I don’t know about you but I really just love some of the cigar boxes just as much as the cigars. Some are truly a work of art and even though my collection is beginning to feel a little hoardish (if that’s even a word) but it feels just wrong to simply throw them away. Cigar boxes are great marketing tools however they are about more than just marketing, they represent something about the person or company that made them. I read a great article on Cigar Advisor by Jon Pullo about why cigars come in boxes.
According to writer/historian & cigar museum curator Tony Hyman:
President Abraham Lincoln desperate to raise wartime revenue, imposed taxes on a long list of 19th-century ‘luxuries,’ including soap, perfume, playing cards, photographs, bank checks and patent medicine. In 1863, he also called for a tax on alcohol and tobacco. Cigars back then were shipped from the factory in barrels then sold by the stick, or maybe by the handful. By passing a law requiring that all cigars, “foreign or domestic,” had to be packed in wooden boxes (quantities varied from 25 to 250 cigars) – it gave IRS agents “somewhere to paste a stamp proving taxes had been paid.”
By 1900, cigars were serious business, four out of five American men smoked them. Billions of cigars made by hand were all packed in boxes. That’s when cigar makers became smart marketers. All the cigar boxes on the shelf looked alike, so they needed to find a way to stand out from the competition. And they did it by adding artful presentations. Such as scenes that depicted traditional Cuban farms and fields, or indigenous people that introduced tobacco to the Europeans. Others had awards, logos, insignias, famous people…anything and everything that represented “the good life,” and would catch the attention – and wallet – of the cigar smoker.
Since then, cigar makers have taken the artwork on cigar boxes to an even higher level giving attention to every little detail and I think it’s a travesty that most just end up in the trash.