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Sir Walter Scott back in stock

What does SP stand for?

TomStrasbourgTomStrasbourg Member
edited November 2011 in General
I know that SPs are a variety of snuffs usually flavored with bergamot and sometimes other things on the side. Most of my favorites, from Grand Cairo with it hints of spices and Gold Label with its leathery tobacco flavor to Tom Buck with its slight pepper tone are SPs. But I still don't know what it stands for or what exactly makes a snuff an SP. And what the hell does SP stand for? Snuff Powder? Scented/perfumed? Super Prime? Sexy Pimpin'? Does anyone know?


  • ScrewtapeScrewtape Member
    edited November 2011 PM
    Nobody is certain. Some believe it's short for Spanish (a googling of "Vigo snuff" will explain this), others say that it's Sheffield Pride. I'm glad that you brought this up though, because I remembered just this morning a thread where--I think it was Snuffster or PhillipS--mentioned that SM stood for Sheffield (or was it Sharrow?) Medicated. It occurred to me, and I've been meaning to bring it up, that maybe then SP could mean Sheffield Plain. Plain, as opposed to medicated if you follow me.
  • You know there will be no definite answer which is for sure. But for me these explanation from is the really good: "Nobody knows what S.P. stands for. It has been thought to be "Sheffield Pride" because of its main purveyors, Wilsons of Sheffield. But now the consensus is that it means "Spanish" : perhaps because of the Havana snuff looted from a Spanish convoy (though then referred to as "Vigo" snuff) - by Admiral Rooke in 1702 and paid to his sailors as prize money - in consequence of which snuff became cheap and hence popular in England, no longer the reserve of the toffs (or "toffee-nosed").
    (The first snuff factory was set up in Seville in the C16th: the grated tobacco produced in that Royal tobacco factory was known as "Spaniol".)"

    Anyway: I like them ;-)) and that's the main thing for me.
  • I fall in the "Spanish Prize" camp. From what I've read it has the most backing from the erudite.
  • @Screwtape - I have never said it was sheffield medicated and I very much doubt Philips has either. I have always gone with SP as meaning, simply, 'Spanish'. You are probably remembering us talking about the possibility of it meaning 'Sheffield Pride'. Medicated snuff didn't exist when this abbreviation came into common use.

    I go with the simplest theory - Spanish, and that 'SP' was orginally written 'Sp' and used as a stock book abbreviation to refer to Spanish type snuff - this may have originally been the captured Spanish snuff that Rooke partly paid his sailors with, although there is no proof either way. It may have originally meant several types of Spanish snuff and the abbreviation was nothing more than a shorthand used in the business. 'Spanish Prize' is equally possible, it has to be said.

    I think the 'Sheffield Pride' idea is a much later invention, probably originating from the little booklets that were occasionally published by the snuff trade in the last century. McCausland, who in the 1950s had accesss to the FandT archives, the Bridgman-Evans family documents and the Wilsons family of the day, makes no mention of it.

  • PhilipSPhilipS Member
    edited November 2011 PM
    Grand conundrums such Fermat's Last Theorem are trifles as light as air compared with The S.P Question - a puzzle that great minds have wrestled with for many a weary year.

    A novel theory based on Wilson's old lettering system (S.X) is found at -

    - but flounders because if S is for Sharrow then what does P stand for?

    Even the weariest river winds somewhere safe to sea, but unless one is satisfied with the (Sp)anish appellation the ‘Question’ remains unanswered, its dark tributaries meandering forever outside the frontiers of human knowledge. :< )
  • Oops, I see that someone came up with my Sheffield/Sharrow Plain theory there. But that was the thread I was thinking of. Thanks PhilipS.

    @Snuffster - miscommunication there. I was saying that you had said that SM was Sheffield/Sharrow Medicated. (I couldn't remember if it was Sheffield or Sharrow.)
  • Yes, me not reading your post properly:)
  • This SP mystery has been troubling my mind no end,but i failed to bring it up fearing to sound ignorant.!
  • Quoting here: 'Speculating here, but Richt could refer to a person. At one time it was quite frequent for valued patrons to request tailor-made snuffs that were named after them or their fancy. We’ve seen it with Hardhams. Dr. James Robertson-Justice etc. Here we probably have a snuff created for a certain Mr (or Mrs) Richt, who have long since shuffled off their mortal coil, leaving the snuff as their sole epitaph.'
    Therefore I consider 'Samuels' or 'Somebody's Plain', or Perhaps 'Sam Philips's' sort a possibility that cannot be quite ignored,

