Irish Plug Tobacco - A Pictorial & Historical Survey of Their Far Famed Renown

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philofumo
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Irish Plug Tobacco - A Pictorial & Historical Survey of Their Far Famed Renown

Post by philofumo » Sun Jun 12, 2016 6:00 am

:pipe:

Tobac Pluga na hÉireann

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Ireland has always been known for their hard tobaccos, often very stout and topped or cased with an exotic aromatic flavour.

The plug form is hands down my favorite baccy variant, and I've tried to research its origins and evolution, but there ain't much out there documenting the historical arc.


This is primarily a visual gallery, as textual traces are difficult to track, but at least I've been able to scavenge enough sufficient imagery off the vast cultural detritus known as the world wide web to at least give the viewer/reader a generalized approximation of what was what and how was how.

Back then, you usually knew what you were getting if you knew the country of origin of your tobacco, it was fairly easy to know what to expect, unlike today's over-homogenized market where the lines are very blurry.

We'll start this off with an American newspaper article from 1940, and it deftly illustrates the renowned, legendary, far-famed, and celebrated characteristics of what is Irish plug tobacco.

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Another thing I've been highly interested in, but unable to find any concrete info about, are the steam-jacketed presses which were unique to Great Britain and Ireland.

I do think that a SJPress is a crucial instrument in creating the plugs ultra-compressed and raven black distinctive properties.
For many years past the Meadow Foundry Company has devoted considerable attention to perfecting the various appliances in use by tobacco manufacturers, and in this direction have made their speciality, the "Mansfield" Steam Stoving Press, known as "The Mansfield Stove." This system is now applied by tobacco manufacturers throughout the world, and is acknowledged by the leading houses and the representative journal of the trade to be the only stove which meets every requirement for stoving, pressing and curing every kind of hard tobacco, ensuring solidity without loss in weight, a jet-black colour without blister, and perfect keeping quality. These stove presses are equally well adapted to large and small manufacturers, giving a greater heat, uniformly distributed, than any other stoving plan, and perform the work at less cost and in shorter time than any other system.

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There were quite a many Irish Tobacco Houses, in differing regions, that made the plugs.

Here's a short rundown of what was once available and the associated imagery to go along with it all.

P. J. Carroll & Co. Ltd.
Dundalk
______________________________
Mick McQuaid Plug
Anti-Combine Plug (A.C.P.)
Bog Oak Plug
Tug-o-War Plug
Donegal Plug
Carroll's Golden Bar
Dundalk Bar
Striker brown Long Squares
Spearman brown Long Squares

:

1824
Patrick James Carroll, fresh from an apprenticeship in tobacco manufacturing, opened the doors of his own tobacco manufacturing store at 38 Chruch Street, Dundalk, County Louth. The trade was practically confined to "Roll and Twist"- so called because the first manufacturing process after the leaf has been prepared consists of twisting and spinning-in those days by hand, in these days by machinery. At first the sales of the products of the small factory were naturally confined to Dundalk and immediate surroundings, but soon the good quality of the material and of workmanship began to spread and hold the trade of three to four counties.

1850's
After more than twenty years in the industry, the tobaccos of Carroll's were well known throughout Ireland and for the first time crossed the Irish sea to Liverpool.

1864
The founder's son, Vincent Stannus Carroll joined the company. His forward thinking and progressive ways would lead to the modernization of the factory and the opening up of the export market. He is credited with guiding the company's expansion, even in times of severe economic decline.

1889
In the 1880's a popular magazine named 'The Shamrock' featured a serial written by a Colonel Lynam about imaginary conversations between an optimist, Mick McQuaid, and a pessimist, Terry Garrity. During these philosophical conversations, Mick often drew inspiration from a pipeful of Carroll's tobacco. Consequently, in 1889, the company launched one of its most successful tobaccos, Mick McQuaid. When, in the 1920's, the company had a figure of Mick designed, it is said that the artist based his caricature on three well-known British politicians of the day - David Lloyd George, Herbert Henry Asquith and Horatio Bottomley.

1906
Distribution plant established in Glasgow Scotland.

1909
The fire which destroyed the Dundalk factory on December 16th could have threatened the livelihood of the more than 100 employees who then worked at Carroll's, but instead provided an opportunity to modernize the rebuilt factory and secure further employment.

1914
P.J. Carroll & Company was incorporated as a company in Ireland.

1923
A new factory was opened in Liverpool and a distribution plant was opened in Cork.

1934
Carroll's became a public company.

1960
Carreras took a 40% shareholding in carroll's.

1991
P.J. Carroll & Company Limited became a wholly owned subsidiary of Rothmans International.

1999
Rothmans International merged with British American Tobacco.

See also:
A cool video artifact from 1964,
Why Buy Broadleaf?
http://www.britishpathe.com/video/why-buy-broadleaf

See also:
Dundalk at Work - The Tobacco Industry
https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/dundal ... 2263?mt=11
(this is a beautiful little book, I was fortunate to recieve a physical copy as a gift from my good friend Jason)

:

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Wm. Clarke & Son
Cork
______________________________
Galtee More Plug (Flavoured and Full)
Nugget Plug
Nugget Plug Special
Perfect Plug
Walnut Plug
Cherokee Circular Plug
Square Tack
Onyx Bar

:

Founded in 1830 at South Main Street, Cork.

