• Circling the Globe With the Mid-20th Century's Most Brilliant Matchbox Art It only takes a few inches of paper to conjure entire worlds: A hike in the Polish countryside; a smoke-filled Japanese jazz club; or an astronaut's view of a Russian space station. Each of these tantalizing scenes once adorned the sides of ordinary matchboxes, deftly illustrated with a few simple shapes and bright colors. Though often overlooked, vintage matchbox labels are treasures of modern de…
  • The Unfiltered History of Rolling Papers, Plus Tommy Chong's Big Fat Jamaican Vacation It’s kind of ironic that Tommy Chong, the smokiest half of Cheech and Chong, is so closely associated with rolling papers. Sure the character he played on stage and in the movies was endlessly smoking fatties, and the comedy duo’s second album, “Big Bambu,” 1972, opened up like a booklet of Bambu rolling papers, with a Cheech and Chong-watermarked sheet inside. Then, in 1978, the pair was rolled i…
  • Where There's Smoke There's a Vintage Cigarette Lighter At the very beginning, my interest in lighters was about the mechanism. I had my first lighter when I was 14. I saved up my nickels and dimes. I grew up in Oakland, and bought my first cigarette lighter because I thought it was way cool. I didn’t smoke and I didn’t set fire to things. I just thought the lighter was really a beautiful piece of equipment and the whole idea of being able to push down…
  • Collecting Vintage Cigarette Lighters Cigarette lighter collecting is a hobby that never gets boring. Just by browsing eBay auctions for ten minutes, for example, I recently found a lighter shaped like a lion’s head, one made of jade and gold, and an electric lighter in the shape of a woman’s face that hangs on the wall. A flame we can carry in our pockets is something that we take for granted, but it was much harder to make fire i…