What Is a Tobacco Jar? Plus, Virginia Tobacco Jars on Etsy

When I went to Lucketts Fall Market for the first time last month, I walked away with more finds than I expected — an intricate folk art wood mirror with a darling shelf, perfect for taking off earrings, a navy leather tufted chair, a Pendleton tartan wool blazer, and the piece that inspired a few dozen Instagram DMs, a Delft blue Tobacco Jar lamp.

Check out photos from a trip to Lucketts a few years ago.

As soon as I spotted this darling blue and white lamp, I knew it belonged in my bedroom. Exhibit A below. I’d been on the lookout for a tobacco jar for a few years, but hadn’t found one at a reasonable price. This lamp was not only reasonable, but marked half off. It was sitting at a Gen Z-oriented booth that was filled with vintage clothing, but the youngsters were too busy flipping through old sweatshirts and sweater vests to know the prize that was sitting right there on the table. I snatched it up within seconds, and now it has a place of honor on my dresser.

But What is a Tobacco Jar?

First off, typically these are, in fact, jars. The lamp is definitely a quirky take on it, and, from what I can tell, it was always a lamp. Presumably, if I was a reseller, I’d see this as less valuable than an actual tobacco jar.

Tobacco jars are exactly what they sound like — they were initially made to hold tobacco. Often made of porcelain or bisque, you’ll find them in every style and color, however the classic blue and white tobacco jars are popular with the grandmillenial set. In theory, tobacco jars were stamped with the location in which the tobacco was farmed, hence the state on the front, and the jar shape with lid helped keep the tobacco moist when it was in someone’s home (who knew tobacco should be moist to smoke, rather than dry?). The Delft blue pattern originated in the Netherlands, which was also a large tobacco producing entity.

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Sourcing Tobacco Jars

While you can occasionally find tobacco jars at antique shops and secondhand stores, they can be tricky to hunt down. When they do find their way to a shop, they go quickly (often snatched up by people who will then try to resell them again). However, there are a handful on Etsy available, including one lamp, similar to the one I have.

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