Common accessories for smokers in the early 20th Century

smoking accessories

Cigarette accessories started going out of fashion with cigarette smoking, but in the 1950s it was still big business. This page is about the smoking accessories that teenage girls had in the 1950s and what men had before the war in the 1930s.


By the webmaster, based on observation and discussion with smokers mid 20th century UK

I was in my teens in the 1950s when I made the observations described on this page. They reflected the fact that the austerity following the Second World War was coming to an end. We all wanted to appear grown-up, so we toyed with smoking cigarettes and having the up-to-date fashion smoking accessories.

Incidentally I gave up smoking shortly afterwards and am as healthy as can be expected for my age. My university room-mate did not give it up and had to take oxygen with her wherever she went. She even had it built into every room in her home via tubing. Now she is no longer alive.

Cigarette lighters

What I remember most about our smoking accesssories was the cigarette lighters. At that time, cheap ones were coming in from Japan and were quite decorative. I had one faced with bright red leather that I particularly liked.

Decorative women's cigarette lighter, made in Japan, common in the 1950s and 1960s, 1 of 2
Decorative women's cigarette lighter, made in Japan, common in the 1950s and 1960s, 2 of 2

Decorative women's cigarette lighters, made in Japan, common in the 1950s and 1960s

Lighters worked by lighting petrol from a flint which made a spark when a cog was rotated rapidly. Lighters needed to be refilled with petrol once the petrol ran out. This petrol came in tiny capsules from tobacconists.

My father's cigarette lighter was bought before the war and was silver with his initials engraved on it.

Cigarette cases

My father had a solid silver cigarette case that matched his lighter. This, too, was from before the war. Most men had similar-looking ones, although they may not all have been silver.

Although the following photo seems to show the cigarette case just a plain box - albeit with elastic stays to hold the cigarettes - it was specially curved to fit snugly in a man's breast pocket against his chest.

Silver or silver-plated man's cigarette case, common in the mid-1900s, showing the elastic which held the cigarettes in place

A common cigarette case. The elastic held the loose cigarettes in place and the case was curved to fit against the chest in a chest pocket. The colour of the tarnish shows that the case is silver.

Women's cigarette holders

The long cigarette holders of the 1920s and 30s had gone out of fashion by the 1950s. I never saw one in use, but they are pictured on a separate page.

If you can add anything to this page or provide a photo, I would be pleased if you would contact me.

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