Collectors of tobacco boxes and nautical antiques may be familiar with 18th / early 19th century Dutch seaman’s tobacco boxes associated with Pieter Holm (1685 -1776), a retired Swedish seaman who in the 1720s settled in Amsterdam and from about 1737 onwards operated a nautical school called Regt door Zee (i.e. “Sailing a Straight Course”).
Although these tobacco boxes were never signed, they appear to made in Iserlohn (Germany) from where they were shipped to Amsterdam and sold at Pieter Holm’s nautical school. Whether the calendrical and nautical information was already engraved on the boxes in Iserlohn or were added later in Amsterdam is not known. The manufacture and sale of these boxes continued long after the death of Pieter Holm in 1776.
These tobacco boxes, usually made of copper and brass and measuring 12 to 18 cm in length, feature a perpetual calendar on the top of the lid and a ship’s speed table on the bottom which Holm, in a 1748 publication claims to have devised in 1729.
This particular example was made and is dated 1764 (punched to the side, last picture). Length 17.5 cms and has a nice patina finish to the brass and copper.
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I live in Lancashire (U.K.) and have been a dealer and collector of scientific and nautical instruments for a number of years. My stock has included some fine items from museums and colleges, which were surplus to their requirements. I occasionally purchase some interesting items from abroad, having established some reliable sources.