This Japanese vintage mixed metal tobacco -bon set is old. This came to us from a collector in Japan. There are four pieces- a tray, an ashtray, a lighter holder, and a box to hold cigarettes. A great collector's item for the collector of old tobacciana please see more below.
Antimony is a 'silvered' or plated alloy. Antimony is an element, just like copper, silver, or gold. In this case it is a mixture of these elements. It is metallic and somewhat brittle. The base metal of all these boxes, pen trays, pin trays, etc . is that metal, probably with a bit of other metal as an alloy'. The color is darker than our other set, and with its patina also suggest early 1900’s. However, production of tobacciana was high from the beginning of the early Meiji period in the late 1800’s through mid- with century, so it is close to impossible to say without a mark or mark and date.
Mixed metals are beautifully molded in this set with a lovely lily motif. There is a mark on the bottom but it is hard to read..
The box is decorated with a molded lily on the lid, and the front of the lighter holder is as well. The tray handle also is carved using metal tools into a lily. The smaller box is decorated with the sun with a wreath of leaves around it over waves. The ashtray is decorated with another flower and random motif around the outside border. The tray is very nice, it has an unusually smooth surface. While all of the bottoms are almost perfect, the top has age ‘spots’ but nice patina. I am not going to polish and most prefer to leave the patina. Most likely many of these can be polished out, however, most prefer to leave in vintage items in their aged state. It is otherwise in very good working condition with no cracks or chips or damage.
Tray: Inches 8.47 x 5.23 x. 62, Or in CM: 25.52 x 13.3 x 1.6 cm.
Box: Inches 3.77 x 2.83 x 2.16 x x Or CM: 5.5x7.2x9.6cm
Ashtray: Inches 3.93 x 2.87 x 2.00, Or, CM: 5.1 × 7.3 × 10cm
Weight: 1280 grams or 2.82 lbs.
Japanese Folk Tobacciana
Tokugawa Shogunate reluctantly signed a treaty with America in 1854, Japan resumed its love-hate affair with the West. But there was one gift from the West that Japan had already happily embraced. Japan adored tobacco. Japan loved to smoke. And when Japan takes to something, whether it is cars, cameras, or tobacco, it makes it wholly its own.
Tobacciana Japanese style is varied, interesting, and collectible. Some of the most captivating objects are tonkotsu, the portable smoking sets that were indispensable to the Japanese for several hundred years.
With tobacco seeds brought by the traders, Japan began growing its own tobacco, possibly as early as 1600. Initially, the government worried that Japanese tobacco that valuable farmland needed to grow food would be given over to this new herb and futilely sought to prohibit and then to control its cultivation. By the 17th-century tobacco was firmly established as a popular consumer luxury.
A new pastime required new accessories. For the home, a set of utensils called a tobako-bon was developed. Basically, it consisted of a serving tray, a pot containing charcoal from which to light one’s pipe, and an ashtray. Other items could be added. These could be simple or elaborate, made from plain wood or exquisite lacquer, depending on what one could afford.
As popular as pipe smoking was, exposure to Western ways would change pipe smoking culture, though the love of tobacco would continue unabated. Travelers from the West would witness this change as it was happening. While Japan was developing rapidly around them, visitors wanted to absorb as much of quaint old Japan as they could. One famous visitor who arrived in 1871 and stayed for two years was Charles Longfellow, son of America’s leading poet. Along with getting tattooed, which was a favorite souvenir, Longfellow had himself photographed in traditional carpenter’s dress. Prominently displayed with him is a tobako-bon.
written by and excerpts from the website tobacco-facts july 8, 2010