Take a Closer Look - 'Am I not a Man and a Brother'
This is a very interesting snuff box in many ways. Firstly the image on the lid, based on Josiah Wedgwood’s workshop’s designs of the most identifiable image of the 18th century abolition movement, a kneeling African man.
The image originated from the Quaker society, some of the first leaders of the abolition of slavery movement in Britain and the USA. They saw the abolition of slavery as a Christian duty and when they met in London in 1787 a design for a seal was created for use by the society. The image was of an African kneeling and bound by chains with the motto ‘Am I not a Man and a Brother”. Cameos were made attributed to the Wedgewood factory and were worn as a fashion statement as bracelets, hair accessories and on snuff boxes both in the UK and USA.
Inside the box is a newspaper cutting commemorating a Mr. Clarkson, probably an obituary referring to famed English abolitionist Thomas Clarkson. He helped found The Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade and helped achieve passage of the Slave Trade Act of 1807, which ended British trade in slaves. Could this have been his snuff box or someone who greatly admired him. The fact that the box is not showy suggests the owner was probably from that sector.
This lovely and historically important snuff box measures 3 1/2” long, 2” wide, and just over 1” high. It is in good condition excepting a very discreet, tight and stable surface scratch running from the lip at the lid’s end down the right side . This is only on the surface and doesn’t go through to the inside.