It was secured by a private collector at a sum way above the £800-1200 estimate.
Identifying the landmarks depicted on these small boxes is seldom straightforward but, as he researched this item, Barton was given a generous clue by the inclusion to the inside cover of the Montefiore crest.
East Cliff Lodge in Ramsgate, built in the mid 1790s and boasting extensive gardens, romantic tunnels cut into the chalk and stupendous views out to sea, was first the country house of Caroline of Brunswick and later owned by the Marquess of Wellesley, a brother of the Duke of Wellington.
However, it is best associated with Sir Moses Haim Montefiore (1784-1885), the financier and philanthropist who served as president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews for 39 years from 1835-74. He first rented the property in 1822 and purchased it in 1830.
The house itself was demolished in 1954 but the mausoleum in which Montefiore and his wife were laid to rest and the private synagogue they had built in the grounds still exist.
The decoration to this otherwise typical 3½in (9cm) box by Hilliard & Thomason of Birmingham echoes closely one of two known (but currently untraced) watercolour views of the house painted by Turner around 1797. It seems likely the engraver worked directly from them or at least from a print.
It was probably a one-off commission by or for Montefiore. Accordingly, although desirable as a ‘castle top’ snuff box – a collecting genre that has reached record levels of late – Barton told ATG that “its primary appeal was its close ties with a seminal figure in British Jewish history“.