A tobacco barrel with vignette

March 2021

A tobacco barrel with vignette

This tobacco barrel is a wonderful object. Constructed from staves and held together by large toes, a strongly shaped vessel has been created, closed with a blackened wooden lid with knob. Such barrels were used in the tobacconist shops. They contain freshly cut tobacco, which was scooped from the barrels into bags or packages for customers. Interesting about this barrel is that it does not contain the usual numbers, but a painted image. Centrally on the barrel is a vignette of shopkeeper Ubbo T. Petersen from Norden, a town in Ost-Friesland not far beyond the border with Groningen. It is a characteristic image of a tobacco packaging from past centuries: a tobacco merchant on the right, a smoking Moor on the left with a tobacco barrel between them. Below we read the generic name of the tobacco: Portorico. As a miraculous coincidence, a paper printed tobacco vignette of this tobacco dealer was preserved, also in the collection of our museum. That vignette is significantly more primitive than the painting on the barrel and dates from a later time. The fact that Petersen recommends his business in the Dutch language on his vignette indicates that he did good business with the Dutch. Incidentally, the painting on the tobacco barrel strongly resembles an engraving, but in reality it is painted by hand. The latter makes the charm of the object.

Amsterdam Pipe Museum APM 24.212

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