Double decker bottlecap ashtray

Submitted by Markydoodle September 22nd, 2010
Certifikitsch Winner

I was in Boise this week, and happened to see this curious ashtray. It’s made of bottlecaps and other common hardware.

It could be called a decorator piece.

A decorator piece for a cell. In the old Idaho state penitentiary, which was closed in ’73. What’s left of it is now maintained by the Idaho State Historical Society.

Sometimes the inmates got a little modernism in them when they decorated.

I think this design is called Bauhaus.

And yet creative people created. Ashtrays, upholstery, and this artwork. All done by the inmates of a prison in Idaho.

Today roses and other greenery flourish where once walked the troubled.

Some belonged there, some maybe didn’t.

Next time I go to Boise, I’m going to seek out the stuffed, two-headed calf in the Idaho State Historical Society Museum. They call it “Deja Moo.”

3 Responses to “Double decker bottlecap ashtray”

  1. Allee Willis

    Wow, quite a post! Not often we get to see interiors of rooms like this. I love that the ashtray was an excuse to do it!

    This kind of bottlecap ashtray was actually very, very popular in the 1950’s and 60’s. I’ve had a few of them over the years. All vary slightly as they’re all handmade. All the crafts magazines back then had instructions on how to make them and they were de ruguer in rec rooms across the country. I suspect an inmate made this one. I never saw one with 2 ashtrays before either.

  2. Mark Milligan

    Thanks Allee!
    In the last photo, of the old building, you can see a hill behind it. There are some terrific hiking trails in the hills above this old facility, and when I was done taking a hike I decided to stop and take a look at this place when I saw the sign that said “self guided tours.”
    It was haunting.