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The Ashtray Stand: Ripe for a Cannabis Comeback?

The Ashtray Stand: Ripe for a Cannabis Comeback?

Could the ashtray stand (or free-standing ashtray) be the next big weed smoking accessory?


Hear us out on this.

A positive proliferation of pot products

Not too long ago, Vox posted an article titled ‘Stoners just don’t need this much stuff’. All about how anything and everything with even a passing relevance (or none at all) is now being marketed at cannabis consumers. From luxury items to ordinary everyday stuff. 


Yep. We’re the marketers’ and product manufacturers’ new favorite demographic.


Now, on the one hand that’s not a bad thing. Smoking devices and accessories, for instance, are undeniably better designed, better looking, more functional and more numerous than ever.


The flipside:


A slew of expensive products that don’t really address stoner-specific needs, but are marketed at us nonetheless.


It all kind of reminds us of something… 

Smoking’s ‘Golden Age’

Let’s step back a century or so.


Just for a moment.


Back then (and for another 50 years or so), cigarette smoking was not only massively more socially acceptable than it is today, it was positively chic. 


Fashionable. Sophisticated. Even aspirational. 


Madison Avenue and the modern advertising industry was practically built on it — in more ways than one, to look at episodes of Mad Men (here’s a 1950s designer ashtray stand regularly featured in the show).


And you guessed it, just like that one guy you know who smokes a bit too much weed:


History really likes to repeat itself.


This is not the first era of thousand-dollar artisanal luxury ashtrays.

Back to the future

However, there’s one item from back then that, so far, we’ve yet to see specifically marketed to stoners:


The ashtray stand.


And frankly, looking back at vintage standing ashtrays, we think it’s kind of a shame.


There’s a reason some of them are now collectables and antiques.


They’re genuinely beautiful items.


Functional too.


In this new era of cannabis furniture, designer stash boxes, limited edition glass art and 24-karat gold ashtrays, it’s surely only a matter of time before some of these make a comeback.


With that in mind, let’s take a tour of some classic designs that — who knows? — might be revived. 


After that, we’ll round things off with some more recent examples of what’s currently available (outside the antiques and collectables market).


But first… 

What is an ashtray stand anyway?

An ashtray stand (a.k.a. standing ashtray, free-standing ashtray, floor-standing ashtray), as the name suggests, is a sort of pedestal with an ashtray incorporated, at standing or sitting height, or a similar stand or pedestal designed solely for resting an ashtray on. Some are designed for smoking outdoors, with features to prevent ash blowing away; while others are intended for the indoor smoker. Ashtray stands designed for seated smokers are usually about 60 - 80cm tall, or around 120cm for standing smokers. Occasionally you’ll find some that are height-adjustable.


But such a prosaic description really doesn’t do some of them justice.

Vintage ashtray stands

People have, of course, been smoking tobacco for thousands of years. But it was only in the early 20th century when cigarettes — thanks to mass manufacturing and inclusion in soldiers’ rations during World War I — really took off.


Which means the history of cigarettes has encompassed many major art and design movements.


Their influence, inevitably, can be seen reflected in the standing ashtrays of the times.


Arguably, the most striking, and most sought after vintage/antique/collectable ashtray stands, though, come from that early heyday itself.

1920s & 1930s Art Deco ashtray stands

In the roaring 20s, and on into the 30s, Art Deco was the thing. 


Think glamour, luxury, technological progress, exquisite craftsmanship. The Great Gatsby movie. The Chrysler Building.


From art to everyday objects to architecture, it was everywhere.


If you google ‘Art Deco ashtray stands’, you’ll see any number of gratuitously elegant and fantastical designs. Most of them actually on sale today at auction houses or online for hundreds to thousands of dollars.

Frankart

An elegant, arched-back nude atop a globe holding up an ashtray, like Atlas holding up the world, is one particularly iconic design. The result of a chance moment with a model in the studio of New York sculptor Arthur von Frankenberg, a whole range of variations of the ashtray (and other items) were available in the 30s, manufactured and sold under the name Frankart.

Smokador

The US House of Representatives’ Furniture and Decorative Arts archive houses an example of another classic of the period: The Smokador ashtray stand.


Marketed as “The Ashless Ashtray”, it was stylish, practical and simple. Aesthetically, this one’s more influenced by the sleeker, more subdued post-Depression forms of later Art Deco.


Another Smokador model, boasted a rocking un-tippable base, to prevent fires and spillage.

Charles Hardy

Yet another New Yorker, and another design from the more understated later Art Deco movement: 1936 Ashtray Side Table.


Mahogany, bakelite and chrome; curves and simple elegant lines.

Modern ashtray stands you can buy today

Obviously, if you’ve got the cash, you can easily find original and reproduction Art Deco ashtray stands to buy even today. Not to mention antique and vintage examples from other eras.


But what do today’s mass market ashtray stands look like?


The bad news is, there are some pretty ordinary, bland, even ugly designs out there. The kind of things that’ll make you feel like you’re taking a cigarette break at work, rather than getting mellow at home afterwards.


But thankfully we’ve managed to find a few that are more decorative, relaxing and aren’t going to kill the vibe… 

Floor standing height-adjustable flexible ashtray

Our first pick looks like something out of Austin Powers. Very 1960s. Very retro.


Available in red, yellow, black or white, the main feature of these ashtray stands is the flexible stem between the base and the wine glass-shaped ash receptacle. By bending it, you can shorten it for sitting, and even direct it towards you.


It also has a mechanism so that ash and butts are kept covered inside, meaning it’s also a great option for outdoors.

Cigar floor stand ashtray

Standing ashtrays and smoking in comfort have long been a staple of the cigar lounge. So, naturally, Stinky Cigar offers a few different models, in a variety of finishes to complement your home or smoking room.


The main model has a deep bowl for long sessions, a tray for accessories, and is windproof to 35mph for outdoor use.


Another is literally just a stand — supply your own favorite ashtray.


They’re even working on making their own version of the iconic Frankart Art Deco nude we mentioned above.

Stainless steel telescopic free standing ashtray

Finally, we found this sleek metal, telescopic ashtray stand that looks great in the home or outdoors.


It’s deep enough to not need emptying too often and to provide wind-proofing. It adjusts short enough to stand on a table, and tall enough for standing or sitting. And it’s easy to empty and clean. 


A weighted base keeps it stable.


The one thing we don’t like: It doesn’t have any kind of lid to keep odors under control when not in use.

Final thoughts

Let’s be honest, an ashtray stand is more of a luxury than a necessity. But looking back at past examples from the heyday of cigarette smoking, you can easily see the potential for combining craftsmanship, art and function in a way that enhances the decor — in just the same way that a growing number of manufacturers are already doing for other cannabis smoking accessories


Maybe we’re wrong about a comeback being due? 


Maybe not.


But in the meantime, if the idea of a standing ashtray appeals, try the models above. Or for something more timeless, search out some of the many vintage models that can still be had today. Some are expensive antiques now, but with a little searching you can still find plenty of classic and classy designs that won’t break the bank.

 

 





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