The pocket ashtray is one of those items that is relatively young not because it is difficult to make, but because the conditions that made it necessary and practical are also relatively young.
Tobacco has been used in the Americas for quite some time; it was cultivated as early as 8,000 BCE. As that link will show in pages 3-6, it was consumed in all sorts of ways, only some of which involved smoking, and resulted in all sorts of paraphernalia that survived into the present day. (Though I read this with a certain grain of salt; the author also makes generalizations about the religious practices of “South American Indians” which you can trust to be about as universally accurate as claims about “Modern North American” religious practices, except without all the communications infrastructure allowing people to criticize when complete strangers do it differently. Still, he actually talks about American tobacco use, rather than just saying “They did it alot, now on to Europe…”) However, without access with more data than I currently have, there’s no indication one way or another if they used anything like a portable ashtray.
The modern history of the item starts with the rise of the cigarette in the latter half of the 1800s CE. There were ashtrays before then, of course, as humans with the inclination to smoke indoors still tend to have human notions of cleanliness, and so they’ll come up with things to catch stray ash from a pipe or cigar, like garden gnomes carrying bowls on their backs. But for an item specifically for the small profile of a cigarette, that can be carried on one’s person, you don’t see them until the early 1900s. (The earliest US patent I found was from 1936, mentioned in the paragraph about related patents, here.) Their height of popularity in the US peaked with smoking in the 1960s, judging from the average age of the vintage ones available on Etsy. However, the photo above is of a modern portable ashtray in use in Germany; they certainly haven’t died out.
So! In the portable ashtray we have an accessory that is plausible in many time periods since it has relatively few physical requirements (it ought to be small, fireproof, and, optionally, closable); it has certain cultural requirements (smoking away from obvious receptacles, smoking things small enough that the limited space is sufficient, smoking often enough that it matters); and we have a thing that makes it so you aren’t leaving your butts all over your larp campsite.
If you’re a smoker, please consider adding one to your kit!
Pictured above: MUJI Aluminum Portable Ashtray. Ships to most of Europe, and various other countries. £3 GBP
Vintage Pocket Ashtray, Minnesota via TheBackShak. Ships to US only. $8 USD
Portable Purse Ashtray via MadeEspeciallyForYou. Ships to the US and Canada. $10 USD
Vintage Portable Ashtray with Feathers via VeesVintage. Ships to the US only. $22 USD
The Troupe had made camp yet again on their journey east. They set about their chores, as they did each night; determined who would sit the watches, as the did each night, and watched in bemused good humor as the doctor they had sort-of-kidnapped pulled a crumpled smoking jacket out of his pack for his after dinner pipe, as he did each night. Nevermind that he wore it over clothes already strongly smelling of horse and woodsmoke; if you asked him, he’d simply claim that “The weed deserves respect.”
The European concept of a smoking jacket is the descendant of the dressing gown (what’s known in American English as a bathrobe). While bathrobes continue to be used for more or less their original function, the smoking jacket was a specialized garment that developed as smoking became immensely popular amongst the upper classes. Covering up with a smoking jacket allowed one to prevent the smell of smoke from settling in to ones regular clothes, as well as providing a protective layer from any falling ash (source, paragraph 6).
The heyday of the smoking jacket lasted from the mid 1800s to the mid 1900s, declining in popularity during the cultural upheaval of the 60s that resulted in many symbols of upper class aspirations being abandoned. (The notable pop culture exception to this is Hugh Hefner.) Luckily, that change is recent enough that you can choose between expensive new smoking jackets and dirt cheap vintage versions hiding in thrift shops.
Silk Bronze and Black Striped Evening Jacket via Strumpets Bazaar. Ships worldwide. $16 USD
Vintage 1960s Smoking Jacket Belted via Vintage Bygones. Ships worldwide. $25 USD
Vintage Smoking Robe via pdxscout. Ships to US only. $28 USD
Velvet Smoking Jacket by Brooks Brothers. Ships worldwide. $998 USD
Image Credit: James Edward Fitzgerald 1868 By Dr Albert Charles Barker [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Probably the most bizarre DIY video I’ve ever come across; it turns out paper hats are a thing? You could also add a half inch to the outside of these patterns, cut them out of fabric instead of paper, and actually sew a hat together! Either way, here’s the pattern.
