Historical information

The word ashtray came into use around the 1920 and is a receptacle for ash from cigarettes and cigars and are typically made of fire retardant material such as glass, heat resistant plastic, pottery, metal, or stone. The most common ashtray design is a shallow cylinder with a flat base, designed to rest on a table. Other ashtrays, particularly in public places, are either wall or floor mounted.
While simple, utilitarian forms of ashtrays existed long before the 19th century, it was during the start of the 20th century that the design, aesthetics and their popularity took off. As more women began to smoke. in the early 1900s, the ashtray went closer to being an art form as many women avoided the use of the traditional ashtray as it failed to reflect their feminine values, regarded as an item rather basic in design the general societal through of the time was that smoking was an activity exclusive to men. What emerged were detailed, often very fancy ashtrays acceptable to women depicting either pastoral scenes or vibrantly coloured landscapes.
As time went on, and the onset of women smoking both cigars and cigarettes became less of a departure from the average person, ashtrays saw a decline in design and aesthetics beginning more of a shift towards practicality.


The subject item is a primitive form of ashtray used in public spaces any time from the 1900 -1960s and is not associated with an historic person or event. However the item could have come from the Warrnambool Town Hall given the inscription on the base of the item.

Physical description

Ash tray-large rectangular floor model made from a wooden box covered with textured metal on the outside

Inscriptions & markings

The metal has a relief design embossed at the top back "smokers" and "Town Hall" printed on bottom.