Antique Detective: Variety of Collectibles for Cigar Smokers

By Anne Gilbert
   You can spend a little or you can spend a lot on objects made for cigar smokers. They offer a history of changes in cigar manufacturing and accessories. For example in their beginning many different items were needed before a cigar could be smoked. Manufacturers didn’t make cigars with both ends open. A bit of the sealed end had to be removed so the smoker could draw smoke into his mouth when the other end was lighted. The problem was solved with a cigar cutter. They and lighters were provided at tobacco store counters. For individual use there were match safes to hold matches. As popularity of cigar smoking grew, so did ways to keep home cigars from drying out. The result was a variety of home humidors, from wooden boxes to elegant cabinets on stands. Inside the cabinets were sliding trays to hold the cigars. Scarce are tobacco store counter top Indian figures. Prices can run in the thousands.
   CLUES-It is still possible to build a collection of cigar cutters, both those made for counter and individual use. Categories also include advertising cutters and those made as jewelry. Also collectible are those in figural forms.
   Most common were the scissors-type that were gold or silver-plated. Some so tiny they could be used as charms.
   Rare and costly are mechanical cigar cutters used in tobacco stores around the turn-of-the-century. They were made with blades that “snapped” around quickly when the tips of cigars were put into the openings. Many were colorfully decorated with advertising. Metal wind-up cutters sometimes resembled mechanical banks, performing a couple of steps with a figure biting off the cigar tip. Sadly many of these metal cutters ended up as scrap or were melted down during World War 1. The more movements they performed the more expensive. A cast iron figure of a burro that is activated with a base lever to move ears and tail can sell at auction for over $1,000. A simple pocket knife figural could be priced for as little as $75.
   One of the most unique cigar cutters documented as the “King Alfred.” It was 13” high and held a Waterbury clock.
   Other collecting possibilities include cigar boxes with colorful lithographed scenes and exotic ladies. Around the early 20th century cigar bands were such popular collectibles that special albums were made for them. Other times bands were used as decoupage to cover small tables, ashtrays. Anything goes as long as it doesn’t go up in smoke.
   PHOTO CAPTION (1) Antique sterling eagle cigar cutter PHOTO CREDIT: Cowans Auctions PHOTO CAPTION: (2) Antique “Tobacco Girl” tobacco tin PHOTO CREDIT:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *