Discussion in 'Pipe Tobacco' started by AndyLowry, Sep 10, 2010.
... click to embiggen, of course.
WTF is a cane chair? Sounds like good copy you should give it a try. I think of heard of that blend still produced, somebody will confirm it I'm sure.
In that piece J.M. Barrie "declined to say where the Arcadia Mixture could be purchased."
He later produced a series of jottings from the Arcadia Club and the tobacco called Arcadia is described as being Craven Mixture ( then prouced by Carreras, a small luxury tobacco firm started by a Spanish Gentleman and under the patronage of Lord Craven - Carreras was later swallowed up by Imperial Tobacco, now BATs )
Other manufacturers produce tobacco called Arcadia - but this is the best source I have found for what Arcadia ( which of course Dr Watson reportedly smoked ) really was. In the UK you can still get Craven tobacco - Craven Mixture and Craven Aromatic; I think the aromatic would have been the one called Arcadia but Barrie is not definitive on this point.
Why refer to it as "Arcadia" when it was Craven - because it sent you there - an example of sophisticated jargon/wit of the time -just as "Newcastle Brown Ale" is never called that in its home town and county; its always called "The Dog"
Best to all
Back again - I wanted to check a reference of which more later.
Humour from past ages can be difficult - Shakespeare's tradgedies have few footnotes other than to say who a historical character was or might have bee; his comedies however have extensive notes explaining jokes which we never even notice and when they are explained we do not think of as being the least funny - but at the time would probably have had his audience rolling in the proverbial aisles.
Thus it is with the reference to "smoking a cane chair." It means literally that; it is deliberate nonsense put in to amuse in what intially appears to be a straight piece. The "Bright Young Things" and "Country House Set" of the time were the style setters of their age. They affected a style of deilberate stupidity and laziness. They pretended not to be clever and tried hard to give the impression they never tried hard at anything. Bertie Wooster from the Jeeves stories was the style to copy.
There is a Latin tag used to describe this syle of humour which means "to reduce to absurdity." In Britain this style lingered on until the mid 70s and we used to chortle over "Beachcomber's" column in the Daily Express until the fell hand of political correctness caused him to change his style. His characters included Charlie Suet and his fiancee Mimsie Slopcorner who worked at the Ministry of Bubbleblowing, The Macaroon of Macaroon, an Oriental Potentate, and tha late lamented Filthistan Trio from the sub continent famed for " A laugh, a joke and a jump on the plank." As did Barrie with his Arcadia Club members, Beachcomber wrote of these as if they were real people.
As well as being a place of delight, "Arcadia" has connections with the Holy Grail Legend - so the tobacco's image is something very special. The advertised "Arcadia" was made by an American manufacturer and has been inserted into the body of the text to imply that it was the original - and is cleverly done.
The Holy Grail of course can also be argued to be nothing more than a legend or a spoof. Try Googling Brothers of the Briar and search for Arcadia Find for an interesting follow up! It's at http://brothersof briar.forumotion.com/the-tobacco-jar-f2/arcadia-mixture-tin-from-1893-t1044.htm
Sorry to have gone on so long
Don't be sorry Gerry, it's always a pleasure to read your posts. I had only ever heard of it in reference to Watson.
I wonder if Surbrug made arrangements with Barrie or his publisher to call the tobacco that, and to quote the book in the ad (Arcadia tins also display Barrie quotes). Suppose they would have had to, but I can't find references to it.
The advertisement, by the way, is from the back pages of a New York Central Railroad publication called Health and Pleasure on America's Greatest Railroad, copyright 1895. It's a full page ad that also mentions Surbrug's Golden Sceptre, which had Cuban and Perique in it.
Should anyone wonder why both Doyle and Barrie refer to "Arcadia," it should be noted that the two gents were friends.
Despite McClelland's attempt at making "Arcadia," I suspect that the original Craven's would have had Havana in it, rendering its like unavailable to we unfortunate Americans.
As Gerry says (and thanks for the elucidations!), literary humor of the time was different than what we're used to, but My Lady Nicotine is still a damn funny book. Think of a cross between Mark Twain and Oscar Wilde and you're close.
Who could resist the imagery?