Vintage ashtray, 1950s
Back in the 40s, 50s and throughout the 60s and beyond, hotels, diners and and other establishments (especially casinos) used ashtrays as a means to advertise their business. In many cases, the middle of the ashtray contained an image or illustration of a scantily clad and sometimes nude pinup model. As it had also become more acceptable for women to smoke, ashtrays also evolved into beautiful ornate sculptures in order to appeal to female smokers.
Ashtray with nude woman, 1950s
Vintage topless woman Art Nouveau style ashtray
As I mentioned, the idea to put an image of a nude woman on an ashtray was quite the thing for a few decades, and there were a few cool designs. Such as what is often referred to as a “nodder” in the collectable world of vintage ashtrays (below). Contrary to popular belief, I’m no ashtray expert, but if I understand it correctly, nodders generally hail from Japan and were made of ceramic or porcelain. Parts of the piece are movable (as with the legs of the nodder below) and have a hollow core in which to deposit your spent butts in, but by far my favorites are the pinup novelty ashtrays that bore the names and numbers of a local divey hotel or tavern looking to attract new customers.
“Nodder” style ashtray, 1950s
If you find these kinds cheeky chachkies appealing, they are fairly easy to find on auction sites like Etsy and eBay. Some of the more rare nodders are on the spendy side running a couple of hundred dollars a pop, while the super kitschy pinup ashtrays can be had for around $20 - $50 depending on the state of undress of the illustration and its condition. NSFW images follow, but that’s part of the fun now, isn’t it?
Travel Inn Cafe, Harmony, MN pin-up ashtray
Aleman’s Club Rodeo, California nude pin up ashtray
Many more nudie ashtrays after the jump…