S is for Snuff-Maker
By HARDHAM, John , 1768

John Hardham Snuff-Maker

  • Author: HARDHAM, John
  • Publication place: London
  • Publisher: At the Red Lyon in Fleet Street, near Fleet Bridge, The No. of the House 10
  • Publication date: c1768
  • Physical description: Engraved trade card, with manuscript notes to verso, loss to lower margin.
  • Dimensions: 140 by 110mm. (5.5 by 4.25 inches).
  • Inventory reference: 17957


Born around 1712 in Chichester, John Hardham abandoned the family profession of diamond-cutting to pursue a more exciting lifestyle in London, where he soon became employed among the domestic staff of Viscount Townshend, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. He also became involved in the theatre, writing plays and, somewhat less glamorously, working as a ‘numberer’ or audience attendant at Drury Lane Theatre. Hardham then established himself as a tobacconist and snuff-maker at the Red Lion in Fleet Street, where he not only sold his wares but also consorted with the city’s literary and artistic figures, with performances often taking place in the back parlour of his shop.

His love of the stage did not distract Hardham from his snuff business, however, and his signature blend, known as “No. 37” quickly became a huge commercial success. Upon his death at his Fleet Street premises in 1772, he. left the considerable sum of £22,289 to the city of Chichester, the equivalent today of around £3.5 million. So well-respected was Hardham as a snuff-maker that after his death, two other tobacconists on Fleet Street both made claims to be his successors. The present trade card, simply illustrated with the lion rampant of Hardham’s sign, appears to be from later in his career, as the number of the building is included along with its sign.

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