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"Professor McGonagall watched them turn a mouse into a snuffbox — points were given for how pretty the snuffbox was, but taken away if it had whiskers."
— The first year Transfiguration exam in 1992[src]

A snuffbox is a decorative box originally intended to hold snuff, a form of powdered tobacco inhaled through the nose.[2]


"Sirius sustained a bad bite from a silver snuffbox; within seconds, his bitten hand had developed an unpleasant crusty covering like a tough brown glove."
— Sirius Black after having picked up an enchanted snuffbox[src]

At the end of the 1991–1992 school year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, first-years had to transform a mouse into a snuffbox for their Transfiguration exam. Points were granted for the snuffbox's prettiness, but points were deducted if the snuffboxes still had whiskers.[3]

A snuffbox made of silver, filled with Wartcap powder, bit Sirius Black during the cleanup of Number 12 Grimmauld Place in August of 1995. Black developed a unpleasant crusty covering on his hand due to direct exposure to the powder but was able to instantly heal himself with magic.[1]

Behind the scenes

Snuff originated in the Americas, being first recorded among the indigenous people of Brazil. The idea was brought to Europe by Franciscan friar Ramón Pané, who had observed the practice on Christopher Columbus's second voyage to the New World in 1493. The use of snuff became extremely popular over the coming centuries, especially among the upper classes, and was in common use by the 17th century.


Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 6 (The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black)
  2. Snuffbox on Britannica
  3. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 16 (Through the Trapdoor)