Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Dreaded Snuff-Binge

I'm fairly sure every snuff-taker has done this at least once.  I'm talking about the snuff-binge.  Sometimes it happens when you find one particular snuff you really really like.  Sometimes a snuff-binge is sparked by receiving a new selection of snuffs in the mail.  Sometimes it happens after a busy week, when you finally have a whole evening just to relax.  Whatever the cause, the occasional snuff-binge is sort of amusing.

We like to think of ourselves as discerning and sophisticated snuff-takers, enjoying the scents, flavors, and traditions of our age-old activity in a calm and reflective capacity.  And most of the time we are.  But, the snuff-binge is a little bit of our base nature peeking through the cracks of our civilized veneer.  Just as some animals will eat lethal amounts of food before they realize what's happening, there is some needy animal part of our brain that takes over sometimes, and a full-on snuff-binge results.

I will admit to a snuff-binge last night.  I received an amazing order of snuff.  I told myself, "Hey, Mark...try these slowly.  Control yourself.   Just enjoy each new snuff at your regular snuff-taking pace, and spend the next couple of days trying each of these new snuffs."  I was resolved to exercise a Gentleman's level of control.  But, the kid in a candy store part of my brain took over, and four hours later I had taken copious amounts of every kind of snuff I had received.  My nose was thrumming and felt heavy and a little numb.  My eyes were dry in their sockets and red like a stop sign.  Used kleenex littered my desk top.  I was surrounded by a jumble of snuff tins piled here and there.  I was happy as pie, but a little disappointed in myself!

I would love to say that I will never have one of these snuff-binges again.  And you probably tell yourself, "Never again.  I'm a sophisticated snuff-taker, and completely in control."  But, odds are...some delicious selection of snuff is going to show up in your mail one day, and you'll once again fall prey to that grabby greedy part of your brain that can't have enough.  When that happens, don't be too disappointed in yourself.  It was only a matter of time..

Mark Stinson
Modern Snuff Website

Friday, December 11, 2015

Sarsaparilla from Old Mill Artisan Snuff

I started into the new Sarsaparilla snuff from Old Mill Artisan Snuff today.  And I thought I would post some of my impressions of it.  Like all Old Mill Snuffs, when you open the tin you are immediately struck by how densely packaged the snuff is in the tin.  It is packed to the brim with the finely ground tobacco, and its best to use a spoon (or other small object) to fluff it a bit in the center and portion out the snuff you are going to take.

The Sarsaparilla snuff is a medium brown color and has moderate moisture.  It sticks together a little bit, and is moist enough to clump if pressed together.  I usually spoon it onto the back of my hand, and then spread it out a little bit.  You have to snuff it delicately, so you don't pull it too far into your nose.  The moisture makes it much easier to take than an American Scotch, but the medium-fine grind requires you to go a little easy with it.

Here is the description of the snuff from the Old Mill website:
Sarsaparilla:  Stoved red Virginia, toasted St. James Perique and a small amount of dark air cured Burley are dressed with a cocktail of Jamaican sarsaparilla root, dandelion root, wild cherry bark, ginger root, juniper berries, cinnamon sticks, black malt syrup and vanilla beans then conditioned in toasted Colorado Blue Spruce crates.  When fully matured the leaf is air dried and milled to a medium fine grind with moderate moisture for a snuff reminiscent of root beer, without the sweetness.
So, how's the scent/flavor?  The short answer is DELICIOUS.  The methods that Chef Daniel of Old Mill uses to make his snuff ensure that the scent is rich without any hint whatsoever of anything artificial.  There is this spicy "root beer" flavor to the snuff, but its more than that.  There is both a richness and a creaminess that is something beyond just a "root beer" flavor.  I love blended root beer floats at Sonic, and this snuff reminds me of that combination of creaminess and spiciness you get with those.  Chef Daniel says "without the sweetness" in his description above, but there is a subtle sweetness there, mostly likely from the way the tobaccos were prepared.

In my nose, the snuff lingers quite well.  It diminishes over time, and the spicy "root beer" flavor changes over time, revealing layers of complexity.  It is one of those snuffs where you can sit and enjoy the changes in the scent over time.  I snuffed up enough of the Sarsaparilla in a short amount of time, that I generated a throat drip.  Much like Old Mill's Pure Virginia Toast, the throat drip has both a pleasant flavor and subtle burn.  With moderate use, this would be unlikely to develop any drip at all.

Chef Daniel only sells to individual snuff-takers directly.  So, if you are interested in getting some of the Sarsaparilla, simply go to the Old Mill Website and use the contact form to start communicating with him.  He'll get you the price list and set things up with you.

Mark Stinson
Modern Snuff Website

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Scent-Track to Our Lives

Daffy Duck Uses Snuff.  Snuff Said.
I had a weird thought the other day. You know how people take their MP3 player everywhere? Its like adding a sound-track to your life.  Or sometimes people joke about a signature theme song playing everytime they walk into a room, like what happens with heroes (and some villians) in movies and television.  Music sets a tone.  It adds flavor to life.  It is mood altering, and adds extra layers of meaning.

