The Politics of Cigar Box Labels

Political campaigns of the late 1800’s were exciting times for the public, politicians and cigar makers; very different then today’s planned TV ad’s and debates. At no other time was the citizen’s interest in elections and politics more passionate; with more then eighty percent of all eligible voters actually voting for local and national candidates. The basic campaign strategy was the maximum mobilization of potential votes. The candidates kicked off their campaigns by first notifying the public through the use of printed paper including: newspapers, posters, handbills, and cigar labels

The Politician’s image on cigar labels made money for the cigar makers. Most politicians smoked cigars and most debated in public forums. The candidates association with the cigar makers suggested that they intended to support and endorse pro tobacco legislation.


Usually, portraits of political party candidate’s  and their  names were prominently displayed . Hayes, Garfield, Arthur, and Harrison perfectly fit the image of the cigar smoker.

This is considered one of the first Lincoln political labels. Lincoln frequently appeared on cigar labels during the 19th century.

Grover Cleveland, elected in 1884, was the first Democratic presidential candidate to win office since James Buchanan in 1856.

The election of 1888 is a famous one in cigar circles as no other election in history generated more cigar brands and a greater variety of cigar box labels.

McKinley, though popular in his day, is probably best remembered now as the president whose assassination elevated Theodore Roosevelt, his vice president, to the White House.

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