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A Token of Elegance:

A Token of Elegance:

Cigarette Holders in Vogue

By (author) Martin Barnes Lorber
By (author) Rebecca McNamara
Photographs by John Bigelow Taylor
Photographs by Dianne Dubler


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  • At once an important social history of tobacco and smoking and a beautiful coffee table book, A Token of Elegance is ideal for art and design historians, history students, museum professionals, and collectors
  • Of great interest to jewellery historians as many cigarette holders were made for their international clientele by the major jewellery firms and this is the first book where so many cigarette holders have been catalogued and photographed
Full Description

“Flicking through the book… you’ll discover all manner of vintage cigarette holders, ranging from cheap promotional items given away by New York nightclubs to extravagant versions crafted by the likes of Tiffany, Fabergé, Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels.” South China Morning Post The book offers an unprecedented look at cigarette holders through a selection of approximately 125 pieces from the collection of Carolyn Hsu-Balcer. Its introductory essay is both a social history of that world-changing leaf, tobacco, and a design history of its accoutrements. It examines the history of smoking from its pre-Columbian roots in the Americas through to the present-day worldwide e-cigarette craze, taking the reader on a journey from tobacco smoking as a sacred ritual, through the controversies of its worldwide spread, and the machine-rolled cigarette’s role in the world wars and as a tool for European and American women’s equality. Following the illustrated essay is a luxurious catalogue of newly commissioned photography that makes these diminutive objects pop off the pages with brilliant colour and form. The collection includes cigarette holders in their simplest incarnations – the disposable promotional holders given away at trendy New York nightclubs – to their most exquisite – the work of Fabergé, Cartier, Tiffany, Van Cleef & Arpels and other renowned jewellers of the late nineteenth- and twentieth-centuries. Contents: Foreword by Carolyn Hsu-Balcer; Introduction; Chapter 1: Tobacco’s Journey from the New World to the Old: Medicine and Pleasure; Chapter 2: The Rise of Cigarette Culture: The Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries; Chapter 3: Smoking, Sociability, and a New Modern Era: From the First World War to the Second; Chapter 4: The Cigarette Holder’s Peak and Fall: A New Culture of Smoking; Catalog; Appendix: Materials Used in Cigarette Holders; Acknowledgments; Photo Credits.

About the Author

Martin Barnes Lorber has had a distinguished decades-long career in the fine arts. He was the founder and head of the Japanese Department that included the arts of Korea, Southeast Asia, South Asia and the Himalayas at Sotheby's New York. He is the principal American Contributor to the Asian Art Newspaper, London. Rebecca McNamara earned her Master's in the History of Decorative Arts and Design from Parsons the New School for Design/Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum in 2014. She is a writer and editor on arts and design and burgeoning museum professional, having worked in the curatorial departments of the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum and the Indianapolis Museum of Art. John Bigelow Taylor and Dianne Dubler are New York-based, still-life photographers, specialising in architecture, works of art, antiquities and jewellery. Working with the world's foremost collectors, museums and publishers, they have created the photography for over 200 books. Currently, they are producing bespoke, limited-edition books on estates and collections for private clients around the world.

Officina Libraria
21st Oct 2015
World excluding Italy and France
255 mm x 245 mm
192 Pages
160 color, 18 b&w
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