The Rise, Decline and Rise of the Ashtray
A story is told of King Henry V receiving a gift of cigars from Spain which imported tobacco from Cuba since the late 1400’s. Finding it much to his liking he arranged for ample supplies. To contain the ash and stubs, the first known ashtray of sorts was invented. Since then the ashtray has lived among us.
There once was a time when ashtrays were an essential element of nearly every home and business in the entire world. Ashtrays from the past were designed with quality, form and function ideals. They were decorated in every possible decor imaginable, and elevated to an art form by the major designers of the eras. Most ashtrays from yesteryear were made by hand of quality durable materials. As a part of everyday life they were used as decor focal points, admired for creative qualities, given as gifts and kept as mementos.
As the population began to understand the dangers of smoking, design and production of ashtrays declined. The new millennium brought finality to the demise of the ashtray and at the turn of the 21st Century production nearly ceased worldwide. Smoking was banned in most places. Modern manufactured ashtrays became a rarity. Cigar ashtrays, which did not receive the same scorn as cigarette ashtrays during the banning years, were still available in a few styles provided by the cigar maker at cigar stores. But for the most part a consumer looking for a quality ashtray could not find one to purchase.
This is when Big Ashtray came on the scene, filling the void for ashtray shoppers. In 1999 Big Ashtray opened online and offered beautiful quality made ashtrays from the past. Smoking accessories from the beginning of the 20th Century through the Art Deco period and Mid-Century Modern era were re-discovered and offered to the public for sale once again. Because antique, vintage and retro ashtrays were made so well, many survived the ages in fine condition. Those who knew where to find them could obtain the distinctive, quality ashtrays made by generations before.
Today, in 2014, modern-made ashtrays are making a comeback as people who couldn’t acquire real ashtrays tired of using coffee cans and soda bottles to extinguish their smokes and the demand rose. For the past few years countries such as China, Taiwan and India have filled the void with an array of export ashtrays that serve the purpose.
In the modern world, with energy so expensive, most nations cannot afford to produce, and most consumers cannot afford to purchase high quality ashtrays made of authentic glass, real porcelain or solid metal like was done in the old days. So modern made ashtrays are all machine made with simulated materials which require less energy to produce, allowing a more affordable purchase price. Rising demand and less expensive production revived the contemporary ashtray market.
Consumers have a choice of modern ashtrays to purchase once again. And because of the high quality of antique, vintage and retro made ashtrays, consumers also have the choice of acquiring high quality ashtrays from days gone by.