The present snuff box, and the following hardstone objects from the same collection, represent the scientific interest in hardstone in Germany from the mid-18th
century. The centre of attention for any admirer of this elegant box is the rare ‘starling stone’ itself, a specific type of chalcedony which can be found in the Erzgebirge region around Chemnitz in Eastern Germany (Alexis Kugel, Gold, Jasper and Carnelian, Johann Christian Neuber at the Saxon Court,
London, 2012, p. 329), rather than the craftmanship of gold chasing in this instance. The mounts are a frame to display the beauty of the stone. The love for hardstones in Germany in the 18th
century was to be found both in Berlin under Frederick the Great and in Dresden. The leading proponent in Dresden was Johann Christian Neuber, maker of Galanteriewaren
made from locally-mined hardstones, for the Saxon Court. Today Neuber is mainly recognised for his Steinkabinettstabatieren,
the most elegant gold and hardstone snuff boxes functioning as portable specimen studies and demonstrating the variety of natural hardstones. The boxes are sometimes also accompanied by a small booklet listing the scientific names of each numbered stone, often more than a hundred, on the box.