South Staffordshire Enamel on Copper Bonbonniere, modeled as a horned steer, England, c1765 Continental Silver-Mounted Enamel on Copper Snuff Box, 18th Century, in the Manner of Julien Berthe South Staffordshire Enamel on Copper Walnut-Form Bonbonniere, England, c1765 Good South Staffordshire Enamel on Copper Bonbonniere, England c1770, canary atop a grassy mound, intricately painted lid to verso


Pictured Above (left to right) :

South Staffordshire Enamel on Copper Bonbonniere

England, c1765

Modeled as a recumbent steer, the lid painted in the Compagnie des Indes manner

with a floral spray within a curved acanthus leaf border



Continental Silver-Mounted Enamel on Copper Snuff Box

In the Manner of Julian Berthe

Probably Mid-18th Century

Decorated with raised gilding, translucent green and blue enamels on a finely speckled blue and pink ground,

the lid depicting the god Poseidon and semi-draped consorts riding dolphins between arabesques



South Staffordshire Enamel on Copper Walnut-Form Bonbonniere

England, c1765

Modeled and painted as a dimensional tan walnut with brown veining,

opening to a shaped speckled gray interior



Good South Staffordshire Enamel on Copper Bonbonniere

England, c1765

The yellow canary atop a grassy mound, opening to a white enameled interior,

the verso painted with a huntsman and a lady beneath a tree in a landscape before river and ruins

Bearing a label for Manheim, NYC



(The above links will take you to pages with large images and full descriptions.  All prices available upon request.)



Most are familiar with snuff boxes.  Sniffing snuff was the original method of taking tobacco, first used by the American Indians, the substance being brought back to Europe by Christopher Columbus on his second voyage (1494-96) to the New World.  It was immediately popular among the Spanish and French, and brought into England with the return of Charles II in 1660.  It was a substance for the aristocrat, and particularly popular in court circles.  All ladies in Queen Anne's court followed her passion of snuff-taking, and Queen Charlotte (wife of George III) was known as "Snuffy Charlotte", due to her very frequent use.  Her son, George IV, changed his snuff according to the time of day, and had a storage room set aside in each of his palaces for his boxes.


However, unlike snuff, I am often asked about bonbonnieres, and the purpose of these quite small boxes. 

The earliest bonbonnieres can be traced back more than 300 years - popular first on the Continent, and introduced into Scotland by the time of Mary Queen of Scot's (an extension of the interchange between France and Scotland at that time).  Amongst wealthy aristocrats, small boxes of sweets - each holding only a few confections - were given to celebrate birthdays, christenings, and marriages.  The earliest sweets would have been dry and rather hard confections known as "comfits" (sugared nuts, cloves and seeds) and diamond form sugar "lozenges".  In the 17th and 18th centuries, sugar was quite costly - even its shipment having to come by boat from the faraway Caribbean islands.  Thus so were the containers costly - sometimes made of gold, precious stones, crystals, or porcelain.  Actually, even owning a bonbonniere indicated a person as one of wealth


  In Italy, bonbonnieres were traditionally given as wedding gifts, each enclosing five sugared almonds, representing fertility,

health, wealth, happiness and longevity, as well as the bittersweet life of a married couple.  Further, in the 18th century,  everyone had very "bad breath".  The sugar-coated seeds and nuts contained in bonbonnieres were sucked to disguise this fault.


Bonbonnieres were generally made in enamel on metal, in porcelain with metal mounts, and some exquisite and very expensive examples in gold.  A Russian jeweled and enameled gold bonbonniere by Fabergé sold at Christies in 2006 for $411,864.00.  There are also a few in silver.  Some glass examples are also known - but rare due to their fragility.  The concepts for these boxes are often quite whimsical and intricate.  Some are set with small portraits or landscapes and precious stones - most particularly the gold examples.  The English were particularly good at fashioning whimsical animal forms in enamel on copper.


Bonbonniere prices range from several hundred dollars for a simple wooden example, to 6 figures for boxes of jeweled gold.



Millicent Ford Creech

Caroline Harrison


901-761-1163 (gallery) / 901-827-4668 (cell)



Hours : Wed.-Sat. 11-6, or by appointment

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mfcreech@bellsouth.net (or) mfordcreech@gmail.com



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18th Century Enamel on Copper Bonbonnieres and Snuff Boxes, England and France