The Museum of Ridiculously Interesting Things

Mistaken for a nosepicker

Photograph of a stern woman in black Victorian dress taking snuff, which looks very much like she is picking her nose.
Photograph of a woman taking snuff, circa 1885. Via Dangerous Minds.

Some good life advice: don’t let anyone take a picture of you taking snuff, unless you want to be immortalized as a Victorian nose-picker. 

Snuff is a form of tobacco ground into a fine powder, taken by snorting a little pinch up one’s nose. In the 18th and 19th centuries, it was a luxury only the rich could afford.

So in these pictures, the posh ladies are trying to demonstrate their social standing by posing with a status symbol. But by trying to look more important than the inferior tobacco-smoking peasants, they just ended up looking like their snooty noses were teeming with boogers.

Engraving illustration of an old woman in bonnet snuffing tobacco up her nose so hard that her whole face is contorted.
Louis Boilly, ‘The contrast’ [detail], 1827. Stipple engraving with watercolour. From the collection of the Wellcome Library.
Photograph of a well-dressed Victorian lady taking snuff, which looks like she is picking fancy boogers out of her nose.
Photograph of woman taking snuff, circa 1860. Via Dangerous Minds.
Etching of five fancy Victorian ladies with various amusing expressions, all with their fingers up their noses.
After Louis Boilly, ‘The Snuff Takers’, 1825. Etching with stipple. From the Wellcome Collection.

Images via Tara McGinley on Dangerous Minds, Wellcome Library and the Wellcome Collection.

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Detail from Louis Boilly's 'The Snuff Takers' showing a lady in a frilly bonnet glaring out at the viewer while she holds her nose.

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