The Hygra Antique Boxes at the Sign of the Hygra
2 Middleton Road, London, E8 4BL, UK.
(by appointment only)   
PHONE: 00 44 (0)20 7254 7074 
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Antique Boxes at the Sign of the Hygra

2 Middleton Road, London, E8 4BL, UK.
PHONE: 00 44 (0)20 7254 7074

News | Buyingemail Online History of boxes | The Schiffer Book |


An  ivory card case with fine piqué inlay in silver. English, circa 1800.

A tortoiseshell snuff box with a pressed concentric design, the center inlaid with very fine piqué work depicting a bee on flowers.  French circa 1770.

A fine snuff box in dark tortoiseshell of concave form the raised pattern formed by pressing, with symmetrically arranged fine gold piqué work in the neoclassical tradition. English circa 1800.

A tortoiseshell snuff box in , with a small gold inlaid plaque, with a "Scottish hinge" UK  circa 1820.

A circular pressed tortoiseshell snuff box decorated with gold is used sparingly as a discreet accents.    English circa  1780-90.

Exquisitely formed and decorated pressed tortoiseshell snuff box, accented with gold the top  framed in a fine pattern of holy leaves and berries in piqué pose. English, circa 1780.

A deeply and finely carved tortoiseshell card case depicting scholars in a garden. Chinese, Canton,  circa 1850.

An octagonal tortoiseshell box  inlaid in piqué posé and containing tiny perfume bottle and slots for toothpicks.    England, circa 1790.

A rare early Neapolitan tortoiseshell box of octagonal form inlaid with mother of pearl and piqué work in gold. Naples,  Italy circa: 1740.

A beautiful combination of incised gilded metal, pressed tortoiseshell and fine piqué work in gold, on a snuff box of rounded pleasing form. French/German circa 1740-50.

A tortoiseshell and silver piqué snuff box. The scene at the front is an illustration of an Aesop's fable (the fox tricking the stork into getting his head stuck in a narrow necked jar) and imbues the box with its special charm.

A rare tortoiseshell snuff box with a gold framed silhouette of the Duke of Wellington in pressed tortoiseshell.  England circa 1800.

A tortoiseshell snuff box combining pressed and gold applied decoration. The leafy symmetrical pattern is in the neoclassical tradition. It is accented in the four corners with delicately modeled gold acorns. The central name plaque and catch are also in gold. English, circa1790

A fine and rare snuff box in tortoiseshell. In the center, framed by pattern of mother of pearl dots, there is a portrait of a gentleman executed in inlaid shaded and engraved gold. The figure appears to be wearing ermine and has flowing hair, in the fashion of the second half of the seventeenth century, or early eighteenth century.  English or French, circa 1750-70.

A delightful silver and tortoiseshell snuff box, decorated with a theatrical figure in silver piqué. The silver lines are very fine. They depict the feathers on his hat and his pointing finger with a naive charming sharpness.  English, but could be French. circa 1750.

An exceptionally rare card case with pressed decoration. The center depicts a wreath of flowers, exquisitely modeled. England, circa 1830.

A papier mâché snuff box with a hand colored print of a courting scene. English circa 1815.

A papier mâché box painted with a floral bouquet. Russian circa 1880.

An impressive large table snuff box with a spectacular piqué heraldic depiction of an eagle. His head and legs are engraved, his feathers are executed in fine silver lines and his collar of trefoils in gold lines. Could be a family emblem, part of a family crest. Europe circa 1700.

A most unusual and delightful snuff box in transparent horn and tortoiseshell. The top is painted in brown and gesso backed. A chinoiserie  design is scratched out of the painted surface showing the design in the white gesso in reverse. English circa 1815.

An Anglo Indian card case of book form in satinwood with buffalo horn framed with incised and lacquered ivory characteristic of the work done in Vizagapatam, India, for the English market during the eighteen and nineteen century.  India circa 1840

An small Anglo Indian box decorated with sadeli mosaic, the geometric designs were executed in ivory, ebony, white metal and wood, Indian, circa 1881.

A penwork snuff box with a concealed hinge, characteristic of Scottish work, the extraordinary scene depicting exhausted huntsmen or perhaps outlaws. Scottish circa 1820.


A rare penwork card case decorated with bouquets of flowers and letter bearing birds.  English, circa 1820.

A Vernis Martin (a type of hard varnish/papier mâché patented in1744 in France by the Martin brothers), snuff box lined in red tortoiseshell. Over the hard surface there is a layer of gold before the final varnish. The center has a picture of a lady being serenaded by a youth. The figures are fashioned in gold and framed in dots of cut steel.

