John Obrisset, England, c1720
From a 1685 Medal by John Roettiers



A 'very rare' silver tortoiseshell-mounted snuff box by John Obrisset,
having upright plain sides and stand-away hinges, the cover a
translucent tortoiseshell plaque finely moulded with a short-haired profile portrait of James II,
(ruling 6 Feb. 1685 -11 Dec. 1688, deposed by William or Orange for his return to Catholicism)
the gilt interior adding sun-like radiance* through the cover


*James II often used the "sun in splendor",
in association with Louis XIV, his cousin, also called "the sun king",
and in reference to "divine providence".
When James III was born, a medal was made with
the bust of the young prince on one side, the sun in splendor on the other.


The plaque derives from the 1685 metal by John Roettiers (Military and Naval Reward).
The original die resides in the British Museum (below right),
and is notated in Phillips as both "unsigned", and "Very Rare".
Below left is the portrait in horn signed OB, collection of the Worshipful Company of Horners,
and exhibited at the 1973 Worthing Exhibition.
See bio and images below for more.


Provenance and Literature :

John Culme, "British Silver Boxes 1640-1840, The Lion Collection"** :

Featured in a grouping of seven on the 'Title Page' for "18th Century", p. 85 (image below);

and with image and description on p. 122, Coll. no. 119.

** A collection which had

"been distilled to include only the most interesting, rare and varied of antique British silver boxes".


Condition : Excellent, no apparent flaws


3-1/4" Long






Please Inquire


  "An oval pressed horn box with a portrait of James II facing right.
Uncrowned. Signed OB.
Exhibited at the Worthing Exhibition in 1973.
This natural plastic item forms part of the Worshipful Company of Horners collection "
Museum of Design in Plastics, Arts University Bournemouth.
  Silver gilt medal commemorating James II 1685, Military and Naval Reward 1685.
Medallist John Roettiers.

(Medals as this were intended as military and naval rewards for distribution
among those who commanded the Royal forces and fleets
which opposed the invasion of the Dukes of Monmouth and Argyle).




With thanks to Neil Guthrie (The Material Culture of the Jacobites)
for his assistance in documenting this rare 'short-haired' portrait of James II.





Showing silver base, hinge, and translucency of cover



Showing Interior, with light coming through the sheer tortoiseshell cover





John (Jean) Obrisset was considered the premier maker of horn and tortoise boxes.
He was the son of an ivory carver who emigrated to London from Dieppe, France with the Restoration.
He converted his father's ivory carving techniques
to that of heating, moulding and carving both horn and tortoiseshell.


He was not recorded as a member of any of the guilds,
but his name (usually monogrammed OB)
appears on many horn and tortoiseshell boxes of the late 17th and early 18th century.
Obrisset specialized in portraits, particularly of English Statesmen and Monarchs
( from Charles I to George II), among other topics, as mythology.
As well there are four variants of a box with the name and
Arms of Sir Francis Drake (1540-1596), executed in 1712,
but celebrating his earlier circumnavigation of the world from 1577 to 1580. 

Many of his moulds were drawn from commissioned medals,
particularly by those b y John Roettiers, (as the above).


Obrisset first appears in English records on the 26th July 1691, at the baptism of his daughter.
Obrisset's works date from 1705-1728, the latter being the last known date on his boxes.
Obrisset is represented in both horn and tortoiseshell in major museums,
both in America and the United Kingdom

For related information, see
John Obrisset and His work in Horn & Tortoiseshell, Philip A.S. Phillips







Above "British Silver Boxes 1640-1840, The Lion Collection", John Culme 2015 :

This James II snuff box featured lower left, with a grouping of seven

on the 'Title Page' for "18th Century", p. 85













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Very Rare Obrisset Silver-Mounted Tortoiseshell Snuff Box, James II, from a Medal by Roettiers; c1720