Important. Referencing VIRGINIA. Exceedingly Rare PRE-REVOLUTION
Probably Birmingham, England, ca. 1735 to 1765. Surviving objects directly related to the trade of Virginia tobacco, of this early date prior to the American Revolution, are seldom found. Possibly made for an English merchant ship captain (sometimes known as a 'Master') for his prized imported Virginia tobacco (Virginia Good), yet it can not be ruled out that it could have been owned by one living in the colonies. The engraving: "Virginia good within I have, Yet am not free to evry Knave. My Master only I Supply, Let Begging fellows go & buy" has been found on two other boxes, one also in steel in the celebrated Monahan Pilgrim-century collection (Northeast, August 4, 2001), the other in brass, dated 1716, in the Deyerle important Americana collection (Sotheby's January 1, 1995). The back is pierced with holes forming a Celtic Knot, believed to symbolize a sailor's strength, friendship or affection. See IRON AT WINTERTHUR, Fennimore, figures 163-168, for similar engraved steel tobacco boxes of this period, although none show this rare historic expression. Excellent condition, about 4 3/8 inches long when the draw box is closed..