A desirable early 19th century English 'Rich's Patent' brass tobacco 'honor' box or 'honesty' box. These heavy gauge brass rectangular boxes are considered one of the earliest forms of coin-operated vending machines. They were used primary in pubs and featured two hinged, locking compartments, a coin slot and plunger. Tobacco was placed in one compartment and when you needed to fill your pipe you would drop a coin down the slot into the other compartment which triggered the plunger to open the tobacco compartment. You were on 'your honor' to take only what you needed to fill your pipe. I have read that quite often the pub owner's wife would reign over the tobacco box and its profits would be her 'pocket money'.
This honor box features ball feet and bail handle. It has its original brass key and is marked in two places with the 'Rich's Patent' mark. As mentioned, it is a heavy gauge brass. It measures 9 1/2" by 4 3/4" and stands approximately 7 1/2" high to the top of the handle. It weighs just over six pounds! The piece is in very, very good undamaged condition. There are no deep scratches, gouges or dents. The brass has been hand-polished as is the English tradition and has a lovely soft lustre. Quite a fascinating piece of British pub history!
Superb Circa 1820 English Rich's Patent Brass Tobacco Honor Box