Smoker's Items - Part I

by Mark A. Nye
Issue No. 245 - September 1993

Tobacco has played an important role in the history and the economy of this country and the world since early explorers found the native population using it. During the hundreds of years since its discovery, controversy has surrounded its use and this controversy continues today. The purpose of these articles is not to discuss the pros and cons of tobacco. Its use by smoking became very popular during the first half of the twentieth century. Consequently, many glass companies, including Cambridge, cashed in on the habit by making and selling a wide range of ash trays and cigarette holders. In addition, Cambridge also made items for other tobacco users, items such as tobacco jars.

The Community or No. 2800 line, from the Nearcut era, contained a tobacco jar and cover. The handles of this jar also served as pipe holders. One piece in the No. 2630 or Plymouth line is a covered jar Cambridge described as "Cigar or Tobacco Jar Fitted with Patented Sponge for Moistener." On a catalog page captioned "Near Cut Novelties and Kitchen Utensils," and dating to circa 1916, is seen the 2641 Cigar Band, Ash or Stamp Tray in five different sizes and the 0141 Ash Tray. From the same Cambridge catalog comes a page that featured an additional four tobacco or cigar Jars. Another item from the same period is the 071 Cigarette Box and Cover. The cover, as seen in the catalog illustration, apparently served as an ashtray as well.

While primarily made in Crystal, at least three of the above mentioned items will also be found in Ebony. These three are the Community Line tobacco jar, the 071 cigarette box and the 0141 ash tray. The latter two can also be found in other opaque colors such as Jade and Azurite.

Cambridge Catalog #10, dating to about 1920, contained illustrations of four tobacco jars, numbers 2748, 2746, 2630 and 2745, previously pictured in the circa 1916 catalog. Six ash trays, numbers 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, and 32, were shown with the No. 1917 Plain Ware Line as was the 107 Cigarette Box and Cover, a new number for the old 071 Cigarette Box and Cover.

One complete page from the 34 page 1927 Cambridge catalog showed nothing but 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. On a 1929 supplemental catalog page is illustrated what appear 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, etched Golf Scene and gold encrusted, or so it appears. Also, on this page is the Community Line 127 Tobacco Jar and Cover with its pipe holder handles.

The 1930 Cambridge catalog also devoted a page to "Smokers Articles." The illustration located in the center on the left-hand side is deceiving. What you are looking at is a top view of four nested ash trays, numbers 387, 388, 390 and 391. The designs on the 607 Cigarette Box, the 883 Ash Tray and the 605 Cigarette Box are cut into the surface of the glass. The 883 Ash Tray and its companion 885 Cigarette Holder were previously shown on a supplemental page to the 1927 catalog, probably issued in the fall of 1927.

A 1931 supplemental catalog page captioned "Business Stimulator," had on it pictures of the 1025 Cigar Humidor, the 882 Tobacco Humidor and the 607 Cigarette Box and Cover. Unlike their appearance on the 1930 catalog page, this time all three are in Ebony. On another 1931 catalog page one finds the 230 Cigarette Box and Ash Tray, first seen in the fall of 1927. Shown then in Crystal, and probably color as well, here it is seen in Ebony.

Still another l931 catalog page was used for smokers articles. This one pictured nothing but Ebony items decorated in silver. These are not silver encrusted etchings, they are transfer designs and will be found in colored enamels as well as silver. Production of silver decorated Ebony smokers items stopped before 1940.

On this page one can get a better view of the 388, 391 and 390 ash trays mentioned earlier. The 1940 catalog included a 386 Ash Tray of the same design but half an inch larger than 387. Because of its size, it did not nest with the other four.

To be continued ...

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