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Snuff was dried tobacco finely ground into powder. It was ingested through being vigorously sniffed (hence the name 'snuff'). The sniffer rapidly experienced the effects of nicotine reaching the brain after being absorbed into the bloodstream via the blood vessels within the nasal membranes.

Members of the eighteenth-century elite who took snuff carried it on their person in a small metal box.

Snuff boxes were often engraved with intricate designs based on the owners' initials. The more expensive were enamelled with minature pictures or portraits of the owners.

In the collections of the National Library of Australia there is a snuff box decorated with a portrait that is said to be that of Isaac Smith, the first European to set foot on the shore of Botany Bay.


Created: 24 April 2004

Published by South Seas, 1 February 2004
Comments, questions, corrections and additions: Paul.Turnbull@jcu.edu.au
Prepared by: Paul Turnbull
Updated: 28 June 2004
To cite this page use: http://nla.gov.au/nla.cs-ss-biogs-P000414

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