Seiko Smoking Promotional Items

Up until the 90’s it was very common for companies to release various smoking related promotional paraphernalia. The related promotional items included ashtrays, lighters and matches. As the public acceptance of smoking was reduced companies distanced themselves from this as they did not want to be associated with that and the global population of smokers was rapidly being reduced.

Ashtrays are the least commonly seen of the related promo items. I have collected a couple of examples of these. The first is from 1935 (Showa 10) featuring the Seiko factory in Kameido, Sumida-ku. 

The ashtray has a holder for a large box of matches or a cigarette pack at the top and a glass insert to make cleaning easier. There is an image of the factory on the base of the unit.

This is a shot of the factory from around 1930 when the initial reconstruction was completed and another from a few years later.

This was the factory that replaced the Seiko factory destroyed by fire during the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923. I believe that the factory construction was finally completed in 1937 but was partially destroyed by bombing again in March 1945. The factory was quickly rebuilt after the war and was responsible for the very successful “Unique” model. Eventually the factory was demolished and replaced by the Olinas Mall that opened on the same site in 2004.

The tower clock from the factory was removed in 1990 and it was moved to the Gishodo Suwako Museum where it resides today.

The ashtray has a very small SKS logo that can be seen stamped onto the base but this is only around 3mm in size and I initially did not notice this.

The second ashtray is a much simpler design. On the base of the ashtray is the traditional Seiko “snake” symbol from the 1950’s. As the date shows this is from May 1958.

In addition to ashtrays I also have a number of Seiko promotional cigarette lighters.

From the late 60’s or early 70’s there is this Seiko Prince lighter. This has a Seiko logo and still has the original instruction card and box.

The second lighter I have is a Seiko branded Zippo from 1978. This was a popular design and I believe it was a promotion item that was manufactured for a few years as I have seen examples from 1976 to 1981.

The last example I have is a thin Card brand lighter with Seiko Quartz SQ branding.

In addition to lighters match boxes were also a very common promotional and advertising item. These are relatively low cost to produce and were made for many years.

The first examples I have are from the early 1960’s and they feature models like the Unique, Goldfeather and Marvel.

I also have a large 56GS matchbox. The matchbox was a Seiko promotional item from late 1970 or early 1971. On one side of the box is an image of a 5646 Grand Seiko with Courvoisier Napoleon Cognac, leather bound books and an empty gold picture frame. I am guessing these items are supposed to convey a sense of high quality and class. The other side of the box has a women’s model with another range of items. 

The matchbox is quite large and measures 114 x 60 x 18mm. It is internally divided into two sections to hold the matches. The top of the box has the strike area and it is obvious that this has never been used. The bottom of the box has instructions and shows how the box can be attached to a small baseplate to allow it to stand and become a display item. The base stand was included inside the box and it has a strip of tape that can be removed to stick to the base of the box.

Following this are these examples showing the first model of King Seiko. There are a couple of Sportsmatic models, DX, Actus, a 6139 Sports Timer and general Seiko promotional examples. Rounding up the group are a couple of quartz based models.

You will notice that many of the match boxes are labeled with the date of June 10th. This is a reference to ‘Time Day’ that is a celebration of the first water clock known as rokoku that was introduced by Emperor Tenji in 671. This day was officially designated in 1920 as a way to promote the importance of time in Japan.

While these are not promotional items that you see today they are interesting to see the type of marketing and promotional items that have been produced over the years.