Friday, 17 June 2016


This week's 'Mystery Objects' are shown in the four photographs here. They are snuff boxes in the shape of shoes, made in brass and copper. 'Shoe' snuff boxes are not in the least unusual; they are, in fact the most common of 'form snuff boxes'. These are unusual in being a bit bigger than most, being around five inches long. I think they are probably table top snuffs as opposed to pocket snuff boxes.

Here (above) they are shown with the lids open.

Above they are shown with the lids closed, so that the devices on the lids can be seen. The shoe on the left shows a 'crest' like device of a hand holding a dagger.  The top man on  the right box appears to be  a cricketer (batsman). Whilst I'm not sure of the one below, Ann thinks it shows a fielder taking a low catch off the batsman, and looking at it, I think she may well be right (?)

They are, I think, English. They are not a pair (slight differences in the size, and decoration).

The question is when were they made, to celebrate which event, and what the decoration is intended to mean?
Any serious answer would be appreciated and would add to my knowledge about this interesting pair (sorry - couple) of boxes. To help the matter,  in my opinion (founded on the style of the boxes, and their decoration)  I would guess that they were made in the same workshop around the dates 1840 to 1860.
Over to you.
Thanks- any suggestions gratefully received.

                                Regards, Mike  and Ann.


Crowbard said...

The crest may symbolise 'Faith and Honour in Accord'. Traditionally a right hand indicates faith, trust, trustworthiness ~ "I give you my hand on it" and the dagger represents honour in battle (not sure why; I think of it as a sneaky weapon. Perhaps it was because it was used for the 'coup de grace' honourably sparing the loser from the embarrassment of going home without his hoss and ironmongry). Many heraldic devices contained punning references and since these symbols stand on an arc of cord it may refer to "accord". I'll see if I can find any family with this crest but don't hold your breath.

I think the cricketers are to remind people when offered a pinch to do so considerately, if they take a vast pinch the owner will rightly say "Hey! That's not cricket" (or just go batty about it. I'm not sure Mike, in fact I'm stumped).
I'll see if I can find any family with this crest

Crowbard said...

Just found your crest in a list of Scottish clans; it is the crest of the clan 'Bell'. It is described thus:- the crest, a hand holding a dagger, paleways proper, with the motto, "I beir the bel."
Paleways means (like a paling) vertically, point upwards and central. Proper refers to its colour, and means 'hand and dagger coloured' ie natural looking.
Of course there may be many more bearers of very similar crests with slight variations in design and colour-way.

Mike and Ann said...

Hello Crowbard. Thank you for your research and information. I had looked up the hand and dagger crest, and come across several families carrying this crest - all of them Scottish!
The snuff box with cricketers doesn't feel like any sort of crest, and I, too, am 'stumped' on it. Any further research or information would be gratefully received.

Possibly given to a team captain at the end of a successful game ?

Crowbard said...

Yes I think you've got it Mike, it has the air of a minor trophy about it; possibly awarded to the highest scoring batsman of a match?

Crowbard said...

Looking at the motif again and the fact that in its day, being brass, it would have been an inexpensive token, I wonder if it was a booby-prize for any batsman caught out?

Mike and Ann said...

Hello Crowbard. Yes, that is a possibility. In fact, of the two suggestions re cricket, I would think that is marginally the likelier one. Thanks.

Pat said...

The sword makes me think of clans and Scotland.

Mike and Ann said...

Hello Pat. Yes,I think you could well be right.