engraved dedication ” P. Ferguson 1856″. Particularly nice is the unusual carved shell decoration featuring a sailing ship with full rigging and the Forget me Not inscription. Length 8cm. Width 5.8cm. Height 4cm. The silver is unmarked as is common with these boxes. Probably Scottish. Circa 1856.

  • Circa 1860

     

    8981 Antique Gold Portrait Box - Napoleon

    £950

    An antique wooden box with an inset portrait of Napoleon, hand painted and signed “Delaroche”, within an ivory surround. The burr wood is particularly attractive. The gold interior has French gold stamps. Diameter 8.7cm. Circa 1860. 15 carat gold or higher.

  • Circa 1860

     

    9624 Antique Scottish Silver Snuff Mull

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    An antique horn snuff mull with a broad silver mount embossed with thistles. The hinged lid is inset with a large citrine gemstone. Spread 14.5 cm. Diameter 6.5 cm. Unmarked silver. Probably Scottish circa 1860.

  • 1870

    John Brashier

    9318 Victorian Silver Vinaigrette

    £1,275

    Possibly of military interest. A rare barrel shaped antique sterling silver vinaigrette with combination scent bottle and pill box. The vinaigrette has a pretty pierced gilt grill. The quality of this piece is exceptional; the scent flask having a screw lid with integral carrying chain, the two boxes retain their original bright gilt interior. Weight 58 grams, 1.8 troy ounce. Height 5 cm. Width 5 cm. London 1870. Maker “JB”, probably John Brashier.

  • Circa 1900

    B Neresheimer & Sohnes

    8259 Antique German Silver Double Box

    £550

    An unusual silver box with domed hinged lids to top and bottom and a double compartment. To each side there are embossed interior scenes of people in old fashioned clothing; drinking, playing musical instruments and relaxing with animals. Original gilt interior. Weight 142 grams, 4.5 troy ounces. Height 7.5 cm. Top measures 7 x 4.5 cm. Marked inside the base with the pseudo marks of Wolf & Knell founded in 1887, merged in 1914 with Gebruder Glaser to form Vereinigte Silberwarenfabriken. Hanau, circa 1900.

  • 1910

    Collingwood & Sons

    3169 George V Silver Table Snuff Box

    £450

    A super quality and large sterling silver octagonal snuff box of good proportions and having simple elegant styling. The top has a bright cut decorated border and long flush hinge. Length 12.5 cms. Width 8.25 cms. Weight 275 grams, 8.8 troy ounces. London 1910. Retailed by Collingwood and Co.

  • 1911

    Cohen & Solomon

    9887 Antique Silver and Enamel Box

    £345

    An excellent quality little silver box with hinged lid and gilt interior. Very small size. The top bears a decorative scene of a castle or mansion, probably Haddon Hall, in a forest setting, the sky is represented in green enamel. Weight 64 grams, 2 troy ounces. Top measures 4.7.x 3.2cm. Height 1cm. London 1911. Maker probably Cohen & Solomon. Sterling silver.

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