Monday, May 23, 2011

Yes, indeed. The featured item is in fact a vintage Bakelite rolltop cigarette case made by the Rolinx company. You can also view this wonderful gizmo in the Science Museum in London and explain to your children how this innocent appearing contrivance is actually a cancer-stick & coffin-nail delivery device. I applaud the clever individuals who recognized it right away.
This item was designed and created by the very appealing Maurice Robin (1912-1982), "regarded as one of the post war pioneers of the injection moulding industry". One of his early successes was a "lighter faster pop riveter" used for assembling munitions during WW2. But it was his frustration with the wooden covers of pencil cases that led him to his trademark rolling plastic lid.

When I discovered it - in a cabinet in the parental basement, along with a silk Japanese flag ca.1945 - I was totally at a loss. Pencils? Chopsticks? Asparagus? But my younger sister, who has never smoked a cigarette in her life, knew it immediately. It seems that all these years when we thought she was usefully employed saving the aquifers and northern forests, she was in fact participating in James Bond marathons with her family.

The next challenge? Since my smoking days are now but a dim memory, an olfactory madeleine, I am seeking a new use for this item. Feel free to offer suggestions.

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