Snuff-takers have a SCENT-track to their lives. The world just smells better all the time when you are a snuff-taker. You can choose what the world smells like.  Snuff-takers often take different snuffs in different situations.  Snuff allows you to augment and take advantage of one of your five senses, and feed it with sensory input.  Snuff sets a tone.  It adds flavor to life.  It is mood altering, and adds extra layers of meaning.

Mark Stinson
Modern Snuff Website

Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Creation of a Modern Shoe-Shaped Snuff Box

There was a trend in Victorian times of making shoe-shaped snuff boxes.  They actually made a lot of things in the shape of a shoe, for novelty purposes.  It also had a good luck meaning, and shoe-shaped snuff boxes were given as wedding presents and to travelers about to head out on a journey.  For more information about shoe-shaped snuff boxes, Read This Blog-Post.

A friend of mine in Minnesota is a wood-carver.  His name is Joe Jarvinen.  He recently began carving snuff box in the shape of a shoe.  Below are photos showing his progress from the rough shape, to adding detail, to refining it, and finally adding an oil-rubbed finish.  There will be a hinged lid for the snuff box, and Joe told me recently that he is working on the lid right now.  Click on any of these photos to see larger versions. 

When Joe is done with his project, I'll share photos fot he finished version.  What a beautiful project.  Even more so because it honors an old Victorian snuff-taking tradition.

Mark Stinson
Modern Snuff Website

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Types of Snuff Page Complete!

Well, it took a little while to get all the information together and finish it, but the Type of Snuff page on the Modern Snuff website is complete!  Click Here to access the new page.

We took the approach of listing categories of snuff based to some degree on flavor or scent.  But, there is also information on the grind of the snuff, fermentation, tobacco varieties, etc.  The goal was to give a new snuff-taker the tools to understand conversations that take place between other snuff-takers, and to give them a starting place when choosing the kinds of snuff they might like.  Besides describing the snuff categories, six examples of snuff products were given under each category.

The page was just uploaded today.  If you find any information on the page that is incorrect or that could be presented in a better way, please email me at and let me know.

Mark Stinson
Modern Snuff Website

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Modern Snuff Blog One Month In...

This blog has existed for a little over month now, having started on October 10, 2015.  I thought it might be fun to report on the blog's progress thus far, and some of the blog's statistics.

In the first month of the blog there were 46 blog posts.  During that first month there were 1552 page views by visitors.  Those visitors were from the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, Spain, Germany, Canada, Italy, South Africa, the Netherlands, and Australia.

By and large, the majority of this traffic came over to the blog from the Modern Snuff website itself, followed closely by people who came over from Facebook.  A surprisingly smaller number of visitors came over to the blog from the Snuffhouse message board and search engines.

I'm very pleased with how the blog is going, and I hope those of you visiting the blog are enjoying it.


Mark Stinson
Modern Snuff Website

Friday, November 13, 2015

Continuing a Tradition of Enjoyment

When compared with other ways of enjoying tobacco, there just aren't that many snuff-takers.  Especially here in the United States, it is possible to be a snuff-taker for years and not meet another snuff-taker face-to-face.  That makes us a little unique.  Many of us are a singularity in our lives.  We exist on an allegorical desert island of snuff-taking, alone in our enjoyment of his wonderful activity.

Of course, it is easy enough to communicate with other snuff-takers on-line.  There's discussion groups on Facebook, an active message board or two, and you can private message and email other snuff-takers that you meet in these on-line venues.  Snuff-takers that have never met each other in person, do each other favors, trade snuff through the mail, and help each other get snuff that isn't available in some areas.  This is a lot of fun, but real life, in person, many of us are alone.

But that's alright.  While in a literal sense we are isolated in our snuff-taking, we are continuing an age old tradition.  A tradition that brings us comfort and joy.  A tradition that relaxes us when appropriate, and stimulates and focuses us in times of need.  A tradition that strikes at the very origins of tobacco use in the Western World.  Tobacco lends itself so easily and perfectly to snuff-taking.  The existence and attributes of tobacco ensures that there will always be snuff-takers.

Just some random thoughts tonight, with my snoot full of snuff.  :-)

Mark Stinson
Modern Snuff Website

Misadventures in Snuff-Taking!

Little Girl Snuff-Taking - We Don't Condone That!!!
There are times where things just go wrong.  A little carelessness or a little bad luck, and the next thing you know snuff is everywhere.  I thought I'd share three misadventures I've had with snuff...

I"ll start with what happened just the other day. I was working very hard at work, framing a house. Lots of physical activity, moving around, etc. When I went to lunch and pulled out my money to pay, it was strangely brown. Looked like I had gotten a whole bunch of dirt in my pocket or something. I didn't really investigate further. When I got home, I sat down to have some snuff and relax. I reached in my pocket, and the little metal pill bottle filled with Viking Dark had no lid! I pulled it out, and it was empty. But my pocket was far from empty. I had a pocket full of Viking Dark, and everything in my pocket was encrusted with it... change, bills, receipts, keys, bills...everything.

