Early 19th Century



The mull of naturalistic form with richly gnarled lid, the verso with a three quarter integral hinge

opening to an inscribed interior :  

Geo Sinclair


George Sinclair of Bonnington was apparently the son of Archibald Sinclair,

uncle to Woburn's George Sinclair (17861834), as described below.

Archibald was the head gardener at the Bonnington Estate,

as was his son George - the maker of this box.

George was born about 1811 and can be found at the Bonnington Estate

in the census from 1851 to 1881, which also lists "Occupation wood turner".

He died there in Feb 1887.

“Burrs are shallow excrescences, sometimes of large circumference, which occur on many trees,

most commonly at the junction of the trunk with the ground or root. 

They are caused by a number of small shoots which are unable to break out, and form an interwoven,

contorted but unusually stable mass.

Burrs of certain species are highly ornamental,

and greatly valued for veneers, snuff boxes, shallow drinking vessels, etc.”

Condition : Excellent; the lid retaining good detail and patination;

lid and hinge with a tight fit; interior inscription clear


3.5” Long









SINCLAIR, GEORGE (1786–1834),

botanical writer, was born in 1786 at Mellerstain in Berwickshire, and was descended from a Scots family

which had long been devoted to gardening.  His father, Duncan Sinclair (1750–1833),

was gardener to the Hon. G. Baillie of Jerviswood.  His uncle was superintendent of the grounds, gardens,

and farms at Bonnington(near Lanark) until his death in 1833. George Sinclair continued in the family tradition,

becoming gardener to the 6th Duke of Bedford at Woburn Abbey, Bedfordshire (1807-25).


By the instructions of the Duke of Bedford, and under the direction of Sir Humphry Davy, George Sinclair conducted an extensive series of experiments, the results of which were embodied in the costly folio, ‘Hortus Gramineus Woburnensis', or an account of the results of Experiments on the Produce and Nutritive Qualities of different Grasses and other Plants used as the Food of the more valuable Domestic Animals,’ London, 1816.


In Gardener’s Magazine, Sinclair’s Hortus gramineus … is described as the most important work of its kind ever published; he "will hold a conspicuous station in all future times, as the introducer of a new and improved system of laying down lands in grass." Throughout the 19th century it continued to be cited as a valuable reference in the cultivation of grass. In another obituary, published in the Quarterly Journal of Agriculture, G.W. Johnson wrote that Sinclair "must be classed amongst the great modern benefactors of agriculture.”


In On the Origin of Species Darwin wrote, “It has been experimentally proved that if a plot of ground be sown with one species of grass, and a similar plot be sown with several distinct genera of grasses, a greater number of plants and a greater weight of dry herbage can thus be raised.” He was referring to the experiments conducted by Sinclair at Woburn Abbey.







Also See :


  Georgian Carved Coquilla Nut Nutmeg Grater, Early 19c, England Georgian Carved Coquilla Nut Nutmeg Grater, Early 19c, England Georgian_Coquilla_Nut_Nutmeg_Grater  

Well Carved Coquilla Nut

"Bugbear" Snuff Flask

Early 19th cen., Probably France

Carved Crowned Hunchback Fruitwood Snuffbox, Late 18th Century

Late 18th Century Lignum Vitae Snuff
, Probably Scandinavian

Georgian Carved Coquilla Nut
Nutmeg Grater

England, early 19th century



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 Good Scottish Burr Elm Root Snuff Mull, 19th Century

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