A Fine and Rare Charles II Commemorative Tobacco Box

8cm x 6.3cm
3 oz

Of oval shape with pull off cover. The base entirely plain and the cover with a pierced and engraved sleeve surrounding a portrait bust of Charles I facing to the left and clad in armour. The border engraved with groups of 3 beads separated by plain panels enclosing an elaborate band of pierced and engraved flowers, leaves and scrolls and the top engraved with partial outline of the sun engraved "VIdeo" flanked by 2 putti holding a crown. Either side of the bust are oval medallions with a fleur de lis for France to the left and a harp for Ireland to the right whilst the bottom has another of a crowned rose and thistle for England and Scotland between lion and unicorn supporters. The bust also surrounded by the motto "Vivat Rex  Currat Lex  Floret Grex"


Asprey October 1984

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A few of these boxes have appeared at auction over the years, the most impressive of which is a gold example now in the Gilbert Collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum, sold by Christie's, December 12, 1983, Lot 23. Three other silver ones are known:

Christie's, June 27th, 1973, lot 28

Christie's New York, May 24th, 1977, lot 263

Sotheby's, March 3rd, 1983, lot 79

The last of these bore the maker's mark B.B for Benjamin Braford who was working in London after the restoration thus proving that such boxes were made as commemorative pieces rather than during the reign of Charles I. Both Charles Truman in " The Gilbert Collection of Gold Boxes" and Tomothy Schroder in "The Gilbert Collection of Gold and Silver" proffer the same conclusion that these boxes are post Commonwealth and not just on the basis of the marked box but also the iconography.

The motto translates as " The King lives, the law guides and the flock flourishes" which Truman rightly states was more in keeping with the sentiments of the time. Charles II went to great lengths to herald the re-establishment of the monarchy particularly with the introduction of a vast number of large civic maces.

This box is in superb condition and a wonderful statement of the politics of the period.