The Snuff Tobacco Reference

Edison Kinetoscopic Record of a Sneeze

Edison Kinetoscopic Record of a Sneeze is a short film that depicts a male subject sneezing in reaction to having taken snuff tobacco. It was produced by the Edison Manufacturing Company and directed by a William Kennedy-Laurie Dickson with the subject played by a Frederick Paul Ott and captured on 1894-01-07 at the Black Maria studio in New Jersey, and was intended for magazine publicity being published in still form as part of an article that appeared in Harper’s Weekly (The Record of a Sneeze. Barnett Phillips. Volume 38; Number 1,944; Issue 1894-03-24. 1894.) The film fully comprised eighty-one frames having been taken at a rate of either forty or forty-six frames per second, and an abbreviated version of forty-five frames was granted copyright status in the United States of America (2887. 1894-01-09. W. K.-L. Dickson.) It was said about the filming process: The victim was requested to assume a seat and favor the audience with that mild convulsion, and to the furtherance of that end, a large pinch of snuff was administered, the operator standing meanwhile in readiness, so as to catch the results in a graded series of one thousand pictures. A breathless silence ensued, the victim’s face screwed, puckered and collapsed. There was evidently a hitch somewhere in the anatomical machinery. A second and larger pinch was administered, with no better result; a dose of ground tobacco followed, capped by a generous portion of black pepper. In vain. The wretched youth coughed, choked, sniffed, finally dissolving into tears, and amid shouts of laughter the attempt was abandoned, only to be renewed a few days later when the desired results were secured. (W. K.-L. Dickson, 1895)


  1. Early Motion Pictures: The Paper Print Collection in the Library of Congress. Kemp Redman Niver. Pages 86–87. 1985.
  2. Edison Motion Pictures, 1890–1900. Charles Musser. Pages 87–88. 1997.
  3. Harper’s Weekly. The Record of a Sneeze. Barnett Phillips. Volume 38; Number 1,944; Issue 1894-03-24. 1894.
  4. History of the Kinetograph, Kinetoscope & Kinetophonograph. William Kennedy-Laurie Dickson; Antonia Dickson. Pages 39–41. 1895.