SCOTTISH SNUFF MULL Antique Rams Horn & Silver EDINBURGH ROYAL ARTILLERY MILITIA
An antique Scottish Rams Horn and Sterling Silver Table Snuff Mull, given as a gift by Major J.R. Peploe of the Edinburgh Artillery Militia, circa 1885.
We are pleased to present this antique Ram’s Horn & Sterling Silver Table Snuff Mull for your consideration. It was given as a gift by Major James Reid Peploe (1861-1935) and bears a dedication plaque that reads as follows:
PRESENTED TO THE OFFICERS’ MESS R.A & R.E
by Major J.R. Peploe
Edinburgh Artillery Militia
IN REMEMBRANCE OF THE KINDNESS SHEWN TO HIM
WHILE ATTACHED TO THE ROYAL ARTILLERY AT MALTA, 1885.
The practice of inhaling powdered tobacco became popular in Europe starting around the 17th century, and remained popular throughout the 19th century. The word Mull comes from the Scottish word for “Mill” which is used because the Snuff was ground to a powder before being consumed. While many Snuff Mulls were small and designed for personal use, this large model was designed to sit on a table and be shared. It has a large Sterling Silver compartment at the end of the horn which is covered by the hinged lid. The top of the lid is currently open, but would have had a decorative insert (now missing), likely similar to the faceted clear glass on the smaller end.
The metal portions of the Snuff Mull are made from Sterling Silver. The large compartment bears the hallmark of Marshall & Sons, a prominent Edinburgh Silversmith, and has an 1883 date code (see close-up picture). The plaque, feet, and Thistle shaped decorative cover at the smaller end of the Mull are unmarked but test as silver. The interior surface of the Silver appears to be gold washed.
The Snuff Mull was acquired by Laurence and Sally Martin on the new Travel Channel series Baggage Battles (Season 1 / Episode 7 / Scotland) which first aired at the end of May, 2012. Our last 16 pictures show clips from this episode, starting at the auction, and ending with the appraisal that was part of the episode (which estimated the value at $8,000 to $10,000 USD).
Weighing almost 3 pounds, the Snuff Mull is an impressive piece, standing 7 inches high, 14 inches wide, and 9 inches deep. In addition to the silver hallmark described above, there are also markings on the underside of the piece. The number 41 is visible in large black letters between two of the feet. There is a splash of red paint in the same area, but too worn to make out the letters. Two carved letters, appearing to read AL, are also found on the underside.
A variety of wear can be found on the Mull, attesting to the handling and use it has received. We imagine it sitting on the Officers’ Mess Table, providing a cherished distraction to countless men over the years. The surface has many smooth spots from handling. There are some minor surface cracks, but nothing of any significance. Two areas on the horn show signs of cuts. One is on the body, about 1/3 of the way from the smaller end. The more significant cut is on the side, just below the hallmarked silver piece, and a piece of the horn is missing at this location (see picture 5) (perhaps cut as a memento?). The Thistle decoration at the small end shows signs of a repair – it looks like the Thistle was soldered back on at some point. Silver surfaces show light to moderate tarnish. We rate the overall condition as very good (see pictures).
This is an exceptional and one-of-a-kind Scottish collectible. It contains many elements of Scottish Heritage, such as the Thistle imagery – the National Emblem of Scotland. Combined with that is the unusual and rare Military connection with the Edinburgh Artillery Militia. Our Snuff Mull rivals any museum piece, and will make a wonderful and prized addition to YOUR collection!
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