Humans have smoked as long as something to smoke has existed. The negative effects of smoking have received much attention in the past fifty years, but people continue to smoke, whether cigarettes or e-cigarettes.
Although smoking has been a tradition for centuries, ashtrays and other smoking accessories did not exist until the early 20th century. Familiar ashtrays existed during the 1900s, but by the turn of the century, ashtrays had become an art form.
At this time, it was becoming socially acceptable for women to smoke openly. Due to the rise in smoking among women, ashtrays have become more than functional items.
Due to this, these ashtrays retain their value today if they are in good condition. Further, in this article, you will learn more about antique and vintage ashtrays and their value guide.
What Are Ashtrays?
Ashtrays are essentially a container that holds ashes from cigarettes and cigars. Ashtrays typically consist of fire-retardant materials such as heat-resistant plastic molded into a form of glass, ceramic, etc.
In contrast with a cigarette receptacle, it differs in that it serves for disposing of cigarettes after one has smoked. There are several designs of ashtrays, but the most common is a shallow cylindrical container with a flat bottom, which sits on a table.
It is becoming increasingly common to find wall-mounted ashtrays, especially in public areas, as ashtray usage in these locations has increased considerably. Public ashtrays with trash cans are also becoming increasingly common.
Many ashtrays feature notches at the edge to allow the smoker to hold on to a cigarette. In the later model years, much older large or luxury cars were equipped with ashtrays before they became available as dealer-installed accessories.
For example, in cars such as the BMW E38, both rear doors featured ashtrays and cigarette lighters. Some models of ashtrays have a cover that prevents the odor from flowing outside of the ashtray.
Secondly, it prevents oxygen from being transported into the cigarette. Even though the cigarette may not have been extinguished to the fullest degree by pressing into the surface, it will still go out very quickly.
The History of Antique Ashtray
Ashtrays existed in primitive and simpler shapes even before the 19th century, but their popularity and design soared in the early 20th century. When more women began to smoke, ashtrays became more artistic during the early 1900s.
In the past, many women avoided the traditional ashtray. After all, it did not reflect their values because it was a practice limited to men. As a result, ashtrays became more elaborate and fancier.
In these ashtrays, maidens wandered through colorful landscapes while rural scenes surrounded them. Some have even featured intricate cast-iron figures of women wearing fancy dresses and animals in playful situations and porcelain or ceramic trays featuring colorful flowers.
With time, as women smoked fewer cigarettes and cigars, ashtrays began to lose their design aesthetic and become more practical. It was not unusual to see bars display ashtrays decorated with girls during this decade.
The auto-ashtray was another trend that developed during this period. Although vehicle ashtrays are now the exception rather than the rule, they used to be standard equipment.
When the ash receptacles first came on the market, they were placed directly below the air conditioning and heating units, causing the ash to fly into the driver’s face and throughout the car when they turned on the air conditioner or heater.
As new models of automobiles made their way to the public, things like these began to disappear in favor of chrome trays with removable covers. Luxurious cars of the day had elaborately crafted ashtrays, and they frequently appeared in high-end vehicles.
Manufacturers would often engrave specialized designs with metals, leather, or leather on these ashtrays. In 1994, however, the vehicle ashtray lost popularity, and some manufacturers began producing their vehicles without ashtrays, allowing buyers to purchase one from the dealership instead.
Smokers still use ashtrays today, but cigar aficionados also make a small comeback in popularity. Cigar-specific ashtrays are generally larger and feature deep notches for cigars than standard ashtrays.
Types of Antique Ashtray
Antique ashtrays are available in a wide range of styles. There is a lot to consider when choosing an antique ashtray, including your smoking preferences. Here are the popular types of vintage ashtrays.
In addition to being virtually indestructible, the silicone ashtray also consists of hard silicone, which has many uses. Ashes trays of this type usually come with slots or holes on their sides so that you can place things like a cigarette inside.
In some silicone ashtrays, you can also hold rolling papers or loose tobacco. You can choose from various colors and designs for silicone ashtrays.
As with silicone cooking utensils, silicone ashtrays can withstand high temperatures and last for a very long time. If you want an ashtray with many colors, these might be your best option. These ashtrays are virtually indestructible due to silicone’s flexible and rubbery nature; should you drop them, they will not break.
The flexibility of silicone also allows for easy cleaning, and because these ashtrays are customizable in all shapes and sizes, they’ll fit into every nook and cranny. Having plenty of nooks and crannies is a huge benefit to silicone ashtrays, including built-in compartments and holes.
Smokeless ashtrays can capture airborne ash and prevent smoke from being released near the ashtray. They do so by using carbon filters to catch smoke before entering the air.
Ashtrays of this type are typically very silent. Nonsmokers may benefit from a smokeless ashtray if they live or visit you. Cars and airplanes can also benefit from smokeless ashtrays.
Since smokeless ashtrays first appeared in the 1940s, technology has advanced substantially, but their purpose of eliminating smoke odor by not letting smoke escape has remained the same.
Nowadays, there is a fan on smokeless ashtrays that draws in smoke. Some also come with carbon filters that help reduce odors by cleaning the air. Most have a fan that automatically turns on when the top opens, but models with a dome provide additional containment before smoke flies away.
Some smokeless ashtrays are even small enough to fit in a cup holder. For those worried about the smell of their smoke bothering others, a smokeless ashtray could be an ideal choice.
For as long as ashtrays have existed, glass Ashtrays have been the most popular material. It is probably because your smoke cannot burn it, simply because the flame is too weak.
In addition to being simple and inexpensive, glass also appears in a wide range of designs, including expensive ashtrays and ornate receptacles. Glass ashtrays have the downside that they can break when dropped or knocked.
On the other hand, vintage glass ashtrays are readily available on the market, which proves that they can last for decades if handled carefully. There is nothing more classic than glass ashtrays, whether you are seeking a retro-inspired model or a more contemporary one. You can choose from many styles and colors for glass ashtrays.
Glass ashtrays can be decorative, beautiful, and just plain glass. Often, plain glass ashtrays come to mind when you think of old-fashioned ashtrays used at restaurants. The glass ashtrays are ideal for indoor and outdoor use and tend to be heavier than other ashtrays.
Manufacturers use several materials to make cigar ashtrays, including wood and glass. They are generally larger than other ashtrays, making them stand out from others. An ashtray for cigars usually has a larger bowl and grooves to accommodate cigars.
Several ashtrays are available with the classic square or round shape and are deep enough to hold many cigars when having a group party. Another type is long and rectangular, designed to hold just one cigar.
Both types are very masculine and stylish, similar to what you would find in a high-end smoking club. The cigar ashtray is a great place to rest the cigar following a long smoking session. A cigar ashtray would make a great gift for someone who smokes cigars alone or with friends.
10 Rare and Valuable Antique Ashtrays
Following are ten rare and valuable antique ashtrays that you might want to own.
1.Brass Marine Anchor Ashtray
This vintage ashtray is decorated with nautical themes and is a genuine vintage item from the 20s. It comes with a double lid that makes it worth buying.
As a result of the double lid, you don’t have to worry about ash blowing around in the wind when it’s not in use. To open it, grasp the curved handles, and you will find that underneath each lid is a convenient cigar rest.
2.Lalique Santa Maria Ashtray
Lalique Santa Maria is a nautical vintage ashtray that you might want to consider. In terms of conversation pieces of the vintage kind, Columbus’ largest ship to take part in the historical voyage of 1492 is an interesting one.
There are two rests set inside the thick glass, and the rim has a rounded shape. As a result, the ship appears to float on the surface due to the inverse relief cut. Whenever you have a pile of hot ash inside, ensure to resist the temptation of touching it.
3.Mid Century Glazed Ceramic Ashtray
This hook-shaped fish ashtray bears the artwork of a Californian artist, and it has a glazed look similar to other pieces made during the same period. Its light color is perfect for both modern decors and those that skew more towards the 1970s style.
Due to its construction of a ceramic material, it has a greater resistance to shocks and scuffs, so this ashtray will probably last longer and look better. Furthermore, thanks to ceramic, it is easy to clean and can be left unaffected by common household chemicals.
4.Vintage Metal Turtle Ashtray
In a deep black colorway, this vintage ashtray has an aged appearance. The hexagonal cutout houses the smoke vent, among its most distinctive features. By removing the shell, the ashtray appears, and its texture becomes more evident.
5.Erickson Art Glass bubbles ashtray
The Erickson Art Glass bubbles ashtray is a perfect example of Carl Erickson’s stunning work produced during the mid-century. This small, rich amber ashtray is made in the Bullicante style, a technique Erickson preferred over a great variety of glassware pieces.
This ashtray uses glass material, so you must be careful while holding it as it can break. Despite the benefits of glass ashtrays, they have the drawback of breaking when dropped or knocked.
With its smooth glossy surface, this glass ashtray is dustproof, making cleaning and dusting easy. Erickson Art Glass bubbles ashtray is easier to maintain with its easy-to-clean surface.
6.Marcia of California Avocado Ashtray
With its vibrant avocado glaze, this ashtray from Marcia of California adds a unique touch to your Formica countertop or credenza. It’s hard clay material makes it stand out among other ashtrays. Because of clay’s robustness, stability and durability, it is a good choice for ashtrays.
This ashtray can have a long life expectancy due to its ability to resist fires and withstand seismic activity. So, if you are looking for a durable vintage ashtray that can last longer, you should go for Marcia of California Avocado Ashtray.
7.Royal Haeger Ashtray
It is worth noting that even though Royal Haeger ceased to exist in 2016, the pieces they produced, like this ashtray, are still wonderfully detailed and highly collectible.
The condition of this vintage 1960s glazed ashtray is excellent considering its design in that era. As for the quality of the glaze on this mid-century gem, it is free from noticeable cracks or chips.
