Steadfast and faithful in the distance

Antique snuff box made of shell and silver, around 1760

The early modern world was infatuated with allegories and symbols. The aim was always to convey more complex facts, feelings or concepts such as hope, love or honour through simple pictorial formulas. The collection of emblems compiled in 1593 by Cesare Ripa under the title Iconologia is famous, and was reprinted again and again throughout Europe until the 18th century. The collectible silver and carved conch shell box here is a piece created in this tradition. It is a snuff box of the type that was common in England and the Netherlands in the 18th century. The seafaring nations loved objects with a nautical reference. Here, the shell of a sea snail was cut into shape and supplemented with silver applications to form the box. The wide rim of the hinged lid is engraved with ornaments in the late Baroque or Rococo style. Plant tendrils merging into rocailles divide the lid around the central inlay of shell. Small scenes are inserted into the framing on the right, left and lower rim. We see a snail, a dog with a wagging tail and a rural house. Against the background of the pictorial language of the early modern period, the box can thus be understood as a declaration of love for the homeland: The dog, symbol of loyalty, and the snail as a steadfast, persistent animal, are grouped around the view of the house. It stands to reason to understand the tin as a gift from the wife to a husband travelling far away by ship to the colonies, but always able to remember his home and loved ones while using the tobacco. Or rather be reminded, while he stayed in the tempting distance. The box is very nicely preserved. The lid closes securely, and the shell retains its shiny, fresh color and surface. The underside of the piece has been professionally puttied in earlier times: thus the piece carries its own history with it.

In addition to our jewellery from all eras, we are also pleased to present other small valuables to you from time to time: This silver box is one such find that we liked so much that we wanted to share it with you. Small boxes and caskets with precious ornaments first appeared in the 18th century to store snuff for a noble audience. They quickly became sought-after collector's items, adorning every castle and apartment, and were also given as gifts for special services. In France such pieces were called tabatière, in England snuff-box. Probably the most famous tobacco snuff-box of his time was Frederick the Great's. A golden, enamelled and jewelled snuff box, which he carried in his waistcoat pocket, even saved his life during the Seven Years' War in the Battle of Kunersdorf in 1759, when a stray bullet ricocheted off it.

We want you to be 100% satisfied! For that reason, we examine, describe and photograph all of our jewellery with the utmost care.

You can rely on our years of experience in the trade and our expertise as a professional art historians for reviews of the antique jewellery. As a member of various trader organisations and the British Society of Jewellery Historians, we remain committed to the highest possible degree of accuracy. In our descriptions, we always also indicate any signs of age and defects and never hide them in our photos – this saves you from any unpleasant surprises when your package arrives.

Should you for some reason not be satisfied, please don’t hesitate to contact us so that we can begin to find a solution together. In any case, you can return any article within 30 days and we will refund the full purchase price.


We want you to be 100% satisfied! That’s why we examine, describe and photograph all our jewellery with the utmost care.

If for any reason you are still not satisfied, contact us and we will find a mutual solution immediately. Regardless, you can return any item within 30 days and we will refund you the full purchase price.