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Thames Tunnel Souvenir Snuff Box

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A Papier-mâché Snuff box 3.75 inches diameter,  

the lid bearing a hand coloured printed scene of the Grand Entrance Hall to the Thames Tunnel at Rotherhithe, thronged with visitors, any one of which may have bought a box such as this. 

Finally opening to the public in 1843 descriptions of the day tell us that the tunnel was something of a shopping centre, attracting some 2 million visitors each year, rather than a route to traverse the river. Descriptions vary from one source to another. According to the American traveller, William Allen Drew, the transverse arches, leading from one bore to the other throughout the length of the tunnel were occupied as ‘fancy and toy shops in the richest manner with polished marble counters, tapestry linings, gilded shelves, and mirrors that make everything appear double.’ ‘It is impossible to pass through without purchasing some curiosity. Most of the articles are labelled – "Bought in the Thames Tunnel" or "a present from the Thames Tunnel". Another American writer, Nathaniel Hawthorne, writing just a few years later described the tunnel as with ‘little alcoves, (with) stalls or shops, kept principally by women, who, as you approach, are seen through the dusk offering for sale ... multifarious trumpery ...He tells of gloomily lighted corridors where people spend their entire lives, rarely seeing daylight. 

The Thames Tunnel was soon to be seen as the haunt of prostitutes and "tunnel thieves" who lurked under its arches and mugged passers-by.


Item Code: 4429

£ 650

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