Medusa Silver Snuff Box
 
 
  • Materials: Cornelian shell, silver.
  • Box Size: 2 1/8" by 1 6/8", height is 6/8" not considering the cameo on the top.
  • Box material: Sterling silver, marked with symbols of the City of London (Lion's head in a shield), duty mark (Queen Victoria's head - In 1784 the duty mark was created to indicate a tax on the item had been paid to the crown. The mark used was a profile portrait of the reigning monarch's head. The use of this mark was abolished in 1890.), year (letter "N" The date letter system was introduced in London in 1478 (elsewhere as the hallmarking system evolved). Its purpose was to establish when a piece was presented for assay or testing of the silver content. The mark letter changed annually in May, the cycles of date letters were usually in strings of 20 and each cycle was differentiated by a changing of the font, letter case and shield shape.) which is 1888, makers marks SC which stay for Stuart Clifford, registered mark since 1874.
  • Date and Origin: 1888 England for the box, cameo could be Italian and earlier than the box.
  • Cameo Size: 2" by 1 5/8".-
  • Conditions: Cameo is mint, lighter shell areas are natural from the shell, no trace of soldering at all, box needs of a good cleaning, no dents or other signs of wear. 
Museum quality cameo depicting the gorgon Medusa used a lid on a silver snuff box. Pieces like this are rare to find and especially so wonderfully carved, these kind of boxes are very wanted by collectors. The owner of this box surely took much care of it as the cameo is in mint condition and the box does not shows signs of wear as dents or bends, a good cleaning is all that it needs. I have cleaned the cameo and removed the sticker which left a bit of glue on the box base but I removed it too. This is a cameo of a surpassing beauty, look at the carving, simply superb. A real unusual lid for a snuff box. A piece not to be missed.  Her face is totally beautiful. This snuff box really looks  gorgeous and elegant.Collectors know that, and I repeat, finding a snuff box mounted with a museum quality cameo is a real rarity. I have seen snuff boxes mounted with cameos but they all were poor or enough good quality, this is really a rare find.  Look at the total beauty of this, this subject really captures eyes and heart. Everything in this cameo is superb, a true masterpiece to collect.
A bit of history:
Medusa is a  character of Greek's mythology, she was one of three Gorgons, the only one that was mortal. Poseidon fell in love with Medusa and one night he took her in a temple consecrated to Athena to consummate their love. Athena offended, transformed Medusa's hair into snakes and again everyone that had looked Medusa's eyes would have been petrified. Medusa was killed by Perseus who cut her head looking at her through a bright shield received from Athena. From Medusa's body came out Pegasus, the mythic winged horse, and Crisaore generated with the union with Poseidon. For this reason Medusa's head was given by Perseus to Athena who put it in the center of her aegis. Aegis used by Athena, is a fringed armour or a shield with Medusa's head in the center.