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Tobacco Tin: John Cotton’s
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Title: Tobacco Tin: John Cotton’s
Identifier: 2006.1.73
Donor: Geoffrey Sayers
Item Date: 1940-1975
Creation Date: 2011
Location: Benares Historic House

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Description: A round blue and grey tobacco can, 11 cm in diameter. The lid is half blue and half grey. There is a blue lion rampant on the top half of the lid and these words on the bottom half: "John Cotton's Finest Smoking Tobacco. No. 1 Mild. Manufactured in Edinburgh, Scotland." On the edge are the words: "To open insert coin in groove and turn" and "Vacuum sealed" along with the patent number: "Pat No 366245/31". The bottom of the tin is blue outside and grey inside. There are two splashes of orange sealing was (?) inside: one on the bottom in the form of a 'T' and the other on the inside edge, a 5.0 cm x 5.0 mm stripe. The inside of the tin is scraped and scratched. Loose black flecks (possibly of tobacco) remain on the bottom edge.

Tobacco originated in the America’s where it was smoked and chewed in a variety of ways. For several cultures it had a religious significance. Explorers and sailors introduced Europe to tobacco and by the end of the 16th century tobacco was being used across the continent. In the seventeenth century the large scale cultivation of tobacco began in the America’s. European’s controlled cultivation and tobacco became known as “country money”, a cash crop which could be used in place of actual money in the colonies. Throughout the 17th century there was conflict throughout Europe and Asia regarding the use of tobacco, which at that point is smoked in a pipe. Many nations limited tobacco for medicinal use only and/or banned smoking altogether. Part of the issue with smoking was the fire risk and many laws were enacted banning smoking in public places to avoid the risk of fire. By the beginning of the 18th century laws against smoking led to the popularity of using snuff. In the 19th century the cigar became the most popular way to smoke. In the 1850’s cigarettes start to become popular as the habit is passed from Turkish soldiers to British ones. By the late 1850’s British and American companies are producing their own cigarettes. In the 20th century the cigarette was king, though chewing tobacco was still popular especially in the southern states of the US. Various companies created name brands for their cigarettes and tobacco, many of which still exist today. Cigarettes could be purchased pre rolled or tobacco could be purchased loose and rolled by hand. Loose tobacco came in a variety of mixtures and blends which distinguished one brand from another. http://www.tobacco.org/History/Tobacco_History.html

John Cotton's smoking tobacco company was in business by 1904. In 1962 its trademarks were acquired by Gallaher Limited, a well known Irish cigarette manufacturer. The coin twist tin was introduced in the 1940's and was the predominant type of tin into the 1970's.
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