In 1901, the Liverpool branch was one of the original 13 companies which had amalgamated to form the Imperial Tobacco Company.

In January 1924, following the formation of the Irish Free State, the United Kingdom trade of William Clarke & Son was transferred to Dublin and taken over by Ogden's.

The Liverpool branch got in a bit of a jam with the Irish Industrial Development Association, as read about here in an article circa 1907:
https://books.google.com/books?id=GgBCA ... ug&f=false

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Gallaher Ltd.
Dublin
______________________________
War Horse Bar
Army & Navy Plug
Wrestler Plug
HammerHead Plug
Condor Plug
A.1. Plug
Sixpenny Plug

:

See here:
http://nmni.com/um/Collections/Collecti ... -S-TOBACCO

& also:
http://www.multimediaheritage.com/proje ... rsbook.pdf

& also:
http://letslookagain.com/tag/thomas-gallaher/

Much more out there as well with further googling.

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John Clune Ltd.
Limerick
______________________________
Kincora Plug
Sarsfield Plug
Thomond Plug
Honeybee Long square

:

Established 1872.

A surviving ledger of John Clune Ltd of Limerick, indicates that between 1908 and 1916 trade was largely restricted to counties Limerick, Kerry, Clare, Tipperary and Cork. Some of these smaller firms had even developed a limited export trade.

The company managed to survive until 1980, when it shut the doors on the factory.

Little information to be found online.

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Murray, Sons & Co. Ltd.
Belfast
______________________________
Warrior Plug
Erinmore Plug
Yachtsman Plug
Luckmore Plug
Maple Plug
Crowbar Long Square
Linch Pin Brown Suare

:

Whitehall Tobacco Works
1A Linfield Road
Belfast
BT12 5GN
Ulster

Murray, Sons and Company Ltd was founded in 1810.

In 1953, Murray's was bought out by Carreras, who later in turn would morph into Rothmans International (thus the Dunhill blends being made at Murray), and in 1999 R.I. was bought out by British American Tobacco.

Finally, late in the Fall of 2004, BAT announced that Murray's would be closed:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/nort ... 957589.stm

The quote below was salvaged from an old Murray site on the wayback machine...
The company reached a milestone in 1862 when it introduced Murrays Mellow Smoking Mixture. It was the first branded, packaged tobacco product to emerge from Ireland and is a product that the Murray's factory still produces today, although in limited quantities. Murrays managing director Brian Mallen describes the Mixture as 'a bit like drinking Guiness; you've got to try it a few times before you get to like it.'
While the recipe for the wonderfully alliterative Murray's Mellow Mixture has no doubt gradually changed over the years, its longevity is symbolic of the staying power of Murrays business. Despite world wars, economic depressions, a number of owners and bitter local conflicts, Murrays has been firmly ensconced in its current location at the Whitehall Tobacco Works since the turn of the century - and it remains a resilient business.
Out of this resilience was born one of the world's most notable pipe tobaccos, Erinmore. 'The modern-day business was founded on the Erinmores' explains Mallen. 'They were originally put together in the 1920's by a number of individuals, including the company chemist 'Daddy' Burns. Erinmore is now our flagship brand and Erinmore fans inside and outside the UK are equally passionate about their favorite smoke.'

The secrets behind the search for that 'best possible taste' are closely guarded. The recipe for Erinmore is known to only one living person. 'Daddy' Burns handed it on to one individual, and it has come down through each generation until it now rests within the head of Brian Mallen: 'Lots of people in the factory are involved in making the Erinmore flavour, but they're not making it up from containers with full chemical names on them,' he explains. 'All the products are brought under code names from a number of manufacturers, so no one manufacturer is making all the elements for Erinmore. The key to those codes I have. But there has to be a back-up, so in a locked vault in a bank in Belfast there are a number of files covering the manufacture of that particular unique flavour - if I walk under a bus someone can have access to it.'

With every tobacco company hungry for the secrets of its rivals, it's not surprising that successful recipes are closely guarded. With all the companies buying similar tobaccos from similar areas, it's the expertise of the blender and the composition of the top flavour that form the challenge to create a really different and unique tobacco: 'It's like the perfume industry,' says Mallen, 'there's a lot of that type of mystique and technology involved.'

While Erinmore is Murrays flagship brand, it is only half the story. Murrays now produces a host of tobacco brands - some famous international names, other smaller local favourites, like Yachtsman, Warrior, Punchebowl and Barneys.
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Wm. Ruddell Ltd.
Dublin
______________________________
Velvan Plug
Curragh Plug
Derby Plug
Potomac Plug
Best Virginia Plug
Holdfast Bar
Golden Virginia Bar

:

Not much hard info to be found online.

