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The Wallace Collection Catalogues: Gold Boxes

The Wallace Collection Catalogues: Gold Boxes


The 18th-century gold snuffbox was the ultimate fashion assessory – beautifully made, exquisitely carved and very expensive, and, like fashion, its form and ornament changed according to the taste of the time. The skills of the goldsmith, the enameller, the lapidary and the miniaturist combined to form a piece – always different – for the most discerning clientele that Europe has ever known.


The Wallace Collection has some of the finest, and certainly some of the most famous, gold boxes in the world. Paris was the centre of taste in the 18th century and the collection contains a remarkable group of boxes by the greatest goldsmiths of the period: Jean Ducrollay, Pierre-François Drais and Louis Roucel. Somewhat surprisingly the Wallace Collection, which is noted for its French works or art, has some very important German boxes by Jean-Guillaume-Georges Kruger of Berlin, Johann Christian Neuber of Dresden and Ignatius Peter Krafft of Hanau.


Charles Truman, who has catalogued the collection of gold boxes, is one of the leading authorities on the subject. In this book he discusses the history of snuff-taking and the development, manufacture and collecting of gold boxes, with a particular emphasis on the design sources from which the craftsmen repsonsible for these wonderful works of art took their inspiration. These 99 pieces in the catalogue represent a brilliant cross-section of the products of the European goldsmith from approximately 100 years from the late 1730s. This book will prove invaluable to collectors, academics and students interested in the 18th century.

  • Charles Truman

    April 2012

    352 pages, hardback, 300 x 240 mm

    400 colour illustrations
    ISBN: 978 0 900785 94 8

  • In the press

    "Kenneth Snowman, the doyen of gold box scholars, described Charles in 1990 as possessing ‘a splendid nose for rooting out anything which is not as it should be, a superb judge of discrepancies and false marks’. The 39 pages which introduce his magnificent Wallace Collection catalogue are a finely judged survey of the current state of knowledge." —Richard Edgcumbe, Salon


    "Charles Truman’s work on gold boxes, most of them designed to hold snuff, showed that they were not merely rich men’s toys but among the most remarkable achievements of eighteenth-century craftsmanship. His prose shone for its clarity and insight." —John Adamson, The Guardian


    "Truman’s rare ability was to combine documentary scholarship with the fruits of decades of handling goldsmiths’ work … His finest contribution to scholarship is the definitive Wallace Collection gold boxes catalogue, published in 2013.  Gold snuff boxes were his greatest passion." —Marian Ramsay, Daily Telegraph

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