Inventory no.: 1701

Trichinopoly Gold Snuff Box


Rare Solid Gold Chased Snuff Box

Trichinopoly, India

circa 1870

length: 7.2cm, width: 4cm, height: 2.2cm, weight: 180g

Solid gold Colonial Indian items are exceptionally rare. Few such items appear to have been made and most have been melted during the intervening period for their bullion value.

This dazzling snuff box, of gold in excess of 22 carats, is remarkably heavy in the hand. The walls are thick – far thicker than they needed to be. There was no economising on gold when this item was made.

It is exceptionally finely chased on all sides. The hinged lid is decorated with a central motif of a multi-tiered South Indian temple, caparisoned elephants, and winged apsaras, all amid dense, fine foliage. Each side is decorated with South Indian-styled Hindu gods and goddesses, including Krishna and Vishnu amid profuse foliage.

The base is superbly worked with intricate scrolling floral and foliage designs.

The goldwork remains sharp and fine with only minimal wear. The lid fits tightly and evenly. There are no repairs, splits or dents.

Trichinopoly was formerly a French concession which developed its own style of gold and silverwork characterised by tightly rendered, intricate foliage interspersed by gods, goddesses and the like. See Wilkinson (1999, p. 166) for another example of Trichinopoly gold snuff box.


Wilkinson, W.R.T., Indian Silver 1858-1947, 1999.


UK art market

Inventory no.: 1701