Christmas and The Cigar Label

Ahh, once again we find ourselves in the Holiday Season, that very special time of year for gift giving and celebration.

This may be a surprise to most of you but Cigars appear to have been the first widely available commercial product to create special packaging for the holidays.  Displaying the “Holiday Season” theme on a cigar box labels was an ideal way for Cigar manufactures to push cigars as a great gift idea. Each year, from 1880 to 1920, during the eight week holiday season, millions of cigar were sold. A presents of a box of cigars was an appropriate gift from a son to his father, wife to her husband, a worker to his boss, nephew to an uncle, or a student to their mentors.

The earliest known Christmas theme appeared on a cigar box label around 1860.  By 1900 shoppers would have hundreds of brands, prices and package designs from which to choose. Christmas labels were appropriately covered with Santas and elves, and others showed women and children giving boxes of cigars as gifts. A New Year’s motif included scenes of drinking, dancing, merriment, and celebration. Carried as printer stock labels, they bore phrases such as “Merry Christmas,” “Season’s Greetings,” “Happy New Year,” and “Compliments of the Season.”

Because they were associated with pleasant memories, Christmas cigar box labels were kept as keepsakes. Today, many still survive in excellent condition and are avidly sought by collectors of advertising, and tobacco collectibles.