The stuff of snuff: The Affective and Sensory Connotations of Snuff Boxes in Eighteenth-Century Culture
Abstract: This essay explores the relationship between emotions and material culture in relation to one specific artefact, the snuffbox. Small in scale, capable of activating multiple senses and hugely fashionable, the snuffbox became an enormously popular accessory that was extensively used by both sexes in eighteenth-century society. Its scale, and intimate relationship to the body, made it an ideal gift between lovers or courting couples, and it could be personalised to carry affective inscriptions, imagery or even portraits. Often made of ornate or expensive materials, or studded with jewels, its materiality became part of its seductive charm. Its emotional potency extended to its role in the performance of public identities through the display and manipulation of the box in polite society, while its secret compartments facilitated the retention of mementos or the private display of explicitly pornographic imagery.