The most valuable snuff boxes are worth more than one million dollars. However, the majority of snuff boxes will be worth less than $1,000. There is no price guide for snuff boxes. Due to the long time period for which they were made and used, and based on the variety of makers and materials, it is truly impossible to publish any kind of meaningful price guide. What follows are characteristics of the different price points for snuff boxes.
Extremely Valuable, $500,000+:
The absolute most valuable snuff boxes will have ties to royalty. They will also be made by a famous jeweler (like Faberge). They will have a provenance that is indisputable and verifiable. These will likely be gold, have jewels, and elaborate enamel work. The most valuable snuff boxes are more than just snuff boxes; they are showpieces meant to display the artistic capabilities of the maker. Most snuff boxes in this category are in museums or have traded hands over the past 250 years and now reside in important private collections. Very few snuff boxes will have the chance to be worth $500,000 or more.
Very Valuable, $100,000 – $500,000:
The next tier of value will have similar characteristics as seen above; however, these will typically lack the royal connection. To be in this category the box most absolutely be marked by a documented jeweler or goldsmith. The craftsmanship must be flawless. Jewels will not always be present. However, the box will certainly be gilt and decorated. Most boxes that have a chance to be in the price level will be from Parisian or Russian makers. The origin of the box and its previous owners should be well documented. Despite the range given above, the majority of extremely important snuff boxes will still be worth much closer to $100,000 than $500,000.
Valuable, $10,000 – $100,000:
This is another big price range. However, based on the fact that there really is no active wholesale or dealer market for snuff boxes, the prices can range widely. Every box is unique. You can’t pull a comparable sale on the same box, because the same box does not exist. Something that most people might value at $15,000 could be valued at $75,000 by two bidders. This price range really opens up the door to just about any important snuff box. You will see more English, Dutch, and German boxes in this range. French boxes will still be prevalent, but you would expect to see boxes from the late 1700s and even early 1800s. Boxes from this time period were more likely to survive than earlier boxes that had to go through economic and political turmoil.
Collectible, $1,000 – $10,000:
The term collectible here is very appropriate. This is a price range where the average collector can assemble a diverse collection of snuff boxes from every country and in most every style. Generally speaking though, boxes from this price range may not be marked, could have condition issues, will not be especially ornamental, and could be fairly generic for the type.
Common, $1,000 or less:
These are the snuff boxes that you will find at your typical antique mall or local auction. These boxes are made of off metals or non-precious stones. These were typically mass produced well into the 19th century. There is very little craftsmanship present in common snuff boxes. If these boxes are marked, it will typically be by household name makers who operated well past the “golden age” of the snuff box. With that said, there is certainly no shame in focusing on this price range. One can assemble a meaningful collection of types and styles. However, that museum quality showpiece will always be missing.