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G. Spillane & Co. Ltd.
Limerick
______________________________
Garryowen Plug
Hazelnut Plug
Poplar Plug
Treaty Plug
Warship Long Square

:

See here:
http://www.limerickcity.ie/media/tobacco%2012.pdf

:

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W. & M. Taylor Ltd.
Dublin
______________________________
Bendigo Plug
Patland Plug
Taylor's Navy PLug
Farrier Bar
Handy Plug
Sixpenny Plug
Tipperary Plug

:

Little hard info to be found online.

See here:
http://www.independent.ie/regionals/arg ... 07897.html

:

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M. & P. O'Sullivan Ltd.
Cork
______________________________
Erin's Pride Plug
Coupon Plug
Take-me Plug
Irish-American Plug
:

Paddy O'Sullivan was one of nine brothers and two sisters who were born to a rural family in Clondrohid, near Macroom, County Cork. In 1905 he saw an abandoned store with a 'to let' sign in the window on Princes Street and established a wholesale base from which to work. Around 1910, Paddy's brother Michael joined in partnerhip and the firm became known as M.&P. O'Sullivan.

In 1927 a tobacco factory was built in Cork at Mary Street.

See here:
http://www.mpos.ie/history.html

:

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Lambkin Bros. Ltd.
Cork
______________________________
Cordangan Plug
Exhibition Plug
Kentucky Plug
Shandon Plug
Oaknut Plug

:

See here:
http://www.europeana1914-1918.eu/en/contributions/3394

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Grant Bros. Ltd.
Buncrana,
Co.Donegal
______________________________
Crana Plug
Ploughman Plug

:

Little hard info to be found online.

:

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T.P. & R. Goodbody Ltd.
Dublin
____________________________
Patriotic Plug
Cora Plug
Zulu Plug

:

See here:
https://www.offalyhistory.com/reading-r ... o-industry

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________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

:

The deep archives of A.S.P. provide some extra further pluggy footnotes.

Alt.Smokers.Pipes had a sort of "plug cult" that was particularly interested in Bendigo and I'm so glad their commentary was saved for the historical record.

Colonel Panic was kind enough to save for posterity this extract from McGahey the Tobacconist, describing Bendigo Plug:
"Bendigo is rare outside of the Emerald Isle, and is enjoyed primarily by the "established" Irish pipe smoker. "Established", in this sense, means impervious to doses of nicotine that would render most humans unconscious. Bendigo truly delivers in this department. If you fail to be satisfied by its rich and flavourful smoke, then you need to see a doctor. The jet-black plug is a delight to the eye. Though similar to a black rope tobacco in colour, the bar is extremely compact. A sharp knife is needed to shave off the slices, which -- after rubbing out--require only a slight amount of drying to reach perfect smoking condition. The resulting cut is somewhat fine, and very easy to keep lit. "
:

And this is a wonderful write-up here:
Mark Shelor
7/9/01
Many, many thanks to Mr. Ian Little--a very good soul indeed--for sending me a full bar of this delicious tobacco. I'll savor every shred. Here's why: Bendigo is rare outside of the Emerald Isle, and is enjoyed primarily by the "established" Irish pipe smoker. "Established", in this sense, means impervious to doses of nicotine that would render most humans unconscious. Bendigo truly delivers in this department. If you fail to be satisfied by its rich and flavorful smoke, then you need to see a doctor.
The jet-black plug is a delight to the eye. Though similar to a black rope tobacco in color, the bar is extremely compact. A sharp knife is needed to shave off the slices, which--after rubbing out--require only a slight amount of drying to reach perfect smoking condition. The resulting cut is somewhat fine, and very easy to keep lit.

OK. What does it taste like? What does it smell like?

My best description of Bendigo is that it's like a *strong* version of Condor without the heavy Condor scent. It's suprisingly smooth on the mouth and throat, but has an extremely intense and satisfying flavor. It has all the strength of a heavy dark-fired tobacco without dark-fired's throat-tickling--and at times irritating--qualities. This is marvelous. There's also a subtle cigar-like flavor underneath, similar in nature to
G&H's Dark Bird's Eye. However, the comparison stops there: Bendigo is considerably stronger than DBE. On the G&H strength scale, it would be necessary to recalibrate DBE to a 5 in order to make room for Bendigo at somewhere between 9 and 10.

The aroma is heavenly. It's considerably more understated than Condor, yet possesses that indescribable charm that Condor and Coniston Cut Plug fanciers like myself seem to enjoy. It would be overdoing it to say that Bendigo is "aromatic" in the sense of Condor. Nonetheless, the aroma is entirely bewitching: Bendigo just wouldn't be the same without it. I'm at a loss to describe the exact nature of the aroma.
It's unique.

