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A SAXON MASONIC GOLD-MOUNTED HARDSTONE SNUFF-BOX

DRESDEN, CIRCA 1750

Details
A SAXON MASONIC GOLD-MOUNTED HARDSTONE SNUFF-BOX
Dresden, circa 1750
Circular amethystine quartz box with bombé sides, the cover carved with a recumbent pug resting on a drapery, reeded gold mounts with slightly flaring plain gold thumbpiece
45 mm. (1¾ in.) diam.

Lot Essay

Two other Saxon Mopsorden hardstone boxes are in the Louvre, illustrated in S. Grandjean, Les tabatières du musée du Louvre, Paris, 1981, no. 444, 446.
The pug gained particular significance in Europe following the bill by Pope Clement XII in 1738 forbidding Roman Catholics from belonging to Masonic orders. Many high-born Catholics formed themselves into quasi-masonic lodges and took as their symbol the pug-dog. These orders of Möpsen (after the German for 'pug') were pledged to secrecy, though not by an oath which would have conflicted with Papal wishes. Unlike Freemasons, women were admitted to these lodges. The ownership of such a box might have replaced the model pug which all initiates carried during lodge meetings. For more information on this subject, see A. Somers Cocks and C. Truman, The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection. Renaissance jewels, gold boxes and objets de vertu, London, 1984, p. 270-271.
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