Snuff Box,

A cousin has sent me pictures of an ornate silver snuff box. The story is that it was given by Roger Nethercoat (1751-1800) to John Wright (1730 to 1807) This seems correct as it has John Wright’s name inscribed on the top and the Nethercoat family crest on the base. Roger married John’s daughter in 1781
The silver marks are inside the snuff box.

The hallmark is Edinburgh, 1820 and the maker is Richard Haxton so the family story cannot be quite as you have it.

I had a look at the info on Internet for Richard Haxton and it said both that he was a noted Edinburgh silversmith and that his years were 1816 to 1822. Six years looked ridiculous for a “noted silversmith” to I did what I do – genealogical research. The following is what I found
Richard Haxton was the son of Richard Haxton and Jean Grieg, born 19 Feb 1772.
He married twice:
19 Aug 1797 to Margaret Smellie, his occupation was “Goldsmith”
28 Dec 1814 to Dorothy Ward, occupation Goldsmith
He died 23 May 1842, occupation Jeweller

I don’t know his father’s occupation, but “Goldsmith” would not surprise me.
It would not surprise me if he made items both before and after that 1816 to 1822 period.

How do I tell the difference between date letter “O” and “o”? It seems to me they look the same. to convince my relatives that 1820 is correct it would be nice if I could explain to them why it is the “o” and not “O”.
John Wright, who was the supposed recipient of this box, died in 1807 (I have his Will) and there is no other John Wright candidate. so, 1820 does not work for my relatives.
1794 (date Letter “O”) would work

You will have got the dates for Haxton from my makers’ marks web site. You should be aware that the dates on that site are verified dates only; i.e. dates for which I have seen that particular maker’s or sponsor’s mark. So I am quite sure that Haxton’s working dates are much wider than those quoted. Indeed the Edinburgh Incorporation of Goldsmiths quote the earliest and latest mentions of him in their records as 1799 and 1843.

The date is definitely 1820. The difference between the earlier 1794 O and the 1820 O is the shape of the punch. Here is a 1794 hallmark:

and here is an 1820 one:

You will also note that all of the punch marks are a different shape and that the shape of the towers on the Edinburgh castle town mark are different. This all confirms the hallmark date as 1820.

The only explanation which I can suggest for the discrepancy in the dates is that the box may have been reworked for some reason in 1820.