Foxy G's Den of i-KNIT-quity

Magnificent Obsession

They say that one is an item, two is a pair and three is a collection.  I guess that I almost had a collection before I even knew it.  I received my first cigarette case from a friend’s mother who left it to me in her will.  At the time, I was a smoker which I presume is why she left it to me.   Even after I stopped smoking, I cherished the case because it was from her.  I acquired my second cigarette case quite by accident.  It had been left by a former resident in a hotel owned by my grandparents.  I carried these two cases around with me, packed in with my silver, for more than twenty years before they became the seeds of a magnificent obsession.


In May 1995, I was living in Madison, Wisconsin and hanging out with my friend Susan in Sauk City one Saturday.  We walked into a resale shop, and I came across a cigarette case for $2 and bought it.  To this day, I have no idea why I did that, but a collection was born.  From that moment on, I was possessed.  I went junking at least one day of every weekend, sometimes traveling 100 miles one way.  I’d start out at New York Bagel around the corner from my apartment, get a cinnamon raisin bagel with light regular cream cheese and a cup of hazelnut coffee, and off I would go for the day.  As luck would have it, I was working for the State of Wisconsin, and my job required traveling throughout the state.  But, I digress.


I got bored collecting JUST cigarette cases, so I expanded to collecting anything that HELD cigarettes – cigarette boxes, cigarette dispensers or smoking sets. While at a city-wide garage sale, I purchased a walnut cigarette box with a glass lid for $3.  The seller was asking $1 for the matching ashtray.  While I didn’t collect ashtrays and thought $1 was a bit much, I purchased it as well and threw both items in the back of the car.  Months later, I found out that I had purchased a mid-century Higgins Glass set worth several hundred dollars!


At the same time I was collecting cases, boxes and dispensers, I began purchasing lapel pins.  We were approaching the Millennium, and I thought that it would be interesting to illustrate a history of the 20th century with these pins.  I also began to notice that ashtrays were far more interesting than cigarette cases and far more affordable.  So, I transferred the idea of illustrating the history of the 20th century with lapel pins to illustrating the history of the 20th century as seen through ashtrays.

I eventually expanded my search to include any items of interest that pertained to cigarette smoking, such as magazine ads, sheet music and promotion items given away by the tobacco companies.  I even began picking up anti-smoking information in my travels, as well.


Fifteen years later, I have more than 3,500 items that I would one day like to donate to a museum, along with more than 700 cigarette promotion items, 500 magazine ads and an ever-growing library.

Gott Mit Uns Cigarette Case and Matchbox Holder

Gott Mit Uns Cigarette Case and Matchbox Holder



  1. Lois
    Hey…this is great! I bet you’ll find the right social historian to pick up on your collection idea. This is an amazing collection….I love it!

    Comment by Susan Cox — 03/24/2009 @ 10:45 am

  2. I love the story of how these collections came to be. I look forward to seeing what else you find. 🙂

    Comment by Alicia — 04/09/2009 @ 8:20 am

  3. Just came across the picture on your site of the Gott Mit Uns Cigarette Case .I have one exactly like it. Found it in the wall of my house when i was remodeling and was intrigued about its history. This is the first site i have seen that has one like mine.

    Comment by dennis corbin — 04/09/2010 @ 7:28 pm

  4. Sorry it has taken me so long to respond, but I moved my Foxy G. Knits blog to, and I seldom come to this site anymore. I am going to send you an e-mail.

    Comment by foxygknits — 07/12/2010 @ 12:13 am

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