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[Tidbits] Le Box

“He had rubies and pearls…”. Anybody out there remember Vaughn
Monroe and The Rich Maharajah of Magador? “He had rubies and

You’re at a party and you suddenly espy some folks over there
insufflating to their hearts content. Insufflating–for those of very
scant few of you who don’t know… generally means “inhaling”. What
it really means is ramming some stuff up you nose and snuffing it
down into your lungs. Hence the word Snuff… as in: Hey man. You kin
take dat cocaine an’ shove it. Just gimme some snuff.

Crude? Yes… well… that’s what they did in the old days. Pulverize
some tobacco leaves… scent them a bit… inhale… and sneeze.
Ah… what greater pleasure is there when attending a gala event at
the Royal Palace than gathering together with a few compatriots and
shoving stuff into your nasal passages and sneezing your brains out?

It all started here in the good old US of A, but was all the rage in
Europe by the 17th century. It was used by Catherine de’ Medici to
cure her son’s migraines. Didn’t they have aspirin back then? Or at
least Tylenol? It was–in fact–the belief that snuff had medicinal
and curative properties that led to its popularization among the
elite. Napoleon used it… as did King Louis XIII and Queen Charlotte
and even Pope Benedict XIII.

It was the quintessent symbol of elitism. Today it’s a Maserati. Back
then it was snuff. Only peasants smoked tobacco. Portuguese snuff was
said to cure those who needed spectacles to read. Up the nose and no
glasses for prose.

So here’s the thing of it. If you’re chumming around with the king
and the queen and the rest of their consorts… you can’t very well
pull out a small burlap bag of snuff and say: "Anyone for a snort?"
If you’re a woman… you very much need to always present a front of
pure elegance. Hence… the Snuff Box.

Oh… do I ever have a snuff box to show you. It has rubies and
pearl… and diamonds and emeralds all set it gold. As these things
go… it’s rather magnificent. In the center is an agate resembling
the profile of Catherine the Great. It’s worth a look see if for
nothing else than to see what the lady looked like.

You know where by now. Yes? No?

For those of you who are new to this thing called Tidbits…may I
direct you to my home page at where you
will scroll down the left side menu till you get to the area that
says Current Tidbits… click it… and you will see represented on
our pages an image of a Snuff Box of the highest caliber once
belonging to Catherine the Great.

And there ya have it. That’s it for this week folks. Catch you all
next week.

Benjamin Mark