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[Tidbits] Snuff Box

A quick pre-digression. Re: I digress before I need to digress. Can
one do that. when there’s nothing yet to digress from? In any case.
when revisiting an old Tidbit I was struck by the value of an item
and decided to re-introduce a Snuff Box. However. as a soothing balm
for those of you who hate repetition. I will show you two snuff
boxes. An old and a new.

Sometimes one starts at the beginning and ends at the end. At other
times one starts at the end and ends up at the beginning. And even
other times one pokes one’s finger randomly into any spot and then
meanders about arriving at times in the beginning and at another
times at the end and in the end ending up somewhere in between. This
last methodology ranks as one of my favorites as it seems to mimic
faithfully the arbitrariness of life. So. that said…

I have no idea how much a Russian rouble dating back to 1795 is worth
today. I do know that at one point in time the rouble was devalued at
the rate of 1000 to 1. Keeping this in mind. let us try to figure out
how much 7500 roubles in 1795 would be worth today. The answer to
this conundrum is I have no idea. Which begs the question: Why pose
the problem. and who cares. and what does this have to do with
jewelry or even the man in the moon?

Ah. Here’s what it is chaps. By the way. what’s the female for chap?
Chappette? Yes? No? Well. here’s what it is chaps and chapettes. Back
in 1795 Catherine the Great was in the midst of collecting stuff for
her Treasure Galleries. One of her collectibles fell under the
heading of “Stones of the East”. It was a snuff-box and it resides
today in the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg. But in order not
to seem lazy or redundant. this time I will present you with two
snuff boxes.

The lid of the first contains a varied assortment of precious and
semi-precious stones. There are rubies and diamonds and sapphires and
emeralds and agates and amber and turquoise and rock crystal all set
in gold. And in the center is an agate cameo–don’t know if it’s a
doublet or not–whose profile is said to resemble Cathy herself.

The second snuff box is made of porcelain. for which the methodology
of making this material was discovered by Dmitry Vinogradov. This is
opposed to the German and French porcelains which were very expensive
with very guarded secrets as were related to their production.

To return to the original. Catherine the Great is said to have paid
7,500 roubles for this item. Let’s extrapolate some. If we devalue
the rouble from a 1,000 down to one … we now have a payment of
seven and a half roubles. I think I read somewhere that a rouble is
worth about sixty cents U. S. If that’s true. this be-gemmed doo-dad
is today only worth four and a half bucks. And what does this paltry
sum get you? Diamonds and rubies and other gems set in gold. Hey
garon. I’ll take a dozen if you don’t mind. Truth be told. I would
love to know what that 7500 roubles is worth today.

So if anyone out there has the where-with-all to figure it out. by
all means let me know. I tried but couldn’t find the answer. And so
there you have it. Another two trinkets from the Hermitage. an abode
which I believe has more trinkets of incredible wealth than any other
abode I’ve ever heard about. Which doesn’t mean that much if you
think about it. for there are far more things in this world which I
know nothing about than there are things which I know something

As to the porcelain snuff box. I have no clue as to its worth. but it
is rather striking. Shall we say nine dollars for the two of them.
Going once. Going twice. Gone. to the…

That said. may I suggest you take a peek at the 7500 rouble snuff-box
and its sister snuffer. You know where. Home page:
Left hand menu. Click on Tidbits.

And there ya have it. That’s it for this week folks.
Catch you all next week.
Benjamin Mark

Wolfram Alpha does currency conversions, including historical
values. Using this formula "7500 (1795 russian rubles) into (2013 $)"
gives a value of $418,400.

According to Wikipedia, “By the end of the 18th century, the ruble
was set to 4 zolotnik 21 dolya (almost exactly equal to 18 grams) of
pure silver or 27 dolya (almost exactly equal to 1.2 grams) of pure
gold, with a ratio of 15:1 for the values of the two metals.”

So if we figure the ruble on the silver standard, at today’s rate of
$22/oz 7500 1795 rubles come to $95,484.

But if we figure on the gold standard, at today’s rate of $1400/oz,
7500 1795 rubles come to $400,500.

Any way you slice it, that’s one expensive bit of china.

Now THAT is the kind of that’s worthy of an Orchidian of
the highest calibre. Also. it tickles the very cockles of my hear.