Book review: Smokerama. Classic Tobacco Accouterments by Philip Collins, 1992

  • Full title: Smokerama. Classic Tobacco Accouterments
  • Author: Philip Collins
  • Photographer: Sam Sergent  
  • Binding: Soft cover
  • Number of pages: 124
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books
  • Publication date: 1992
  • Language: English
  • Dimensions: 10 x 8.4 inches
  • ISBN 10: 0811801195
  • ISBN 13: 9780811801195
  • Availability: used and new at Amazon
  • Price range: $1–$20

Description of the book provided by the publisher:

Camels, Luckies, Pall Malls, Chesterfields - these cigarette brands were once as familiar as the movie stars and sports heroes (and future presidents) who endorsed them. In the decade following World War I, smoking bespoke sophistication, elegance, and glamour. It was a style statement as emphatic as clothes and cars. Accordingly, the smoker needed accessories that elevated this simple act to new status and importance.Manufacturers were only too happy to supply the necessary products and, with their advertisers, to create new needs.

Now, in Smokerama, nostalgia buffs, collectors, and designers will find superb samples of these fashionable and sometimes humorous objects. The inventiveness is beguiling - engraved Zippo lighters, ashtrays emblazoned with tobacco company logos, trick cigarette lighters that send a spark arcing between the horns of a devil, and books of matches with their bland or bizarre messages - each played their part in the art of smoking.

Accompanied by brief, informative captions, the intriguing pieces arrayed in this splendid photographic collection convey exactly the importance that smoking once had for millions of Americans and provide a visual documentation of America's former favorite pastime.

Philip Collins is the author of Dickens aria Crime and Dickens and Education, and the editor of volumes of interviews with Dickens and Thackeray. He was formerly Emeritus Professor of English at Leicester University.


Sample pages:





The Smokerama is a wonderful coffee table book on smoking collectibles. The layout of the whole publication is prepared with taste and the selection of lighters and other smoking collectibles is superb.

Photographs play the main role in this book. They display artifacts such as ashtrays, stands, cigarette cases, holders and lighters in loving detail. Almost every photo can be called a small masterpiece. Sam Sargent did his job perfectly well - the arrangement of lights and shades show the depth of every item and make you want it in your collection. Also the composition of the photos is stunning - everything has its purpose and complements the beauty of the photographed artifacts.

The book lacks of such obvious elements like content, index, bibliography or even an identifiable structure. There is not much text either - only a short introductory story to smoking accouterments at the beginning and photo captions which are in some cases inaccurate and, in my opinion, too modest. More information would make this book even more interesting for collectors.

The wonderful photographs of lighters and other smoking memorabilia make this book a very intriguing and nostalgic journey through the past. Despite of the fact that the book was published in 1992 it is still easy available today. At amazon you can have it in used condition even for a buck! It is without doubt a must have book for every lighter collector and which I highly recommend it. You can't get enough of it!

Rating: Must have (6/6)

Ad: Ronson Pre-war Cigarette Lighters

A rare black & white half-page magazine advertisement published in 1936 in Esquire. It depicts several Ronson lighters that were in production till the 1940.

  • Ronson Penciliter,
  • Ronson Lighter Cigarette Case Combination with Vanity,
  • Ronson Watch Lighter (Pocket model),
  • Ronson Ace Pocket lighter,
  • Ronson Vee Pocket Lighter,
  • Ronson Touch-Tip Watch Combination (Desk Lighter).

Ronson Fiesta Set, 1954

The Ronson Fiesta Set was manufactured between 1954 and 1956 in Newark, United States of America and in Toronto, Canada. The set consists of  a table lighter with a Ronson Essex gold toned insert and an ash-tray which is made of ceramic and glazed with turquoise and cream paint.

The base of the table lighter is marked on the bottom on a golden label:

Newark, N.J.



The bottom of the base is padded with green felt. The Ronson Essex lighter insert is marked:

2,481,195 & 2,715,329

Other unique ceramic sets made by Ronson beside the Fiesta Set are: Bolero and Tropicana Set which are also rare.

Type: petrol (wick) lighter

Scarcity: rare

Value for good–mint condition (set): $80.00–120.00 (approx €60.00–90.00)


  • lighter 265 g (9 1/4 oz)
  • ashtray 500 g (1 lb, 1 3/4 oz)

1. Table lighter
  • height: 8.0 cm (3.15")
  • diameter: 5.9 cm (2.3")
2. Ash-tray
  • height: 5.0 cm (2")
  • width: 9 cm (3.5")
  • length: 12.5 cm (5.5")

Advert: S. T. Dupont Briquets, 1959

A French black&white full-page magazine advertisement published on June 1959. It depicts a pocket butane lighter made by S. T. Dupont.

Inspirational Quote of the Month

 Mass-produced products are being created today that, once they are no longer in production, will significantly go up in value because they represent noteworthy design in their time.
— Lisa S. Roberts

From The Greatest Collecting Tips in the World written by Tracy Martin.