Antique, oval domed and hinged Brass Miner’s / workman’s twist snuff or tobacco box having primitive punched decorations, 75mm long x 45mm wide x 27mm deep and weighing 51gms.
This box has a makers mark consisting of the higher case letters ‘’IWP’’ enclosed by a pseudo horseshoe shape. Which is punched into the fascia of the box’s outer facing plain middle girth band at its front elevation. Its unusual, and scarce to see any Makers mark on these boxes.
The other ‘’ Punched work ‘’ on the box comprises, on the domed lid, the owners name, his job title and where he lives. His name is ‘’A. REYNOLDS, his work, ‘’LABOURER’’ and his home address is ‘’TWERTON, BATH’’ [ In the English County of Somerset ].
All the pretty border decorations on this box are somewhat primitive and naive in character, have been created using just a few simply designed shaped punch tools. The whole of the topside text is enclosed by an oval of decorative work principally in the form of a repetitive decoration created by using one tool back to front enclosing the letter ‘G’. There are also a few other different singular, and randomly distributed decorations which involve using the other shaped punch tools.
The punched work underside states that this box is a present from Wales, actually, South Wales, from whence it was made and sold. This is no surprise to me as I live in the vicinity of its origins and where the majority of these twist / snuff boxes were made for the predominantly male mining workforce who were heavy users of the Twist Tobacco product whilst working underground in a hot, close and clammy, smelly, coal dust ridden atmosphere.
On the domed underside surface is punched ‘’ A PRESENT FROM WALES’’ so it seems obvious this box was finished with a particular person in mind, and it was bought probably as a personalised souvenir of A. Reynolds’ homeland background. Possibly a Somerset wife buying for her Welsh husband ? I expect there are a few stories this box could tell !!
It is made a good strong quage of sheet brass, capable of many years of pocket and handling wear. Some of these surviving boxes do clearly show much wear use. There’s a good strong working hinge. This little worn box opens and shuts with a precise movement, shutting with a positive mid – tone ‘’snap’’. Which is a clear indication of its little, if any use. It’s in near mint condition.
There does appear to have been a little problem, perhaps originally, with the box. It was slightly split at the outer centre rear of the box, and outside where the hinge is attached internally. However, the repair is a very neat one and so therefore does not seem to affect the value of this item. See photos.
In all , a very nice strong working man's brass box in excellent condition comes along with a good starter story background.