Uprights are a distinct form of packaging in which cigars stand on end instead of laying flat. The vast majority of uprights are made of tin or glass but you can find them made of plastic, pottery, porcelain, pewter, brass, aluminum, silver-plate, foil and, of course, wood. Uprights have been around since the 1700s when the first barrels and cabinets were packed with cigars standing on end. Consumer size uprights pre-date our Civil War.

    Cigarmakers like uprights; retailers don’t.  Non standard upright shapes have never packed well into shelves or cigar cases already filled with relatively uniform rectangular boxes.  Even when an upright  fit into the cigar case, the ad copy was hidden by the open lids of the boxes surrounding it.

    Another disadvantage is that cigars that stand on end cannot be easily seen by customers, and cigar smokers are notoriously fussy about selecting their own cigar from a box.  This meant a lot of extra package handling by clerks.

    One box maker put it, “Uprights are so hard to use inside a cigar case -- they’ve got so many disadvantages -- that retailers are practically forced to display them on top of the counter, up front, where they’ll get seen.”  That, of course, was why cigarmakers loved them.  Retailers quickly learned the value of top counter for impulse items, so only the best selling cigars could hold that position.

    Not all uprights were created for retail display. Many were designed to appeal to gift givers, or simply smokers who liked a pretty package. Whatever the market the goal of the package was to sell the package.

    How many different ways can you pack a cigar standing on end?  Man is incredibly creative.

On End: Uprights 1850-2000

A National Cigar History Museum Exclusive

© Tony Hyman

Addition: October 7, 2010

Two additions: January 30, 2011

Addition: June 12, 2011

Addition: July 29, 2011

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