Tobacco on tap

Tobacco on tap

  • Tobacco outlet, Coignac brandy.

  • Tobacco shop.

To close

Title: Tobacco outlet, Coignac brandy.

Author :

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 46.1 - Width 50.7

Technique and other indications: Gouache on laid paper, circa 1815.

Storage location: MuCEM website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - F. Raux

Picture reference: 08-509956 / 67.50.1D

Tobacco outlet, Coignac brandy.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - F. Raux

To close

Title: Tobacco shop.

Author :

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 64.6 - Width 45.8

Technique and other indications: Colored lithograph. Pellerin printing house.

Storage location: MuCEM website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - G. Blot

Picture reference: 04-509091 / 50.21.443 D

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - G. Blot

Publication date: September 2011

Professor of contemporary history IUFM and Claude Bernard Lyon University 1.Head of University for all, Jean Monnet University, Saint-Etienne.

Historical context

The tobacco store in the first half of the 19th centurye century

The sale of tobacco in shops does not date from the XIXe century: the first known outlet, “the civet”, named after a small rodent whose musk was appreciated in perfumery, dates back to 1716. These businesses are sometimes indicated by a statue of a Turk smoking the chibouque, or by a “carrot “, A packet of leaves tied together to be grated and eaten in bond.

In the XIXe century, the manufacture and sale of tobacco were carried out under a state monopoly, dating back to the Ancien Régime: in 1810, Napoleon Ier creates the Régie des Tabacs. In 1815, eleven factories processed 9,000 tons of tobacco per day. The tobacco used comes from France for a small part; The main thing, with the resumption of trade relations after the continental blockade imposed by the emperor, came from the United States (Virginia) and the Middle East, that "Levant" which so fascinated French society at the time. Debiters are not mere traders; they become agents of the administration responsible for the sale of the Régie's products and, as such, are carefully recruited and closely supervised. Fairly remunerative, the post is often entrusted to former soldiers, to their wives or widows, to their children, to former officials or to people who, say the texts, "will have carried out acts in the public interest. courage or dedication ”.

Image Analysis

A smoky society

The painting Tobacco shop, Coignac brandy shows a merchant standing behind her counter pointing to two large jars of powdered tobacco. In the center sits the scale, a trebuchet, on which she weighs the product before packaging it. Long-stemmed and terracotta pipes, modeled on Dutch and Flemish pipes, are also available to customers. Debit activity is obviously not limited to tobacco. New so-called "candy" sweets and alcohols (Cognac brandy) complete the range of products. Note the massive presence of a bottle of "anisete", a liqueur created in 1755 in Bordeaux by the famous Marie Brizard.

In lithography Tobacco outlet, produced by the printing press Nicolas Pellerin d'Épinal, an Ottoman, in traditional attire (turban, baggy pants, short and embroidered jacket), holds in his left hand a pipe with a long wooden pipe and an Anatolian clay stove named "Chibouque". The oriental origin of part of the tobacco production is thus underlined by the man’s folk dress. Next to him is a man in classic attire (breeches and silk stockings, tie, frock coat and bicorn hat) which well represents this "restoration" of the customs of the Ancien Régime, in particular the taking of the powdered tobacco contained in a pocket snuffbox. . On the counter, in addition to the tobacco pots, there is a trebuchet scale intended to weigh the quantities sold before packaging them.


To establish the reputation of the owner and guarantee the quality of the product sold, the image of flow tends to be backward-looking. There is no question of showing these curious "cigars" discovered during the Napoleonic wars in Spain, nor the smart cigarettes produced elsewhere in very small numbers. Advertising for all tobacco developed mainly at the beginning of the 20th centurye century. Banned at the end of the century, it will give way to anti-smoking campaigns intended to alert the public to the product's harmful effects on health and to reduce its consumption.

  • popular imagery
  • Orientalism
  • tobacco


Bénigno CACÉRÈS, Si le tabac m'être conté…, Paris, La Découverte, 1988.Didier NOURRISSON, Social History of Tobacco, Paris, Éditions Christian, 2000.Didier NOURRISSON, Cigarette.Histoire d'une tease, Paris, Payot, 2010 .Mireille THIBAULT, “Tobacco sellers, four centuries of history”, in Flames and Smoke, review of the Seita, c. 1995.

To cite this article

Didier NOURRISSON, "Tobacco at the speed"

Video: Tobacco seed growth in tap water