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Posts Tagged ‘tobacciana’

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This is an original cast iron spittoon shaped like a turtle that opens when its head is pressed. These turtles were used apparently in high-class hotels, saloons and brothels from the 17th – 19th century. This wonderful piece measures 14″ long from tip of the tail to the nose, and at the widest point is 10 3/4″ wide. A special feature of this particular turtle spittoon is that it is marked with embossed letters and it reads, “Royal Products – Chicago”.

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Chewing is one of the oldest ways of consuming tobacco leaves. Native Americans in both North and South America chewed the leaves of the plant, frequently mixed with the mineral lime.
Chewing tobacco is made from leaves of an ordinary or inferior quality by pressing, twisting, or cutting. Liquorice, syrups, and various flavoring matters are used, and sometimes leaves of other plants are mixed in.

Chicago - 1900

Chicago - 1900

Colorado - 1902

Colorado - 1902

In the late 19th century, during the peak in popularity of chewing tobacco in the Western United States, a device known as the spittoon was a ubiquitous feature throughout places both private and public. So common is the custom of chewing tobacco in the United States that the spittoon is a piece of furniture scarcely less requisite than the chair or the water bucket. No house is complete without it. The habit of chewing tobacco was so common that cuspidors and spittoons were found even in the nation’s ritziest hotels, like the Plaza in New York or Chicago’s Palmer House. The purpose of the spittoon was to provide a receptacle for excess juices and spittle accumulated from the oral use of tobacco.

Danville, Illinois

Danville, Illinois

In almost every saloon, one could depend on seeing the long paneled bar, usually made of oak or mahogany. Encircling the base of the bar would be a gleaming brass foot rail with a row of spittoons spaced along the floor next to the bar.

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These containers came in all sizes and shapes and where made of many different materials. The materials used to make these early containers ranged from brass to cast iron to nickel and porcelain.

Thomas Alva Edison

Thomas Alva Edison

Major June C. Smith

Major June C. Smith

After World War I, smoking cigarettes became very popular in America and the habit of chewing tobacco and dipping snuff declined. Today, baseball players still chew tobacco, as well as others, such as hunters and fishermen, who spend a lot of time outside. To this very day spittoons are still present on the floor of the U.S. Senate, though they are no longer used by members.

Turtle Spittoons

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Brass Spittoons
by Langston Hughes

Clean the spittoons, boy.
Detroit,
Chicago,
Atlantic City,
Palm Beach.
Clean the spittoons.
The steam in hotel kitchens,
And the smoke in hotel lobbies,
And the slime in hotel spittoons:
Part of my life.
Hey, boy!
A nickel,
A dime,
A dollar,
Two dollars a day.
Hey, boy!
A nickel,
A dime,
A dollar,
Two dollars
Buy shoes for the baby.
House rent to pay.
Gin on Saturday,
Church on Sunday.
My God!
Babies and gin and church
And women and Sunday
All mixed with dimes and
Dollars and clean spittoons
And house rent to pay.
Hey, boy!
A bright bowl of brass is beautiful to the Lord.
Bright polished brass like the cymbals
Of King David’s dancers,
Like the wine cups of Solomon.
Hey, boy!
A clean spittoon on the altar of the Lord.
A clean bright spittoon all newly polished-
At least I can offer that.
Com’mere, boy!

Capitol spittoon cleaning - 1914

Capitol spittoon cleaning - 1914

James Mercer Langston Hughes, (February 1, 1902 – May 22, 1967) was an American poet, novelist, playwright, short story writer, and columnist. He was one of the earliest innovators of the new literary art form jazz poetry.
During his life, Hughes devoted his poetic genius to the realization of that dream deferred, the dream of racial equality. It was a dream that pervades most of his writings -his poetry, plays, short stories, novels, autobiographies, children’s books, newspaper columns, black histories, edited anthologies, and other works.
Hughes knew well the language, literature, and customs of Spain and Spanish America. He translated much Hispanic literature, including the poetry of Gabriela Mistral, Federico García Lorca, and Nicolás Guillén, into English. These volumes reflect his pioneering efforts over thirty years to bring Spanish writers to the attention of North American readers.

Langston Hughes by Consuelo Kanaga

Langston Hughes by Consuelo Kanaga

Langston Hughes by Winold Reiss

Langston Hughes by Winold Reiss



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Snuff box ” LA BIENNOISE”, trademark.

African acajou wood and metal silver, c.1870s,

8,5 X 4,5 cm.

One of the more functional types of decorative boxes is the snuff box, which is now largely a relic of the once popular practice of taking snuff. At one time, this tiny decorative but utilitarian box was an indispensable accessory for every man of birth and breeding from the 18th century through the middle of the 19th century.
Artisans, such as the jeweller and the enameller bestowed infinite pains upon this object, which was as much a delicate bijou as a piece of utility. Gentlemen of Quality, fops, and dandies possessed a great variety of snuff-boxes, some of which were quite rich in detail, with frames of gold encased with diamonds. Other boxes were more ordinary. Made with potato-pulp, the cheapest wood available, they were extensively used.

Snuff is a generic term for fine-ground smokeless tobacco products. Originally the term referred only to dry snuff, a fine tan dust popular mainly in the eighteenth century. This is often called “Scotch Snuff”, a folk-etymology derivation of the scorching process used to dry the cured tobacco by the factory. Snuff powder originated in the UK town of Great Harwood and was famously ground in the town’s monument prior to local distribution and transport further up north to Scotland
Types of Snuff
European (dry) snuff is intended to be sniffed up the nose. Snuff is not “snorted” because snuff shouldn’t get past the nose, i.e.; into sinuses, throat or lungs. European snuff comes in several varieties: Plain, Toast (fine ground – very dry), “Medicated” (menthol, camphor, eucalyptus, etc.), Scented, and Schmalzler, a German variety. The major brand names of European snuffs are: Toque Tobacco (UK), Bernards (Germany), Fribourg & Treyer (UK), Gawith (UK), Gawith Hoggarth] (UK), Hedges (UK), Lotzbeck (Germany), McChrystal’s (UK), Pöschl (Germany) and Wilsons of Sharrow (UK), TUTUN-CTC (Moldova).

Another “La Biennoise” snuff box

  • Did you know… Snus (Swedish: “snuff”) is a moist powder tobacco product that is consumed by placing it under the upper lip for extended periods of time. It was originally developed from powdered snuff that was inhaled through the nostrils. Snus is manufactured and consumed primarily in Sweden and Norway. A version has recently been introduced into the United States and is being test-marketed by two major American tobacco companies as well as one Swedish company. However, the health effects of these new versions of snus have not yet been studied.
  • Did you know… the first tobacco plantation was in the United States? It was established in Virginia in 1612!

« Snuff box » a BBC Three sketch show

Snuff Box (sometimes referred to as Berry & Fulcher’s Snuff Box) is a BBC Three sketch show starring and written by Matt Berry and Rich Fulcher. If you enjoy the weird and wacky, cult style comedy then Snuff Box is a must watch.

Berry and Fulcher walking down the corridor




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