A transfer decorated snuff box depicting a hunting scene. It has the characteristic Scottish hinge.

An unusual, charming Vernis Martin snuff box with a central painting under glass.  French, circa 1760.

A Vernis Martin snuff box, painted with a curious scene of Sino-European inspiration. This was an interesting development of the chinoiserie style, which was practiced in France by important artists such as Francois Boucher. French, circa 1760.

A carved wooden small box with a finely modeled bouquet of flowers. European, circa 1880

A penwork large snuff box with a picture of a grand house on the top and a complex pattern of interwoven roses, thistles, and shamrocks, symbolizing England, Scotland and Ireland all around. The quality of the work is high with the pattern continuing over the integrated Scottish hinge. circa 1840

A Scottish box with the typical wooden hinge and many other typical features of its area of origin. The box was made most probably in Mauchline, Ayrshire. The reason for this is the decoration, which features poems and scenes from the poetry of Robert Burns (1759-96) the Scottish bard who was born at Alloway. The neiborliness of this famous poet, inspired the artists of Mauchline to use his work for inspiration.   The top is adorned with a penwork picture of a young couple with their faithful dog and a printed version of a love poem. The back is much more sinister with a scene from Tam O'Shanter, Burns' poem which describes Tam escaping from the clutches of witches. The fill-in background features the Scottish thistle. Scotland, circa 1830

A very rare eighteenth century Tunbridge ware snuff box. The inlay is exquisitely done with the texture of the edge of the rose buds captured with engraving and penwork. The sides are a concession to the neoclassical tradition. The box retains the original varnish and some of the lead lining. The bottom is also inlaid with a fine curling wild flower. English, circa 1780-90

A very rare snuff box in the form of a shoe, decorated in straw work. Although the shoe form was popular over a long period and made in many materials, straw work examples are extremely elusive. The marquetry on the top depicts a butterfly on a rosebud. France or Holland, circa 1740.

A fine small Scottish snuff box with tartanware pattern all round and a horse painted on top. Artists were employed by Scottish workshops to execute such paintings. It has the integral wooden hinge which characterizes Scottish work and the tartan pattern goes over it without a break.  circa 1840

A papier mâché snuff box painted with a delightful donkey. Read with the pictorial clues and the word "MY" it is of course a rude comment. Such prurient play on words was not unknown to the respectable Victorians. They  would of course have considered such a box very boldly rude!  English, circa 1840.

A delightful miniature egg which opens to reveal a minute doll. Her arms move individually and her legs move up so she can sit. The egg is painted lavender and is varnished. There is an inscription in gold letters on the side which is worn and difficult to read. English, circa Early 20th century

A Vernis Martin snuff box which exhibits refined taste, with its subtle coloring and exquisite gilding. The center is finely painted with a stylized tree framed in a wavy gold pattern. The middle part of the frame is painted green over the gold, as are some dots on the larger circular border, giving an impression of applied enamel.  French, circa 1750.

A fruitwood snuff box with an inserted painted miniature of two girls, their doves and their cats, outside a cottage. The painting on ivory is superbly executed. It bears a signature B. Savar? French, circa 1790

An enameled patch box painted with a scene of an oriental figure holding a lantern. The painting is delicately done, in subtle colors.  The style is that of the light amusing chinoiserie promoted first in France in the middle of the eighteenth century. The inverted flower hat, as worn by this figure, was a characteristic frivolous touch of the famous artist Jean-Baptiste Pillement (1728-1808), a pioneer in the art of chinoiserie. His ideas were adopted by other artists and decorators. The interior of the box is gilded and the inside of the lid is liner with a circular mirror. English, probably Pontypool, circa 1800

A small, charming "fancy" made in cardboard and decorated with sea shells and seeds. English, circa 1880.

A miniature snuff box, carved with great mastery in a rounded form, with the lid forming a continuous upward catch. It has the concealed Scottish hinge. It is lined in tortoiseshell. The wood which is a fine burr is probably yew. It has a very unusual green/gray tinge, Which is probably the result of treatment and varnish.  Scottish, circa 1820.

A papier mâché snuff box with a hand colored print, representing bear baiting. Although a subject which may offend modern sensitivities, it is nevertheless a part of social history. There are  gentlemen both participating and watching the proceedings. English, circa 1830.

An amusing painting of a donkey trying to write, adorns this snuff box. It is obviously a satire on the pretentious rich who had aspirations-but alas!- no aptitude to knowledge. English , circa 1790.

