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1922.1085 tobacco box lid

lid of a tobacco box, possibly made in Coalbrookdale, 1750 - 1800, © Manchester City Galleries

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Lid of a tobacco box


Probably made in Coalbrookdale 1750-1800
Cast iron

This box contained tobacco grown by enslaved people
yet, ironically, it was one of a range of objects
made to support the abolition of the slave trade.
British abolitionists wanted to shame slave traders
by employing an image of a passive African in chains.
The motif hides how the enslaved resisted oppression,
with persistence, courage and ingenuity.

Resistance to slavery ranged from covert acts
like working slowly to reduce the plantations' profits,
to organised revolts by thousands of men and women.
Eloquent testimonies by former slaves
like campaigner and businessman Olaudah Equiano,
were also vital in promoting the abolition of the trade,
inspiring the fight for freedom by black and white alike.

Gift of Mrs Mary Greg 1922.1085

Location on Display: Second floor: Gallery of Craft and Design

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