Ian Fleming was rarely photographed without a cigarette in his hand, but more iconic was the cigarette holder he used. He had several of them, which were all by Asprey.
We are delighted to reveal one of Fleming’s original Asprey cigarette holder that was originally owned by Lord Woodrow Wyatt (father of Petronella Wyatt) as he and Ian were great friends. Woodrow’s former house was Conock Old Manor (a Queen Anne listed house) in Wiltshire and he first met Ian in the early 1950s at a dinner party in Venice. Ian and Ann used to often visit Woodrow’s house in Wiltshire, and at one time he left his cigarette holder behind.
Poignantly, Ian advised Woodrow Wyatt that he would collect the holder the next time he came to visit, and this never happened as Ian passed away not long afterwards.
From Wilshire with Love
Another great friend of both Fleming and Wyatt, was David Somerset, the Duke of Beaufort (who is Petronella’s godfather, as was Sir Fitzroy Maclean (another Bond inspiration) who was a British spy during the war. According to Petronella Wyatt, David’s wife Lady Caroline Somerset (Duchess of Beaufort) was another possible inspiration for a Bond girl as ‘both Ian and Woodrow had a huge crush on her.’
It’s no accident then, that when escaping by train from Moscow in From Russia, With Love (1957), James Bond and his lover Tatiana Romanova use the cover names ‘David and Caroline Somerset’.
The Smoking Accoutrements
One his favourite cigarette cases was a gunmetal-finished, gold cigarette case, given to him by Maud Russell. In From Russia With Love, Red Grant has ‘an oval gold cigarette case with the wavy ridges and discreet turquoise button that means Faberge.’ Whether or not Fleming used a Faberge case himself is hard to ascertain, but he was certainly a fan of Faberge.
Fleming’s and Bond’s choice of cigarettes were Morland of Grosvenor Street (closed shortly after Fleming’s death!). The three gold rings could represent the three stripes on the sleeve of Fleming’s (and Bond’s) commander uniform from the RNVR. In a comment posted at our friends over at Fleming’s Bond:
‘His cigarettes were made for him by a lady by the name of Julia Garcia Cohen who owned the Moreland Brand. They became friends even while he was with Naval Intelligence and he told her that he would be happy for her to use his name officially – but incredibly she failed to get permission from the Authorities for her to legalise the brand. Julia became a friend of Fleming’s Secretary ‘ (Beryl) Griffie’.
In From Russia With Love, Bond reaches for a Morland to recover from the turbulence:
‘He was pleased to see his hands were dead steady as he took out his lighter and lit one of the Morland cigarettes with the three gold rings.’
[With special thanks to Julie Eagleton, Petronella Wyatt, Trevor Scobie and Mark Burgess]
Asprey, founded in 1781 by William Asprey, was originally based in Mitcham, Surrey until the company moved into its current New Bond Street premises.