The Cigar Label Salesman and His Books

cigar salesman

As the public demand for cigars increased so did the interest in cigar label art.  By the early 1880’s, most of the cigar label production had shifted from small towns to large printing firms on the east coast such as: Louis E. Newman , O.L. Schwencke, and Heppenheimer & Mauer. It soon became apparent they would have to hire salesmen to not only show there products but also seduce a cigar maker into the themes of their labels.  Hence was born the Cigar Box Label Salesman.

sample book 1At the same time, small catalogues or Sample Books were created to display the variety of label themes available.

Each Sample label would list each type of label, their prices, and the minimum order number. With many themes to choose from the cigar maker could uniquely tailor a brand of cigar that would attract repeat customers. Most of these labels were either stock labels or labels that could be created upon receiving an order.

A  label salesman, who may have represented several companies, would carry several books of sample labels. These oblong books were merely a stack of one printer’s samples bound on the left side. Paper-bound books would have eight to 10 sample labels, while the hardbound copies could contain 100 to 200 sample labels

sAmple image3New brands of labels were created somewhat haphazardly. Larger cigar manufacturers were able to order many different themes, buying lots of up to 100,000 labels, but smaller cigar makers could only afford a simple, two or three color label or a stock pictorial label that was printed in large lots with no brand name.

sample label2

stock label

Hotels across America catered to salesmen. These picture of salesmen and the hotel letter heads were found in the files of one cigar company.

cigar salesmencigar hotels


2 Responses to “The Cigar Label Salesman and His Books”

  1. Elaine Younce Says:

    I have a collection of labels from an old Salesman Sample book. I woul like to sell them.

    • Elaine Younce Says:

      The labels are O L Schwencke. I have about 35 or 40 pages with two labels on each page, an inner and an outer. They are still on the paper that was in the book. We have not had them graded. I am looking for a buyer. I can E mail pictures.

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