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An Early 19th Century Gilt Brass Charles James Fox Snuff Box
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An Early 19th Century Gilt Brass Charles James Fox Snuff Box

Circa 1806

Measurements: Diameter: 5.2cm (2in)



Of circular form, with Greek key decoration to the sides, the lid of one embossed with a profile portrait of the eminent Whig politician and the other with the profile of Britain’s youngest Prime Minister.

Rt. Hon. Charles James Fox (1749-1806), arch rival of Tory PM William Pitt the Younger (1759-1806), and prominent Whig politician, was a leading anti-slavery campaigner and staunch opponent of George III whom he regarded as an aspiring tyrant. Fox supported both the American and French revolutions and aired extreme views forcefully and eloquently in parliamentary career lasting thirty-eight years. He served briefly as Britain’s first Foreign Secretary in Rockingham’s administration in 1782 and, held the same post again in 1806 after Pitt the Younger’s death and prior to own in September of the same year.

Similar snuff boxes featuring Admiral Lord Nelson were also made in 1806 following the latter’s State funeral at St. Paul’s. These bear the initials ‘M&P’ to the reverse for Nathaniel Merchant, R.A. (1739-1816) and Lewis Pingo (1743-1830). It is almost certain that the Pitt and Fox boxes were made with their collaboration.

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.