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Blum Oral Tobacco

Tobacco Lore A Look at the History of Snuff

Date: Nov 1965
Length: 2 pages

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Tobacco Lore By Ben Rapaport A look at the history of snuff What is fascinating about snuff is that among the five tobacco products in use today-~pipe, cigar, cigarette, chew, and snuffmsnuff is the only product that was accompanied by an entire range of utensils, devices, tools, and parapher- nalia, as will be described herein. The .history of snuff is generally known by tobacconists. As well-known are the anecdotes and myths such as the story of Max Long, Mount Pleasant. Ia., who claimed to have consumed 1300 pounds of snuff in 44 years of dip- pingma can a ~ay! "Thanks to snuff," said he, 'Tve never been to a den- tist." Yet another, Bill Mclntosh of Anacortes, Wa., de- clams: "Never a day went by but what I've been chewed out by the Mrs. for my 'dirty habit.' Of course, as I tell her, I've never set fire to any mattresses, or scarred any furniture, or • ,filled any stinking ashtrays for someone else to clean up." These tall tale tidbits, tionwithstanding, the on-again, off-again fashionable custom of snuffing has endured for about 300 years and it~ development has always been at- tributed to one Romano Pane, a Franciscan friar who sailed with Clgi.'stopher Columbus on his second voyage to the New World (1494-1496); he observed the Indians snuffing tobacco dust through hollow canes, and hurried home to spread the Word of his discovery. As a result of this craze, both the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries were entitled "the great snuff age:" But the outgrowth from this tobacco product is more fascinating. Beau Brummel; it is said, contributed to the cause with the snuff handkerchief...a ceremonial piece of lace, usually measuring 24" square, for dusting the hands and upper lip after taking snuff. Cotton snuff napkins, on the other hand, were used not only for the hands or lips, but also to protect the lacy, frilly neck.cloth from falling snuff. Other ancillary items were developed to support and sustain the habit and which evedtually prompted larger pockets in mens' coats and pants and larger ladies" hand- bags. French and English goklsmiths from the finest estab- lishments in Paris and L&adon tooled up to execute portabl~ (and the larger table top size) ornate snuff boxes made of. ram metals with surmounted jewels, ename.lled portraits, and family armorials. The snuff mull (Scottish pronunciation of the word mill) is peculiarly Scottish and particularly fashioned of horn, but : mulls have also been made of wood, bone and tvory. Most am formed, however, in the sMpe bf a ram's horn, and fitted with a metal lid. Occasionally, the mull was decorated with a tiny ham's foot to wipe the upper lip or moustache, and a miniature spoon to scoop the finely ground powder used for sneeshing (a Scottish term). ; So, then, the spoon! While some users grated snuff from a rasp placed on the back of the hand and sniffed it. others took a pinch from a snuff box. Yet others used a snuff spoon, a somewhat personal expression of the owner, and made of various duratfle materials (often silver, pewter or gold). The spoon took onthe standard oval shape like.a very diminutive demitasse spoon,, a triangular form, or the squ .are shape of a coal or sugar scuttle. Attached to the snuff mull, folded into a compartm.e~a, t of the snuff box, or dan- gled from a vest pocket watch fob, the-spoon was another • appendage attributable to the partaking of Snuff. l Pocket st~e utensil A rasp, another adjunct device, was used for grating and grounding by those who rook pleasure irt grifiding their own or by those who could not afford the mass produced ready- grown ~ Again, ~ the snuff bo~x, shape, d~oration and material varied, but the principle that applied was size--small enough to be carried in the pocket. Tobacco jars, another byp ,r~duct of snuff'taking, were used in retail shops to sell bulk snuff. They, like their relative, apothecary jars, bore the names of the particular contents stored therein--St. Omet; Violet, Havanna. Mac- uba. Haanoover. Most of the fine extmat examines are of the
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