A few weeks back, Lloyd carried out some important and detailed research into the ‘Raven Mixture’ tobacco mentioned early on in the novel. He even went as far as to acquire a pipe and pouch of the good stuff for us to sample. It was highly enjoyable, and I experienced what I can only call ‘pipe envy’.
Strolling up St James Street after lunch in a club (I really am getting into the role of Carruthers) I chanced upon a tobacconists called James J Fox) and felt an immediate urge to get my own pipe. It would be no good having this Adventure with just one of us puffing on a briar, now would it?
My luck was very much in when I was served in the pipe shop by one Philip Shervington, who’s been in the tobacconist trade for many a year (he claimed to have retired three times already). Having heard my story of being ‘NotCarruthers’, he steered me towards a pipe with a flat bottom so that I would be able to lay it on my charts in a boat without fear of it falling over. Very smart.
The real surprise, however, came when I mentioned I was looking for a tobacco akin to the fictional ‘Raven mixture’. Lloyd & I had become convinced this was a playful reference to ‘Craven Mixture’, but Philip dropped a bit of a bombshell by asserting that Raven Mixture was not a fiction, but a very real thing!
Philip claimed there were big pots of the stuff suitably labelled in a tobacconists called G Smith & Sons at 74 Charing Cross (now defunct), where he had worked as a younger man, under the tutelage of someone called Harry Lewis, and also Vivian Rose, known in the 1960s as ‘the Snuff King’, a man famous enough to have appeared on ‘What’s My Line?’. Not only did Philip handle the pots, he used to prepare the mixture.
Flipping open a drawer packed with dozens of different tobacco mixes, Philip declared that ‘the closest equivalent you’d get today is Radford’s Luxury Blend.’ Like Lloyd’s pseudo-Craven mixture, there’s Virginia in there plus a small percentage of Latakia. But the extra element in Radford’s is Perique from Louisiana, a rather romantic and quite rare tobacco that was cultivated in ancient times by the Choctaw and Chickasaw native American tribes.
In essence there’s a little bit of the indian peace pipe in this blend – a blend that turns out to be not quite as ‘made up’ by Childers as we first thought.
6 thoughts on “Raven Mixture revisited”
Just a thought..
Maybe Raven Mixture could be created.
A Rotts Club tobacco.
Like these chaps: http://kearvaigpipeclub.co.uk/
That way you might be able to get us to pay for your smokes as well as your holiday.
Ahoy! And what a very fine thought indeed. Question: do they have bothys in Frisia?
Triple glazed. No doubt.
Good evening Gentlemen,
Splendid site and concept; well done chaps! I note that you have spotted our club blend ‘Bothy Flake’. Perhaps a tin of said blend should accompany you on you adventure(s)? Being a bit of a seafaring chap myself, and a significant fan of TROTS, I’m delighted to stumble across your site. Perhaps a wee article about you chaps in our club newsletter ‘Briar & Bothies could be a wheeze? If you think this may be an option do get in touch as I’m confident that Bothy Flake, whilst obviously not matching the status of the legendary Raven mixture is a damn fine smoke – if I say so myself – which would be welcome if the weather got a tad dirty. Oh, and don’t forget to pack your Ulsters and Norfolks.
Welcome aboard. We would love to try the Bothy Flake! And yes, any mention in your newsletter would be much appreciated. Do check out our posts and podcasts about Raven Mixture: http://www.riddleofthesands.net/wordpress/tag/tobacco/
e-mail me your address and I will gladly send you a tin of Bothy Flake. Incidentally, Bothy Flake is a Virginia flake with a condiment amount of Latakia with a whisky topping and is manufactured by the legendary Samuel Gawith of Kendal.
Oh, and on behalf of the Kearvaig Pipe Club I’ve pledged £25. Our chaps will be interested to hear of the adventure.