The Timetables of History

When I was writing The Cartoon Guide to Recreational Drugs I scoured the local libraries and bookstores looking for useful and interesting historical works. The Timetables of History is one of my sources.

The parts I generally took notes from were either about the drugs themselves or the prohibition of drugs. You’ll find the information garnered from these books throughout the Prohibition Politics section of this site. It will also have informed some of my own postings stored in the older Prohibition Politics archive.

If you find this information useful, you will want to search out the books themselves to read the text in context. All of the books here are at least moderately interesting.


Bernard Grun’s book is a massive outline of historical events; it provides little detail, but is invaluable for deciding what details might be interesting to research.

Looking from 1630 to 1753, the following drugs (or drug-war-like events) are mentioned:

Tobacco1635, 1670
Coffee1632, 1640, 1643, 1650, 1652, 1679, 1683, 1688, 1707, 1727
Tea1636, 1650, 1723
Chocolate1657, 1698
Witchcraft1712, 1714, 1631

An even more cursory look at some specific events:

3000-2501 BCSumerians grow barley, make bread, make beer; metal coins begin to replace barley as legal tender
2000-1501 BCContraceptives in use in Egypt
1500-1001 BCRegulations concerning the sale of beer in Egypt
950 BCFirst verified date of poppies grown in Egypt
801Charlemagne prohibits prostitution
1625Tobacco tax and tobacco monopoly in England
1632First coffee shop opens in London
1635Sale of tobacco in France restricted to apothecaries, only on doctor’s prescriptions