A circular snuff box painted with the portrait of a young lady reading a letter and looking apprehensive. Suggestions have been made as to the identity of this person, but I am not convinced we have enough information to state an opinion. Whoever she is, she conforms to the beauty criteria of her time. English, circa 1830-40.

A penwork card case which probably refers to a tale of feud, or rebellion. Very likely it was decorated as a memento mori, as there is a tombstone with the name M. B. Chiliott and the date l856 on one of the representational pictures. A very rare piece in that it is a personal and individual theme. English or Scottish, circa  1856

An unusual card case decorated with chinoiserie transfers in sharp bright colors. The figures are depicted in oriental costumes with an attempt at authenticity. English or Scottish, circa 1820.


A delightful penwork and painted card case. One side depicts flowers and the other an oriental boy in a typical "chinoiserie" garden: it has a pavilion, an enormous leafy plant, the end of a grotto, and a huge ho-ho bird. English, circa 1820.

A painted snuff box depicting the bafoonish Dr Syntax at the Inn. An important satirical figure of the day he appeared on a series of caricatures. Very likely this box was given as a caustic gift. Such presents were part of the sharp social repartee of the period and typify the witty and sophisticate comedy of manners, which went on in every day life.  English, circa 1790-1800.

A tubular tortoiseshell container which tapers almost imperceptibly, about 0.5cm from top to base. This elegant piece is enhanced with very fine piqué work in gold. The design is in the controlled neoclassical tradition, with a touch of naturalistic softness in the bend of the plants. Probably French, circa 1780.

An exquisite patch box in transparent horn decorated with a fine silver surround and with gilded catch, hinge and facings which are integrated with the hinge.  The brown dots are painted underneath and show through the transparent surface. The silk and mirror inside, are original. French, circa 1790.

An exquisite yellow horn and transparent horn snuff box framed in a gold mount. Sandwiched between two layers of horn on the top is a painting of Cupid shooting an arrow, while a dove flies upwards carrying a heart. The painting is beautifully executed with the meticulous care of a miniaturist. It id framed in a gilded design of leaves.  There is an engraved pattern all around with hints which point to worn gilding. French, circa 1790.

A Lacquered small box with gold decoration. The box is coated in real oriental lacquer and finely painted with real gold mixed with colorless lacquer. Japanese circa, 1880

A severe papier mâché snuff box with silver accents. The larger than usual size for this form is softened with curved sides.  English, circa 1840

A small papier mâché box decorated in chinoiserie. The faces are finely painted. The background of landscapes with pavilions is in gold. English, circa 1880.

A jolly snuffbox painted in a naive style with a couple between trees. The man, who looks as if he is dancing a jig, has a broad smile on his face as he leads his demure lady friend. The background is a very deep red with a slight sheen value, interspersed with thin wavy dark lines. The sides and the underside is painted with roses. English, circa 1790.

A snuff box in Vernis Martin, unusually  decorated in a very restrained fashion. The background is in dark sienna. There are circular patterns, some showing remnants of gilding. Inside there is a print showing a portly man in uniform. Perhaps the giver, or the owner? French, circa 1770.

A superior Russian papier mâché snuff box beautifully painted and finely gilded. It is numbered 1397 and signed. Russian, circa 1880-90

A papier mâché snuff box pressed into an interesting shape. English, circa 1860.

A pressed papier mâché snuff box accented with pewter. English, circa 1860.

A snuff box painted with a girl holding  a rose. English, circa  1850.

An exquisitely piqué decorated tortoiseshell needle case. The designs are arranged in the neoclassical symmetrical tradition, but they also have a natural elegant fluidity. English, circa 1800.

A tortoiseshell card case inlaid with mother of pearl and silver.

A small domed top, tortoiseshell box with pewter lines. English, circa 1830.

A Russian large snuff box painted beautifully with a young couple near a farm sty. Parts of the figures and the ground have a translucent quality, as if painted over gold. The piece is marked. Russian, circa 1890

A cheerful small snuff box decorated with a painting over a print of a couple drinking in the open. An unusually earthly subject, suitably executed. English, circa 1810.

A snuff box carved out of fruitwood and unusually decorated with an abstraction of ferns in black white and red. It has the wooden Scottish hinge. Inside it is lined in tortoiseshell. Scottish, circa 1820

A tiny papier mâché snuff box inlaid with pewter. English, circa 1830.

A tiny carved wooden box with Scottish hinge. The name and initials (under) of the owner also appear to be carved on the burr yew.  Scottish, circa 1820.

A bend-wood box decorated with a transfer of a tulip. N. European, circa 1880.