Tobacco in a bag
Tobacco storage shows an infinite number of fashion aspects. The greatest variation comes in the nineteenth century when traditional objects like brass boxes are alternated with new inventions. The tobacco bag is such a nouveauté, a flexible bag that is lined with suede on the inside to guarantee keeping the moisture of the contents. A drawstring acted as a closure. The outside could be embellished by using special fabrics, applying embroidery or beadwork. This tobacco bag belongs to the last category. In our hectic time, making beadwork is seen as the ultimate patience work and it is. Stringing the beads in different colours resulting in a regular pattern was a great challenge. A special technique was developed: bead knitting. With the help of four thin knitting needles you could make any pattern in colourful glass beads. Ultimately, machines were able to copy those patterns and became an unfair competitor of this noble handicraft. Along the border of this pouch we read "AMALIA HOFMANN AUS FREUNDSCHAFT", doubtlessly an inscription intended for a loved one. We do not know whether this item was actually made by hand in dedication, or delivered to order through the intervention of stringing machine. If you look at the wonderful regular work, it is hard to imagine that Amalia did this patience work without help. It is for certain that it is a typical German tobacco bag, as the German inscription shows. This bag would have been too large for a Dutch smoker, because the finely cut blond Virginia tobacco favoured by the Dutch would crush inthis wide bag. A tentative date would be between 1830 and 1860, a Biedermeier object in full bloom.
Amsterdam Pipe Museum APM 22.782Permalink