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A George III Snuff Box, circa 1805
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A George III Snuff Box, circa 1805

Measurements: Diameter: 7.5cm (2.75in)



Of circular form,, the sides decorated with Greek key pattern. The top embellished with Greek key pattern encircling King’s profile bust in claasical garb. Signed ‘M&P’ to the reverse for Nathaniel Merchant, R.A. (1739-1816) and Lewis Pingo (1743-1830).

George III (1738-1820) was King of Great Britain and Ireland from 1760 until the Union of 1801, after which he was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until his death. He was concurrently Duke and Prince-Elector of Brunswick-Luneburg (Hanover) until his promotion to King of Hanover in 1814. He was the third British monarch of the House of Hanover but unlike his two predecessors he was born in Britain, spoke English as his first language, and never visited Hanover. He suffered recurring bouts of madness throughout his long reign, which ultimately gave rise to the Regency of 1810 until the end of his life.

Merchant was noted as a sculptor of intaglios, medals, and poetical designs for cameos. His subjects included copies from the antique, adaptations of famous paintings and portraits of his contemporaries. He held several appointments, including Assistant Engraver to the Royal Mint, Gem Sculptor to the Prince of Wales, Engraver to the King and from 1800, Engraver to the Stamp Office. He was elected an associate of the Royal Academy in 1791 and a full Academician in 1809. Lewis Pingo was also an Assistant Engraver to the Royal Mint who succeeded his father in the post in 1776.

Obverse embossed with the legend: ‘ADMIRAL LORD NELSON’ / ‘BORN 29 SEPT. 1756.’ Reverse: (embossed between two oak branches) ‘CONQUEROR / At / ABOUKIR / 1 AUGT 1798 / COPENHAGEN / 2 APRIL 1801 / TRAFALGAR / 21 OCTr 1805 / WHERE HE / GLORIOUSLY / FELL’  

Similar examples are in the V&A (O78488) Royal Naval Museum, Portsmouth (212/73).