Collecting Wooden Cigar Boxes

Some wooden cigar boxes are valuable collectibles

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    Desirable Cigar Boxes and How Much They Can Be Worth

    Cabin Home Cigar Box 1880s
    Morphy Auctions

    Before the use of boxes, cigars were tied together in bundles with fabric ribbons that were often saved so they could be fashioned into interesting quilts and other textiles during the 1800s. This practice continued through the early 1900s.

    Eventually though, following the lead of cigar giant H. Upmann, most all handmade cigars were distributed in cedar boxes with colorful labels adhered to the inside of the hinged cover. Cedar was used to keep the cigars from drying out and to aid in the maturing process.

    When the box was opened in a store where single cigars were sold, the label inside the lid very easily advertised the various brands on display. Labels were reportedly first used by Ramon Allones to market his Cuban cigar brand, and the practice flourished in the late 1800s as the cigar industry blossomed. The artwork on earlier labels, like the one shown here, is less colorful and ornate than those produced around the turn of the 20th century.

    Unusual sizes, shapes, and labels with cross-over collecting appeal are the most desirable among cigar box aficionados and others with a general interest in tobacciana.

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  • 02 of 06

    Union Cigars Box

    Union Cigars Box, c. 1900
    Morphy Auctions

    This Union Cigars brand cigar box dates to the 1890s or early 1900s. In addition to the great lithography inside the lid, the side label, which is also in very nice condition, is still present on the box. The top is also stamped with a Union Cigar logo. The graphics on this label are of the more colorful variety produced later in the 1800s moving into the early 1900s.

    Both the box and the artwork are in very good condition considering the age of the item. The box measures 9 3/4 inches long. This nice box sold for $330 (not including buyer’s premium) at Morphy Auctions in January 2015.

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  • 03 of 06

    Yellow Kid Cigar Box

    The Yellow Kid Cigar Box, c. 1900
    Morphy Auctions

    This hard-to-find wooden cigar box depicts The Yellow Kid, a cartoon character originating in the late 1800s. The box is in good condition, with some peeling and wear to the label, but the scarcity of this box and historical significance of the subject matter helps to bolster the value. This is another good example of the more colorful labels decorating cigar boxes moving into the early 1900s.

    This desirable cross-over example, which also appeals to collectors of Yellow Kid memorabilia, dating to the late 1890s or early 1900s, sold for $200 (not including buyer's premium) in a live webcast auction held in September 2015.

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  • 04 of 06

    Happy Coon

    While it would be highly offensive if created today, a Happy Coon cigar box with a stereotypical label featuring a smiling African-American falls into the category of  Black Americana. A box with a fully intact label holding several original cigars sold for $1,920 (not including buyer’s premium) at Morphy Auctions in August 2012. Other cigar boxes with black memorabilia themes regularly sell in the mid-to-high hundreds.

    About the Cigar Box Shown

    This Cabin Home brand cigar box dates to the 1880s. The log cabin-shaped hinged box features Black Americana lithography inside the lid. The graphics on this label are more muted in color and less ornate than the labels produced later in the 1800s moving into the 1900s. Both the box and the artwork are in good condition considering their age. Measures 5-1/2x9 x 4-3/4 inches. It sold for $640 (not including buyer’s premium) at Morphy Auctions in June 2011.

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    Rough Riders

    Featuring Teddy Roosevelt leading his army on horseback, this colorfully labeled Rough Riders box can easily sell in the $2,000 range when in very good to excellent condition. Several other Teddy Roosevelt-related cigar boxes exist, and those generally sell for hundreds of dollars if they're in very good to excellent condition.

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  • 06 of 06

    Themed Cigar Boxes

    Most cigar boxes with sporting themes such as hunting and fishing are worth a good sum today, as are those with early automobiles depicted in the graphics. There are even Christmas-related cigar boxes that feature Santa Claus, and those easily sell for $150 and up to both tobacciana enthusiasts and fans of holiday-themed collectibles.