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Question about antique silver snuff boxes "Vinaigretts"

I have a question about "vinaigrettes" being sold on E-Bay. First, what exactly is a vinaigrette? What is the purpose of the inner "grille". Are these purpose made snuff boxes?



  • snuffvilliansnuffvillian Member
    edited July 2016 PM
    Hi @BCT. These recipients contained a sponge impregnated with aromatic vinegar. Hence the name. In the past, when black death and other epidemies raged through Europe, it was a common remedy to infuse aromatic plants and spices into light vinegar to elaborate ?aromatic vinegars?, that were poured into dedicated recipients (vinaigrettes in France) to let them dissipate, purifying the air in rooms and chambers. The ?grille? was a diffusor, that avoided contact between the damp sponge and the lid.
    Even smaller recipients were carried by people, filled with that vinegar, that they keep smelling to avoid contagion. Later on, when snufftaking spread and caught up, all those recipients became snuffboxes forthegreaterpart.
  • BCTBCT Member
    Thank you!
  • edited July 2016 PM
    I think that
    Snuffvillian is right but coincidentally somewhere in this forum was
    mentioned that in old times some snuffs where sold unflavored in
    conjuction with a small vial of aromatic vinegar so the customer can add
    as much scent as they wanted,here in Spain it was called "Vinagrillo"
    (can be translated more or less as little vinegar or vinegary)

    I looked in the spanish RAE (Language Royal Academy translation) ( it mentions this:


    1. m. Vinagre de poca fuerza. (Vinegar of small potency)

    2. m. Cosmetico compuesto con vinagre, alcohol y esencias aromaticas. (Cosmetic made of vinegar, alcohol & aromatic essences)

    3. m. Vinagre aromatico para aderezar el tabaco en polvo. (Aromatic Vinegar to flavour powdered tobacco)

    4. m. tabaco vinagrillo. (Vinegary tobacco)


    Looking for "Tabaco Vinagrillo" ; in the same page found this:

    tabaco vinagrillo

    1. m. tabaco de polvo, aderezado con cierta especie de vinagre flojo y aromatico. (Powdered tobacco, flavoured with some sort of low potency aromatic vinegar)

    maybe This "vinaigrettes" were also used more or less commonly then
    when buying unscented tobacco flour and scenting it later or rescenting
    flavourless snuff.

    Anyone knows any other references to this relation between vinaigretts and snuff?

    Please excuse the truncated lines in the post.

  • Hi @Wulfensteinsson. "Tabaco Vinagrillo" was a later consequence of the old use of aromatic vinegars against plagues, as it was a perfected way to keep the remedy up the nose. This type of snuff was adquired in dry form, and was later perfumed with aromatic vinegar carried in vials or kept in bottles at home, prior to taking it. The use of aromatic vinegars as an air-freshener cure or preventing agent for contagion was older than widespread snufftaking, and people kept using it up to XIX century. Maybe some one could use a "Vinaigrette" to impart scent to a dry snuff, but I am afraid this was not its actual function (and I find it really awkward to it if you had a bottle at your disposal instead...)

    These type of vessels that remain today are the luxury version. The more common recipients were made of clay, and in Spain were called "Juncieras", and consisted of a small clay pot with a lid full of holes. Even some men made "Juncieras" or "Vinaigrettes" in the knob of his walking sticks!

    You will find a good example of this use of aromatic vinegar if you search Vinegar of the 4 thieves or Vinaigre des Quatre Voleurs.
  • The richers would also hold them under their nose as they walked through the city to not smell the stank of the city. 
  • True. Some may also use a handkerchief tied to their portable vinaigrette that they keep under their nose after extracting it with a mannered gesture. ;))
    Thankfully snuff came to end this messy set and simplify things... with nic pleasure added
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