primitive forms of ashtrays existed long before the 19th century, it was during the start of the 20th century that the design, aesthetics and their popularity really took off. As more women began to smoke in the early 1900s, the ashtray went closer to an art form. Many women avoided the use of the traditional ashtray as it failed to reflect their feminine values through an activity that was long declared as being exclusive to men. What emerged were detailed, often very fancy ashtrays. These ashtrays depicted pastoral scenes of maidens wandering through vibrantly colored landscapes. Some even featured very luxurious cast-iron models of women in fancy dresses, animals in states of play and the occasional porcelain or ceramic tray highlighting extravagant floral arrangements.
The word "ashtray" in unhyphenated form, rather than "ash tray" or "ash-tray", did not come into common use until 1926. As time went on, and the onset of women smoking both cigars and cigarettes became less of a departure from the average person, ashtrays saw a decline in design aesthetics and began more of a shift towards practicality. However, it was not uncommon to see ashtrays featuring pin-up girls in bars during this decade. It was also during this time that another trend in ashtrays began to emerge, which was the auto-ashtray.