The Origin of the Snuffbox


Snuff-taking    The explosion of creativity that produced the incredible variety of French porcelain boxes in the 18th century was the result of the intersection of two events: the craze for snuff-taking - inhaling finely ground tobacco - and the invention of porcelain.

    The early snuffboxes were carried on oneís person and were often coordinated with a personís wardrobe. Snuff was considered a social pastime and the ability to produce an elegant snuffbox at social gatherings was essential in royal and aristocratic circles. Snuffboxes came in all different shapes and sizes. They were usually very whimsical and came in the shape of animals, fruits, shells, people, baskets, furniture, etc. Eventually snuffboxes came to be manufactured in Limoges, after the discovery of kaolin there.

    However, after the French Revolution 1789, many aristocrats were either killed or fled the country, and the art of the snuffbox was lost for many years. Snuff-taking never really regained its former popularity although there was a brief resurgence during the reign of Napoleon Bonaparte. It wasnít until the late 20th century when the snuffbox made an enormous return to popularity as the ďLimoges boxĒ. Todayís boxes no longer function as snuffboxes, but are mostly acquired as collectibles or given as gifts. They decorate homes all across the world and are more popular than ever.