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Key Industries

Tobacco

Snuff grinding iron and stone spherical balls

Description:

Tobacco leaves were ground into a fine powder called snuff using these heavy balls.  Simple mortar and pestles and hand operated mills similar to coffee mills were also used, and rasps for grating were sometimes incorporated into snuff boxes.

 

Sniffing snuff was the original method of taking tobacco, first used by indigenous Americans.  The practice came to Europe with the return of Spanish, Portuguese and French explorers during the 1500s. It was in Scotland that the traditions of snuff taking were first established, perhaps because of its close links with France.  It gained acceptance throughout Britain when Charles II brought the custom back from his exile in France.

 

More tobacco was made into snuff than was used for smoking or chewing until the 1900s.  Everyone took it.  Lord Nelson took large quantities to sea with him, while Napoleon sniffed over three kilos a month.  Physicians made great claims for it, prescribing snuff for headaches, insomnia, toothache, coughs and colds and recommending it as a measure against infection.

Materials/Media:
iron, stone
Dimensions:
approx diameter (left) 75mm, (middle) 70mm, (right) 65mm
Source:
Dumfries Museum & Camera Obscura
Accession number:
(left) DUMFM:0206.65 (middle) DUMFM:1980.153; (right) DUMFM:1976.72
Digital Number:
DMAC019n
Copyright:
Dumfries & Galloway Council