When I spoon onto the back of my hand, I hold the tin in the hand I'm snuffing from (left) and spoon with my other hand (right). I usually take snuff from the flat meaty part of my hand behind the thumb, and as I rotated my hand to take the snuff, I dumped the tin of McChrystal's Annisette I was holding onto the floor. It was like those people who dump their drink when turning their hand to check their watch.

Another time, we were at a Cross Country meet that my son was running in, and it was cold out. I had been snuffing, and the cold was making my nose run. There were people everywhere. My daughter looked at me with huge eyes, and said, "There's brown stuff running out your nose!" I had been running around for several minutes in this huge crowd with a big brown snuffy Hitler mustache.

I think stories like these are comparable with smokers dropping a lit cigarette between the seats while driving a car, or tobacco dippers accidentally drinking from their dip cup.  LOL.  If you like to share your own misadventure, post it in the comments.  Or join us in the discussion over in the Modern Snuff group by Clicking Here.

Mark Stinson
Modern Snuff Website

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Frederick the Great Was Saved by his Snuffbox

Frederick the Great ruled Prussia from 1740 until his death in 1786.  Frederick aspired to embody the Platonic ideal of a "philosopher-king."  He was a poet, a writer, a musician, a domestic reformer and a brilliant military strategist.

Frederick led his nation through multiple wars with Austria and its allies. His daring military tactics expanded and consolidated Prussian lands, while his domestic policies transformed his kingdom into a modern state and formidable European power.  He was an enthusiastic patron of the arts and sciences, and corresponded with the top minds of the Enlightenment.  He had a long and sometimes contentious friendship with Voltaire.

Frederick The Great used snuff, especially under the stress of command. Once a musket balll hit a snuff box in his breast pocket, saving his life!

The cynical temper of Frederick the Great is well known. Once when his sister, the Duchess of Brunswick, was at Potsdam, Frederick made to the brave Count Schwerin the present of a gold snuff-box. On the lid inside was painted the head of an ass. Next day, when dining with the king, Schwerin, with some ostentation, put his snuff-box on the table. Wishing to turn the joke against Schwerin, the king called attention to the snuff-box. The Duchess took it up and opened it. Immediately she exclaimed,' What a striking likeness! In truth, brother, this is one of the best portraits I have ever seen of you.' Frederick, embarrassed, thought his sister was carrying the jest too far. She passed the box to her neighbor, who uttered similar expressions to her own. The box made the round of the table, and every one was fervently eloquent about the marvelous resemblance. The king was puzzled what to make of all this. When the box at last reached his hands, he saw, to his great surprise, that his portrait was really there. Count Schwerin had simply, with exceeding dispatch, employed an artist to remove the ass's head, and to paint the king's head instead. Frederick could not help laughing at the Count's clever trick, which was really the best rebuke of his own bad taste and want of proper and respectful feeling.

Mark Stinson
Modern Snuff Website

Friday, November 6, 2015

Hitsuzen's Review of Pöschl Perlesreuter Schmalzler

This is part 4 of a 4 part series of Schmalzler snuff reviews.  This one is all about Pöschl Perlesreuter Schmalzler.  Watch it, and if you like it, subscribe to the Inna Pinch channel.

Mark Stinson
Modern Snuff Website

Two New Pages Added to Blog Menu

Over time, my intention is to add key content from the Modern Snuff Website here on the blog as well.  With the modern attention span what it is, getting a casual web-surfer from the blog to the website or from the website to the blog is a crap-shoot at best.  So, the thought process is to make the blog as complete as possible and the website as complete as possible, so which every one is first encountered by a new snuff-taker...they will get useful information with which to work.

I've added "How to Take Snuff" and "Snuff-Taking Tips" pages to the menu of pages at the top of the blog.  Look up'll see 'em.  If you have any suggestions for either page, please contact me or comment on this blog post.  Thanks!

Mark Stinson
Modern Snuff Website

Hitsuzen's Review of Pöschl Schmalzler

This is part 3 of a 4 part series of Schmalzler snuff reviews.  This one is all about Pöschl Schmalzler.  Check it out.  And if you like it, subscribe to the Inna Pinch channel.

Mark Stinson
Modern Snuff Website

Snuff-Takers are Civilized and Polite

I'm in my later 40's and I've rubbed elbows with all sorts of people in my day.  The poorest our country has to offer, the wealthiest you could deign to find, and everything in between.  I've have multiple hobbies and interests, and as a fairly out-going social person, I tend to seek out people who share my hobbies and interests.  The best of course is face-to-face associations and friendships, but in this day and age, the option to interact with others as a distance has never been easier or more available.

