A Thing of Beauty ~

Nathaniel Mills Snuff-boxWhile enjoying a glass of wine recently with an elderly Farmer friend, I couldn’t resist commenting admiringly upon the silver snuff-box from which he would every now and then take a pinch of golden dust. Ah yes, he said, I was very lucky to inherit it from my Grand-father many years ago, although it very nearly eluded me. He went on to explain that during the Great Depression of the early 1930’s, when farming incomes were at a very low ebb, { we were virtually eating acorns, as he put it ! }, his Grand-Pa had considered selling the box, which, even then was regarded as a family heirloom, so desperate were his circumstances. Resisting this temptation however, he clung on, and in due course, by dint of hard work and good luck, Dame Fortune rescued him from his financial difficulties.

The psychology that lay behind Grand-Pa’s decision was, he explained, that, if he sold the snuff-box, he would very quickly spend the proceeds, and that, he would then have neither the box nor the money, an object lesson in thinking “long-term” to which approach to life he himself had always subscribed throughout a lifetime spent farming.

The snuff-box proved upon examination to be the work of the leading Birmingham silversmith Nathaniel Mills, whose family firm were prolific maker’s of such boxes, an example of which is here illustrated, and whose work is today highly collectable. A truly delightful little item, providing a glimpse of a world now largely passed away.

Insofar as there is a moral to this tale, it is that the ability to think “long-term” is an essential requirement of a successful career in the Antiques Trade, where, unlike groceries or cigarettes, stock is often as likely to hang about for some considerable time rather than be turned over rapidly.

Patience then is the name of the game ~