Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Snuff Flasks for the Modern Snuff Taker

As anyone who has taken snuff for any length of time will have learned, the enemy of snuff is air. Snuff exposed to the air soon dries out and becomes stale and is rather less than pleasant to take. Snuffers have always used a variety of containers to store their snuff and the aim has always been to keep air away from the snuff as much as possible. Snuff boxes in various materials, silver, wood, horn, pewter, papier mache, china and plastic have all found a place in the snuff taker's pocket and all can be reasonably good at protecting the precious powder, though none of them do a perfect job by any means. But there is a better way to preserve the freshness of our snuff.
Yes, they are small, stainless steel hip flasks. The advantage of a modern stainless steel hip flask for carrying snuff is that these days there is a plastic insert in the lid rather than the older cork insert. Of course, this is really designed to stop ones favourite tipple from dribbling all over the place but is is just as effective as an air seal for keeping snuff fresh. And it really works, and works far better than any of my older style snuff boxes. Okay, so there is less scope for an elaborate flourish when opening and presenting your snuff box to your friends, but I feel the advantages are significant, at least for the moister, coarser snuffs. I still use silver, pewter and wooden boxes for toasts, scotches and the drier SPs, but for Kendal Brown, Black Rappee, Princes or a Schmalzler these little bottles are the canine proverbials.

The largest that I use are the two on the left. They are designed to hold 1.5oz of liquid. The rest are 1oz bottles. Some came with the fitting for attaching to a key ring (which I soon removed), and some have various decorations, often the logos of spirits. None of them were expensive; n fact it is possible to find them online for as little as a couple of quid each. Far cheaper than any snuff box. There is enough variety available to make it easy to use distinctive flasks for each of our snuffs. You will need a small funnel to fill them of course. Lloyds sell a nice one in stainless steel, though the one I use is an older pewter one which came with one of my larger, pewter hip flasks. 

I particularly like the one in the front of the picture. It's in the shape of an old-fashioned pocket watch, making it very comfortable in the pocket. It's an unusual shape but even that one only cost me £6.95 plus postage. It has been filled with J&H Wilson's SP No 1, fresh from a vacuum sealed 25g tin, from the day I got it and it stays perfectly fresh. Some sellers will even engrave them for you for a truly personalised snuff flask. Toque Snuff are selling ones like it for slightly more, but with theirs you get the Toque logo on the front as well so I guess the extra cost is worth it. 

This is the Ebay search I used to seek them out. Substitute '1.5oz' for '1oz' if you want a slightly larger one.

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