All this is to say, I am entirely impressed by the polite and gentle behavior of the snuff-takers I have interacted with thus far.  The snuff-takers I've met face-to-face are always happy to have met a fellow traveler, and are quick to jump into conversation and to offer a pinch of their favorite snuff.  Meeting a snuff-taking stranger, is like meeting a long-lost friend with all the attendant joy and need to catch up.

Online, snuff-takers are welcoming, humble, quick with advice, slow to deride or pass judgement, and show a calmness in their interactions that only confidence and a pinch of snuff could lend a person.  Snuff is talked about, traded, gifted, and held aloft as an unbreakable common bond.  Jaded by my interactions with the average person online, I find myself thinking it is too good to be true at times.  I find myself bracing myself for the next attack.  Watching for the knife stuck deftly into the shoulder-blade, as a well-practiced internet-warrior makes a cowardly attack from behind.  But, the attack never comes...the blade is never bared.

If you have found yourself drawn to nasal snuff, and you are curious, or need advice, or simply want to interact with other snuff-takers, reach out.  You will never find a more welcoming group of people.  Feel free to join both of the groups below, and thus enrich your own enjoyment of snuff-taking.  You will certainly find some fine acquaintances, and maybe a friend or two in the process.

Mark Stinson
Modern Snuff Website

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Redheart Double-Bowl Snuff Spoon - Hand Carved

This is a double-bowl snuff spoon, designed to allow a bowl-full of snuff to go up both nostrils at once. I carved the spoon from beautiful redheart wood and this is its natural color and finish. This spoon was given a long and graceful handle to make it easier to use and maneuver. Double-bowl snuff spoons were very common among the snuff-taking Zulu tribes. The double-bowl on this spoon can be loaded from the smallest tin, smash-box, or snuff box. If you are interested in this spoon or others, visit My Shop.  Click on any of the images to see a larger version.

Mark Stinson

The Marie Antoinette Most of Us Don't Know

In the 18th century giving a snuff box as a present became a sign of exalted gift-giving.  Marie Antoinette had fifty-two gold snuff boxes in her wedding basket.  While this may seem extravagant, it should be remembered that in the eighteenth century the snuff box was the equivalent of jewellery and not only did the snuff box change with artistic fashion but anyone who was anyone needed to have a variety of these boxes.

What most people think they know about Marie Antoinette is actually false.  She was originally Austrian. She never actually said, “Let them eat cake.”  She was a champion of the American
side of the Revolutionary War, and without her efforts the war might have ended quite differently.  After the French Revolution, none other than the American revolutionary Thomas Paine (at that time part of the French Legistlature, as strange as that sounds) advocated exile for the Royal Family to the United States, rather than death.   Marie Antoinette was a loving dedicated mother, and she faced execution by guillotine bravely.  Marie Antoinette also took snuff, though it is said she was more likely to carry a box of bon bons on her person, than a snuff box.

She may have also standarized the modern handkerchief as we think of it today.  The handkerchief has a long history as a piece of cloth carried to clean one's nose.  But, prior to the triumphant arrival of tobacco (specifically snuff tobacco) in Europe, the handkerchief had become an object of fashion.  Snuff brought the handkerchief back to its original purpose, as it became indispensable for cleaning snuff-stained noses! White handkerchiefs were hardly suitable for this and people took to using large, coloured kerchiefs to hide the stains.  Up until this time, the handkerchief had come in many shapes, such as round, square, triangular, etc.  According to legend, one day Marie Antoinette at Versailles remarked that the square-shaped handkerchief was the most pleasing as well as convenient. This prompted Louis XVI to make it mandatory for all handkerchiefs produced within the kingdom to be  square in shape.  And the rest, as they say, is history...

Click Here to read about more famous snuff-takers.

Mark Stinson
Modern Snuff Website

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Snuff Feeds Your Senses

Fribourg & Treyer in 1906
We experience the world through our senses and perceptions.  Listening to beautiful music or the voice of a loved one comforts us, soothes us, and brings us happiness.  Watching an action movie or our favorite sports team compete gets our heart racing, our blood flowing, and brings us alive.  Bundling up in cozy blankets makes us feel warm, and safe, and makes all our problems very far away.  We experience the world around us through our senses, and this stimulation sets a tone, shapes our mood, and changes who we are in the moment.

Snuff is to the nose what our favorite song is to our ears.  Snuff directly interacts with our olfactory senses, which have been shown to have a strong connection with our memories.  First there is the ritual.  A tap on your tin or box.  The pinch warming between your fingers.  The snuff settling into the front of your nose.  And the slight pleasant burn of the tobacco accompanied by the full and complete scent that fills you entire nose,   Over time, as the scent lingers, it changes...and layers of flavor are revealed.

The right snuff can take us to places and moments in our life, and have an impact on our present.  Sometimes this is very overt and obvious, and we can identify the memories that are consciously triggered.  But, most of the time it is more subtle than that, and the complex layers of scent and sensation change us in the moment.  The right snuff sparks an emotional reaction, and can shift our demeanor dramatically.