Ian tells me that a number of experienced Irish pipe smokers in the West Country seem to favor Bendigo. I can fully understand this. It gets to the essence of pipe smoking satisfaction, much like a small shot of high-quality espresso does for the confirmed coffee lover. I'm quite content with just a half-bowl in my small Astleys newmarket.

I have no hesitation in rating Bendigo at the top of the list for strong smokes. Smoother and more flavorful than Coniston Cut Plug in my book, but far more potent. Not to be missed!

Thanks again to my good friend Ian for this wonderful gift!
Regards,
Mark
:

HoyoD gives us this:
A quick word about Bendigo
8/20/01

I have just finished my first bowl of this delicious stuff and all I can say is .........wow. Truly a serious tobacco. Delicious rich and dense smoke, very full straight tobacco flavor that comes across quite creamy in texture, s-m-o-o-t-h and very cool. It has a right smart nicotine kick as well. Alright. I guess I can say more than just "wow", I believe I could go on for quite a while longer actually, but that really sums it up. Thank you so much to my brother Ian in Eire for the chance to try this ambrosia.
:

Ian Rastall contributed this:
Review: Taylor's Bengido Plug
7/18/02

Paul Zolig, Buddy Springman and I should form a club, kinda like the Cheap Pipe Club. We could call it Ironman Smokers or something. We all seem to enjoy these really heavy blends. This stuff is a very strong, smoky VA. Possibly a mix of VA and burley. Definitely strong.
It's reminiscent, in a big way, of G&H Dark Flake. But whereas I don't care for Dark Flake, I love Bendigo. The former has a very "maduro" taste to it, and this has more of a fire-cured flavor. But both are straight, unflavored tobacco, with a "dark" character.

This would go very well in a clay. In fact, I imagine this is the kind of tobacco Sherlock Holmes would smoke when he needed to go through an ounce in one night of serious cogitation.

This came as a bar, and when bits were shaved off, it was very hard to keep lit. After sending it through the old coffee grinder, I have something that lights very easily, stays lit, and smokes great. I don't know what smokers did all this time without grinders and food processors, but this plug seems to have been created for it.

Overall, a tobacco that I will miss when it disappears. (It already seems likely to do so.) One of the hardest tobaccos to get a hold of, but worth it if you get a chance.
:

Ian Little gives us a good bit about Bendigo:
7/18/02
Since it is mostly destined for the domestic market in Ireland I'd be surprised if there are many Bendigo smokers left these days so there is quite a possibility that it may become extinct soon. I heard a qualified rumour that Gallahers in Ireland almost discontinued the plug version of Condor and in a last minute reprieve they decided to retain the smaller 25g packaged plug for the time being. Given Condors relative popularity this
wouldn't bode well for Bendigo.

And this:

...Bendigo appears to be plentiful is in the Western counties particularly Mayo where it
seems to be stocked alongside Condor bar in equal quantities even in the more modern convenience stores which stock tobacco and cigarettes.
And this more comprehensive write-up:

As the person who introduced a limited few on ASP to Gallahers (nee Taylor's) Bendigo here is what I know of it:
First off, I have no business relationship with Gallahers Ltd (of Condor fame) other than the fact that I happen to be from Ireland and resident here. It seems this tobacco (sold exclusively in traditional plug form) has a long tradition and at a first guess perhaps Gallahers are continuing manufacturing a smaller volume of it for exclusively domestic consumption. I have only seen it on the shelves of Petersons in Grafton Street in downtown Dublin city and at a few select general stores which carry plug tobaccos (a dissapearing few at that). As my wife's folks are from the West of Ireland I came across it stocked in some of the Western stores and and older gentleman did regail me with a story of his love for it (he gave up smoking and Guinness drinking about a decade ago though due to a heart bypass). In his case he mixed Bendigo with a bright virginia ready rubbed mix which has since been discontinued. His description of Bendigo was as exceptionally cool but not for the faint hearted. I think Mark Shelor and HoyoD Chris Little add great credence to his description.

OK - I also enquired with McGahey's and I think none of the UK tobacconists stock it. They stock the fine Murray plug range but none of the Gallaher plugs. So, in the interest of ASP kinship I will try to contact our friends at Gallahers in Dublin to understand their position on distributing this well received stuff. From the posts I am seeing it would seem like I unearthed the moral equivalent of Guinness stout for the pipe tobacco loving masses in the Americas :))

So, bear with me a few days and I'll try to relay what the position is with Gallahers. First off, I want to establish whether they are planning to continue this stuff because if my intuitions are even 10% right then I would imagine up until about a month ago their target audience were a crop of senior smokers who fondly remembered Bendigo. Also, just as I think of it there was a post on ASP quite recently which included a URL to a *very* interesting customs/tax document from the Irish government archives circa 1948 listing the tobaccos being sold throughout Ireland at that time. Taylor's were an entity at that time and Bendigo was listed alongside another Taylor's concoction whose name escapes me.

