"Gold Washers" Snuff Box

This snuff box was made in London and used around 1860. The box’s lid is painted with an image four men—two white, and two African-Americans—working a stream for gold with the text “Gold-washers in California” below. Both slave and free African Americans participated in the gold rush as laborers and gold washers. A snuff box carried a powdered tobacco called snuff that was pinched and inhaled nasally.
Object Name
snuff box
Date made
ca 1860
Physical Description
paint (overall material)
paper mache (overall material)
composition board (overall material)
overall: 2 cm x 9.3 cm; 13/16 in x 3 11/16 in
overall: 3/4 in x 3 5/8 in; 1.905 cm x 9.2075 cm
place made
United Kingdom: England
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Occupation, general
related event
California Gold Rush
See more items in
Work and Industry: Mining
Industry & Manufacturing
American Enterprise
American Enterprise
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Additional Media

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