Yes, snuff delivers nicotine from the tobacco into our bodies.  But snuff-taking is so much more than a chemical reaction.  Snuff takes over one of our five senses, and drags us along for the ride.  That act of taking snuff is a stolen moment from the rest of the world, and the flood of sensation and scent that hits us sets the stage for a definitive shift from where we are, to where we want to be...

Mark Stinson
Modern Snuff Website

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

What's the Purpose? Nicotine or Enjoyment?

Offering a Pinch
The Nicotine question is such an interesting discussion.  Do we take snuff for the Nicotine or do we take snuff for the Enjoyment of it.  You'll occasionally hear some debates about this, with some admitting they are in it for the Nicotine...and others making it very clear that the Nicotine is not important to them at all.  This latter group does it for the wonderful scent, the sensations, and the actual experience of snuff-taking.

I'm not sure the two sides of this debate are as juxtaposed as they appear at first.  I mean, I can understand both of those view-points.  I think I've probably been at both ends of the scale, depending on when in my life we're talking about.  There have been points in my life where I've used tobacco products I didn't even like that much, just to get the Nicotine.  There have been other points in my life where I used a tobacco product purely for the taste (mainly with cigars).

But, now I'm somewhere in the middle.  I do very purposefully "maintain" my nicotine levels.  It calms me, focuses me, and makes the world make sense for me.  It just levels me out, and brings me a feeling of peace.  So, yes...I do put some thought into maintaining my Nicotine levels, and thus maintaining the feeling it gives me.  I'm addicted to Nicotine.  If I went cold-turkey from all Nicotine tomorrow, I would be a raving mess for 3 or 4 days, and be thinking about Nicotine for months afterward.  I know, because I've been there.

But, now I only use tobacco products I truly enjoy.  Ones that have benefits and joys far beyond the delivery of Nicotine.  Ones that make me happy on their own.  I would take snuff, even if snuff had no Nicotine...because I like the sensation, the scent, and flavor. Hell, I even like a good back-drip with the right snuff.  So, I get that.  But, it sure is nice it also helps me maintain my Nicotine levels.  One of the benefits of snuff, is it works on both levels.  Nicotine and Enjoyment.

Anyhow, its interesting hearing where people describe themselves on that Nicotine vs. Pure Enjoyment scale.  I think I'm somewhere in the middle.  Where are you?  Feel free to comment below.

Mark Stinson
Modern Snuff Website

Thursday, October 29, 2015

1967 Video - Snuff Month in Oxford

The history of snuff-taking is interesting, and its fun when you stumble across some old film of snuff-takers.  This particular piece is from 1967 and was shot at Oxford, where the Society of Snuff Grinders, Blenders, and Purveyors sponsored a month of snuff sniffing sessions for experienced snuff-takers and newcomers as well.

I love the 1960's sound and feel of this video, and you get to see a couple of cool snuff boxes and plenty of snuff pinching.  This video is belongs to British Pathé, a producer of newsreels, cinemagazines, and documentaries from 1910 until 1970 in the United Kingdom.

Mark Stinson
Modern Snuff Website

Snuff Puts Money Back in Your Pocket

It is interesting to note the ways that snuff brings happiness.

Despite the common saying that "money does not buy happiness," it has been my experience and observation that "a lack of money definitely brings unhappiness."  It is difficult to deny that being able to pay one's bills makes one happy.  Or that being able to buy food and entertainment in its various forms can certainly make one happy.  Money pays for your children's clothes, their after-school activities, books, tablets, doctor's appointments, orthodontics, and stability and security.  How would money not naturally lead to a better chance at happiness.  In a commercialized world where money equals comfort and freedom in our capitalist culture, that old clunker of a common saying about money may be missing the point a little.

Let's get to the point.  Snuff is cheap.  Really, snuff is dirt cheap when compared to other tobacco products.  Even for the biggest snuffy sniffer, a little ground tobacco goes a long way.  I currently have about $80 invested in snuff.  Maybe as much as a $100.  I have enough snuff to last me literally 2 to 3 years of constant snuffing, even factoring in the gradual increase in consumption I'm going to experience over the next 2 to 3 years.  Even "expensive" snuff goes a long way for very little money.  There are only so many little pinches you can fit up your nose in a day, and there are a lot of pinches in a tin of snuff.

Don't get me wrong.  It is tempting, and it would be easy enough, to spend hundreds of dollars on nasal snuff in an attempt to try all the various kinds of snuff you are curious about.  It would be easy indeed to drop some serious cash on a proper snuff collection with brands and flavors from all over the world.  But, in a true comparison of cents per use, dollars per dose, snuff is immensely reasonable in price.  Someone switching from cigarettes to snuff would save piles of money in a very short amount of time.  Someone choosing snuff and vaping, would be money ahead making snuff their habit of choice.  Chew, dip, and snus are more expensive than snuff as well.

