Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Gentle Art of Smoking by Alfred H. Dunhill.

The Gentle Art of Smoking by Alfred H. Dunhill.  Hardcover book published by Max Reinhardt 1954.

As tobacco packaging laws here in Australia become more extreme, I thought it might be appropriate to write about this book written by Alfred H. Dunhill.  Here in Australia we are more acquainted with the Dunhill brand of cigarettes and less so with the shops of the same name that specialize in selling men's luxury leather goods, writing implements, lighters, timepieces, fragrances and clothing.  Dunhill cigarettes are considered a luxury brand and are…. hang on a sec “luxury brand”.  A cigarette, luxurious?  No, no, no, no. … Whoops.  Sorry.  I forgot.  I’m trying to sell this book.  Yes, it’s a luxury brand and yes, it is named after the author of this book.  Dunhill was the brand favoured by Hunter S. Thompson… and my father, the two of whom had very little other than the cigarettes they smoked in common.

So this book looks at the history, growing, preparation of Tobacco and then moves on to Pipes, Cigars, Snuff and some other bits.  There’s a few photographs and a few illustrations.  

This photograph and illustration of a cigarette making machine reminds me of a visit to The Royal Melbourne Show at some stage in the early 1970s (I was a young boy at the time).  I remember very clearly seeing a machine there that demonstrated the making of cigarettes.  It’s interesting to reflect on the fact that a cigarette making machine was on display at an event mostly catering to children.  At the time it didn’t seem that strange.  I personally found it interesting to see where the three packets a day that my dad smoked came from.

Recently I had someone email me about a book I had for sale at that time.  Their question was in regards to the odour of the book and particularly whether the book smelt of cigarette smoke.  Fortunately it didn’t, although to be honest I hadn’t sniffed it until asked to do so.  Mr Dunhills book though, did get the full sniffer test before purchase… and passed.  At the moment I do have 2 other books that do have a vague scent of cigarette smoke. I find this to be fairly obvious whilst checking books for any defects (… they tend to waft).  In the past I have aired these odourous books over a few weeks by standing them up, fanned out and leaving them in a well ventilated spot whilst occasionally flicking through the pages (usually once a day).  This has worked to varying degrees in the past.  Sometimes this problem (stinky smell) can be removed completely, usually it is decreased in intensity and occasionally it doesn’t matter what you do, it still smells.

The Gentle Art of Smoking is a puff from the past and I don’t know that many people would now describe smoking as a “Gentle Art”.  This book is possibly of interest to those that persist despite the health warnings and social stigma that now surrounds “The Gentle Art”.

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