There's a certain romance to cigar labels and cigar boxes and it has to do in part with changeless branding. Lots of cigar boxes look almost exactly the way they did a hundred years ago, and that's just the way we want it. I've always loved cigar boxes, so I was delighted some years back to be commissioned to paint one for Montesino.
The label went through many tracings and approvals, so when it was finished, the client had no real surprises. In fact, the client's only request was to change the man's hair. A strange thing to pick at, I thought, but that was easy enough to do. I repainted the hair. Back came the painting again with the message that the client didn't like the hair. By now I was both perplexed and perturbed! "Who is this person who keeps changing the hair!" I said. The art director explained that it was the president of the company. "Do you have a photograph of him?" I asked. The art director produced a glossy brochure with a photograph of the president. I painted the president's hair onto the painting just as it was in the photograph, and turned in the painting one final time. Later the art director told me that the unsuspecting president looked at his own head of hair and said, "Now, that's exactly what a cigarmaker should look like!"
As I was preparing this posting, I realized that I own quite a few cigar boxes. I've never smoked and I don't consciously collect cigar boxes, but I'm certainly drawn to them. Here are several that I especially enjoy:
A coworker from long ago found this in an abandoned house
and gifted me. I use it for all my colored pencils.
This is a faux cigar box, with a montage of old cigar labels.
It also houses art supplies.
My mother treasured this box and used it for stamps.
It's the size of a cigar box but it held fancy cigarettes.
On the Little Dutch box, Rip Van Winkle wakes up
after all those years and immediately reaches for a cigar.
This lovely box is English, and dates to the 1880s.
And I saved one of my favorites for last.
It looks like wood, but it's tin!