Anyway tune in soon . same NG, different time.

--Ian.
:

A clutch of the other plugs were made for a good long while too.

Murray's had a few of these old plugs in their portfolio and made them until the the factory was closed.

BAT dropped several of the more obscure of them when the plugs were contracted out to Orlik.

Murray's manufactured them still branded with the manufacturer names of their originators,
as seen in this post by Jari,
5/7/02
Hello group,
I just got an interesting shipment of tobaccos from James Barber. I ordered different kinds plug tobaccos and of course I got what I wanted, but there are a few unknown manufactures for me. I hope somebody can tell me something about them.

Tobaccos include:
Potomac Plug from Rudell's (never heard)

Garryowen Plug from Spillanes ??

Golden Bar Plug from Carrolls (this sounds bad, if the manufacturer is the
same as with the hamburgers:-)

Revor Plug from JT International Ltd ??

Warrior and Yachtsman navy plugs from Murray's (Is this the same factory who
makes Erinmore tobaccos? I was under the impression that they only make
Erinmore?)

Ahh, but now I think I have to take some time and have a smoke with Warrior
Plug.

Hope somebody can help me, but I will send some reviews after I've tasted
the plugs.

Thanks.
A while back, daft.de had put up an edition of the 1995 A.I.T.S. Tobacco Index, but after the massive hack it had seemed to be lost, but looking the other day I did find it still saved in the web archive and the pdf is still viewable:
http://web.archive.org/web/201304180829 ... d/aits.pdf

Included therein, it's very interesting that War Horse Bar was still being listed available at this late 1995 date,
I wonder when it actually went off the market?

Here's how it described some of the other plugs:

Yachtsman Plug
Plug
-
M
Dark
Character:
A very traditional style of pipe tobacco presentation providing a link with established craftsmanship of Irish tobacco blenders.
Expensive top quality heavy bodied flue cured Virginias are purchased from established leaf auctions in Africa and Brazil. To this full natural flavoured tobacco is added aromatic Burley to balance and smooth the blend. Conditioned with water, the blend is slowly pressed in large steam presses for several days to meld the rich and varied aromas. The cakes are then divided into plug form, allowing the smoker to cut it and rub it out to his own preference.

.

Garryowen Plug
Plug
-
Med
Dark
Character:
Akin to Yachtsman Plug but stronger in taste and aroma.

.

Velvan Plug
Plug
-
Med
Dark
Character:
The blend is made in the same manner and style as Yachtsman Plug, using appropriate rich flavourable styles of leaf. The difference is a light flavouring prior to the pressing process to give a unique flavour and aroma, with the traditional smooth taste required. Velvan has a fruity aroma and taste.

.

Potomac Plug
Plug
-
Med
Dark
Character:
As Velvan Plug but with a floral aroma and taste.

.

Mick McQuaid Plug
Plug
-
Med
Dark
Character:
As Velvan Plug but a traditional brandy almond aroma is given.

.

Erinmore Plug
Plug
-
M
Dark
Character:
As Velvan Plug but with the international famous fruity sweet aromatic taste of Erinmore.

.

Golden Bar
Plug
-
Med
Dark
Character:
Selected Orange Virginias are used in this blend to give it a lighter smooth taste and aroma compared to the other plug brands. Despite being processed in the same manner it provides a mild strength and background aroma of spicy Cognac tones.

:

:

Any additional information, input, or errata corrections on this topic would be greatly appreciated.

:pipe:

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Re: Irish Plug Tobacco - A Pictorial & Historical Survey of Their Far Famed Renown

Post by sweetandsour » Wed Jun 22, 2016 8:53 am

1. I'm surprised no one has quoted your post, yet.
2. I've had my Condor moment, thank you. (It was a moment that kept on giving, btw.)
3. Some of those plugs look good enough to chew. I think I would try some of the Mick McQ.
4. Thanks for the post ... enjoyable and very interesting.
I'm old but I'm happy. (Most of the time.)

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Re: Irish Plug Tobacco - A Pictorial & Historical Survey of Their Far Famed Renown

Post by hugodrax » Wed Jun 22, 2016 9:14 am

What the deuce? Listen, young man, if you want to keep my attention, then you cannot do that again. I tuned out. Hell, just scrolling down to give you a piece of my mind was an effort.

I appreciate the immense amount of work necessary to find all of those pictures. But there must be a theme to the presentation. All I learned was Philo likes plugs and hates bandwidth.

Just for me, would you mind breaking posts like that up into multiple posts in future? Far more useful, and far more likely that a nugget of information gets read instead of losthe or glossed over.
Etiam mihi opinio anserem perirent.

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Re: Irish Plug Tobacco - A Pictorial & Historical Survey of Their Far Famed Renown

Post by Irish-Dane » Wed Jun 22, 2016 11:09 am

hugodrax wrote:What the deuce? Listen, young man, if you want to keep my attention, then you cannot do that again. I tuned out. Hell, just scrolling down to give you a piece of my mind was an effort.

