Ingenious 18th century tobacco box

Contributed by Ryedale Folk Museum

Ingenious 18th century tobacco box

This late 18th century metal tobacco-box has a clever surprise gadget ~ a hinged 'burning-glass' which folds inside the lid. Opened out, as in the photograph, you used the glass to focus sunlight onto your pipe-bowl and light your tobacco.

It was a technology that worked (as long as it was sunny) and meant you didn't have to carry other forms of combustion (such as a tinderbox) and it could be used outdoors. The handy instructions are painted onto the lid - "The Beams of Sol extract thro' this - to your pipe it will not miss" - it does what it says on the tin !

This is part of a number of early lighting, fire-making and smoking items in the Harrison collection.

Harrison Collection/ Ryedale Folk Museum - The Ryedale Folk Museum in North Yorkshire is currently raising funds to house this nationally important collection. You can give money to help the project at -

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