The book offers an unprecedented look at cigarette holders through a selection of approximately 125 pieces from the collection of Carolyn Hsu-Balcer and Rene Balcer. Its introductory essay is both a social history of that world-changing leaf, tobacco, and a design history of its accoutrements. 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 Faberge, Cartier, Tiffany, Van Cleef & Arpels, and other renowned jewellers of the late nineteenth- and twentieth-centuries.
Carolyn Hsu-Balcer is a designer, philanthropist and art collector based in Los Angeles and New York. She has organised ground-breaking art exhibits including Xu Bing Tobacco Project (VMFA), "Light Before Dawn" (Asia Society Hong Kong), "Blooming in the Shadows" (China Institute), and "Oil and Water" (MOCA NY).