I appreciate the immense amount of work necessary to find all of those pictures. But there must be a theme to the presentation. All I learned was Philo likes plugs and hates bandwidth.

Just for me, would you mind breaking posts like that up into multiple posts in future? Far more useful, and far more likely that a nugget of information gets read instead of losthe or glossed over.
:lol: :lol: :lol:
It's not available because if you try it you will die. Your face will melt off and your children will weep over your exploded body. --Colton

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Re: Irish Plug Tobacco - A Pictorial & Historical Survey of Their Far Famed Renown

Post by sweetandsour » Wed Jun 22, 2016 11:35 am

Hey BTW Philo, how many of these do you have in your cellar?
I'm old but I'm happy. (Most of the time.)

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Re: Irish Plug Tobacco - A Pictorial & Historical Survey of Their Far Famed Renown

Post by philofumo » Fri Aug 05, 2016 1:43 pm

hugodrax wrote:What the deuce? Listen, young man, if you want to keep my attention, then you cannot do that again. I tuned out. Hell, just scrolling down to give you a piece of my mind was an effort.

I appreciate the immense amount of work necessary to find all of those pictures. But there must be a theme to the presentation. All I learned was Philo likes plugs and hates bandwidth.

Just for me, would you mind breaking posts like that up into multiple posts in future? Far more useful, and far more likely that a nugget of information gets read instead of losthe or glossed over.
LOL
" Hell, just scrolling down to give you a piece of my mind was an effort."

:lol:

I have been contemplating a blog, simply so stuff like this can be in the public domain and not forgotten.

I'm very lazy though so it probably will never materialize.

I was thinking a good name would be JOLLY SMOGGER'S REEK LORE, but some feedback has suggested the name is clunky,
perhaps just RETRO REEKIE would suffice?

Nobody cares anyway!

:egor:

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Re: Irish Plug Tobacco - A Pictorial & Historical Survey of Their Far Famed Renown

Post by philofumo » Fri Aug 05, 2016 1:56 pm

sweetandsour wrote:Hey BTW Philo, how many of these do you have in your cellar?
All I have is the recent Danish-made stuff, mostly Velvan Plug, Warrior Plug, and Condor Plug in quantity, and a small clutch of others.

It took me a while to discover the plugs and how they're exactly what I want, and I've become a near-codger, putting Velvan Plug in my pipe 75% of the time and 15% the other plugs, with oddball blends taking up the rare 10%.

Sadly, I've never tried any of the contemporary plugs from when they were made by Murray's --- I'd especially be interested in tasting Velvan as made in Belfast.

As for the slew of other brands, most are quite old and had disappeared by the late 60's, and for the most part it seems many of them may have been a regional thing unknown outside of Ireland.

A good knife was essential kit for the plug smoker:
The wise men with Barbours could pare tobacco, cut scallops for thatching, and even castrate pigs with their blades - Cormac on the Rolls Royce of pocket knives:

Barbour knives were special instruments in the world I grew up in the day before yesterday. Only special men, learned men, invariably pipesmokers, owned and used them. They were not for schoolboys nor for most ordinary men. Schoolboys possessed cheap gaudy-flanked penknives, usually supplied by Santa Claus. A remarkable number of these had the figure of a Canadian Mountie in his red jacket inscribed on them. All had bright silver blades. All of the blades were so blunt that you could not cut butter with them in midsummer. That's a fact.

The Barbour men in our parish would come into our country shop late in the evenings of my boyhood. They came to buy their Half-Quarters. Yes, that's not an error, they would ask you for a Half-Quarter. This was plug tobacco. It came in four ounce blocks, powerfully aromatic and compacted, and the Half-Quarter was the half of one - two ounces. We had a special little guillotine thing for cutting the block exactly in half. You needed that because every fraction of an ounce was special. The eyes watching the guillotine were as sharp as the blades of the Barbour - maybe even sharper!

You'd cut and they'd pay and they'd always fill their pipe before leaving the shop, hipped against the wooden counter, hand fishing into the frock coat pocket, (yes frock coat! - to us a jacket), and you'd watch like a hawk, with amazement, with awe even, at the ease with which either of the two Barbour blades pared off the whorls of redolent tobacco from a plug whose trade name was Walnut and whose surface was just as hard. No problem at all to the Sheffield blades.

They just glided through it, the opening element of a ritual which afterwards saw the shavings of plug being ground into a soft fibrous mass between two horny palms, effortlessly, the opened knife pointing skywards the while, and then the bowl of the pipe being filled, the match applied. And, most often, the steel storm lid being put over the bowl before the smoking Barbour man set off for home on his High Nellie bicycle, tendrils of smoke trailing behind.

I see them now, kings of the Raleigh bike saddles, tall spare men, belted gabardine coats and hats, proud and dignified on their own range as the Mounties on the plasticated flanks of our blunt penknives.

