Smoking May Be Passé, But…

Smoking may be passé, but you gotta love the smoking accoutrements: ashtrays, lighters, matchbooks, vestas (match safes), cigarette cases and boxes.

My grandparents used to smoke and even long after they quit, a huge, black marble ashtray always graced their coffee table. After my Gram’s death my brother Dan acquired the ashtray and it now sits on his mantle.

It is quite handsome…n’est-ce pas?

If you’re into ashtrays you’ll love this snippet from a memoir…

Somewhere is a huge glass ashtray, molten like Dale Chihuly’s flowers, in blue, brown and orange, as big as a pizza. I gave it to my mother for Christmas. I was 10. I saw it in the mall early in the fall, saved money for it until December. My sister was angry when Mother opened the package on Christmas Eve. My sister was hurt because my excess gave her no chance to shine with her relatively paltry offering. I felt guilty. But I had to do it. Such beauty needed to be taken home. And it was worth my sister’s pain, to see the tears in my mother’s eyes, and the way she placed the ashtray in the middle of the biggest table in the living room. –  L.A. Heberlein, The Seattle Times

While I like ashtrays and own a few, I have never collected them. Never sought them out.

Now my friend Rosalie has the largest matchbook collection I’ve ever seen. It’s been collected over decades of travel and fine dining. I’m guessing she has 1000 matchbooks or more. (Care to confirm Rosalie??) I have a few matchbooks I’ve saved over the years, The Russian Tea Room being one of my favs, but I wouldn’t call myself a matchbook collector.

A few I’ve saved over the years.

Nor do I collect lighters, which many are fond of. But I do have one achilles heel in the tobacciana world…old sterling silver cigarette cases.

I love their look and sense of history. Many are engraved with names, dates and events.





As I am a non-smoker, you might think this collection is totally frivolous, but many are big enough to hold credit cards, a driver’s license, and a bit of cash, so I have used them as oh-so-classy wallets.

Here’s a little silver cigarette case history…

“During the 19th and 20th centuries, tobacco became a cheap and popular product in both Britain and the United States, which led to the production of the solid silver cigarette case. World War I introduced mass-produced, machine-rolled cigarettes to the public, which sometimes lacked the tight roll of a hand-crafted cigarette, and required a case to protect it through the harsh conditions of the war.” – eBay Guide

So there it is, my confession of another thing I collect, though I think I finally ready to sell a few!!

What’s your collecting passion??


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