Tag Archives: Eric Pye

The Tobacco Jar

The plate from St John's College

The plate from St John’s College

Our archive is not a typical epresentative of its kind. In a way there is a lot of museum thrown in. I dare you to show me another archive that keeps a plate in its collection. And it’s not like ti is an ornamental or commemorative plate. Just a regular plate from the kitchen of St John College, it even has a tiny Lamb stamped on it.

Another funny item is a rather large tobacco jar. It is a ‘communal jar’, that was donated by a wife of one Eric Pye. Eric was a Marjon

The official tobacco stash of Marjon

The official tobacco stash of Marjon. Sadly defunct now:-)

student in the years 1947 to 49. Many of the men in the school were ex-service men and smoked like a bunch of industrial chimneys. The jar was a kind of ‘comfort item’ for those men that were away from home. Eric’s wife writes in her letter that the pipe or cigarette was an indispensable help in ‘solving mathematical problems’. Paradoxically, smoking inside buildings was not permitted and the smokers were relegated outside if they wanted to enjoy the tobacco from the jar.

An interesting feature of the jar is its brass locking mechanism. It is kind of tri-pronged seal with a heavy screw atop it. It took me a while to discover, that the screw does nothing and the seal has to be slid from under the rim to be disengaged.

This jar is one of those little thingies that the past sometimes leaves for us. It doesn’t say much in the way of historical facts, but a lot about the historical character.



Filed under artefacts