Smokers Items

by Mark Nye
Issue No. 435 - February 2010

Tobacco has played an important role in the history and economy of this country since the early explorers found the native population using tobacco. During the subsequent centuries, controversy has surrounded its several forms of use and this controversy continues today even though the use of tobacco, at least in this country, has greatly diminished. Smoking of dried tobacco was popular during much of the twentieth century and many glass companies, including the Cambridge Glass Company, cashed in on the habit by making and selling a wide range of ash trays, cigarette boxes and other types of holders, tobacco jars and humidors. This article is intended to give an overview of some of the smoking related items produced by Cambridge.

A series of six articles was published in the "Cambridge Crystal Ball" in 1993-1994 and these are available on the NCC website. These provide a much more comprehensive discussion of the many smoking related items offered by Cambridge. In addition, illustrations of many of the items listed in this article but not shown are to be found with that series of articles.

The Community or No. 2800 line dating to the NearCut Era offered a tobacco jar and cover. The handles of this jar also served as pipe holders. From the No. 2630 or Plymouth line comes a covered jar Cambridge promoted as "Cigar or Tobacco Jar fitted with Patented Sponge for Moistener." On a catalog page dating to circa 1916 is seen the 2641 Cigar Band, Ash or Stamp Tray, offered in five different sizes, and the 0141 ash tray. Another page in this same catalog offered four tobacco or cigar jars. Another item from this same time period is the 071 cigarette box and cover, the cover also serving as an ashtray. While primarily made in Crystal, several of the preceding items will be found in Ebony, including the Community tobacco jar, the 071 cigarette box and the 0141 ash tray. The latter two can also be found in Jade and Azurite and perhaps other colors as well.

A Cambridge general catalog, issued circa 1920 and labeled Catalog No. 10, contained illustrations of four tobacco jars previously seen in the 1913 catalog. Offered in this catalog, the Plain Ware line included six ash trays and the former 071 cigarette box, now referred to as the No. 107 cigarette box and cover.

One full page of the thirty-four page 1927 catalog pictured only smokers' items. On this page are four cigarette boxes, two tobacco jars, both round and square trays for cigar bands, ash wells or receivers, cigarette holders and more. Supplemental pages were issued through 1929 and on one such page is illustrated what appears to be an Ebony 1025 Cigar Humidor etched 718 Imperial Hunt Scene and probably gold encrusted. Pictured next to it is the 882 tobacco humidor, also in Ebony and etched Golf Scene and most likely gold encrusted as well. Still in the Cambridge line and pictured on this page is the Community Line 127 tobacco jar and cover with its pipe holder handles.

As the 1930s began, Cambridge continued its production of smoking related items. The 1930 catalog has its page of "Smokers Articles" and on this page is the 607 cigarette box with the intaglio cut dog on its cover. Also on this page is the 605 cigarette box, probably intended for the bridge table, decorated with a heart, spade, club and diamond, again cut into the surface of the cover.

A 1931 supplemental catalog page entitled "Ebony Silver Decorated Ware Sport Novelties" pictured nothing but Ebony smokers' items. The decorations used included "Three Canny Scots," a hunt scene, and a polo scene. The next page captioned "Sport Novelties Color Decorations" also offered a number of smokers items featuring the same scenes, this time in colored enamels on Crystal blanks.

During the second half of the 1930s Cambridge used a series of brochures, covering the various lines and types of articles currently in production, to form their catalog. One version of these pages gave color and pricing information and hence we learn that the 387, 388, 390 and 391 ashtrays were offered in the colors of Crystal, Amber, Emerald, Dianthus Pink, Forest Green, Royal Blue and Ebony. In addition, the six inch No. 390 was offered in Carmen. It would no doubt today be a challenge to assemble a collection of all four ashtrays in all the colors! The smallest of the four, No. 387, was offered plain only while prices were quoted for etched versions of the other three in the colors of Crystal, Amber, Emerald, Dianthus Pink and Forest Green. No information regarding specific etchings was provided.

One of the featured items shown on the first page of the Smokers Items brochure was the No, 3011 Figure ash tray, also known as the Nude Figure ash tray. Its caption provided prices for pieces in Crystal, Amber, Forest Green, Gold Krystol, Royal Blue, Amethyst and Crown Tuscan with an Ebony foot. There were price quotes for etched Nude ash trays in the colors of Crystal, Amber, Forest Green and Gold Krystol. However, once again, no specific information regarding which etchings was provided. In addition to the ash tray, the No. 3011 line also offered cigarette box and cover and a cigarette holder, offered in Crystal, Amber, Forest Green, Gold Krystol and Heatherbloom, plain or etched. Plain only these same pieces were produced in Royal Blue, Amethyst and Carmen. As was the practice, no specific etching information was provided in this brochure.

One of the more unusual ash trays seen in this brochure is the 3400/146 four inch handled ash tray. Unfortunately there is no reproducible illustration of this piece. It is similar in style to the Tally Ho 1402/86 handled ash tray. The 3400/146 differs in that it is made from what appears to be a small 3400 line bowl that has had its sides slightly pinched. The handle is very likely the same one used for the Tally Ho piece. No prices were given for the item etched but this ash tray was offered in Crystal, Forest Green, Royal Blue and Amethyst.

Rarely seen is the 3105 three inch ash tray also offered at the same time. It consists of a cone shaped base from the Pressed Rose Point Stemware line, the 3105 line. It is probably the base to the footed juice. Here the cone is upright and sits on a plain cast foot. It was offered in Crystal only. As a companion to the Pressed Rose Point ashtray, there was a Pressed Rose Point cigarette holder, probably nothing more than the footed juice with a different description.

Shown sitting next to the 3105 ashtray on the brochure page is the 1040 Swan ashtray, available in Crystal, Amber, Emerald, Dianthus Pink, Forest Green, Royal Blue, Gold Krystol and Carmen.

The catalog Cambridge issued on January 1, 1940 contained four pages of smokers' items. The first two pages pictured nothing but ash trays, the third, cigarette boxes and the fourth, cigarette holders. None of the items shown on these pages were new, having appeared in previous catalogs or had been introduced prior to the catalog being issued. It is interesting to note the piece known today as the "bridge hound" or "pencil dog" was captioned in this section as "Dog cigarette holder." A popular piece at the time was a cigarette holder with ash tray foot and Cambridge offered at least seven styles in the 1940 catalog, including the 3011 cigarette holder with ash tray foot. It is hard to believe today that, on some occasions, these would have been used as part of a formal table setting, one at each place.

Supplemental pages to the 1940 catalog offered the Star ash tray in four sizes, ranging from four to seven inches and the No. 1676 ashtray with an eagle in the center, acting as a handle. Introduced in 1947 and first shown in the 1949 Cambridge catalog is the Cascade line and its three ash trays. The largest of the three, No. 216 not only functioned as an ash tray but also served as the base for the Cascade punch bowl and as part of the 2 pc. Sunday Evening or Buffet Supper Set. In the latter case, it sat in the middle of the 21 inch cabaret plate. Introduced in 1952, the Cambridge Square line contained two ash trays and a cigarette urn. The cigarette urn is simply the individual sugar put to an alternative use. First made in Crystal, these pieces were later made in Ebony and then Ebon. It is possible to find the cigarette urn, in both Crystal and Ebon, decorated with a gold encrusted cigarette.

From the reopen years comes the ash tray from the 1956 line, commonly known as the "ham bone ash tray," so named by collectors because of its shape. This ash tray was made in two sizes, eight and ten inches, and both were available with or without a cut top and in the colors of Crystal, Pink, Smoke, Pistachio, Mandarin Gold and Moonlight blue. In addition the 10 inch size was made in Crystal and Smoke with a peg for use as a floral center piece. It was adapted for this purpose by the addition of a flower block that holds three five inch peg vases. The block has a center hole that fits over the peg, holding the block and its vases securely in place. The block and vases, as well as a floral centerpiece set, are illustrated in the 1956-58 Cambridge catalog. In addition the 1956 10 inch ashtray is shown with and without the peg. The cigar/cigarette rests are present whether or not a peg is present. An example of the floral center piece can be seen on the second page of illustrations that accompany this article.

The Sonata line included an ashtray, the 1957/6 twelve inch executive ash tray. Made only in Crystal, this ash tray has a cut and polished top and originally came in a white gift box. An expensive item for its time, this ashtray retailed for $12.00 each.

There are many more ash trays and other smoking related items not mentioned in this review. For example, no mention was made of items from the Caprice line, the Gadroon line, Mt. Vernon and others. As stated at the beginning, a rather detailed series of articles on smoking related items produced by Cambridge was published in 1993-1994 and are archived on the NCC Inc. website. Collectors interested in additional information regarding smokers' items produced by the Cambridge Glass Company are urged to read those articles.

A very special "Thank You" to the following Friends of Cambridge who contributed photos for the "Smokers Items" article.

Scott Brown
Sue Cameron
Don Carpenter
Margaret Davis
Jim & Nancy Finley
Mike Horine
Linda Kilburn
Emil & Marge Kleeman
Michael Krumme
Richard Mayfield
Robert Meador
Mark Nye
Frank & Vicki Wollenhaupt

Smokers items
Smokers items
Smokers items