19th Century Tagua Nut Snuffbox

19th Century Tagua Nut Snuffbox

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Paris, France
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About this item

Very interesting work of carving on this Tagua Nut*** Snuffbox. Deeply hollowed details of vine leaves and grapes. One side features a dog or a wolf head holding the bone closing tip in its mouth; the other side, on the contrary, is decorated by a very candid human face. As it is quite often the case in folk art, all these little details could be considered as religious references.

This type of snuffbox is called a "secouette". It is meant to be filled up with tobacco and closes with a tiny tip usually linked to the box by a little metallic chain.

***The "palm ivory" from the Amazon rainforest bear fruit whose pulpit inner (endosperm) becomes very hard when dry and texture very similar to ivory. It is this which is called vegetable ivory or tagua. The tagua nut carves, turns, polishes easily and almost as finely as ivory. The tagua nut was worked by the sailors who made ​​such small boxes, snuff graters or tobacco also made ​​by convicts. The latter worked to pass the time but mainly to get some money to improve their lives. Can also be attributed to sailors during their long journeys.


W5.0 x H9.0 x D5.0 cm



Wear condition


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19th Century


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