18th-century snus found in Swedish town

A small box of snus from the 18th century has been found during an excavation in the town of Norrköping in Sweden, the country’s National Historical Museums has revealed.

Among other interesting finds, such as fine ceramics and wine glasses, archaeologists excavated a small brass snus box engraved with the initials PWG, which the owner is believed to have dropped into what was once a river near the city’s old harbour area.

“It’s an exciting find,” said Karin Lindeblad, an archeologist with the National Historical Museums.  “The conditions for preservation were probably good: it has been in mud, in oxygen-free storage. It’s great fun.” 

The box turned out to be half-filled with unused snus (although after more than 300 years, it was probably past its best). 

Patrik Strömer at the Association of Swedish Snus Manufacturers praised the find as an exciting and previously unknown chapter in the history of snus in Sweden.

“We don’t know if this is the old-fashioned snuff, or if this is might be the oldest known find of Swedish snus, which is moistened and manufactured with salt and soda. But that a centuries-old Swedish tradition now turns out to be even older is fantastic,” he said.

The owner of the box is believed to be Pehr Gustaf Wadström, an industrialist who at the time owned the shipyard on Skeppsholmen in Norrköping.