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Smoking Paraphernalia

Some collectibles aren’t what they seem at first glance. This green enameled piece that sold for $252 at Morphy Auctions looks like a covered jar. A closer look at the finial, shaped like a seated cherub or putto playing a stringed instrument, suggests its true purpose. It’s really a music box that plays two tunes.

That’s not all it is: Wind it up and the panels open, revealing a silver toned pocket behind each panel. The pockets were originally meant to hold cigarettes. It’s a music box and a cigarette dispenser!
It is well-known that smoking was more common in the first half of the 20th century before its links to lung cancer had been determined. Smoking is less popular today, but smoking paraphernalia and tobacciana are collectible.

Ashtrays, especially with advertising, are popular and often inexpensive. Collectors of advertising and packaging look for antique tobacco tins. Lighters have their own category in Kovels’ price guide. Smoking stands appear in antique furniture collections.
Some collectors may repurpose their smoking collectibles by using ashtrays as ring dishes, cigarette cases, as credit card holders, or smoking stands as plant stands. This cigarette dispenser’s decorations and multiple functions could make it part of a collection of tobacciana, enamels, or music boxes.

Q: My father was an official of a Merchant Marine union. The seamen would often bring back gifts, such as rugs, from overseas. I have several rugs in different colors and sizes. I have no idea of their country of origin or value. How can I find out something about them and their value?

A: An expert on rugs would have to see the rugs to determine their value. It may not be possible to determine the country or origin unless there is something unique in the design or technique that identifies them. Contact stores in your area that sell authentic Oriental rugs to see if they can help. If you have a friend who has old Oriental rugs, they may be able to tell you who to contact.

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