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A. Aardewerk Dutch Silver and Antique Jewels

The Van Eys Snuffbox

Jean Saint

Amsterdam, 1732

The rectangular box has curved corners and the lid is decorated with the arms of Jan Nicolaas van Eys. The coat of arms and the helm and crown above it are chased amid a strictly symmetrical design of C-scrolls, scallop shells, strapwork and mascarons against a textured background.

Solid gold Dutch snuffboxes are rare. This example is one of the earliest and also one of the few executed wholly in Louis XIV style. Most Dutch gold snuffboxes were made in the Rococo style. In the eighteenth century, almost every well-to-do man would carry a snuffbox. Tobacco was smoked and chewed, but it was also ground to a fine powder and inhaled, to invigorating effect. Snuff was kept in jars, but carried in small quantities for daily use in little boxes that rapidly became a status symbol. The more expensive the snuffbox, the greater the impression its owner could make. Jan Nicolaas van Eys (1691-1758) was a cloth merchant and a prominent member of Amsterdam society. In 1740 he was director of the Levant trade. From 1748 to 1758 he sat on the Council of Amsterdam and from 1753 to 1768 he was one of the commissioners for maritime affairs.

Collection of Elisabeth Rohde (1915-2013), director of the Pergamon Museum in 1971; she inherited the box from her father Kurt Rohde (1882-1950); this former major had run the Kurt Rohde gallery with Frieda Hinze in Uhlandstrasse, Charlottenburg, Germany, since 1918