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Robert Burns

Clay pipe fragment

19th Century

This is the bowl section of a white clay pipe and features a portrait of Robert Burns on one side, and a plough motif on the other.


Smoking tobacco in a pipe became very popular during the 1700s. It was viewed by the upper classes as common, therefore snuff remained the fashionable way to take tobacco.


Sniffing snuff was the original method of taking tobacco, first used by indigenous Americans. The practice came to Europe with the return of Spanish, Portuguese and French explorers during the 1500s. It was in Scotland that the traditions of snuff taking were first established, perhaps because of its close links with France. It gained acceptance throughout Britain when Charles II brought the custom back from his exile in France.


More tobacco was made into snuff than was used for smoking or chewing until the 1900s. Everyone took it. Lord Nelson took large quantities to sea with him, while Napoleon sniffed over three kilos a month. Physicians made great claims for it, prescribing snuff for headaches, insomnia, toothache, coughs and colds and recommending it as a measure against infection.

height 40mm, diameter 25mm
Robert Burns Centre
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Dumfries & Galloway Council