Thursday, January 18, 2007

This Gracious Custom

I've been clearing out loads of old crap at work this week, stuff left over from the departmental move last summer (yes, things do move slowly here sometimes...). One of the few good things about sorting out really old boxes is that occasionally you find something interesting, making up for getting covered in black grime and poking your finger through a so-filthy-it-rotted-away mouse mat....

I've just found 2 post-war handbooks for tobacconists, priced at one shilling - 'All About Cigars' and 'All about Snuff and Snuff Taking'. Very educational, as well as having nice covers and adverts inside.

The gracious and sociable custom of snuff-taking, one of the oldest associated with the use of tobacco, was apparently enjoying a welcome revival in the early 1960s, according to the Society of Snuff Grinders, Blenders and Purveyors of Great Britain. The pleasures of indulgence are emphasised to draw in new customers... In the old days, snuff-taking had its own special ritual - 'a true artistic method' involving 'twelve separate operations' described by 'an eminent addict' of the 18th century.

As I don't really want to encourage unforeseen problems of the nose, I won't list the 12 steps to sniffing snuff, in case it inspires a snuff-snorting frenzy in modern readers. But watch and learn from the illustration if you must, in a return to those glorious days, as 'young women of the 18th century learn the art -some with immediate enjoyment, others with apparent trepidation'.


Mathias Klang said...

Snuff is for amateurs and old aristocrats wearing lace! In the cold nordic wasteland we have Snus which is wet tobacco which you put under your lip. Very exotic :)

Info here and here.

Claire said...

Hhmm, well the booklet says all sorts of British people take snuff, from bankers and solicitors to lorry drivers and clergymen- nothing aristocratic there! It's interesting because it cheerfully describes them as addicts, and the way they get introduced to it is the same as with illicit drug use today, but with no apparent stigma attached.

Hope you won't be appearing with wet tobacco under your lip in March!!

Snuff Store said...

Hi Claire,

Would you be interested in selling the All about snuff and snuff taking: A handbook for tobacconists book?

I'd love a copy!

If so, please get in touch via the 'contact us' link on Snuff Store.

BTW, no need to encourage people to take snuff, the government have already done that with their banning of smoking in enclosed public places - snuff users are on the increase already!