Full article:
http://www.emigrant.ie/index.php?option ... &Itemid=17

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Re: Irish Plug Tobacco - A Pictorial & Historical Survey of Their Far Famed Renown

Post by philofumo » Sun Nov 13, 2016 12:49 pm

:

I've noted that this thread here on CPS is being cited as a sort of reference point for some folks:
http://pipesmagazine.com/forums/topic/a ... made-plugs
So, I thought I'd add some stuff from pages of yore in special relation to manufacturing technique.

First,
I'm totally stoked to have finally found the relevant info as related to the Robt. Legg steam-jacketed hydraulic presses.
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https://worldwide.espacenet.com/publica ... cale=en_EP
"The box or case is steam jacketed at the sides and back and is closed at the front by doors and has no joints from which steam can possibly leak into contact with the goods, being supplied by telescopic or flexible pipes at the back or side."
That answers the question of whether steam was actually passed through the caking plugs and the answer is no it was not, my assumption being that it was the applied heat which allowed higher rates of compression as well as darkening the leaf and caramelizing natural sugars, and also melding the flavor profile --- an extended process of coldpress/hot press alternating would also seem to enhance the end result.

Robert Legg was one of the most pivotal players in England as to supplying the tobacco manufacturers with the needed machinery which was highly specific to their trade, the industrial complexity involved with the UK style of baccy manufacture cannot be understated.

The engineers department was crucial to the ongoing enterprise,
here is a Legg catalog which was held by Wills:
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Arno the Dutchpipesmoker on his wonderful blog has some fabulous images of Legg presses which are still in use at the DAN tobacco facilities in Germany.

https://dutchpipesmoker.wordpress.com/2 ... lauenburg/

Machines like this has a very long lifespan indeed!
2 of them are steam-jacketed, the other 3 are "cold"
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Thanks for your great blog Arno!

Here are several extracts of manufacturing processes:
Ogden's of Liverpool

A simple plug would be made using 1 ton per sq. in. for 5 mins in a regular hydraulic press,
when finished, each plug was wrapped with whole leaf specially selected for appearance

The wrapped plugs are then again pressed at 750 lbs/in² for 1 min to set them

then a pressure of 2 tons/in² is applied for 2 mins

they are then transferred to a steam-jacketed press and applied with a pressure of 750 lbs/in² for 2 hours

then 2 tons/in² is applied and the press is locked, but the pressure is removed, to be left overnight

the next day the press is unlocked and steamed in situ at 25 lbs/in² for 30 mins

(steam and pressure applied together would cause the press to burst)

steam is shut off and a pressure of 750 lbs/in² is applied for the remainder of the day until at the close of the day when the 2 ton pressure cycle is repeated and the press is again locked overnight

This alternate plugging, pressing, steaming, and pressing gives the standard dark color and very smooth smoking qualities...

Cigarettes - Liverpool 5
Jack Jones

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Imperial

A high proportion of tobacco falls into the pressed category. Some, like navy cuts, are hand-pressed, others are subjected to pressure in a hydraulic press. the pressing process has an effect on the colour, density of the finished shreds, aroma and smoking properties. The cakes are placed in heated or unheated hydraulic presses and subjected to varying degrees of pressure and heat according to the brand being produced.

Firstly the leaf is placed in a mould and faced with a wrapper leaf to give the product an attractive appearance. The moulds are placed in one of a row of hydraulic presses in the Hot Press Room, piled up with steel plates between them and subjected to a minimum period of 2½ days under pressure.

The process of baking and pressing the tobacco hardens and darkens it. This process is used to enable flakes to hold their shape.

In the preparation of some plug and bar tobaccos the 'cakes' are cut into small plugs or half-pound bars, wrapped by hand with specially selected tobacco wrapper leaf, weighed and put into cold presses to give the required shape. Also in the cold presses the plugs and bars are imprinted with their brand names by means of stainless steel impression plates. After pressure they are placed in portable retainer presses in which they go to an oven for baking.

In other cases, plugs and bars are made by compressing prepared tobaccos on a special plugging machine to get the right cross-sectional shape - square or circular. Further complicated pressing processes are often involved.

The Manufacture of Pipe Tobaccos
Imperial Group Information Brochure 7
1980

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Player's of Nottingham

The leaf, which has been blended and passed through the various preparatory processes described and illustrated on pages 24 and 25, will be referred to in the following description as "prepared leaf".

Carefully weighed quantities of prepared leaf are placed in the moulds and hydraulic pressure is then applied to form tightly compressed plugs.

These are then wrapped with the selected leaf and placed in Hydraulic Retaining Presses.

In the case of Dark Flake, which is a stronger tobacco, the cakes are placed in specially designed containers and taken to the kilns for baking, afterwards being allowed to cool off under pressure.