So, enjoy yourself frugal snuff-taker!  Cherish the $3 tin of snuff that you are still pinching out of a month later.  Delight in the $5 tin of snuff that begins to prove itself nearly bottomless as part of your snuff rotation.  Count your blessings and your pennies, as your snuff habit puts money back in your pocket.

Mark Stinson
Modern Snuff Website

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Hand-Carved Snuff Spoons for Sale

I've set up an shop to sell some of the hand-carved snuff spoons I've been carving.  I tend to use exotic woods, and each snuff spoon is unique and special.

The spoons are priced less than other hand-carved snuff spoons you'll find for sale, because I have no real overhead...and carve the spoons as a hobby.

Click Here to visit the shop.

Mark Stinson
Modern Snuff Website

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Why Some Snuff Boxes are Shaped like Women's Shoes...

If you google vintage or antique snuff boxes, you find quite a few of them that are shaped like women's shoes.  And so this begs the question, why did the Victorians use shoe-shaped snuff boxes?  For those of us living in modern times, it seems like an odd choice.


When I decided to dig into this question, I was amazed at the number of different theories there were, and how diverse they were.  Here are a couple of theories that you will hear from time to time, that I believe to be incorrect.

1.  That because most of them are shaped like women's shoes, the snuff boxes must have all belonged to women, because "women seem to like shoes."  This as we will see below, is incorrect.  In actuality, men owned these shoe-shaped snuff boxes, and they were not relegated to women.

2.  One source suggests that the shoe is a symbol in Freemansonry, and that many shoe-shaped snuff-boxes are decorated with masonic symbols.  While some of these snuff boxes do have masonic symbols on them, most of them do not.  Freemasons decorate all sorts of things with their symbolism, so of course some of them decorated their snuff boxes in this way.  While the shoe is a symbol in Freemasonry, shoe-shaped snuff boxes did not originate with the Freemasons.

3.  The same source from #2, also suggested that in the Bible the shoe symbolizes the earthy in contrast with the holy, and thus the shoe-shaped snuff box was a reminder that snuff taking was an earthly vice.  There is no reference to this in any other source that I could find, and as we'll see below the shoe symbolizes many more things than the "earthly."

4.  Its been suggested that Victorians were a little obsessed with catching a glimpse of a woman's shoe and ankle, and therefore identified a woman's shoe with something a bit naughty or illicit.  And thus, what better shape for a man to offer another man a pinch form, than a somewhat illicit woman's shoe.  While this is true, there is more to it than that.

So, let's build on this last one and give as complete an answer as is possible.


The shoe is symbolic of good-luck, it has romantic connotations, and specific it has symbolic connections with weddings and travel.  So in the 18th and 19th centuries, a shoe-shaped snuff box was often given as wedding gift or as a gift to a traveler to bring them good luck.  There was a novelty aspect to making many different Victorian objects in the shape of a shoe, and the snuff-box was just one of these objects.  If you enjoy history, then you may enjoy some additional information.
Shoes are more than just a depiction of footwear here. The shoe is a romantic symbol that has been with us a long time. In the middle ages, a father would hand the bridegroom a shoe to transfer the authority he had over his daughter to her husband. Today, we tie shoes to the bumper of the honeymoon car.  Shoes and Eros are soul mates: Fetishists adore shoes as symbols of the female sex. In the Victorian age, the peek of a shoe from under the all encompassing, many layered skirts could arouse a passionate interest. Cinderella loses her shoe and it leads the prince to her, the 12 Princesses dance holes in their shoes and finally, there's Puss in Boots!

Shoe- shaped snuff boxes were commonly made throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. Traditionally associated with good luck wishes, they were given as gifts for travelers and wedding couples setting off on the "journey" of marriage. (Source)
And some additional information from another source:
Shoe and boot shaped snuff boxes were made throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. Shoes have long been associated with love and marriage and were often given for good luck.  (Source)
A tradition of giving a shoe-shaped snuff box as a gift at a wedding or to a traveler would explain why we see so many examples of shoe-shaped snuff boxes.  This tradition is in line with the romantic nature of shoes, especially for the Victorians.


