I am absolutely delighted to be able to bring this Exhibit to you, and can do so only because of the sharp eye of tobacciana dealer Pete Lingg in the Netherlands who found this treasure of a collection and made it available to me.

        Cigar bags are an early invention, created to assist dealer and smoker in transactions involving 2, 3, 4 or 5 cigars. Long before cardboard 5-packs became a standard marketing-packaging tool (1910 in the U.S.; unknown date in Europe) the temporary carrying of small quantities of cigars loose in a coat or shirt pocket was an invitation to disaster as they jiggled, tumbled and abraded ... frequently damaging the wrapper. Bags could be twisted to hold cigars firm, reducing that problem.

        The use of paper bags thus enabled the retailer to encourage purchase of more than one cigar and to facilitate the safe handling of multiple cigars as they were being selected.

        U.S. bags differ substantially from those seen here. Though a few surviving U.S. samples date to the post Civil War, about when bags were introduced into everyday commerce, most examples date from the Golden Age, 1880-1916. These European bags appear to be much older, perhaps dating to the European cigar boom in the second quarter of the 19th century. Certainly the paper is a lighter and older style, the construction details suggest these were hand folded and the simple, somewhat crude woodcuts appear to predate the widespread use of commercial lithography. The date of their use is, however, unconfirmed.

        The use of rebus and other puzzles is consistent with the literature, which refers as early as 1815 to tobacconists giving puzzles and riddles with cigar purchases to encourage the smoker to return. One puzzling element of these bags is the absence of two-sided printing to identify the brand of cigar, the cigar maker, or the retailer. Only two of the examples of this collection are printed on both sides, while another two carry a rubber stamp of the type popular mid-century on the reverse.

        Their condition leads to the conclusion the collection was picked up off the street, probably by a child or youth. If these were collected in a large city, it’s possible this group was assembled in a single weekend.

        These were all photographed identically so that size differences reflect  differences in the size of the bags. The bags are typically between 5 and 6 inches tall and 3 and a half to 4 inches wide.


Cigar Bags of Holland

Early small purchase packaging

Hyman’s Cigar History Museum Exclusive 

Text & images © Tony Hyman, All rights reserved

Uploaded  October 15, 2012

If you are able to add information on this or any other European cigar topic, contact <Tony@CigarHistory.info>.mailto:Tony@CigarHistory.infoshapeimage_2_link_0