Snuff is a powdery Tobacco product that can be used several ways, as displayed in the photo below, it has been packaged for sale in various ways. Here in the Ouachita Mountains snuff has been generally considered a Woman’s tobacco and was most popular here, when sold in containers that could be used around the house.
The small tin on the left could easily be carried in a purse and refilled from the larger brown bottle. The drinking glasses were really popular because they could be re used and many had special designs on them.
One of the most popular ways to use snuff, was to remove it from the container with a “sweet gum brush”, and place it in between the cheek and gum.
Sweet gum brushes were a small, short branch from a gum tree sapling that would be frayed on one end and the fiber resembled a brush. The brush end was used to get the snuff powder from the container.
Gathering these sweet gum brushes with G’maw Crowell and a Rat Terrier named “Scoop” one mild Spring time morning was my last hands on experience with them.
The sweet gum brush method was considered to be more “lady like”, where as men usually carried a “twist” or “plug” of chewing tobacco that they could bite or cut off with a barlow pocket knife.
Many small businesses in town had a “spittin’ and whittlin’ “ bench out front, where the men would chew tobacco, spit, and whittle with their barlow knives, as they discussed topics of interest, while the women were inside shopping.
Some of life’s most valuable lessons could be learned while listening to the “big boys” Talk while spittin’ and whittlin’ at a store front bench.