Tobacco Jars

Since pipe smoking tobacco was first used by American colonists who spread the use through most of Europe, special containers to hold the cured tobacco leaves became popular made in ceramics, wood or metal. Tobacco was sold in cloth or paper bags until the 1880s after which tobacco tins became more used.

Moving the tobacco to a pottery jar was best but only if the jar was kept airtight and the tobacco stayed moist. Tobacco needs special conditions of humidity and air, once you start using the tobacco from the jar you will get more and more airspace and the remaining tobacco will dry out and the flavour will fade. To solve this problem a quality jar will have a special hollow lid with space to hold a piece of moist sponge or similar material to help retain humidity within the jar, these are known as humidors.

The alternative, especially for a jar without the special lid, would be to place a small piece of apple or potato within to help the tobacco leaves to stay moist and retain the cured flavour.

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Making a Torquay pottery tobacco jar collection will take time in searching for those made in a variety of interesting shapes (figurals) and designs. 

The mottos found on tobacco jars can be varied, here is one example taken from the Exeter Art Pottery jar c1890s, in the centre of the photograph above.

“The value of tobacco is best understood

When it is the last you puff

And when there is no chance of getting more.

Bismark ” (sic).

 Below you will find a selection of South Devon tobacco jars gathered together with help from members of the TPCS Facebook Group whom we thank.