The book offers an unprecedented look at cigarette holders through a selection of approximately 125 pieces from the collection of Carolyn Hsu-Balcer. Its introductory essay is both a social history of that world-changing leaf, tobacco, and a design history of its accouterments. It examines the history of smoking from its pre-Columbian roots in the Americas through to the present-day worldwide e-cigarette craze, taking the reader on a journey from tobacco smoking as a sacred ritual, through the controversies of its worldwide spread, and the machine-rolled cigarette's role in the world wars and as a tool for European and American women's equality.
Following the illustrated essay is a luxurious catalogue of newly commissioned photography that makes these diminutive objects pop off the pages with brilliant colour and form. The collection includes cigarette holders in their simplest incarnations the disposable promotional holders given away at trendy New York nightclubs to their most exquisite the work of Fabergé, Cartier, Tiffany, Van Cleef & Arpels and other renowned jewellers of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries.