Cigarette lighters made from York Minster fragments, 1970s

Early 1970s ad

Advert for York Minster Stoneware, early 1970s. Tableware, including cigarette lighters, made from discarded bits of York Minster

An advert for York Minster Stoneware, from the York ‘Official Guide and Miniguide’, published in the early 1970s (1971/1972).

These days, when older stone fragments of the Minster are removed for the endless renewal the building needs, the fragments are auctioned to raise funds for that continuing renewal, and are thought attractive and meaningful in their natural state.

Forty years ago a company in Garforth made them into the kind of objects thought desirable in the early 1970s home. Table lamp bases, pen holders, and even cigarette lighters.

Though younger readers won’t remember those days, in the early 1970s smokers weren’t thought of as a stinky unwanted minority of social outcasts, instead smoking was so acceptable that smokers were likely to find, in many of the homes they visited, a solid and permanent cigarette lighter displayed as part of the ‘tableware’. This was quite chic and sophisticated.

The idea that they could be made from a chunk of cathedral seems totally and amusingly incongruous now, looking back.

This advert is so beautifully 1970s in so many ways. Even the colours of the lampshades (mustard, orange, green) supplied to go on top of your York Minster stone lamp base. To make them ‘useful’, these fragments of York Minster stone with ‘up to 750 years attractive weathering’ are turned into table lighters, pen holders and a base for a calendar, which I suspect was 1970s plastic, with no weathering at all.

A talking point, no doubt, at the 1970s dinner parties.

There must be some of these around still. Perhaps one of the ‘perpetual calendars’ is still in use. Please add a comment if you have/had one.

A reminder of how much things have changed in my lifetime. And a reminder that the 1970s is ‘real history’ already.

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  1. A very nice find: real history indeed. Perhaps we’ll be able to buy attractive fragments of Stonebow House pebbledashed concrete made into lamps and calendars soon, “with up to 46 years attractive weathering”.

  2. I have a york minster stone lamp base. I remember it being in the family lounge for years. My mother recently passed away and I have inherited it. A good old solid lump of stone. The shade is sadly beyond keeping, very stained with 1970’s nicotine. I would be interested if anyone knows where i can get a replacement.

  3. Please don’t throw away the 1970s nicotine-stained lampshade! So nice to know one of these is still around.

    I’m emailing you and hoping for photos …

  4. Ohhh I would love one of those lampshades! I’ll leave the stone accessories though!

  5. Ooh I’d love a Minster lighter to go with my lamp bases that were made from medieval wood from Lincoln Cathedral c. 2006. Although, imagine if you dropped it, you could kill someone.

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