September 25, 2013


During the early 19th century, the wealthy had many ways to show their high social standing and one of those ways was by using snuff.

Snuff is a smokeless tobacco made from ground tobacco leaves. Snuff is inhaled through the nostril, giving the user a shot of nicotine and a lasting flavour scent. The elite used snuff to help distinguish its members in society from the common people who generally smoked tobacco. Snuff originated with native tribes in South America and was adopted by the Spanish in the early 16th century, quickly spreading to other European countries.

Not everyone liked using snuff. Pope Urban VIII banned the use of snuff in churches and threatened snuff-takers with excommunication. In Russia, Czar Michael prohibited the sale of tobacco in 1643 and instituted the punishment of removing ones nose if caught and repeat offenders would be killed.
Snuff Box

During the early 19th century there were some prominent snuff users, including King George III’s wife Queen Charlotte, who was called ‘Snuffy Charlotte’ for having an entire room at Windsor Castle devoted to her snuff stock. Some other prominent snuff takers included Napoleon, Lord Nelson, and the Duke of Wellington. Snuff was so popular among officers that it was not uncommon to have snuff boxes on tables in the officers’ mess.

Due to snuff’s image as an aristocratic luxury, the U.S. introduced a federal tax on tobacco in 1794. Despite the tax, snuff was still popular among many Americans, including members of Congress as a communal snuff box was installed in Congress for its members until it was discontinued in the 1930s.

If you want to learn some more interesting facts about the early 19th century and the War of 1812 join Heritage Niagara for their 10th annual 1812 dinner. Click here for more information.

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