A Good Queen Anne Tobacco Box

Edward Cornock
3.75" (9.5cm) x 3" (7.75cm)
4 oz

Of typical oval shape with moulded edge to the base, inscribed underneath "William. jigney (sic). Ex Don.William.Wanwright 1713". The pull off cover finely engraved with armorials and crest within symmetrical baroque style mantling of leafy scrolls and surrounded by a moulded edge to match the base. Britannia Standard and marked on the lid and base.


Christies, 23rd June 1999, lot 259

The Lion Collection

Illustrated: John Culme, British Silver Boxes 1640-1840, The Lion Collection, page 101 No.88

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Edward Cornock was a specialist maker of Tobacco Boxes, the present example being one of four formerly in the Lion Collection. The essential design of a tobacco box is straightforward: oval in shape, a pull off cover and a form of identification usually in the form of engraved armorials. It is known that tobacco was introduced during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I but there are references to brass boxes for tobacco in the first decade of the 17th century. The earliest silver tobacco boxes to survive, however, seem to date from the mid-17th century onwards reaching a peak between 1690 and 1720. By about 1730 such boxes hardly appear at all. One suggestion for this was to do with class. The popularity of the taking of snuff amongst the aristocracy grew rapidly towards the end of the 17th century and by 1730 stunning creations were being made in gold, some adorned with precious stones, mother of pearl, expensive hardstones, enamel, tortoiseshell and many other materials. By contrast smoking remained in favour with the less wealthy so boxes were made in non-precious materials like wood, pewter and horn.

The armorials have not been traced but Culme suggests that they are the arms of Jigney (curiously engraved with a lower case "J" on the base). The name Jigney appears in East Anglia particularly around the Woodbridge area.