Enjoyed as a luxury among many eighteenth-century Virginians including the Washingtons, snuff was often carried in small containers such as this one. Its elegant design belies the indecorous ritual of snorting the powder through the nose and sneezing to clear it out. Mrs. Washington had a penchant for snuff, much to the chagrin of some of her relatives. In 1799 her grandson-in-law Thomas Law wrote: "I have to thank Mrs. Washington & to be angry at her sending snuff to Eliza-such an attention tho' it envinces her kindness yet it encourages a bad habit." More


1770 - 1790



Mother of pearl, copper alloy, gold


Overall (Case): 1/2 in. x 3 1/8 in. x 1 in. (1.27 cm x 7.94 cm x 2.54 cm)


Purchased by the A. Alfred Taubman Acquisition Endowment Fund and partial gift of an anonymous donor, 2004

Object Number



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