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China trade snuffbox

Date: mid 19th century
Overall: 80 x 15 x 40 mm
Medium: Silver
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Object Name: Silver snuffbox
Object No: 00039581

User Terms

    This snuffbox features a hinged lid and is decorated with a detailed flowing grapevine design. Snuffboxes were fashionable items used by 19th century society to carry finely ground tobacco. This box has been carved with the initials A H in the centre of its lid. Fine silver ware was commonly produced in China for the western market. This piece was possibly manufactured in Canton, a busy Chinese centre of foreign trade.
    SignificanceThis snuffbox is representative of the detailed engraving and fine craftsmanship prevalent in China during the 19th century. The production of high quality goods highlights the extensive trade between merchants in China, America, England and Australia.
    HistoryWestern merchants from America, Australian and Europe were active in trade with China during the 19th and 20th century. On their ships they brought back items including metal domestic wares, porelein, silk, paintings, furniture, carvings and tea. Chinese silversmiths commonly used pseudo-marks on their manufactured wares, making it difficult to distinguish them between products made in Europe or America. This has caused the presence of Chinese export silverware to be less acknowledged than other trade wares.

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