Smoking may be frowned upon these days, but in the 1930-40s cigarettes and paraphernalia related to it flourished. Today, there are still many people who collect tobacciana whether they are smokers or not.
One of the first collectible pieces to come out of the 1930s was cigarette cases. They were sleek and glistened and often made of silver or silverplate. They had great art deco designs and held anywhere from 10 to 20 cigarettes. Females showed off their smokes with cloisonné topped cases that matched their powders and lipsticks cases. Men often had more slim cases that fit snuggly in their pockets.
Perhaps some of the most collectible became matching cases and lighters. Some even had matching pocket knives. These were often given away as classy gift sets.
Some of the most popular brands in the 1940s were those made by Evans and Ronson. Several sets sold for around $25 back then and today are worth 10 times that price.
Novelty table lighters were also a huge hit. People sought and still seek lighters that look like airplanes, cannons, flasks, globes or animals. Some were metals such as sterling silver and some were made of the plastic bakelite.
Musical marine lighters were also very popular. Someone would spin the wheel on top and a tune would play. The cap of the lighter also released and the wick ignited. These are still very rare pieces.
Dunhill produced lighters in the 1940s that were made for those with dignity called a Silent Flame. You would remove the fluid cylinder and touch it to the ring at the top. A very small flame appeared
Zippo had a similar lighter that ignited the wick by the turn of the wheel. These are pretty much the norm for most lighters today but they were a big deal in the 1940s.
Another great early novelty was an electric smoker-ette that dispensed lighted cigarettes. It held 60 cigarettes. You would press a lever and one lit cigarette would come out ready for puffing.
The Joseph Hagn Co. had a trigger-ette dispenser. When you turned a revolving disc to the right or left, it would align with a cigarette which would pop out.
Ro-Tray had an oval leather container that ejected one cigarette at a time when the top was turned.
There were also plenty of musical cigarette boxes that played tunes when the lids were raised.
Women often used cigarette holders. They were long and thin and often bakelite.
Inventing new items for smokers was a huge business and companies hired top notch inventors to out-do each other.
Ashtrays were another item smokers looked to show off. Several were very erotic and considered men’s ashtrays. Others were made of quality metals such as brass. They were often shaped like Egyptian figures or animals.
Small handheld ashtrays that looked like compacts were also very popular, especially for women.
Humidors, pipe rests and rack sets were also made as novelty items. Some looked like clocks or ship wheels.
Pipes themselves also are collector items as they were made in novelty shapes in the 1940s. Some were shaped like skulls, fishes or shoes.
Another hard to find collectible are machines that allowed you to roll your own cigarettes. Montgomery Ward produced one in 1932 for 98 cents called a Target.
The last big tobacco collectible are tins. These have been made for many years in a variety of shapes and colors. Some were used by store owners and others as pocket tins. One of the most sought after is Roly Polies made by Mayo’s Tobacco Co. Other top names are Prince Albert, Bulldog, Kentucky Club, Old Bond, Stag and Lucky Strike.
Smoking may be considered bad for your health but smoking accessories may never go out of style.
Source: Collecting Nostalgia by John Mebane