Sparkle and Pin Ash The HD of Cigar Labels

As the 1890’s rolled around, lithographers were experimenting with various metallics, and with advent of heavy duty presses embossing was used to make their products stand out more. The idea was to go from a 2 dimensional to 3 dimensional look, sort of the “high definition” of the day. In the United States most lithographers used bronze flakes that were applied to the dies and heavily pressed into to paper.  While in Europe they added 24kt gold dust to get a shinier gold appearance. Embossing gave the labels added dimension and realism. In fact, gold embossed coinage imagery found on some stone chromo litho cigar art labels far exceed the detail of any gold, copper, or silver coin ever made.

The overall visual effect was amazing, with the bronze appearing like heavy medal applied to the image. It gave ornaments such as jewelry, coins, and emblems an extra pin ash that mad them jump off the paper. Cigar makers were thrilled with the new look and paid extra to get the all important “edge” in attracting the customer.  This was truly and literally the Golden Era of cigar labels!

Embossing also had an unintended effect for the longevity of surviving labels. Most of the early labels were printed on inexpensive, short-fiber paper discolored and became brittle over time. Embossed labels, on the other hand, required the use of high quality long-fiber rag-stock paper. The fibers stretched rather than breaking under the pressure of presses.

Bendable and flexible without chipping or cracking, this paper is not found in use anywhere else from any other time period. Labels printed over 100 years ago still remain clean and bright with no signs of aging. Such art, unlike a typical Norman Rockwell print, is a hand made original, and therefore, very collectible.


One Response to “Sparkle and Pin Ash The HD of Cigar Labels”

  1. Steve King Says:

    I really enjoy the quality information you offer to your visitors Will be back often to check up on new stuff you post!

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