Stone ball and wooden mortar for grinding snuff, and snuff handkerchief

Tobacco leaves were ground into a fine powder called snuff using 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.   Large, brightly coloured handkerchiefs were used to wipe the face after taking snuff and for sneezing into.  The brown tobacco stains were less visible on these.
Object no :
Collection :
Creator :
Place of Production :
Dimensions :
height 86mm, diameter (top) 100mm, (base) 107mm
Materials :
Location :
Related site :
Accession number :
DUMFM:1961.28.1, DUMFM:1962.12.38
Copyright :
Dumfries & Galloway Council
You must enable javascript to view this website