Saturday, July 13, 2013

Mastery of Design: The "Old Mine" Snuffbox, 1750

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Germany, c. 1750
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Expertly carved agate forms the body of this asymmetrical snuffbox. Made circa 1750, this box was likely produced in Germany since it displays, on the cover, an incised putto and shell motif which was a favorite of South German artists at the time.

The snuffbox is cartouche-shaped with gold-mounted agate and an asymmetrical bombé body. The true beauty of the piece comes from an applied spray of “old mine” cut diamonds and star-cut diamonds mounted in silver.

Now part of the Gilbert Collection at the V&A, the box shows the mark for gold imported from countries without customs conventions with France, September or October 24, 1864-May 30, 1893. So, it’s a safe bet that’s when it came to England. 

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