Tobacco box (lid)

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made in the Netherlands

Postcard of Tobacco box (lid).
© National Museums Scotland

Tobacco box (lid)

This mariner's brass tobacco box, incorporating two navigational aids, was made in the Netherlands in 1792.

The lid of the box (pictured here) has a perpetual calender and portraits of Julius Caesar and Pope Gregory XIII, representing the old and new calender systems. The words 'Reght Door Zee' [Steady over the sea] are engraved on the side of the box.

Invented in about 1750 by a retired Swedish mariner based in Antwerp named Pieter Holm, each box is dated at the end of the perpetual calendar with the final four digits.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-100-102-704-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0098: National Museums Scotland
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  T.1966.1
Date: 1792
Material: Brass lid. Inscription: Reght Door Zee (engraved on side)
Dimensions: 5.88" L x 1.75" B
What: Tobacco box / calendar, perpetual
Subject: 20. TIME MEASUREMENT (Departmental Classification)
Who: Julius Caesar
Miss D. Salveson, Edinburgh (Original donor)
Pieter Holm (Eponym)
Pope Gregory XIII
Where: Netherlands
Description: Pieter Holm's Dutch tobacco box, with a perpetual calendar engraved on the brass lid, and a scale for estimating a ship's speed engraved on the bottom, 1792
  • Bennett, J.A., The Divided Circle: A history of instruments for astronomy, navigation and surveying. Oxford: 1987, p 31 
  • Crone, E. trans. by Bronwer, D., with introductory essay by Pugsley, E., Pieter Holm and his tobacco box. Connecticut: Mystic, 1953 
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