Archive for December, 2011

Butt out!

How do you finish hosting a meal? Do you bring out the port and cheese? Perhaps some sherry. Maybe you leave the womenfolk to tidy the table while you retire to the drawing room for a brandy and a cigar? (Seriously? in this day and age!)

There are a lot of dining traditions we have left behind, some for practical reasons, some have just gone out of fashion. One of these traditions is the taking of snuff. Once as popular as smoking, now a relic of a bygone era.


A rolling ram of a snuff box

The object on this entry is the pair of ram horns. As an Aries I am drawn to them anyway, but the story behind them is just as fascinating. They were owned by Roger Hargreaves, Grandson of James Hargreaves. Blackburnians may recognise the name as it was his family which owned a well known tobacco wholesaler on Northgate. The horns would be placed on a track on the dinner table and would be used to provide snuff with the after dinner port. There were two compartments which could hold two brands of snuff and originally came with a rabbit’s foot for dusting off any excess snuff.

Snuff was popular in professions where smoking was forbidden, such as mining. QueenVictoria did not permit smoking around her but allowedPrince Albert and other gentlemen to take snuff. During it’s heyday snuff would fill huge shops and come in a variety of exotic flavours and smells. It would be popular in large cities and small towns and was perfect as a mid-day pick me up or post dinner relaxer.


Blackburn Museum can be found in Blackburn, Lancashire. It houses objects documenting Blackburn's industrial past as well as a world class collection of Fine Art, Japanese prints, Icons, Numismatics and Manuscripts. Come and visit us to find out more.

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