Give Some Advice: They’re Larping In Public ~ Midnight Pastoral ~ Historical Lingerie ~ Star-Trek Gaming Inspiration ~ Amazing Premise For A Space-Restricted Larp ~ I Can Seriously Not Get Enough of This Costume ~ The Knights of the Golden Horseshoe: Getting Drunk For King and Country ~ And Where They Did It
The baseball cap is just over 150 years old; the oldest record of this sort of hat is from a photo of the Brooklyn Excelsiors taken in 1860; that link also contains examples of the many other hats worn by players at the time. It wasn’t until 1954 that the cap became an official part of the baseball player’s uniform, and it wasn’t until the 1960s that it became common amongst spectators (see paragraph 9).
All this information is relevant for baseball in the US; this article has a bit on how it’s worn in the modern UK. Here you’ll find some information on the spread of baseball around the world; in the modern world most uniforms include the baseball cap, but in places like Japan where the sport was introduced in the 1800s, more research is needed to figure out which hats they wore in a given period.
In any case, yes, it is plausible that your steampunk character wears a something like a ball cap.
Image Credit: 1888 Reds, [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The lovely image above shows the brotherly feeling between two fools in the middle ages; I can just hear the scampering looney tunes music that might have actually accompanied these expressions of affection. (Though most of the looney tunes music came from the 1800s.) In any case, the righthand fool has grasped his fellow entertainer by the liripipe- the long tail of his hood.
Liripipes were common in Europe the 14th and 15th centuries; I know for certain in England and Italy (courtesy of page 47 of The Chronicle of Western Fashion). A liripipe could be the trail of a hood or something added to a hat; there are some examples here and here. While most of the examples have been of men, women wore them as well. At various times they were worn handing down the back, wrapped around the neck as a scarf, tied in a knot, and dangling with a bell at the end (source). They’ll be a bit warm for most northern hemisphere larpers, but as winter rolls in below the equator, consider a liripiped hood to keep yourself toasty!
Medieval Brown Fool’s Hood With Two Liripipe by The N00blet. Ships worldwide. $20 USD
Maroon Medieval Hood/Liripipe Hood by The Cat and Cradle. Ships to the US only. $30 USD
Super Long Woodland Pixie Hat by Myshkas Caravan. Ships to the US and Canada. $45 USD
Wool Plaid Medieval Liripipe Hood by Faire Sisters. Ships to US only. $50 USD
Vegans, cityfolk, and non-deer-having-people rejoice: you too can have a nice rack thanks to paper mache antlers! (For the full tutorial, click here.)
You could certainly put these on a headband instead of a mount, but keep in mind that paper mache is relatively fragile, and thus probably isn’t suited to combat larps- unless you just want to make a bunch for npcs who you expect to perish quickly. In which case, it’d make a great subject for a craft day.
A muntjac is a species of deer that possesses both tusks and antlers. Antlers differ from horn in that antlers are made of bone; the soft velvet cover of young antlers is pumping blood while the bone is made, and is eventually shed. Tusks, meanwhile, are a pair of front teeth that protrude out of the mouth. The combination results in quite a bit of options when it comes to slashing things open, especially for an herbivore.
Small Deer Antler Tine via High Mountain Horns. Ships to the US and Singapore. $1 USD
Scarecrow Natural Custom Fit Vampire Fangs via Vampfangs.com. Many shipping options, but not all items ship to all countries; you have to try it out in the shopping cart to find out. $15 USD
Plain Maenad/Satyr Antlers via HysteriaMachine. Ships worldwide. $48 USD
There was a sweet smell on the air. Jules turned to see a man with twin horns spiralling out of his brow. The man glanced at him from under a tumble of curly hair, then whispered something to his friends. The lot of them bounded off, suddenly quite interested in starting a game of ball, but Jules caught the man glancing back in his direction.
He couldn’t decide if he wanted to kiss him, or eat him.
It was a good day to be a wolf.
Horn has been worked and used by humans for a long time- for example, it was common at this site, 28,000 years ago. (Though, of course, they weren’t Rambouillet horns.) The wooly skins of sheep have been used for warmth since at least 10,000 years ago.
However, in the world of larp, pseudo-animal species are fairly common, and I’d like you to consider this particular breed for inspiration. The Rambouillet has royal origins; it was a novelty breed of the King of France, created from a gift of Merino sheep from his cousin, the King of Spain. It’s known for having beautiful, long, luxurious wool, as well as for being strong, stout of shape, and having near-mutton quality meat. A beautiful, long-haired, strong-horned fictional species that smells inexplicably delicious to those with a predatory instinct would be quite fun to play- and that doesn’t even include the natural gregariousness of sheep in general. They’re strength is often in numbers, and I’d love to see a buff to that effect.