Daily Mail (London), November 17, 2010 | Go to article overview


QUESTION A scene from ITV's Downton Abbey has two characters smoking long 'tailor-made' cigarettes. Would these have been available in 1912?

A 'TAILOR-MADE' is slang for a mass-produced, factory-made cigarette. Non-filtered varieties were certainly available in 1912.

Smoking became a popular pastime only in the latter part of the 19th century.

The cigarette was given its name in the 1830s, a French adaptation of the Spanish word sigarito a diminutive of 'cigar' which is believed to come from the Maya sicar, 'to smoke rolled tobacco leaves'.

In the 1850s, Turkish leaves were very popular in Russia, and the cigarette was brought back by soldiers returning from the Crimean War. Demand surged and the tobacconist Philip Morris began to manufacture cigarettes in 1854. But cigarettes were hand-rolled and even a good roller could produce only three or four a minute. So they were a luxury item.

Then, in 1875, tobacco manufacturer Allan & Ginter of Richmond, Virginia, offered a prize of $75,000 for the invention of an automatic rolling machine.

A young inventor, James Albert Bonsack (1859-1924) of Roanoke, Virginia, took up the challenge and in 1881 filed U.S. patent No 238,640 for a machine that could produce 120,000 cigarettes in ten hours, instantly revolutionising the cigarette industry.

By the beginning of the 20th century, mass-produced cigarettes were affordable, and 1901 saw the creation of one of the first great tobacco giants, the Imperial Tobacco Company, amalgamating 13 tobacco and cigarette companies -- WD& HO Wills, John Player & Sons and 11 other family businesses.

The cigarettes favoured in this period were primarily made of light tobacco with a slight addition of a Turkish brand for flavour and aroma. The first filtered cigarettes appeared from 1927.

Kath Moore, Lincoln.

QUESTION Why do plants, flowers, shrubs, trees and so on have Latin names?

ANY study of the intellectual life of medieval Europe will reveal the widespread interest in animals and plants.

The literary manifestation of this was the tradition of the bestiary, or books about animals, and the production of early encyclopaedias. Such treatments, however, were notable for their less-than-accurate descriptions and their inclusion of fabulous creatures, usually with preference shown for the exotic, mythical, and imaginative over the scientific.

This changed radically with the scientific revolution of the early 13th century and the recovery in the Latin west of the zoological treatises of Aristotle.

Aristotle (384 BC-322 BC) was the grandfather of biological classification systems.

In his 21-volume History of Animals, he ordered organisms into a complex hierarchical 'ladder of life' (scala naturae), placing them according to complexity of structure and function.

In 1220, all of Aristotle's work was made available in a Latin translation from the Arabic by Michael Scotus at Toledo called De Historia Animalium.

By mid-century, Albertus Magnus had made the libri de animalibus the centrepiece of his massive literary production, introducing Aristotelian natural science to readers of Latin.

This was followed in the 1260s by an improved direct translation of the zoology from the Greek into Latin by William of Moerbeke.

The elegant Latin language was the medium favoured by scholars and academics of the medieval period and beyond, and as complex systems of animal classification developed, it became convenient to maintain these Latin names as a universal currency.

The exploration of parts of the New World by Europeans in the 16th-18th centuries led to the discovery of large numbers of new plants and animals that needed descriptions and classification and a universal system was sought.

Much of the work was done in the botanical field by the likes of Andrea Caesalpino (1519-1603), John Ray (1627-1705), an English naturalist who produced a Historia Plantarum, Augustus Quirinus Rivinus (1652- 1723) and Joseph Pitton de Tournefort (1656-1708). …

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