The State Tobacco Trade in Russia during the Petrine Era: Kursk and Vyazma




18th-century economic history, tobacco trade, tobacco books, Kursk, Vyazma


Referring to two tobacco books stored in the Russian State Archive of Ancient Acts for Kursk (1720) and Vyazma (1725), the author examines the legal trade in tobacco in these cities. The article provides general information about the total legislative ban on tobacco trade in the seventeenth century and the measures taken in the 1690s to legalise the spread and use of tobacco. The history of the tobacco trade in Russia at the initial stage of its existence remains very poorly studied. The author emphasises the importance of tobacco books of the eighteenth century in the study of domestic tobacco trade. The article presents data on the quantitative and geographical composition of documents found in various funds of the Russian State Archive of Ancient Acts, providing a detailed source characterisation of the Kursk and Vyazma tobacco books (including their volume, structure, and forms of individual articles). The author analyses the volume and turnover of the state-owned tobacco trade in Kursk and Vyazma, determines the assortment of tobacco products sold, traces seasonal fluctuations in the sale of tobacco, and makes conclusions about the amount of income received by the treasury. Additionally, the author carries out a comparative analysis of retail prices for tobacco sold in Kursk and Vyazma, demonstrating the dependence of this indicator on the distance from the main areas of wholesale purchases. Furthermore, he considers the manufacture of snuff, providing information on the ratio of smoking and snuff tobacco in the Russian tobacco market in different historical periods. Based on information about the number of the townspeople of Kursk and Vyazma according to the first revision of 1719 and data on the volume of state tobacco trade in these cities, an attempt is made to determine the level of tobacco consumption among the local population. The article provides information on the structure of state expenditures made over the year to ensure the tobacco trade in Vyazma and demonstrates the share of state tobacco profits in the general structure of state revenues (customs, liquor, etc.) in Kursk. Finally, the article provides information on the personnel and social status of the officials responsible for the receipt of state tobacco revenues in Kursk and Vyazma in the indicated years.

Author Biography

Aleksey Razdorsky

PhD (History), Head of Group of the Historical Bibliography, National Library of Russia.

18, Sadovaya Str., 191069, St Petersburg, Russia.

ORCID 0000-0003-2506-7714


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How to Cite

Razdorsky, A. (2022). The State Tobacco Trade in Russia during the Petrine Era: Kursk and Vyazma. Quaestio Rossica, 10(1), 306–318.