24. March 2009 · Comments Off on eBay Watch: Smoke ‘em if you Got ‘em (1930s) · Categories: Archive 2009

This edition of eBay Watch takes a gander at the auction of at an ash tray, dating back to the 1930s or 1940s.  The outside is carved out of wood; the inside contains a raised carving of Michigan stadium along with the likeness of a Wolverine.  Check it out:


Because this isn’t tied a particular season, player, or era, I really don’t have a history element to directly drop into.  As far as the item itself, I think this very cool but I’m wondering if any M fan would crush out a cigarette butt into Michigan Stadium or on the likeness of a wolverine.  It’s kind of like walking on the block M in the Diag.  Perhaps that explains the ashtray’s pristine condition?

While I don’t have a specific historic angle to explore, I do know from digging through the archives at the Bentley Library that Fielding H. Yost enjoyed the occasional cigar.  I’ve seen a few instances of the press mentioning old ‘Hurry Up’ partaking in a post game smoke, including in the aftermath of the legendary win over Penn in 1909.  Here’s the account from the Sunday, November 14, 1909 Michigan Daily:

After the game the happy players lifted the smiling coach, unlighted stogie in his mouth, and carried him to their dress quarters, amid the cheers of the highly elated Michigan rooters.

Here’s some more evidence of his fondness for the stogies.  A google image search yielded this interesting pic and caption.

image Apparently the device these gentleman are holding (umm, are those dice on their pants?) is a football-shaped humidor, compliments of Yost himself.  The caption explains:

The longest pass in the history was made when hurry-up Yost, coach of the University of Michigan football team, tossed the pigskin to Tad Jones coach of the Yale eleven. Jones (center) is shown with his two aides, Ducky Pond (left); the football is really a humidor, made of aluminum covered with genuine pigskin the same as is used for footballs. Yost sent the humidor to Jones by air mail–again employing the aerial route, which is his favorite play. The football humidor is patented, and makes a very fine ornament for the desk or table.

The photo is from 1925.  While Yost was one of the innovators of the forward pass, which was first allowed in 1905, it definitely wasn’t Yost’s “favorite play” for a quite awhile.  It’s use was critical in the 1909 Penn game (Michigan stunned Penn with fakes, passes and overall slight of hand), and the next year in the huge game against Minnesota.   I’m not sure when it became Yost’s favorite, but it certainly was a popular option in 1925 itself.  That was the legendary Benny Friedman’s first full season at the helm of the Wolverines.  Friedman, Yost and his favorite target, Bennie Oosterbaan revolutionized the use of the forward pass in those seasons.

The auction of the ash try ends March 24.  Bidding starts at $24.99.

Elsewhere: You want your name on a building near Michigan Stadium?  Got around $400,000?  Make it happen, friend.  There’s an auction out there right now for a new building to be constructed a few blocks from the Big House, and they taking offers to immortalize it.   Here’s the auction info.

Related: eBay Watch: Michigan’s Grand Old Man Laid to Rest (1946) Yost’s funeral procession, hopefully not due to his enjoyment of cigars.