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Snuff

SNUFF (from " to snuff, " i.e. to inhale, to draw in through the nose; cf. Dutch snuf, scent, Ger. Schnupfen, a cold, catarrh, and Eng. " snuffle, " " sniff, " etc.), the name of a powdered preparation of tobacco used for inhalation (for the manufacture see TOBACCO). The practice of inhaling snuff became common in England in the lyth century, and throughout the 18th century it was universal. At first each quantity inhaled was fresh grated (Fr. rdper), whence the coarser kinds were later known as " rappee. " This entailed the snuff-taker carrying with him a grater with a small spoon at .one end and a box to hold the grated snuff at the other. Early iSth-century graters made of ivory and other material are in existence. Later the box and the grater were separated. The art and craft of the miniature painter, the enameller, jeweller and gold- and silver-smith was bestowed upon the box. The humbler snuff-takers were content with boxes of silver, brass or other metal, horn, tortoise-shell or wood. The mull (q.v.), a silver-mounted ram's head, is a large table snuff-box. Though " snuff-taking " ceased to be fashionable at the beginning of the 1Qth century, the gold and jewelled snuff-box has continued to be a typical gift of sovereigns to those whom they delight to honour.

This word " snuff " must be distinguished from that meaning the charred inch of a candle or lamp, which is a variant of " snip " or " snop, " to cut off, trim, cf. Dan. snubbe. Constant trimming or snuffing of candles was a necessity until obviated by the modern methods of candle manufacture, and the snuffers consisted of a pair of scissors with a closed box forming a receptacle for the charred wick cut off; the snuffers usually had three small feet which allowed them to stand on a tray. Made of silver, silver-gilt or other metal, " snuffers " were formerly a decorative article of plate in the equipment of a household. There is a beautiful example of silver snuffers with enamel decorations in the British Museum. These belonged to Cardinal Bainbridge and date from the reign of Henry VIII.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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