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Burns

Robert Burns

Snuff box

Period:
18th Century
Description:

Small rectangular wooden snuff box with integral wood hinged lid.  It has slightly curved sides and should have a tin foil lining but none remains.  A momento of the poet, Robert Burns.  Engraved silver plaque on the lid bears the inscription:

 

“The wood of this box formed part of the bedstead which the poet died in.  Born 25th January 1759.  Died 21st July 1796.”

 

Sniffing snuff was the original method of taking tobacco, first used by indigenous Americans.  The practice came to Europe with the return of Spanish, Portuguese and French explorers during the 1500s. It was in Scotland that the traditions of snuff taking were first established, perhaps because of its close links with France.  It gained acceptance throughout Britain when Charles II brought the custom back from his exile in France.

 

More tobacco was made into snuff than was used for smoking or chewing until the 1900s.  Everyone took it.  Lord Nelson took large quantities to sea with him, while Napoleon sniffed over three kilos a month.  Physicians made great claims for it, prescribing snuff for headaches, insomnia, toothache, coughs and colds and recommending it as a measure against infection.

Place of Production:
Dunscore, Dalgonar
Materials/Media:
wood, metal, silver
Dimensions:
height 17mm, width 67mm, depth 43mm
Source:
Robert Burns House, Dumfries
Accession number:
DUMFM:0198.448
Digital Number:
BHBN090n
Creation Date:
possibly pre 1835
Copyright:
Dumfries & Galloway Council