Tobacciana Exposed: Carnal Collectibles

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SYSOP Note: Some may find the following article and associated images disturbing or offensive. Reader discretion is advised.

Ben Rapaport, March 2023
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Tobacciana, a relatively new hobby, includes all sorts of things related to tobacco and smoking produced by and for the tobacco industry and its consumers. Some would define tobacciana as tobacco-related paraphernalia, art, and ephemera. But if you are unfamiliar with the term, then before you read this essay, you might want to become acquainted with its breadth and expanse by reading any of these informative online articles:

  • “Tobacciana Collectibles” (
  • “Collecting Tobacciana” (
  • “Tobacciana—Collector’s Favorite” (go-star-com)
  • Jeremy Blum, “Tobacco Advertising” (
  • “About Tobacciana” (
  • “Antique Tobacciana Advertising Collectibles” (

Or see some assorted collectibles, such as “Tobacciana” ( or on YouTube: “Tobacciana/Collecting Carolina,” at Davis & Son Tobacconists, Wilmington, North Carolina. A good general guide is Mark F. Moran, Warman’s Tobacco Collectibles containing more than 3,000 items and about 1,200 photographs or Neil Wood, Smoking Collectibles. A Price Guide. From a British perspective, there is Amoret and Christopher Scott, Tobacco and the Collector and Sarah Yates, Miller’s Smoking Accessories. A Collector’s Guide. For cigar memorabilia, I recommend Jerry Terranova and Douglas Congdon-Martin, Great Cigar Stuff for Collectors. None of these general references, however, detail the kind of tobacciana described and illustrated in this article.

“For more than 300 years, tobacco products were ‘cool, available, and addictive.’ The rites and customs surrounding the use of tobacco over that period of time spawned thousands of peripheral products” ( What to Smoke—What to Smoke With—And The Whole “What’s What” of Tobacco is the subtitle of Andrew Steinmetz, The Smoker’s Guide, Philosopher and Friend (1876). With knowledge comes wisdom, so here’s the whole “what’s what” of tobacciana. A century or so ago, one could find many novel formats and mediums for sale: European lacquer snuff boxes and Chinese snuff bottles, table and pocket cigar cutters and cigarette lighters, cigar and cigarette cases, cigar and cigarette holders, humidors, and dispensers, cigarette pack art, cigarette playing-card decks and cigarette trading card sets, cigar bands, cigar-box labels, ashtrays, match safes, strikers, and holders, match box labels and paper matchbook covers, tobacco tins, jars, tin tags, and tokens, pipes and pipe tampers, smoking jackets and hats, trench-art, and tramp-art cigar humidors and, before I forget, one of the most in-demand categories, ephemera, such signs, ads, caddy labels, posters, postcards, and trade catalogs of smokers’ articles. The sky was the limit in what was manufactured, purchased, displayed, used, and collected that related to smoking. Almost all these items are relics of the past. As a price guide to some of these collectibles, access “SMOKE: Tobacciana & Smoking Accoutrements,” an auction on April 20, 2022 (

Today, according to, an eBay search for antique tobacciana yields more than 7,000 listings and more than 400,000 listings for tobacciana. Terry Kovel, the Grande Dame of Antiques, considers this collectible field to be “smoking hot.” Elizabeth Stewart writes “No butts about it: ‘Tobacciana’ collectibles gaining value” ( And Mike Conklin adds “Pipe smokers may be a dying breed, but collectibles are on fire” (; his choice of the adjective “dying” is rather crass and insensitive!

Dr. Lori Verderame ( believes that “Some of the most popular tobacciana collectibles are cigar bands, humidors, smoking jackets, tobacco tins, pin-up calendars featuring cigarette ads, cigarette machines, smoking stands, matchbooks, midcentury modern Zippo lighters, cigar store Indian statues and smoking automatons, with values from a few dollars to several thousand dollars and more.” Jennifer Boles focused on just one collectible: “Vintage cigarette accessories are shedding the stigma associated with lighting up, and becoming highly addictive décor” (“Smoking Trinkets: The New Collectibles,” While the number of smokers may be dwindling, collecting tobacciana continues to be as popular as ever and many non-smokers are attracted to these collectibles. There’s something for everyone, and the challenge is to decide which items to collect. If any of this stuff appeals to you, join the Antique Advertising Association of America to learn more, and you’ll discover that there are specialized clubs all around the world. For prospective collectors, tobacciana is not one of the 100 most expensive fields of collectibles.

Erotic and pornographic depictions created by almost every ancient and modern civilization throughout time include paintings, photographs, the dramatic arts, music, writings, and sculpture … and sculpture, by definition, would include tobacco pipes. As an inveterate investigator and chronicler of things tobacco-ish—I live the write life—I am familiar with tobacciana, but I had not researched or written about this very narrow field of what I call carnal collectibles until now. This subset includes everything from the subtle and suggestive, to overtly naughty, bawdy, provocative, risqué, sultry, and to more graphic imagery, from erotic to sexually-explicit, obscene, pornographic, and scatological. And I’ll add another adjective that classifies many of these objects, an adjective that I have deliberately hyphenated: tit-illating. While Kovel, Stewart, Conklin and others assert that tobacciana is currently a hot collectible, there’s another, more popular movement going mainstream, according to CNBC’s Chris Morris: “Porn Memorabilia Becoming a Legitimate Collectible,” and Spex: “Invest in Porn Memorabilia,” but neither article mentions tobacciana.

As to the scope of this article, no doubt, every reader will view and judge the several objects illustrated herein differently. (BTW: this investigation does not include glass and ceramic bubblers and bongs as qualifiable tobacciana. And although aware of the steady rise in the anti-tobacco movement, I also exclude a new class of tobacciana that has been popularized, such as anti-smoking comic books, posters, ashtrays, etc.)

It’s common knowledge that for more than two centuries there has always been an undeniable sexual connotation in representing women in all tobacco products. Sex in advertising is not new. As the Stanford Research into the Impact of Tobacco Advertising (SRITA) asserts: “Tobacco companies know as much as anybody that sex sells … and they have no qualms with making use of phallic symbols or with objectifying women to sell their products.” Fact is, the strategy was adopted about 150 years ago.

Pearl Tobacco Company Poster, Courtesy,

The Pearl Tobacco Company may have been the first to use sex in smoking in 1871 with a lightly draped nude figure rising from the waves on a poster and on its packaged tobaccos. (Would you believe that this very image is on sweat shirts and T-shirts being sold today?)

W. Duke & Sons followed suit and included trading cards of sexually-appealing women in its cigarette packs, as Tom Reichert (The Erotic History of Advertising), an advertising professor at the University of Alabama, notes: “W. Duke & Sons slipped photographs of louche-looking actresses showing a lot of skin into its company’s packages.” It was actually a pioneering strategy since it was a time when women were generally viewed as household appliances rather than sex objects. Sex sold then, as it does now.


Take this example. Although the cigar-box label of the Lurido cigar is innocent enough, in Spanish, lurido means lurid; among its several synonyms are sensational, racy, shocking and obscene.

Consider the following: “Thus, the woman on a cigar-box label was surpassed only by pornographic images—became identified with a product that was consumed for pleasure, inserted into the mouth to be ‘kissed and sucked” (Dolores Mitchell, “Women and Nineteenth-Century Images of Smoking” in Sander L. Gilman and Zhou Xun, Smoke. A Global History of Smoking, 2004). In her ground-breaking study about female artists depicting female smokers, Mitchell posited that the 19th-century Belgian painter and graphic artist Félicien Rops emphasized the phallic nature of smoking projectiles (“The ‘New Woman’ as Prometheus,” Woman’s Art Journal, Spring-Summer, 1991). As well, soft pornographic images typically showed a partially clad woman smoking a cigarette.

Greys Ad, Courtesy,

Some have claimed that this 1937 ad for Britain’s Greys is sexually suggestive, after noticing the gentleman before and after smoking a Greys … that perked-up cigarette!

Now to a brief detour from yesteryear tobacciana to today’s tobacco. I am neither priggish nor prudish, but I find that the names given to a few products are more than a trifle indelicate, undesirable, or reckless. What’s your reaction to a series of Deadwood cigars known as “The Three Yummy Bitches collection,” “Sexy Smokes” herbal cigarettes, and “Lucky Dicks” cigarettes? Ever smoked a Chisum cigar? For those old enough to remember, Chisum was a 1970 John Wayne western film, but check an urban dictionary for its many unmentionable slang meanings. Every pipe smoker knows that ubiquitous term “shag,” means fine-cut tobacco; one of its slang meanings is to have sex. Certain pipe tobacco brands also came on my radar, because they seem ill-considered, even offensive. Were these brand names tested to see how potential customers reacted to different names, or were they selected to arouse emotions in the pipe smoker? Names should not present negative connotations, but it appears that name-checking is not critical in the ‘baccy biz.

Here are some examples. I’ll start with Georg Jensen’s “Aberrant”; its synonyms are deviant, off-color, and perverted. Uptown’s Smoke Shop’s “Black Lung” … tasteless! I’ll overlook Hearth & Home’s “Sunzabitches” and “Vermont Meat Candy” (slang for testicles) and F&K’s excremental “Merde de Cheval.” How about “Moose Scat” from Jack’s Tobacco? Scat is a word used for animal droppings or feces. “Cockstrong” from Daughters & Ryan is also a male enhancement pill. A Russ Ouellette blend is “Russ’ Tartlet,” a word to describe a promiscuous woman. “Cherry Popper” from Ash & Ember is a very popular name: it’s an ice cream company, a canned cider, a hot sauce, a dietary supplement, a fishing lure, the title of a couple romance novels and, vulgarly, a term referring to losing one’s virginity. Dan Tobacco’s “Salty Dogs”? It’s not only a drink! Search that urban dictionary to discover that one slang definition of a salty dog is a sexually promiscuous man. What about Cornell & Diehl’s “Intercourse”? Was it named after the unincorporated community in Pennsylvania or in Alabama? And was its “Afternoon Delight” named after the 1976 song by the Starland Vocal Band that contained an innuendo about casual daytime sex? To me, it’s prima facie evidence that, maybe, today’s tobacco blenders have a new-found freedom to name tobaccos without restraint or constraint. After all, according to, Drucquer & Sons Ltd. English Blend, “First Amendment” “…celebrates the collective right to free expression.” (At least one company in the vaping business, G Spot tobaccos, has followed suit with flavors, such as Black Cherry Boobs, Sh_t Series, Vanilla Gangbang, Cocko Play, and many others.)

Before I address tobacco pipes, the world of tobacciana collectibles is rather broad and inclusive, so here are a few non-pipe items, what I classify as sexually-charged things.

The seller advertises this cast brass tamper as erotic. My considered opinion is that it is downright pornographic. Courtesy,
This 19th-century carved whalebone tamper depicts the same intimate activity with both participants fully clothed. Courtesy,

Archaeology students digging under historical buildings in Philadelphia have found pornographic objects left by early colonists, according to Dr. Cotter, a museum curator emeritus. He says they dug up a pipe smoker’s tobacco tamper with two figures carved on it under Carpenter’s Hall … ‘It was a man and a woman in what you would call a compromising position,’” the curator recalled” (“Surprise! X-Rated Smut Ran Wild in Colonial America” (Weekly World News, November 14, 1995). Then, there’s this: While mudlarking along the Thames foreshore, Nick Stevens found a beautiful Georgian pipe tamper. In the 18th century, many of the tampers depicted erotic scenes. Nick’s pipe tamper illustrates two lovers engaged in a sexual embrace” (Jason Sandy, “Mudlarking: The Art of Smoking,”, June 17, 2019).

And now to pipes. I’ll start with Sigmund Freud who had something to say about them. He held this theory: “The man’s dreams, when due to the sexual stimulus, make the dreamer find in the street the upper portion of a clarinet, or the mouthpiece of a tobacco-pipe, or, again, a piece of fur. The clarinet and tobacco-pipe represent the approximate form of the male sexual organ, while the fur represents the pubic hair” (The Interpretation of Dreams. Sigmund Freud, (I am not a psychologist but, as I see it, his free association of sex and smoking, has no scientific basis.)

Stanhopes are small souvenir items containing an image hidden inside a tiny lens. They were invented by René Dagron in 1857. He bypassed the need for an expensive microscope to view the microphotographs by attaching them at the end of a modified Stanhope lens. The lens was usually located in the handle of a souvenir object and looked like a small glass bead. To see the image, you would hold the lens up to your eye and focus on a light source. Stanhopes were one of the earliest forms of pictorial souvenirs. These novelty collectibles were made from the mid 19th century onwards and often took the form of pencils, sewing accessories and tobacco pipes. According to Howard Melnick, a Stanhope collector, these objects were ideally suited to combine “…small size and secretive placement … perfect for hiding erotic imagery in plain sight.” Many meerschaum and wood pipes had inserted Stanhopes portraying various scenes, and quite often they were erotic or pornographic female poses. This is an antique pipe with a Stanhope and the text, “Souvenir de Longpont” and the image of the 13th-century Gothic abbey church at Longpont-sur-Orge. Hunter Oatman-Standford’s revealing article is titled “Royalty, Espionage, and Erotica: Secrets of the World’s Tiniest Photographs” (

Diminutive French silver pipe, courtesy, Pitt Rivers Museum
Native American ceremonial stone pipe,

“Between 1600 and 1925, millions of pipes were manufactured of these four materials [clay, porcelain, wood and meerschaum], a considerable percentage of which depicted classical and dramatic subject matter, as well as whimsical, fanciful, bizarre, and, to the delight of some collectors, erotic and scatological motifs” ( From Ben Marks, “Gloriously Grotesque 19th-Century Pipes” ( “There are pipes based on nursery rhymes, others depicting men on horseback, and lots of naked ladies, ranging from classical nudes positioned at the ends of pipes like ship figureheads to erotica bordering on pornography.” And from Qwo-Li Driskill, Asegi Stories. Cherokee Queer and Two-Spirit Memory (2016) which is about Cherokee movements and communities: “There is an entire history of erotic pipes that enable us to rebeautify our erotic past. [James] Adair makes specific mention of these [stone] pipes being made in the eighteenth century.” Authorities specializing in prehistoric or historic Woodland or Mississippian stone figurines assert that folk pornography and drinking scenes on pipes were the work of specialized craftsmen produced for the tourist market. Supposedly, Toussaint Charbonneau, Sacajawea’s husband, had a collection of effigy tobacco pipes depicting people in erotic positions, but this assertion has never been corroborated.

History tells that there have been a few notable pipe collectors in each century. Beginning in the 18th, there was Nicolas Charles Oudinot, one of Napoleon’s marshals who collected jeweled pipes, French nobleman Duc de Richelieu (Armand-Emmanuel du Plessis), and the Duke of Sussex, Prince Augustus Frederick. France’s Baron de Watteville, England’s William Bragge, Denmark’s Erik Stokkebye, and President Andrew Jackson in the 19th. And England’s Alfred H. Dunhill, J. Trevor Barton, Baroness Alice de Rothschild of the family financial dynasty, America’s John F.H. Heide and James Lee Dick, and Egypt’s playboy King Farouk I in the 20th. Farouk was the only one with a penchant for collecting erotic meerschaum pipes. Recently I read about another pipe collector, Genrikh Grigoryevich Yagoda, the Deputy Minister of Soviet State Security, the NKVD. He was known to collect exclusive wines, rare tableware, films, coins and weapons. He also had a penchant for sexually-explicit material that was revealed when he was arrested in 1937 and charged with espionage. His two Moscow apartments and his dacha were searched and a surprising cache was discovered: a large collection of female clothing and apparel, 3,904 pornographic photos, 11 pornographic films, and 165 pornographically carved pipes and cigarette holders (Jukka Gronow and Sergey Zhuravlev, Fashion Meets Socialism, 2015). I’d say that Yagoda had quite a sizable stockpile of salacious smokers!

Because I include no example of a clay pipe, I offer the words of Edward Fletcher: “This practice [gentlemen retiring to the smoking room] led to the manufacture and sale of a number of clay pipes which, in those days, must have been regarded at best as ‘for men’s eyes only’; at worst as ‘obscene and pornographic.’ They included specimens in the shape of chamber pots, young girls sitting on lavatory pedestals, nudes, phallic representations, even some depicting acts of copulation” (Clay Pipes, 1977). According to G. Evans (“A clay tobacco pipe from a burial in Gower, South Wales,” 1996): “Another large group of broken [clay] pipes in London appears to relate to the destruction by customs authorities of examples perceived of as pornographic.” Last, from Robyn Annear: “Plain clay pipes were very plain indeed, while the fancy designs into which their bowls and stems could be moulded ranged from the regal (the head of Queen Victoria) to the comical (a cat and fiddle) to the pornographic (a naked woman in congress with a dog)” (Bearbrass. Imagining Early Melbourne, 2014).

Now to examples in other pipe mediums. Otto Augustus Wall, Sex and Sex Worship (1920) is a scientific treatise on sex with a special reference to sex worship and symbolism. Wall had this to say: “Erotic pipes are still carved of meerschaum and are prized by their possessors; it seems that such illustrations have always been in use everywhere.” Additionally, “The Vienna of Schubert’s day produced such items as pornographic meerschaum pipes depicting females masturbating. Pornography from Paris made its way east to German-speaking cities” (Christopher H. Gibbs et al., The Cambridge Companion to Schubert, 1997).

German porcelain pipe with erotic transfer printing. Courtesy, Collection Amsterdam Pipe Museum

The choices of motif or theme, configuration, relief ornamentation, and images for German porcelain pipes were literally endless. Ideas came from a broad expanse of inspiration, including the humorous, the ornamental, and the occasional metamorphic, suggestive, erotic, pornographic, and scatological. With the discovery of transfer printing in colors during the middle-to-late 19th century, this process began to rapidly supersede the more laborious process of hand-painting.

U.S. Patent No. 9491972B2
Pre-briar carved wood pipes were are not exempt from this type of art. Courtesy,

And this trend continues into the 21st century. A chapter in Max Shulman’s May 2016 doctoral thesis, The American Pipe Dream: Drug Addiction on Stage, 1890–1940 is titled “The Phallacy of the Pipe.” And, quite coincidentally, a few months later, in November 2016, U.S. Patent No. 9491972B2 (left), was issued for this phallic gadget: “Smoking Novelty Device with A Smoking Pipe.” ABSTRACT: “A sexual novelty device includes a mouthpiece and a penile band. The mouthpiece has a generally tubular housing that defines an inner chamber dimensioned for receiving a Smoking pipe. An insertion opening in the housing is configured for accommodating insertion of the Smoking pipe. An inhalation opening at a first end of the housing is in fluid communication with the chamber and is configured for providing access to the smoking pipe by a user. The penile band is associated with the housing, and constructed and arranged for resiliently engaging a penis.”

The Turks are now the principal purveyors of meerschaum pipes portraying explicitly erotic and pornographic motifs. As VJB wrote in “Meerschaum Pipe Carving: Another Art Fading into History” ( “Today, animals, people, a whole range of objects, and even pornographic scenes are carved out of meerschaum and transformed into tobacco pipes.” Most, in my considered opinion, are butt-ugly, poorly-carved pipes that are advertised and promoted as risqué, sexy, adult, and burlesque, but these adjectives are just a Shakespearean “rose by any other name…” to describe their erotic, pornographic, and scatological imagery.

Savinelli recently introduced a series of nose-warmer-sized briars called Lolita. Was this name innocent or intentional? After all, Vladimir Nabokov’s 1955 novel was, in part, about Humbert Humbert’s (pseudonym) erotic obsession with his 12-year-old stepdaughter, Dolores “Lolita” Haze. Poland’s Mr. Bróg often assigns a name and a number to his briar pipes, e.g., Churchwarden, No. 151, Rookie, No. 382. Why is his newest briar named Belfast, No. 69, but there is no No. 67 or No. 68? Mere coincidence or calculation?

Ray Kurusu ‘Micke’ erotic pipe, courtesy,

Occasionally there is a pipe maker who challenges the conventional. Quoting from “Simply put, here Ray Kurusu has presented us with an adaptation of Toku’s own unique variant of one of Jorn [sic] Micke’s most iconic and, perhaps, controversial shapes. Its anatomical allusions, of course, are quite obvious, and to ignore them would just be remiss—Micke’s original form being a highly charged, abstract depiction of coitus, after all—but its evolution over time is key here.”

Where can you read about or see more of this paraphernalia? Here’s a short list.

  • Jean-Pierre Bourgeron, Les Masques d’Eros. Les objects érotiques de collection à systeme (1985)
  • EROS, Vol. 1, No. 2, Summer 1962, “The Cigar Box Sirens,” an illustrated article of Femmes fatales in full color
  • Giuseppe Ramazzotti, “Pipe Erotiche,” Il Club della Pipa, October 1970
  • The Collector’s Academy, Tobacco & Eros. Erotic Collectibles for Smokers. Collezionismo Erotico per Fumatori (2016); and Tobacco & Eros, Vol. 2 (2017)
  • Véronique Villemin, Eros Secret (2006). It contains a chapter illustrating erotic pipes, written by Dominque Delalande

To conclude, erotica is any artistic work that deals substantively with erotically stimulating or sexually arousing subject matter. Pornography can be described as a something creative, but of no literary or artistic value other than to stimulate sexual desire. The distinction between the two is often difficult to identify, if not completely impossible. Who decides what is art and what is porn? Art is in the eye of the beholder … it’s a matter of personal opinion. And pornography? It, too, is in the eye of the beholder. In Jacobellis v. Ohio in 1964, when asked to describe his test for obscenity, Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart opined: “I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material … But I know it when I see it”; essentially, his statement was a non-definition of obscenity.

Well, you’ve now seen some examples of carnal tobacciana collectibles!

As an afterthought, there is something to be said about this topic beyond my narrow focus and beyond the charter of, but I want to highlight this tobacco-related topic to its readership. To begin, Michael Leahy (Porn University, 2009) claimed: “In our society, pornography is widely regarded as a cheap, harmless form of entertainment—much like tobacco and cigarettes once were.” A few years later, Dr. Peter Kleponis, a licensed therapist in Pennsylvania, stated that “Porn use today is where tobacco use was 50 years ago.” Jim Graves headlined his article in The Catholic World Report in December 2015: “Porn is the new tobacco, says Catholic therapist.” This assertion was echoed in a similar article in The Alabama Baptist ( on September 1, 2016: “’Pornography is the new tobacco’ and that’s a good thing, according to the Center on Sexual Exploitation.” In Integrity Restored (2019), Kleponis wrote “I compare pornography use to tobacco use.”

Of course, tobacco and pornography have something in common: both have been receiving public moralizing and demonizing since their appearance in society. I’ve read that when examining the brain of someone under the influence of nicotine, and the brain of another who is viewing pornography, the images appear nearly identical. If this is true, then there is a correlation between these two phenomena, a symbiotic relationship of (pipe) smoking and pornography; it’s called comorbid tobacco and pornography addiction. So, here’s my takeaway: do not multitask these two activities!