Thursday, 28 September 2017

Light 'Em Up & Stub 'Em Out!

One of the earliest posts I wrote for this blog focused on a small number of CFL themed vintage matchbooks and afterwards I was advised by some collectors of a variety of team matchbooks that I had forgotten to mention. Additionally a good number of other fascinating vintage Canadian Football themed matchbooks have surfaced since then, but I will leave these for another time and instead focus on two different groups of accessories that facilitated the habits of smokers once upon a time.

One of the best known CFL themed vintage gas lighters was this model given out to attendees of the Saskatchewan Roughrider's $100 annual dinner in 1962. Made by Japanese manufacturer Maruman, it came in a wood grain case with fuel supply.    

Vintage lighters are a a sub-class of Smoking Accessory collectibles with an avid collector following chasing thousands of differently designed or decorated items from hundreds of manufacturers. Maruman began producing lighters in Japan in 1959 and won first prize at the New York International Lighter Fair in 1961. Perhaps the model pictured above was in the award winner style.   

Roughrider fans could extinguish their cigarettes into team themed ashtrays, 1960 on the left and 1967 on the right being just two examples.

Ashtrays typically made for very attractive collectibles as there was ample space for period graphics and in some cases extensive information. Condition can be a problem though as ashtrays that were used can have tar and burn marks as well as damaged graphics, near mint examples will command significantly more money than heavily used items.    

At left is the oldest CFL vintage lighter I am currently aware of, an Eskimo Grey Cup decorated model that I think celebrates all three mid fifties championships. At right is a vintage early sixties B.C. Lions Sapphire lighter.

The popularity of smoking during the last century meant that lighters and ashtrays were produced in the millions, but as with anything else, CFL themed objects were a tiny minority of those numbers and they are not particularly easy to come by today.

At left a Stampeders logo ashtray (probably sixties) and at right a Stampeders logo lighter by Hamilton (probably late fifties)

For some teams I have no examples of vintage lighters (Winnipeg, Hamilton, Montreal, Toronto) or vintage ashtrays (Winnipeg, Toronto) but they almost certainly exist and I probably just haven't stumbled upon any yet. 

At left a great (probably sixties) Hamilton themed ashtray combining the fierce logo with the fiery steel mills the city was known for. At right another Hamilton ashtray (probably seventies) with the common helmet logo graphics that were used on many products from that era.

While CFL branded smoking accessories are going to be found on ebay from time to time, it may take some effort examining the inventory of dealers that specialize in smoking accessories at antique malls and flea markets to score one of these interesting items.   

Scripto made lighters from the mid fifties to the mid seventies with this Ottawa model (with case) probably dating from the sixties. 

These two glass ashtrays (probably early seventies) likely indicate that every team was represented with a product in this style. 

At left is a vintage Alouette ashtray (or possibly candy-dish I suppose) and at right an example that shows that although smoking is out of favour, modern ashtrays are still sometimes produced.

Of course one of the best known lighter brands is Zippo. Even though there are numerous references for Zippo collectors out there, as usual any data on CFL designs is absent or spotty at best. Consequently I am unsure when the first CFL Zippo lighter was made, sometime in the nineties may be a good guess (although the mid fifties Eskimos model shown above is possibly a Zippo model). 

Undated Eskimo and Argonaut Zippo lighters with different display stand styles

In some years Zippo manufactured complete league sets, with one such set being sold for $350 or $35 per lighter recently. Zippo lighters bring pretty good prices even if they were made fairly recently.

Six of a full league set of 10 Zippo lighters for 2002 

While we are thinking about vintage smoking accessories, here is a weirdo football themed carved touchdown pipe made in Canada.

These collectibles are another example that CFL and Canadian football themed items were produced in just about every category and class of objects that might have a promotional aspect to them, you just have to look out for them.