Thursday, August 16, 2012

Is it Wrong that I Like These?

I love little coupons, trading stamps, stamps, premiums (premia?) - anything tiny that I can collect a lot of but still won't take up much room.  Many times these wonderful little bits of ephemeral goodness are vintage, which adds to their intrinsic value.  Sometimes I come across a coupon or premium from our recent past that I love, but I also wonder if it's okay to collect.  Case in point:

These Brown and Williamson (B&W) coupons!  I found these at an antique store in a little town called Eden, about 4 miles south of Fond du Lac - my friend Sue and I stopped there on a trip back from West Bend on Monday and she found these for me while she was digging for something else.  I'll admit it - I have always loved these!  From the first time (circa 1977) I saw one in a pack of cigarettes a family member smoked (and I wanted to start collecting then), up until I realized I could get literally thousands of these for under five bucks, I have loved these things.  You may be asking yourself why I'm fretting about these - they're just vintage ephemera, right?

Well, yes and no.  Smoking has been a big part of my life, whether I was smoking or not, since birth.  My parents both smoke(d) - my dad did up until he had a stroke and my mom still does.  Many of my family members smoked (but I believe all have since quit except my mom).  And I was a pack-a-day smoker for over 12 years, with my nine years smoke-free anniversary coming up on November 21.  The stupidest thing I ever did was start smoking, and one of the best things I ever did was quit.

And herein lay the quandary - should I be lauding ephemera that exists solely because people used to smoke like chimneys?  Every one of these coupons represents a pack of cigarettes.  If the numbers on these bundles of coupons are correct, the baggie represents two thousand packs of cigarettes, or 40 thousand cigarettes.  If the person collecting these coupons were a pack-a-day smoker, it would've taken them only 5 1/2 years to collect these.  When I think about the money wasted and the toll it takes on your body, it puts these premiums in a whole new light.

That being said, smoking is still legal and even though I'm not a fan, it is anyone's right to smoke if they so choose.  I also chose to buy this bag of premiums.  And you have to admit - this catalog is REALLY cool.  :D

I've shown you some of my smoking-related ATCs before, but here's another one, and probably appropriate for the blog post:

"The Science of Smoking" ATC


  1. 1) There's an antique store in Eden? Thanks for the tip!
    2) Congrats on being smoke-free for 9 years!!
    3) I think little coupons and trading stamps are neat no matter what they advertise. :)

  2. I'm very much anti-smoking. But art is art, and ephemera is ephemera, so if it inspires you, I say be creative with it.

    Also I have a fine collection of cigar boxes I use for storage, so I'm not about to criticize anyone else. ;)

  3. It is a part of history no matter how P.C. we can't forget stuff like this existed. We used to joke when my dad smoked and collected Marlboro Miles that maybe they had a coffin in the catalog? He quit smoking 4 years ago! Congrats to you too! Thanks for sharing!