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Spittoons are receptacles (usually made of brass) for, well, spitting, specifically residue from chewing tobacco (or dipping tobacco). They were a common feature placed on the floor in saloons, hotels, banks, and other places where men tended to gather.
The practice began to die out in the 1930s, apart from a few regional exceptions. Spittoons today are most often encountered in Western movies or television, and occasionally in seedy bars often near the piano player.