I enjoy this sort of historical mystery, so let's go a bit deeper.  In "A History and Price Guide to
Miniature Shoes," Zita Thornton has this to say:
Modern, ornamental shoes made from porcelain or resin, have become a collectable favourite in the last few years. However, a fascination with miniature shoes goes back thousands of years. Miniature sandals have been found in Egyptian tombs and fashioned from ancient Persian pottery.
When shoemaking became a highly skilled, decorative craft in the seventeenth century, shoe makers expressed their skill in miniature too. Until the nineteenth century, miniature shoes, as exquisite in their detail as their full sized counterparts, became tokens of prosperity and love and symbolised a desire to share worldly goods, hence the tradition of hanging boots on the back of a newly wed's car.
The emergence of porcelain brought the fashion to aristocratic circles when elegant but expensive porcelain or enamel versions were exchanged. In the nineteenth century the love of novelty encouraged the manufacture of miniature shoes in a wider variety of materials such as leather, wood and brass and brought the custom within the reach of sentimental Victorians of all classes. The less sentimental looked for a function in their ornamental shoes and in this they were continuing a tradition that had its roots in ancient times. The Romans had oil lamps shaped as a foot in a sandal, and perfume containers as hob nailed boots. An ancient ancestor of the stirrup cup was a drinking vessel called a rhyton, which was sometimes made in a boot shape. Victorian gentlemen had shoes fashioned as gin flasks, umbrella handles, paper knives and ink wells, as well as all the paraphernalia associated with smoking and snuff taking such as snuff boxes, match holders, tobacco jars, ashtrays and pipe stops.
The snuff box on the right is an interesting example.  And the following information is from the webpage from which I borrowed the image for this discussion.
This snuff box was owned by the artist Talbot Hughes (1869-1942), who had a large collection of historic dress and accessories. The London department store Harrod's bought the collection and gave it to the Museum in 1913 after displaying it in the store for three weeks.
Shoe-shaped snuff boxes were made throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, probably as gifts. This boot, with its squared toe, is in the fashion of the 1860s. Shoes were traditionally associated with good luck wishes for travellers and wedding couples setting off on the 'journey' of marriage. Silver-coloured shoes are still sometimes used at weddings as good luck tokens.
So, that is definitely my longest blog post thus far.  I've been intrigued with the shoe-shaped snuff boxes since the first time I saw a picture of one.  They seem odd at first look, but with a little consideration of their symbolism and historical meaning, they tell an interesting story from the history of snuff-taking.

To see a photo album with lots of shoe-shaped snuff boxes, Click Here.

Mark Stinson
Modern Snuff Website

Hitsuzen Reviews Bernards Doppelt-Fermentiert

This is Hitsuzen's review of Bernards Doppelt-Fermentiert, which is part two of a four part series on Schmalzlers.  Check it out...and if you haven't subscribed to his channel yet, hit that subscribe button!

Mark Stinson
Modern Snuff Website

Monday, October 26, 2015

Charles Darwin, a Monkey, and Some Snuff

Charles Darwin used snuff as a stimulant while working.  He once game up snuff for a month, and described himself as feeling “most lethargic, stupid, and melancholy.”

His moustache “slightly brown from the habit” of using snuff, Charles Darwin administered snuff to a monkey in order to study its emotions. “It closed its eyelids whilst sneezing; but not on a subsequent occasion whilst uttering loud cries,” he recorded.

Darwin's son wrote this about his father and his snuff-taking:
Our former neighbour and clergyman, Mr. Brodie Innes, tells me that at one time my father made a resolve not to take snuff except away from home, “a most satisfactory arrangement for me,” he adds, “as I kept a box in my study to which there was access from the garden without summoning servants, and I had more frequently, than might have been otherwise the case, the privilege of a few minutes’ conversation with my dear friend.”
He generally took snuff from a jar on the hall table, because having to go this distance for a pinch was a slight check; the clink of the lid of the snuff jar was a very familiar sound. Sometimes when he was in the drawing-room, it would occur to him that the study fire must be burning low, and when some of us offered to see after it, it would turn out that he also wished to get a pinch of snuff.
Charles Darwin clearly enjoyed his snuff.  :-)

Mark Stinson
Modern Snuff Website

Sunday, October 25, 2015

St. Philip was a Heavy Snuff-User

A fair number of Catholic Saints were snuff-takers.

During the beatification investigation of Philip Neri, to determine if he would be made a Saint, the man's snuff use became an issue.   An examination of Philip Neri's corpse during the investigation showed that the soft tissues of his nose had gone (he was 79 when he died) and so his body was not incorruptible. It was suggested that this was due to his heavy use of snuff.  Despite this set-back, Philip Neri was canonized a Saint in 1622.

As far as Saints go, Philip's story is pretty interesting.  During an exorcism he forced a demon dog out of a woman, and when it ran at him, he threw a mace at it causing it to flee.  This was a man of action.

Another time, a boy was drowning, and Philip "bi-located" right next to the boy in the water and drug him to shore.  While praying, Philip was so filled with love that his heart expanded breaking two of his ribs!

Another time, a young prince had died without making confession.  Philip put holy water on the prince's lips, brought him back to life long enough to make his confession, and then let the boy slip away again.

Whether religion or saints are your thing, everything I read about Philip suggested he was a very good man at a time when good men were somewhat rare in the Catholic church hierarchy.  I think snuff-takers can be proud this gentleman was one of us.

Mark Stinson
Modern Snuff Website

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Hitsuzen's Review of Bernards Aecht Altbayerischer

Chris (Hitsuzen) Oldham is going to be reviewing four Schmalzler snuff reviews, and this is the first of the four reviews.

If you enjoy the review, please hit the subscribe button on Hitsuzen's YouTube Channel.


