Snuffbox in the form of a ram's head, Edinburgh, Scotland, 1881-1882
- Science Museum, London
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About this work
Snuff is powdered tobacco that is inhaled through the nose. The practice of ‘taking snuff’ became common in Europe in the 1600s and was hugely popular throughout the 1700s. This ram’s head on wheels is known as a ‘snuff mull’ and essentially acts as an oversized snuff box. The ram was almost certainly a former regimental mascot whose faithful service would have been commemorated by preserving its head in this fashion. As such it would have been brought out for use at regimental dinners and other gatherings. It has two silver-lidded compartments for holding snuff and would have been placed on a table and passed around for everyone to use. Snuff was well liked for its aroma, taste and nicotine boost. It was also believed to ward off colds and to be good for the relief of ear, nose and throat problems. Snuff boxes were a practical necessity, but could also be symbols of social standing and came in many different materials and shapes.