The use of snuff was very popular in Spain and by the mid-to-late 1700s, snuff production was a Spanish Royal monopoly. Thus, the roots of European tobacco consumption began in Spain, followed by Portugal, France and Austria and spread throughout Europe finally to the British. Virginia, the largest of Great Britain’s colonies, was also the largest producer of the cash crop of tobacco.
The production of snuff differed distinctly from the production of chewing and smoking tobacco, which was either cut or shredded. With snuff, in addition to washing the tobacco leaves and grinding them, perfumes and natural colors were added into the process.
The farm-made bench and grinder in the photograph(s) were used for the processing of snuff. While it appears numerous repairs were made to the grinding box, the bench and box can be dated from the 1790s or very early 1800s. The bench and grinder are on exhibit. Courtesy of Mrs. A. Tanner. Also on exhibit is one of Dolley Madison’s faux tortoise shell snuff boxes.