Snuffboxes are an incredible category - they can span from the early 17th century to the late 19th century and were created in every material under the sun. Though they were created for all classes, our interest lies with those that were created more for the middle and upper middle class. These boxes are less formal than jewel encrusted gold boxes and frankly a hell of a lot more interesting - boxes made of carved wood, horn or ivory and black lacquered papier mache boxes with esquisite miniature erotic scenes painted upon them and those which have American and/or historical interest. Here you will also find choice smalls from the 17th - early 19th century.
The title of this collection comes from the lyric in, The Byrds’ song, “Eight Miles High.” This ripe phrase evokes a range of fantastic imagery; uninhibited children, tiny heads, unencumbered puppets and marvelous dismemberment to name a few things that popped into my head.
Rather than discovering hidden faces or seeing them in inanimate objects (pareidolia), we focused on indelible visages—stark, psychological and philosophical—existential and mythological, some animal, some mysterious and some absurd.
J.M.W. Turner's Silver Mounted Smoky Agate Snuffbox
Size:2 1/4" x 2 1/4" x 1"
A small octagonal snuffbox, the top and bottom set with a smoky quartz agate. The sides etched, "JOSEPH MALLARD WILLIAM TURNER / 1785."
J.M.W. Turner, RA (1775-1851), an inveterate snuffer (he was even known to mix it in his paint), is arguably England's most esteemed (and controversial) landscape painter. Turner's talent developed early and in his early teens was selling works in his father's barber shop. As acclaim for his talent met with financial reward, Turner took to experimentation and challanged traditional conventions - his landscapes became moody, romanic, impressionistic and often resembled colorfield abstractions (much like this smoky agate).
Black Humored English Snuffbox
Size: 3 3/8" D
This is really quite dark and macabre—the man is cheerfully toasting his dead, hanging wife. The verse, from Shakespeare's "The Tempest, reads, "Merrily, Merrily shall I live now, Under the blossom that hangs on the Bough."
United States of Colombia Carved Coconut
Size: 5" long x 3 1/2" wide x 2 3/4" deep.
This is the finest carved coconut that I have come across. Exquisitely detailed with the owners name, "JOHN VINE" and the Colombian coat-of-arms. The arms framed by the words, ESTADOS UNIDOS DE COLOMBIA. Silver mounted with silver chain and hook.
According to Wikipedia, "The United States of Colombia was a federated republic conformed by the present countries of Colombia and Panama. It happened to the Granadina Confederation in 1863 and was replaced by the Republic of Colombia in 1886."
The Coat of Arms of The United States of Colombia contains a condor holding an olive branch; "LIBERTAD Y ORDEN" (Freedom and Order) is shown on a scroll; two cornucopias, a pomegranate; a Phrygian (Liberty) cap; and underneath the Isthmus oF Panama with ships.