  • 'Up to snuff' is a phrase that might be explained by somebody...
  • DogwallaDogwalla Member
    edited November 2011 PM
    All I know if I love the scent of an SP. Apathy kicks in after that and I just stop pursuing anything more...
  • Wow. I'm glad to have started such an interesting discussion. Thanks to all who commented.
  • SP 100 is one that I've recently had a go at. Most people who do, like it...My favourite WS SP. Don't ask me why though. I'm on my second large tin and still keep reaching for it. Very easy going.
  • Walrus1985Walrus1985 Member
    edited November 2011 PM
    SP100 and Toque SP Extra are my favourite SP's, both lovely in their own way.

  • Its SP Extra and Best SP for me but I have yet to try SP100, I'll have to get me a tin on my next order.
  • I agree Stefan, though McCrystles SP went quick when I bought a tin.
  • up to snuff means the tobacco is off high enough quality for snuff.
  • Bob that sounds reasonable. 'Cutting the mustard'?. Vinegar, sharp, astringent?
  • Up to snuff


    Initially, the phrase meant 'sharp and in the know'; more recently, 'up to the required standard'.


    'Up to snuff' originated in the early 19th century. In 1811, the English playwright John Poole wrote Hamlet Travestie, a parody of Shakespeare, in the style of Doctor Johnson and George Steevens, which included the expression.

    "He knows well enough The game we're after: Zooks, he's up to snuff." &

    "He is up to snuff, i.e. he is the knowing one."

    A slightly later citation of the phrase, in Grose's Dictionary, 1823, lists it as 'up to snuff and a pinch above it', and defines the term as 'flash'. This clearly shows the derivation to be from 'snuff', the powdered tobacco that had become fashionable to inhale in the late 17th century. The phrase derives from the stimulating effect of taking snuff. The association of the phrase with sharpness of mind was enhanced by the fashionability and high cost of snuff and by the elaborate decorative boxes that it was kept in.

  • Tobacco is a North American plant, there was absolutely no tobacco of any kind anywhere in Europe before the discovery of North America. What ever the Romans may have snuffed it sure wasn't tobacco.
  • I do believe he has a good point Vathek!
  • Regardless of the historical derivation, I propose we adopt "Satisfactorily Piquant" as the official Snuffhouse meaning of the SP designation, on the grounds that it is the only meaning that actually provides a description of the group of snuffs in question.
  • PipenSnusnSnuff - A noble proposal! Although I kind of stick to the Spanish tale. This is quite an old Urban legend conundrum concerning snuff. I do like the fact that it is quite descriptive. SP snuffs are a joy, and the ability to try so many variants is truly amazing. I for one have tried so many, but just this week was able to try the SP No1High Mill from Kendal, and was once again delighted with something familiar yet unique. Viva la Difference!
  • I'm pretty sure that it was 2 random letters placed together for the express purpose of starting Saturday night pub fights over their secret meaning...

  • WTF is going on here. Juxtaposer talking sense and Vathek making things up? Have I stepped into Bizzaro Universe Snuffhouse?
  • Funny shit eh?
  • First I've ever heard about Romans taking 'snuff', - as noted, can't have been tobacco. where are the citations for that? ('Paulatim' suggests in small amounts to me rather than slowly, though I've little Latin and less Greek. Pulling our legs?). I'll go with 'Splendid Pinch', since apparently it's anyones guess.
  • I like the first explination I ever heard. Which was that no one knows what it stands for, because it did not stand for anything. It essentialy a ledger code or nothing more or less then a product code or a shipping code. Sort of like 1Q by lane, which was called I.Q. at my local. I still think that is the most likely explination. It doesn't feed the mystery like other theories but it does explain why no one can find a solid meaning of S.P.
  • howdydavehowdydave Member
    edited November 2011 PM
    Lots of great tales being told here.

    The explaination that I have heard most often was that SP stood for either "Spanish" or "Spain" and was branded/seared/burned onto wooden cargo barrels in the days of sailing ships to signify their destination.

    Whether or not that is the real story is anybody's guess.

  • AbraxasAbraxas Member
    edited November 2011 PM
    Actually, the Romans were very heavy cigarette smokers. Julius Caesar got through 4 packs of Marlboro red in one senate meeting once. Cicero quotes him as saying 'I love a tab, me'.
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