This exhibit gives you an intimate look at the story of women in advertising, focussing on the “Early Golden-Age”  (1878 - 1892). was a revolutionary time in the portrayal of women. During this decade, advertising began to feature women of all social classes from the President’s bride to public laundresses. 
Ads featured women of all levels of accomplishment, from growing big boobs to achieving great artistic feats. There aren’t many of the latter, though, as “the proper role of women” remained highly restricted, in advertising and real life, until the social revolution of the 1960’s.

        This exhibit deliberately gives a lopsided view of sexuality and nudity on cigar labels because this decade featured more nude, more semi-nude, more suggestive and provocative women on cigar boxes than at any other time in advertising history.

       Prior to the 1880’s, nudes were typically allegorical, sex was barely hinted at, and women tended to be demure, reserved, relegated to highly defined roles, either family or the arts.  Cigar box women were typically formal, static, and printed in black and white. In contrast, women of the 1880’s were vibrant in color and design, showing sex appeal, fortitude, and previously unseen variety of pose, dress, locale, and attitude. They weren’t completely liberated, but they were on their way.

        Although a few boxes are identified as “Curator’s favorites,” a good many more could qualify. This period, with its sexy and accomplished ladies, are among my favorite mini-collections.


Ladies of the Eighties

Sex Rears its Lovely Head;

Women on Early Golden-Age cigar boxes

A National Cigar History Museum Exclusive

© Tony Hyman

Uploaded: October, 2008

Continually updated, last Aug 12, 2011

Home        Advertising Themes