Thursday, July 1, 2010

Smoke 'em if ya got 'em.....

As an ephemeraologist (don't know if this is a word, but guess what?  It is now!), I find it fascinating the different categories of "stuff" that people choose to collect.  It's a tiny delve into one's psyche, isn't it?  For example, why do some love railroadiana?  Or classic car ephemera?  Or maps?  Or anything?

Now, I don't have a very extensive collection compared to some, but I enjoy collecting tobacciana immensely.  And because I'm writing this blog, I'll give you a tiny peek into MY psyche as to why I love my collection.

I grew up in the Seventies.  I lived on the same street from 1970-1988, so I witnessed a lot of change.  One of the big changes I noticed was the smoking habits of my neighbors. 

Because it was the Seventies, and interest rates were incredibly high, our block remained virtually unchanged for over a decade, neighbors-wise.  When I was in grade school, nearly everyone on my block smoked.  So many of my friends' parents smoked, in fact, that I just can't remember cigarette smoke even being an issue.  Both of my parents smoked until 1975, when my dad had a heart attack.  He HAD to quit, but my mom never did (and unfortunately, she's still smoking).  I think my dad was the first on the block to quit.  Gradually, as we got into the Eighties, my neighbors quit the habit.  I'd take a wager on the bet that my mom is the only one of my original neighbors left who smokes.

Isn't that amazing, when you think about it?  What other product can you really say that about?  And with the statewide smoking bans going into place (Wisconsin's starts on Monday, after the big weekend), we're going to be seeing fewer advertisements and product placements.  I mean, if you can't smoke in bars, what's the point of having ad "tents" on the tables?

This is why I love my tobacciana collection.  It's a personal thing for me - I was a smoker for 12 years (something that baffles my mind, now - I'll chalk it up to being in college and trying to be cool), the advertising will just become rarer, and it hearkens to a bygone (or soon-to-be-gone) era.

If you look in the big photo and the close-up photos, you'll see stuff like vintage foreign cigarette wrappers; premium coupons; cigar pouches; rolling papers; matchbox labels; plastic cards from a cigarette vending machine; cigar bands; antique tobacco plugs and matchbook covers.  It's a good collection in that it spans about 80 years or so, from the late 1800s (the tobacco plugs) to the 1970s (the B&W premium coupons).

And of course, I really love using my collection in my collage/mixed media artwork.  Here are a few cards I've made that incorporate the smoking culture of our not-so-distant past:


  1. this is great! I'm not sure I'd want to use any of it... they'd look great framed, too! If you ever want to do a trade for current-day cigar bands, let me know. (we have at LEAST two gallon-size zipper bags full of them... I keep saving them for "something," someday- you know how it is!)

  2. Wow Jennifer - how did I ever miss your comment? :( I think a trade would be fabulous - let me know what you're in the mood for! :D