8.Aqua Atomic Boomerang Ashtray
During the mid-century period, ashtrays were popular with organic, odd shapes like this Atomic Boomerang Ashtray. There is something retro and yet completely timeless about this aqua piece by California Originals pottery.
Although listed as used, the ashtray product is still in good condition. Nevertheless, despite being from the 1950s, this item remains in excellent vintage condition. It is chip-free and does not require any repairs.
There is an aquatint to the finish with a black border around the edges that is airbrushed. There is no shine on this finish, as it is a satin finish with a matte glaze.
In certain areas, such as on the back of the piece, there is slight crazing to be expected as it is an old piece. Despite this, it’s almost impossible to tell that it’s there and the glaze is still intact.
9. French Vintage Tripod Ashtray
This charming French ashtray stand is truly typical of its era and is a fine representation of French home decor from the 1960s. This ashtray oozes French chic with black painted metal rods and a yellow plastic tripod.
The ashtray is black and yellow and shaped like a star. The legs of the ashtray fold flat when you remove it, and two metal rings slide up to lock the ashtray into place.
There are signs of age and past use, but it is still in a better vintage condition. On one side of the ceramic ashtray is a small chip with a hole on the bottom. The yellow glaze has also crazed. These flaws aren’t readily apparent.
10.Eero Saarinen Tulip Ashtray
It isn’t easy to find this ashtray, which Eero Saarinen designs from the Pedestal series. This ashtray is a collaboration between Eero Saarinen and Charles Eames as part of a competition announced by the Museum of Modern Art.
Saarinen designed the pedestal ashtray as part of his iconic Tulip collection. Saarinen designed it, and it’s the only accessory he ever mass-produced. This ashtray measures approximately 22 inches in height and has a top diameter of about 13 inches.
Assessing Antique Ashtray Value
Even though vintage ashtrays may not always have a huge market, they are collector’s items with a loyal following. A specific brand and type of material are desirable; however, it is the condition of an old ashtray that sells it the most.
Today, the most popular ashtrays are without chips and scratches due to their original construction of porcelain, etched glass, etc. Sterling silver, cut glass, and crystal are generally the most valuable materials used for ashtrays.
These ashtrays can still fetch a fair price if they are in excellent condition today. Furthermore, some brands have ashtrays that are collectible today. Ashtrays themed after old diners and restaurants are extremely popular.
Where to Buy Antique Ashtrays?
There are various ways to accomplish the task of purchasing old ashtrays. The online auction houses have become the most popular locations for finding your various rare ashtrays for sale.
With the help of online auctions, it is possible to track price trends and the demand for antique ashtrays. If you’re interested in learning about price changes in the ashtrays market, you should check online auction sites like eBay.
When searching for these items, you should look for completed listings of rare ashtrays rather than just active listings. Several auctions may take place for one particular type of ashtray, and each of them is approaching the no-bid limit.
It is not unusual for bids to appear only on the final day of an eBay auction; therefore, just because bids appear on the last day does not necessarily indicate that bidders have high interest. You can see the amount of interest and the demand for these items by looking at recent auctions that have finished.
Are There Any Uses for Vintage Ashtrays?
If you have inherited an old ashtray or finally quit smoking and want something to show, reusing vintage ashtrays is a rewarding endeavor. You can use vintage ashtrays as trinket dishes.
To keep the ashtray relevant and attractive, you can use many objects to occupy an ashtray, including jewelry and keys. Antique ashtrays are also excellent for storing sweets and candies.
Consider hanging a collection of ashtrays with interesting designs on your wall, as you could make a nice collage. Likewise, ashtrays that are unique and interesting can serve as excellent décor on their own without necessarily needing to be repurposed.
You’ll soon discover that vintage ashtrays offer endless possibilities for your home or office, whether you decide to use one as a coaster or put one on a shelf.
Additional Online Resources
It is possible to find many websites that can assist you in valuing your vintage ashtrays. It can be uncomfortable for viewers when particular content is out of sync with a particular situation.
Nevertheless, some resources are available to help you gain a deeper understanding of antique ashtrays. To begin your research, you might consider looking at “Collector’s Guide to Ashtrays.” The source contains some detailed information regarding antique ashtrays that may interest you.
Ashtrays help to hold the ashes of cigarettes and cigars easily. In the early 20th century, the popularity and design of Ashtrays soared. They had existed in primitive and simpler forms for centuries.
The early 1900s were when ashtrays became more artistic as more women started smoking. Many women used to avoid using traditional ashtrays in the past. The practice reflected neither their values nor their outlook since it was a practice reserved for men.
Many ashtrays ranging in price can be purchased online, although much effort is being made not to promote smoking. Despite their limited market, vintage ashtrays are still collector’s items that remain popular.
Some brands and materials are more desirable, but an old ashtray’s condition is what makes it most valuable. As long as these ashtrays are in excellent condition today, they can still be sold for a fair price. Moreover, some brands offer collectible ashtrays as well.