Keep your cigars fresh inside cigar boxes
In 1863, to help finance the Civil War, U.S. law first required that cigars must be packed in a cigar manufacturer cigar box. Between 1800 and 1960, most cigar boxes were wooden, but not all cigar boxes have been made out of wood. Some cigar boxes were made of materials as diverse as tin, glass, pewter, brass, china, silver plate and even palm leaves.
Today's cigar boxes are commonly made of wood or pressed cardboard.
The Collectible Cigar Box
Cigar boxes are a popular collector's item. Some typical collectible cigar box styles include:
- The Cabinet Selection – a wooden cigar box with a sliding top. It typically holds 25 or 50 cigars.
- The Eight-Nine-Eight – a round-sided wooden cigar box that holds 25 cigars in three layers: eight cigars on the top layer, nine in the middle and eight on the bottom.
- The Flat Top – a flat rectangular cigar box that holds 25 cigars in two layers: 13 on top and 12 on the bottom. The layers are separated by a small block of (typically) Spanish cedar wood that helps keep the cigars fresh.
The Antique Cigar Box
There are many collectors of the antique cigar box, as well. They include collectors of antique cigar box art labels and collectors of cigar box tax revenue stamps.
The most common antique cigar box is of the Nailed Wood variety, which is simply 6 pieces of wood, 14 nails and a muslin hinge. There are also novelty antique cigar boxes with unusual shapes – anything from log cabins to delivery trucks.
Among highly collectible cigar boxes is the Cuban Chest, a deluxe wooden cigar box made for the rich. With its inlaid carved wood and monogrammed lid, this is more like a humidor than a cigar box.
For collectors, the value of a cigar box's label art depends on the rarity and condition of the art, as well as the age of the cigar box and the label's printing process. Some of the most collectible cigar box labels were produced by a rare stone lithography process that used up to 10 different lithography stones for multiple printing colors. There have been examples of collectible cigar box label art so elaborate that gold leaf or gold dust was incorporated into the art paper.
The Cigar Box Purse
A cigar box isn't just for collectors and cigar aficionados. Cigar box purses have become a fashion trend as well as a craft trend for do-it-yourselfers.
There's also a trend in the world of musicians: the revival of the Lowebow, an old-fashioned country blues guitar made from a cigar box.
Cigar Storage Tips
Of course, rather than collecting cigar boxes, you may be using them to actually store cigars. Here are some storage tips for keeping cigars fresh:
- Keep your cigars at a moderate temperature – 68-70 F is recommended. Avoid temperatures over 75 F.
- Rotate the cigars through the box – move top cigars to the bottom and bottom cigars to the top every so often for optimum freshness.
- Take the cello tubes off. (This is controversial, but most experts find cigars accept humidity better out of their cello tubes.)
- Maintain moderate humidity (68-70 percent relative humidity) to keep cigars from getting soggy or drying out. Dried out cigars can be revived by placing them in a re-sealable plastic bag with a slightly damp sponge. Make sure to leave a little air in the bag when sealing. Allow several days for rejuvenation; it may even take weeks.
Written by Elliot Feldman