Wooden and tortoiseshell snuff box, France, 1801-1830

1801-1830 in France

Buy this image as a print 

License this image for commercial use at Science and Society Picture Library

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Wooden snuff box, top illustrated with 3 views of a phrenological skull of the type invented by Dr. Gall, possibly French

The lid of this snuff box shows three views of a phrenological skull. Supporters 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 24 denotes love; number 19, vanity. There is a key to all the traits on the base of the box.

This system was invented by Franz Joseph Gall (1758 –1828), a German physician who founded phrenology. There were a number of different systems of phrenology as disagreements arose over how many brain ‘organs’ there were.

Related people


Object Number:
tortoiseshell and wood
snuff box
  • furnishing and equipment
  • container - receptacle
  • snuff container

Cite this page


We encourage the use and reuse of our collection data.

Data in the title, made, maker and details fields are released under Creative Commons Zero

Descriptions and all other text content are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 licence

Using our data


Download catalogue entry as json

View manifest in IIIF viewer

Add to Animal Crossing Art Generator

Download manifest IIIF

Our records are constantly being enhanced and improved, but please note that we cannot guarantee the accuracy of any information shown on this website.