Page 16 - January 2016
P. 16

| Tobacco Paper |                              | |Bob Richardson (9718)

    From the periodical collection at the St Bride Library,
            which is currently closed to researchers.

The importation of contraband has              unusual features or grounds for suspicion
        long been a concern to governments     from a revenue point of view, and directions
        worldwide. Lost revenue, through tax   have now been given for their prompt
avoidance on tobacco and alcohol, continues    delivery.”
to deprive the British Exchequer of much
needed revenue. It was ever thus.                Alas, by the time The Cambridge Gazette
                                               had received this communication they had
  In November  the publishers of a         already found an alternative paper supplier.
new title, The Cambridge Gazette, intended     The news waits for no man, and certainly
to print their ¿rst edition on reels of paper  not for Customs & Excise. The American
from a mill in New York. Why they chose to     paper was returned to the importers, full
source their paper on the other side of the    of large diameter holes and presumably
Atlantic remains a puzzle, and we may never    looking like great grey Swiss cheeses.
know the answer. What we do know is that
this curious decision caused all manner of       An indignant editorial in The Newspaper
problems for them. The publishers hadn’t       Owner warned of the perils of buying
reckoned on the dogged determination of        paper abroad. The publication thundered
Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise to root       “Customs oɤcials will not be satis¿ed with
out all forms of contraband. When the          seeing one reel of paper unwound. They
newsprint arrived at the Albert Docks in       will either destroy the whole of the paper
London it was immediately impounded. The       at the docks in their eɣorts to discover
Customs & Excise oɤcers refused to release     what it could not possibly contain, or they
the paper until it had been thoroughly         will, at the expense of the paper importer,
checked. This involved boring a great many     keep an oɤcial perpetually at the printing
deep holes into the reels, and completely      works – for how else could they, in the case
unwinding more than one of them.               of imported reels, witness the whole of the
                                               unrolling? It would all be amusing, if it were
  The Newspaper Owner & Manager                not so exasperating.”
dated th November 
reported that Customs
oɤcers “assured themselves
that there was no contraband
deposit of the fragrant weed”
in the innermost recesses
of these reels. The “fragrant
weed” was probably tobacco,
as the market for cannabis in
 was somewhat smaller
than it is today. A letter
was eventually despatched
from the Customs oɤce to
the publisher. It read “The
rolls of paper in question
are reported to present no
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