Mark Stinson

Abraham Lincoln Enjoyed Snuff

"The items in Abraham Lincoln's pockets the night of the assassination were as follows: a pocketknife, a linen handkerchief, a sleeve button, a fancy watch fob, two pairs of spectacles, a lens polisher, a tiny pencil, tiny fragments of hard red and green candy, a fine brownish powder which appeared to be snuff, and a brown leather wallet (one section was engraved "U.S. Currency" and another section was engraved "Notes"). The wallet contained a Confederate five dollar bill, and nine old newspaper clippings. Included among these clippings were two articles of praise and five others dealing with the issues that were on Lincoln's mind during his final months."

This quote is from this website, but the information is available from news stories, etc.

It is interesting to think of Lincoln, under all the stress of the Presidency and the Civil War, stopping to take a pinch of snuff.

Mark Stinson
Modern Snuff Website

Adding Pages to the Blog...

If you look up at the top of the blog, you'll notice that there is a link that leads to a "Snuff Articles" page.  It duplicates the Articles page at the actual Modern Snuff website.  Over time, some of the more useful or important pages at Modern Snuff will also be duplicated as a page on this blog.

Admittedly, it is a duplication, but attention spans being what they are in the world today, you can't be sure that someone who visits the blog will visit the webpage, or that people that visit the website will visit the blog.  Adding the pages to the blog is an easy thing to do, and I believe it will also give the information an additional chance to be indexed by search engines.

Was that enough inside-baseball for you?  LOL.  Anyhow, over time you'll see more page links at the top of the blog, and I wanted to explain why for those that might be curious.

Mark Stinson
Modern Snuff Website

Friday, October 23, 2015

George and Martha Were Snuff-Takers...

Most people in our culture know absolutely nothing about tobacco use or tobacco history prior to the Age of the Cigarette.  They hear that you sniff powdered tobacco up your nose, and think it is the oddest thing they've ever heard!  Like it is some new-fangled idea that doesn't make a bit of sense.

But, a huge number of historic figures that people relate to and know about, were avid snuff-takers.  So, perhaps some images are in order that will educate people that snuff was common-place, mainstream, and one of the most popular ways to enjoy tobacco.

I made the image on the right tonight, to sort of these out the idea.  Click on the image to see it enlarged.  If you are so inclined, feel free to re-post this image, or use it however you would like.

Martha is said to have liked the "best Violette Strasberg," and after George could not longer get his favorite English snuff (for obvious reasons), he would grind up his own snuff and flavor it himself.

Mark Stinson
Modern Snuff Website

Ebony Snuff Spoon - Classic Style

After carving a few spoons that were somewhat odd or original in shape, I wanted to carve a snuff spoon with a classic "spoon" style.  This is carved from ebony, and is small, and sleek, and graceful.  Click on the images to see enlarged images.

This spoon and other spoons I've carved are available at this on-line shop.  Check 'em out!

Mark Stinson
Modern Snuff Website

Afzelia Burl Snuff Spoon

Well, I've been on a bit of tear with the carving of snuff spoons.  This latest one is carved from Afzelia Burl, a hard-to-get burl wood from Southeast Asia.   I wanted to carve a uniquely shaped spoon that matched the oddness of this wood and its grain, and that showed over various layers of burl in the wood.  Click on any of the photos to enlarge them.

You can find this snuff spoon and other snuff spoons I've carved in my online shop.


Mark Stinson

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Ebony Hand-Carved Snuff Spoon

This snuff spoon is carved from Royal Ebony, which is also known as Striped Ebony.  This is the natural color and finish of the wood.  I wanted to carve something modern and masculine in style, and I'm pretty happy with how this turned out.  Click on the images to enlarge them.

I've started an on-line shop to sell some of the snuff spoons I've been carving recently.  I did my best to set the prices lower than other hand-made snuff spoons on-line, while considering how much work I have in each spoon. Each one is one of a kind.  Click Here to visit the on-line shop.

Mark Stinson

"Snuff and Snuff-Takers" by George T. Fisher

An Etching from "Snuff and Snuff-Takers"
"Snuff and Snuff-Takers" was written anonymously, but has been attributed to George T. Fisher, who previously authored a book called "Smoking and Smokers." "Snuff and Snuff-Takers" is informative, light, funny, and can be read in one sitting. It truly is almost like a love letter to snuff, and is very clearly written with the humorous intention of setting straight those who spoken out against snuff.  The author is so charismatic in his attempt, that you come away feeling like you know him.  The book was published in 1846.

The book's full title is "Snuff and Snuff-Takers; a Pungent, Piquant, Comical, Veritable and Historical Disquisition, to Which is Added a Dissertation on the Poetry of Sneezing."  If it had not already been stated that this book has a light tone, then this full title should provide sufficient evidence.

Click Here to download a PDF of the book.  And if you are interested in seeing additional books about snuff, you can access them on the Modern Snuff Website by Clicking Here.

Mark Stinson
Modern Snuff Website