Tobacco Tins


These tobacco tins are really cool, so why would I be parting with them?  Well, I am only partially parting with them.  Honestly, there were five and my sister had to remind me that there was a square one, which I seem to have misplaced at the moment.  But, in the 14 years that I’ve had all of these tins, I could never really find a purpose for all of them beyond display.  However, I’m not too big on keeping lots of the same objects simply for display.  Two do have a purpose in my life; another set (in different colours) to the one’s shown; a large and a small round, so those are the ones that I decided to keep.

These tins originally belonged to my maternal grandfather, whom I never met.  He was born in 1898 and passed away two years before I was born.  My grandmother, though, kept everything from old, random keys to forgotten locks and furniture, to outdated paperwork, to anything that pertained to my grandfathers life, including these tobacco tins.  When she passed away, my mother and aunt went through the estate, and on small items, such as these, that neither of them wanted, I was allowed to inherit.  Thus, that is how I ended up having these tobacco tins.

I’d always guessed, just from being surrounded by old things my entire life, that they’d date from the 30s or 40s, based on their colouring and age; which my sister did confirm with her meticulous research on items. My grandparents were married in 1938 and then moved from Ohio to their last home in Mississippi.  Just from what he left behind, he wasn’t really someone to keep things around unless they had a purpose.  The items that he moved house with in the latter portion of the 1930s were all cleaning/medical agents, family heirlooms, items already with a purpose and use, or important things like books or paperwork.  What I’m getting to is that it seems unlikely that he’d keep these tins just because he thought they were pretty, or would move them across four states to repurpose later.  So, I’m assuming that these were purchased in Mississippi in the latter years of the 1930s and possibly into the forties; which items such as this could be left to deal with or imagine in other ways in a new and large house.

But, I am assuming things about a man I never met, based on the items he left behind and stories from my family.  So, I could be wrong and perhaps he did keep trinkets like this.  My mother doesn’t really remember them, so they weren’t on display, but perhaps left forgotten in a box of items in a spare closet, or else tucked away into his room.  It’s also a little difficult to ascertain the specifics when things have changed and people are no longer living.

When my grandparents first arrived, they rented a small house in the country while my grandfather set up his business, which sold hoes and rakes and the like.  About twelve years after arriving here, the house my grandfather wanted, which had been sitting empty, finally went on the market and he purchased it.  My mother has vague memories of the house in the country and they moved into her childhood home when she was about one or two.  Some seven years after my grandfathers death, my grandmother moved house to a different part of Laurel and who knows how things were boxed up and moved.

So, since my mother doesn’t remember them, but does know that her father smoked cigarettes, cigars, and pipes, and my grandmother is no longer around to say, “Oh, sure, Russ smoked that brand and those tins were so cute and we had them in the pantry.”, I can only do some fancy foot-work guessing here to try and string some lines of purpose to some random tobacco tins whose only truth is that they did once belong to my memory of a grandfather and that they are from about the time of the Second World War.


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