c1840 Imperial Russian Moscow Silver Niello Snuff Box


A good quality Imperial Russian silver and niello rectangular snuff box.

The lid decorated in niello with the statue of Peter the Great. The original statue is called the Bronze Horseman and is in St Petersburg. In some cases, a dragon was added, to turn the image into St George, the patron saint of Russia, in order to help sell the wares to other Russian cities. The statue stands within a laurel wreath. The sides are decorated with niello scale-work, the base engraved with a niello work harbour scene. The box opens up to show a gilded interior, hallmarked inside the lid and base for Moscow, but without the Assay Inspection mark, which was sometimes the case on earlier pieces. It is stamped 84 which represents 875 silver content. The maker’s mark appears to be A.A within a small rectangular cartouche. The tab on the lid is made of rose gold. We have not been able to ascertain the maker and estimate it to date from about 1830 to 1840. The case is in very good condition, and the engraving is a still clear, if a little worn from polishing in places.

The Bronze Horseman is an equestrian statue of Peter the Great in the Senate Square in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The statue is now one of the symbols of Saint Petersburg. It was commissioned by Catherine the Great and created by the French sculptor Étienne Maurice Falconet. Catherine the Great was a German princess who married into the Romanov line and was anxious to connect herself to Peter the Great, in order to gain legitimacy in the eyes of the people. It is inscribed with the phrase ‘Petro Primo Catharina Secunda MDCCLXXXII’, on the left side, in Latin and ‘Петру перьвому Екатерина вторая, лѣта 1782’ in Russian, on the right side. Both have the same meaning 'Catherine the Second to Peter the First, 1782'. The Cyrillic version of Peter and Catherine is represented in the engraving of the box. Very collectable piece.

Size: 7.5 x 5 x 1.7 cm (3 x 2 x 11/16 inches)
Weight: 89 g