“Smoke If You’ve Got ‘Em”

Lately I haven’t been finding anything at my neighborhood thrift store. Yes, the store is small, but usually I find one or two good items each visit. After three visits with no purchases I kept thinking today is the day. It’s gotta be! But it didn’t help that I overheard a store manager explain to a couple visiting the store for the first time that the store puts their “high end” stuff online or sends it to one of the local Goodwill boutique stores. I have been wondering if they’ve been doing more of that! Regardless, over the years I’ve found some really good things here–from Waterford crystal to Spade purses to cool vintage paintings and ceramics. It’s been a wonderful source for me.

So here I was on my fourth visit hoping to break my dry spell and find something good. And there it was. Well, kinda. It was a pricey cigar ashtray made by Sterling China Co, Wellsville, OH. Hmmm. It seemed a strong possibility. I tried to do research in the store but nothing was coming up for it despite all the maker info on the back. Poop!


But I decided to pop for it and do more research at home.


Now here’s the weird thing, it’s like this ashtray doesn’t exist! I’m not finding any for sale anywhere or even any photos of it. I’ve changed my search parameters many times without luck. I turned my attention to finding sold ones in Worthpoint. Again, I had to try many different search parameters and finally found two sold ashtrays, one in 2010 for $30.75 and one in 2016 for $45. Well, that was something anyway.

Founded in 1917 in Wellsville, OH, the Sterling China Company were the main suppliers of dinnerware to the military during WWII. They also produced wares for hotels across the country, including the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite. This pattern called “Three Legged Indian” was made exclusively for the hotel. (I always keep an eye out for this.)


I bought this creamer for $1 at a rummage sale and sold it for $27.

The company appears to have shut it’s doors in 2003 due to high labor and energy costs and foreign competition. Sadly when a company closes or an artisan dies, their work becomes more valuable due to a now limited and potentially diminishing supply.

In the end I listed this scarce ashtray for $50. BTW, I purposely omitted the word “Havana” from the Etsy listing. Selling goods from Cuba is prohibited and while this is clearly NOT from Cuba, I have found that Etsy will deactivate any listing that seems suspect to them.


So it turned out to be a good find. Time will tell if my neighborhood Goodwill continues to be a good source for me. I have many other sources so it won’t be a problem, but it is so conveniently located that I will miss it if it starts drying up!

As always, happy hunting,



  1. There’s so much about Goodwill that makes me think twice about buying from them. They are not quite a charity. They employee people who might not otherwise be employable for pennies on the dollar. And, instead of selling all of their donations to the local folks, they have a website for selling online. Also, their CEO makes a 6-digit salary. Everything about them is suspect in my view. I do hope they let some things sneak through for you, though.


    1. I appreciate how you feel Fonda. It is not my favorite charity, but as I’ve gotten to know the staff and interact with those they train at my neighborhood Goodwill, I’ve come to have great respect for them…such hard workers and decent folks! And I’m on speaking terms with a number of other regular buyers. So for me it comes down to a more personal level. Okay, plus the store is a mile from my house and sometimes has good stuff!! 🙂 – Karen


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