October 22: Growing up with his face buried in books from Tenting to Tolstoy, Nishant was exposed to a wide variety of cultures. Nishant was particularly fascinated with the various collections of the protagonists in the books he read, from collections of butterflies to stamps to watches.

Years later, a conversation about the massive reduction in tobacco smoking led him down an intriguing path. Since cigarettes, a ubiquitous commodity till fifty years ago has been on a consistent downtrend in usage, he realized there was another category of commodities that would gradually disappear from public consciousness—the humble ashtray.

Now the Managing Partner of Jackstien Practices & Consulting International, Nishant recalls the first moment he decided to start collecting ashtrays, a passion that has stuck with him through decades.“It’s like ancient muskets,” he laughs “no one wants to use it, but the instrument is fascinating”.

His collection increased over the years as he added to it from all over the world, from Mumbai’s Colaba causeway to the streets of Budapest to bargain basements in Cape Town. Sellers from eBay in the Mid-West United States, Oktoberfest sellers, mom-and-pop stores in New York, holes-in-the-wall in Seoul, malls in Prague and isolated villages in Sri Lanka all added to his collection.

He now possesses an enviable collection of hundreds of ashtrays made of various materials, bought from hundreds of places around the world and in a vast variety of shapes, sizes, designs and time periods.

Nishant has ashtrays made from wood, various metals and alloys, organic material, animal by-products, glass, marble, rubber, precious metals and semi-precious stones. While some of the ashtrays are barely bigger than the thumb, others are heavy, intricately carved pieces. 

Nishant’s collection contains ashtrays that can be variously described as cute, funny, inventive, beautiful, bizarre, smart and even ghoulish. Curated from more than 30 countries and 200 cities worldwide, these ashtrays have finally found a home in his collection.

As far as unique collections go, we are hard-pressed to find another.



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