A snuff mull is a substantial snuff container created to sit on a sideboard or side table and shared among diners as an act of friendship.
‘Cedric’, as he is informally known to our Company, is our splendid Scottish ram’s head snuff mull on ivory casters. Made in Edinburgh in 1899, he nowadays spends most of his days resting in the Alderman’s Bar above the Guildhall. We bring him out only on very special occasions, as he is quite heavy, rather elderly and sadly missing one of his decorative finials.
It is not uncommon for an entire ram's head, with silver mounts, to be used as a snuff mull. These large mulls, often mounted on wheels, can contain significant quantities of snuff. They were more commonly used by gentlemen’s organisations or in regimental messes, when they would be wheeled in at the end of a ceremonial meal. The various accoutrements associated with snuff-taking, such as spoons and brushes are sometimes attached by chains to the mull.
The word ‘mull’ comes from Scots dialect for ‘mill’, referencing the mills used to grind tobacco leaves in the creation of snuff. Mulls are most frequently made of horn mounted in silver or pewter, but also come in a variety of other shapes and materials, including wood and tortoiseshell. Fine examples are often displayed in Scottish museums and collections.