An Italian gold-mounted hardstone snuff box, circa 1763.

The gold cagework mounts of this fascinating box are chased with a key pattern and include a scroll-engraved applied thumbpiece, 7.5cm wide.

An accompanying label is inscribed: ‘This snuff box is made of Lava from the Island of Iskia near Naples.’

It is thought to have been purchased by Brownlow, 9th Earl of Exeter (1725-1793), on his Grand Tour of 1763.

According to the label, the box also contains three ‘Pieces of Pompey’s Pillar – A present from Capt. Bell of Lincolnshire, January 20th 1797 – He received them from Major Budgard, who had them from the Captain of the ship, who received them from the Sailors who drank a bowl of punch on the top of the Pillar.’

The circumstances of Capt. Bell’s present are unknown, but the date confirms that it arrived four years after the 9th Earl’s death.


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