When you discover something interesting in a box of unrelated items… this can be a challenge.
What is it?
Measuring 10 1/2″ long (27 cms), it is made of an early celluloid plastic. A tubular shape with no seams, at the wider end it measures 1/2″, with a wide hole, tapering to a narrow end which is flattened to an oval, with a very small hole.
This item is not an opaque material like Bakelite, but slightly translucent with a red/brown colour hue. There is no maker’s mark. Some slight scratches from use.
It turns out that this item is a cigarette holder that belonged to my paternal grandmother, Irene (Symes) George (1903-1996).
Before cigarette tips were introduced in the 1960s, using a holder, was thought to have filtered the smoke. Wikipedia suggests… “A holder kept tobacco flakes out of the smoker’s mouth, kept the thin cigarette paper from sticking and tearing on the smoker’s lips, prevented nicotine stains on fingers, cooled and mellowed the smoke and kept side-stream smoke from stinging the smoker’s eyes.
As with evening gloves, ladies’ cigarette holders are measured by four traditional formal standard lengths:
- opera length, usually 16 to 20 inches/40 to 50 cm
- theatre length, 10 to 14 inches/25 to 35 cm
- dinner length, 4 to 6 inches/10 to 15 cm
- cocktail length, which includes shorter holders
Traditionally, men’s cigarette holders were no more than 4 inches long.”
Used from 1910s through until late 1970s, cigarette holders were particularly popular fashion accessories during the 1920s – the days of the flapper dress, bobbed hair cuts and elegant styles.