Cigar boxes are hard to resist; even for a non-smoker. Their quiet elegance and construction makes them the perfect box for a variety of uses, including storage boxes for intimate letters or valuable documents, boxes to keep small crafts items in or for embroidery threads, sewing supplies or keepsakes.
Cigar boxes have often been lined, painted and decorated as jewelry boxes. It seems that these nice little boxes that came home with the husband who wanted his cigars generally ended up being confiscated by the lady of the house once they were emptied.
Cigars were packed rather casually until 1864, when the Revenue Act was passed requiring all cigars be packed in boxes. A year later, President Lincoln passed a law mandating that cigars were to be packed in bundles of 25, 50, 100 or 150. With the packing law, cigars became cheaper and more available. Numerous boxes were made, which today are considered collectibles.
Cigar boxes can be found in a variety of materials, including plastic, glass, china, tin, brass and aluminum. They are available in a range of shapes and sizes, from elaborately carved wooden chests to cardboard boxes with bold, colorful advertising. However, most vintage cigar boxes are made of wood.
Vintage and antique cigar boxes have become sought after collectibles on the open market. As with most collectible items, the value of a vintage box depends at least partly on its condition. If your purpose in acquiring a vintage box is purely for monetary speculations, check it carefully first for signs of mold, water damages or chipped pieces. Evaluate the interior of the wood. If it has a felt lining, take that into consideration as well. A frayed lining or water stains within the interior can depreciate the value of the box.
Take note of any fading and examine the label for signs of peeling. Turn the box over and check the manufacturing stamp. Some desired labels are “Big Five”, “Little Alto”, “Kohler’s Hand Made”, “Tomahawk”, “Big Wolf” and “Robt. Burns”.
If you already own a vintage box, an experienced appraiser or antique dealer can help you determine your box’s worth. Keep in mind, however, if the dealer shows an interest in purchasing it, he may be giving you an appraisal below the actual value of your collector item.
How to Find a Collectible Cigar Box!
Part of the fun of collecting is the search for the prize. Yard sells, second hand stores, flea markets and veteran’s benefit second hand sales are a good place to start. Since a lot of the elderly veterans have spent time overseas, they often come home with old cigar boxes from other countries. Another place to try would be antique shops that don’t receive a lot of attention from the general crowd; those small, cluttered places with a hodge-podge of just about everything on earth. Popular, well-organized antique stores generally know exactly the value of what they have and will sometimes even place a higher price tag, knowing a customer will pay the price.
Online auctions are not really the best place to give a shot at starting your collection. Bidding is competitive, and can sometimes become ferocious, with bidders for whom price is no objective. The one advantage to checking online auctions, however, is you’ll develop a good idea of how much your collectible is worth, and this can help you in determining a firm price beyond recovering your costs.The Big Prize
A really lucky find is a cigar box that pre-dates the Civil War. The boxes at that time were perfectly square. The cigars were inserted vertically instead of horizontally, and the lid was nailed shut. These vintage cigar boxes are rare, coveted among collectors and will be a complimentary touch to any collection.
Once you become involved in the collection of vintage cigar boxes, you’ll be amazed at the variety and craftsmanship involved. Some have plush, leather compartments. Some are solid wood chests. Some were even made into the shape of a guitar. Many were covered with elaborate and gorgeous artwork or design. If you don’t like the idea of keeping empty boxes, they still remain the perfect place for your keepsakes; or for your cigars.