Rare George Washington Burl Snuffbox

Burlwood with horn liner (faux tortoiseshell)
Circa: 1800
Size: 3 1/4" (d)
Here we have a hitherto undocumented French burl snuffbox of George Washington. I know of two other examples of a different George Washington burl snuffbox, one at Winterthur and the other at Sulgrave Manor (Washington’s ancestral home), but this design is unrecorded.

On the neck of Washington the artist is identified as, “Lenoir” followed by the letter “f” for fecit (latin for “made this” … or “Lenoir made this”). I have not seen another of these boxes signed as such. The artist borrowed from Houdon’s 1785 plaster life-mask of Washington and his 1792 marble sculpture which is considered the most accurate depiction of Washington’s likeness.

French pressed burl snuffboxes were typically made from from around 1800-1820. I have seen maybe a hundred different subjects. They were made from steel dyes pressed onto steamed-heated wood discs and then details were further chased and finished.

While some boxes were double sided, most bottoms had a geometric, decorative design like the bottom of this example. Washington died in 1799 and this may have been made around the time as a commemorative box.


Condition: Excellent, save for some chips along one side of the bottom horn liner.

Price: SOLD