From Plantation to Player's
1953

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I will also add here the Mac Baren description because it parallels the UK methods in many aspects,
and they give a very detailed description.
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THE PRODUCTION OF FLAKE TOBACCO

The present-day production of flake tobacco by Mac Baren does not differ significantly from the method used when flake tobacco came into being. The means may have become more advanced, but the principles have not changed – they remain just as they were 200 years ago.

In order to produce a good flake, we must be fully versed in the old traditions associated with flake tobacco. When a pipe smoker opens a tin of tobacco, he should be aware that the tobacco he holds in his hands is deeply rooted in these old traditions.

Below I will describe the entire process from the time the raw tobacco is stored until it reaches the tobacconists' shelves in small, square tins.

The first thing is to select the tobaccos that will make up the mixture. By using different types of tobacco, we can modify the taste experience of the finished tobacco mixture. Following the selection process the tobacco is threshed, i.e. the large stem is removed from the tobacco leaf. Sugar water is then added to the tobacco, exactly as the seamen used to do when the idea of flake tobacco was still developing.

The sugar water helps emphasise and underpin the natural taste nuances of the tobacco, and also keeps the tobacco moist. After 12 hours the tobacco is then dried, or cured, so that the sugar water that has not been absorbed by the tobacco evaporates. Then the final taste enhancer is added and the tobacco is ready to be pressed. Thus far the production of flake tobacco does not differ from the production of loose cut tobacco – but that all changes from here on.
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After the tobacco has been sufficiently moistened, it is packed into a holder measuring 40 x 40 cm and about 1 metre deep. Then a large plunger slowly presses the tobacco together to form a block of tobacco measuring 40 x 40 cm and about 3 cm in thickness. The block is laid on top of the other blocks, and it is important that they are kept under pressure until sufficient blocks have been produced to fill the tobacco press.
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THE PRESS
When 34 blocks of tobacco have been pressed, they are stacked in the tobacco press. The heavy covers are closed and screwed firmly in position, and a hydraulic press exerts 55 tons of pressure on the tobacco blocks. This may sound like a lot – and it is. The blocks of tobacco are subject to this tremendous pressure for 12 hours, after which they are pressed so hard together that the degree of hardness is comparable to that of a wooden board. This slow, constant, strong pressure is the key to the finished flake tobacco not breaking apart and ensures that it retains its block form.
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STORAGE
Now that the tobacco is pressed as hard together as possible, it is allowed time to mature and develop the last nuances of taste. The blocks are again stacked in a storage press, where the iron bars ensure that the pressure is sustained. During the next 30 days the taste develops and spreads evenly throughout the blocks, the taste nuances mix - and an exquisite smoking experience is close to being realised.
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And now,
a few more keeno photographs from the vaults.

From
Tempest's Memories - Dundalk at Work (part 2)
Dundalgan Press 2010
...some great shots from the PJ Carroll factory:
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"Making Clarke's perfect Plug"
Imperial Tobacco Company brochure circa 1951:
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The UK manufacturing processes relied heavily upon an extraordinary degree hand manipulation which naturally demanded a large workforce, it is probably one of the reasons among a variety of reasons why most tobacco isn't made this way anymore - the time and labor costs are staggering, and requires a large financial capital to invest in highly specialized industrial machinery.

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Note the "color chart" that the QC dept. employees are referring to,
neat stuff:
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This odd looking monster was the machine used for cutter top tins:
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Re: Irish Plug Tobacco - A Pictorial & Historical Survey of Their Far Famed Renown

Post by JudgeRusty » Sun Nov 13, 2016 1:00 pm

You're doing it again.

Unless you are posting only to amuse yourself, you must change the approach.

Understand that many of us are simple folk, scanning the internet because we lack the attention span to stick with a 30 min tv show.

Please use small words and a small number of them.

Give us a new thread post with a sentence or two and a picture or two. Provoke our interest and then amaze us with your follow up posts, dosing out bits of info like dog treats to eager puppies. (you wouldn't pour out a whole box of milk-bones for your dog at once would you?)
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Re: Irish Plug Tobacco - A Pictorial & Historical Survey of Their Far Famed Renown

Post by sweetandsour » Sun Nov 13, 2016 5:19 pm

Speaking of James Barber, i worked for a guy by that name once, long ago, as a deck hand on a tugboat. Hard but interesting times.
I'm old but I'm happy. (Most of the time.)

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Re: Irish Plug Tobacco - A Pictorial & Historical Survey of Their Far Famed Renown

Post by philofumo » Mon Nov 14, 2016 9:34 am

:D

Milk Bones make me think of my favorite beverage:

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...and how right now is the time of season for me to start my annual hunt and gathering of my liquid grail,
Bell's Special Double Cream Stout.
I love that stuff.

My favorite tugboat is Scuffy,
he's a tenacious lil' feller and I remember very fondly the book.
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Hard times are often interesting.

Reality is a hard brick to break.

In times of despair, I transmogrify myself into Steamboat Willie chuggin' down the wide rollin' river while whistlin' along to the Champs Tequila.

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Merrily merrily merrily,
life is but a dream...

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