A Fine Queen Anne Tobacco Box

Thomas Ash
3 1/4 x 2 1/2 x 0 5/8 in, (8.1 x 6.3 x 1.6 cm)

Of Oval shape with pull off lid and with reeded wires applied around the base and lid, the latter finely engraved with baroque armorials.

5500 GBP
  • The Arms are those of Fox
  • Found in the River Thames, near Queenhithe Dock
  • Woolley and Wallis, 18th October, 2006, lot 655

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The earliest surviving tobacco box of this form was sold by us as part of the Albert Collection bearing an inscribed date of 1652. In the last 2 decades of the 17th century such boxes became increasingly fashionable and as the vast majority were engraved with full armorials they must have been highly prized and probably some sort of status symbol.

The extraordinary condition of the engraving has survived due to its immersion in the mud of the river Thames for about 300 years. Although the exact date of the loss of this box is not known it was presumably not long after its purchase evidenced by the overall condition. The colour of the surface is typical of a buried piece of silver being somewhat darker than normal .Although it could be polished up we have decided to leave it to preserve the sharpness of the engraving.

The Arms are those of Fox but it has been impossible to identify which individual member of this extensive family.

Thomas Ash made this box in the compulsory higher Britannia standard and was probably related to another earlier silversmith of the same name who also made tobacco boxes, See Robin Butler, The Albert Collection, page 12, no. 212 for a box dated 1677.