In the Spotlight! Lead Tobacco Jar

We decided that in addition to our updates on the Historic England project, we’d like to use the blog to highlight some of the objects in our collection – to throw a “spotlight” on them.

Today the “spotlight” falls on an object that the NPA acquired in 1998. This tobacco box (Acc. No. LIVNP 1998.34.18) had originally been donated to Darlington Museum by Dr Kirk in May 1925, but was formally transferred to the Archive’s collection in 1998 when the collections in Darlington were, sadly, dispersed.

livnp_1998_34_18-1
Lead tobacco box commemorating battles in the Crimean War (LIVNP 1998.34.18).

The box is rectangular and measures c13.5 x 14 x 10.5cm, and is made of lead.  There is also an inner lead lid to help press down on the tobacco that it would have held.  The box was produced by Stock and Son.  The registration mark on the base dates to 14 March 1856.  On the interior lid someone has scratched what appears to read “J Christie” – could this have been a former owner?

The box has suffered a little over the years and is slightly bent and battered, but most of the battle scenes on the sides of the box are well preserved.

livnp_1998_34_18-3
Detail of one of the battle scenes (LIVNP 1998.34.18).

The lid has a lion finial and the names of four Crimean battles –Alma, fought on 20 September 1854, considered the first battle of the Crimean War;  Sebastopol, known as the Siege of Sebastopol between September 1854 until September 1855;  Balaklava, fought on 25 October 1854,  and Inkerman, fought on 5 November 1854.

livnp_1998_34_18-2
Detail of the lid with lion finial (LIVNP 1998.34.18)

We are very pleased to have such an interesting item in our collection.  This object is currently on display at the Victoria Gallery and Museum in Liverpool.

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1 thought on “In the Spotlight! Lead Tobacco Jar”

  1. I have the same jar that is a little less battered. Mine has some of the original paint remaining – mainly very dark colours – which this jar appears to be missing. My understanding is that the Crimean saw the introduction of the rifle following which there was little use for lead in warfare and the surplus lead was used for commemorative ware such as these tobacco jars.

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