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Sea Prize.

RoderickRoderick Member
edited July 2020 in General
Just been reading The British Perfumer, Snuff-manufacturer, and Colourman's Guide; Being a Collection of Choice Receipts and Observations. By Charles Lillie. Published in 1740. Boy, can I pick real page turners.

The thing is it has started me thinking about the old SP saga. We have all read about Spanish Prize (Was my current favourite), Sheffield Pride nice but nonsense, SP being short for Spanish and Special Plain to name but a few.

What Mr Lillie writes in the 1730s and published in 1740 was Spanish and Plain but the words were never together. He tells of the Land-Officers plundering several thousand barrels of fine snuff from a disembarkation in the port of St. Mary and the adjacent villages and towns. This fine snuff came from factories from all over Spain and was very rarely sold by these officers and only at very high prices.

What interested me more was his description of the snuff captured a few days later at Vigo. The snuff plundered here was plain rough snuff waiting to be refined. This, as it had been captured at sea, went to the Sea-Officers and Sailors. There was so much captured that it went straight to market and sold for pennies per pound. Sea-Officers and Sailors did well out of it, so well that Sailors (or pretend sailors) would later fraudulently sell compound snuff, snuff made from the worst of the scraps from the numerous tobacco merchants, as smuggled snuff called Sea Prize. Could SP be Sea Prize? I have cross-referenced this with The Buccaneers 1817, The Statutes at large from Magna Carta Volume 9 1786 and volume 1 1822 all talk of Sea Prize.

However, I have also rather frustratingly found mention of Spanish Prize and Snuff in the same paragraph in, Journals of the house of commons. 1827. Still I think Sea Prize is looking pretty strong.


  • ar47ar47 Member
    What do you think about the Sales & Pollard angle sir?
  • ar47ar47 Member
    And yes, we will buy your plain coarse salt- watered Sea Prize snuff, take my money.
  • I can see why a lot of people think Sales and Pollard.  S&P snuff was being sold in the 1850s and in 1893 they dropped the & to make SP snuff.  Great marketing, but I am not convinced.  Sea Prize Dates from 1705 and Charles Lillie was writing about it in the 1730s.  Sales & Pollard only started in 1750.  I like Sea Prize, but I still have not ruled out SP being short for Spanish.  Do not forget, very few could read and write so SP would have been much easier.
  • ar47ar47 Member
    Do you think such a snuff would have wood ash for alkalizer?
  • If you read of sorts of those times they didn't appear to care what they mixed with the tobacco.  Ash from different woods, horse hair, horse dung (unbelievable), brick dust, sand, dried wood or rotten wood, even dried vegetables called Savine. Savine being the safest and probably most effective as an alkaliser. 

    The better snuffs were blended with treacle or molasses, which made them more expensive, salt and ground nuts, if you were lucky.

    The best thing to do was rasp your own. At least that way you knew what you were getting even if you did adulterate it.
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