Wooden snuff box, France, 1801-1830

1801-1830 in France

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Science Museum Group Collection
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Wooden snuff box, cylindrical, top illustrated with print of three views of a phrenological skull, possibly French

The lid of this snuff box shows three views of a phrenological skull. Followers of phrenology believed that the shape and size of various areas of the brain (and therefore the overlying skull) determined personality. Each number on the skull relates to a character trait. For example, number 6 equals the ability to see colour and number 24, good-naturedness. There is a key on the base of the box. Although popular with the general public, phrenology remained controversial in medical circles.

Snuff is powdered tobacco that is inhaled through the nose. The practice of ‘taking snuff’ became common in Europe in the 1600s and remained popular throughout much of the 1800s.


Psychology, Psychiatry & Anthropometry
Object Number:
snuff box
  • furnishing and equipment
  • container - receptacle
  • snuff container

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