Ram's Head Snuff Mull

A ram’s head snuff mull belonged to Hudson’s Bay Company governor Sir George Simpson.

Written by Amelia Fay

Posted January 10, 2022

Scottish regiments elevated the act of taking snuff — inhaling ground tobacco through the nostrils — through ceremony and elaborate equipment. In these regiments junior officers would bring the snuff mull to senior officers and guests after dinner, but mulls were also common in large country estates.

This mid-nineteenth-century ram’s head snuff mull has all the tools necessary for taking snuff, including a little hare’s foot for wiping loose snuff from a person’s nose or moustache. It also has castors that allowed it to be wheeled across a table.

The words “Governor in Chief of Rupert’s Land” are engraved on the lid of the included cigar box, as this particular mull belonged to Sir George Simpson, governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company from 1821 to 1860. Many Scottish homes still possess their ancestral snuff mulls, as do both English and Scottish regiments of the British army.

Amelia Fay is curator of the HBC Collection at the Manitoba Museum.

This article originally appeared in the February-March 2022 issue of Canada’s History.

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