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What is Snuff?

The practice of smoking snuff became popular in England around the seventeenth century. It was somewhat earlier in France as well as Scotland, due to the countries’ contact with France and the French Court.

The sign used to denote a shop that sold snuff was a Scottish Highlander dressed in full kilt. It was carved in wood. The logo was created to resemble the Indian signboards for cigar stores that can be seen in North America.

It is believed that the use of snuff was first introduced at Central as well as South America before the advent of the Spaniards. It is probable to be the ones who introduced the habit to Europe.

Louis XIII of France forbade the use of snuff , except as prescribed by physicians. In the past, people believed, as many do, that snuff kept one free from colds and gives relief from catarrh as well as other complaints.

It was Pope Urban XIII ordered that anyone who is found to be guilty of using snuff in church should be banned from the church.

The Tsar Michael I of Russia decreed that smokers be punished for the first offense and executed on the second. Snuff smokers were to be treated more leniently – they were simply ordered to have their noses removed!

SP Snouff is widely considered to be the most popular blend in the world. It got its name in the aftermath of a naval battle on the shores of the Spanish port of Vigo in 1702. The French fleet was guarding a rich Spanish galleon convoy. The convoy had come from into the West Indies following an attack which was launched by a coalition of English and Dutch fleet. It was under the command by Admiral Sir George Rooke.

One ship The Torbay – under the command of Vice-Admiral Hobson – was becalmed and was stranded in a perilous location. A chronicler from the present writes:

“All this time, Admiral Hobson was in danger due to being thrown on board by the French Fireship and his rigging was currently being set on fire and he was awaiting every minute to be burned; however, it was a great relief that the French vessel, that was a Merchantman , laden with snuff, and fitted with the speed of the purpose of becoming a Fireship before being blown up and the snuff was somehow, put out the flame and prevented that of the English Man of War from being destroyed.”

The battle, for which Hobson was awarded a knighthood and a pension of PS500 and was responsible in launching the fashionable fashion of snuff-taking in England. The treasures of the captured Spanish galleons included a large quantity of snuff, which was later available for purchase in London.

It was called “Spanish” by the clerks, they then reduced it to ‘SP’, thereby naming the most popular mix.

By the turn of the 18th century, smoking snuff became commonplace throughout the globe. Snuff boxes, usually highly ornamented, were worn as jewelry and were given as valuable gifts. The lids were usually decorated with miniature pictures of the time like allegories, floral scenes and pastoral romantic scenes.

They are regarded as prized examples of the finest work of miniature painters, enamellers, jewellers and silversmiths.

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