Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

History Buffs Sniff out Scottish Relic Snuff Box, Gift to George Washington Was Last Seen in Belleville

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

History Buffs Sniff out Scottish Relic Snuff Box, Gift to George Washington Was Last Seen in Belleville

Article excerpt

History buffs on two continents are searching for a priceless, 700-year-old Scottish snuff box, once the property of George Washington, that made its last known appearance in 1923 at a Daughters of the Revolution tea in Belleville.

The Wallace Oak Snuff Box was said to be carved from a tree used as camouflage by Sir William Wallace, Scotland's liberator, in the battle of Falkirk in 1298, as Wallace led the Scottish clans against King Edward I of England.

Actor Mel Gibson played Wallace in the movie "Braveheart." According to the Smith Art Gallery & Museum at Stirling, near the site of the battle of Falkirk, the snuff box was made by the Edinburgh Goldsmiths, and therefore, "the work would have been of the highest quality, and it would have had a gold- or silver-plated inscription." The box was given to George Washington by David Stewart Erskine, the Eleventh Earl of Buchan, who was born in 1742 and died in 1829. He was a Scottish patriot who supported American independence, a radical position f or his day. The earl corresponded regularly with George Washington and became such a good friend to the United States after the Revolutionary War that he was considered his country's unofficial ambassador. "The gift of the carved and embellished oak casket, carved from the ancient oak in the Torwood, near Stirling, which sheltered William Wallace in 1297, was the highest compliment he could pay to Washington," wrote the director of the Smith Art Gallery & Museum. The box made its last documented appearance on Feb. 22, 1923, at the annual Washington Tea given by the Daughters of the American Revolution in the old Community House in Belleville. An article in that day's Belleville Daily Advocate describes it as oval shaped, about 6 inches long, 4 inches wide and 2 1/2 inches deep. The box is described as having a secret receptacle for hiding papers in the bottom. The Daily Advocate is preserved on microfilm at the Belleville Public Library. …

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