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Desirable Cigar Boxes and How Much They Can Be Worth
Prior to 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 would be 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. 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 with cigar box aficionados and others with a general interest in tobacciana.
For instance, a Happy Coon cigar box with a stereotypical label featuring a smiling African-American falls into the category of Black Americana. A box with label fully intact holding a number of 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.
Another example considered to be rare is the Rough Riders box. Featuring Teddy Roosevelt leading his army on horseback, this colorfully labeled 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 when found in very good to excellent condition.
Most all 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.
About the Cigar Box Shown Above:
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 coloration and less ornate than the labels produced later in the 1800s moving into the 1900s. Overall condition is very good for both the box and the artwork taking the age into consideration. Measures 5 1/2" x 9" x 4 3/4". It sold for $640 (not including buyer’s premium) at Morphy Auctions in June, 2011.Continue to 2 of 3 below.
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Union Cigars Box
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 (as opposed to the muted colors shown on the Black Americana label shown above, which is earlier in nature).
Overall condition is... very good for both the box and the artwork taking the age into consideration. Measures 9 3/4" long. This nice box sold for $330 (not including buyer’s premium) at Morphy Auctions in January of 2015.Continue to 3 of 3 below.
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Yellow Kid Cigar Box
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 pealing 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 of 2015.