Everything you need to identify and date your cigar box is in those links to the left. 

    Everything I know about those topics is there.

     I have answered live questions in newspapers, magazines, radio, tele-vision & live performance since 1980.

    I regret I am 76, very busy writing, have no staff, no money, no time, and my reference books are rare, fragile and expensive.

        Distinct Box-Style periods exist but are of little use in dating a box.

       As an example, based on hundreds of surviving boxes, 1860’s Style boxes are used between the Civil War and the 1876 Centennial, but still by a handful of factories as late as 1890.  1870’s Style boxes were used throughout the 1870s and 1880s, but three prominent cigar makers used 1870’s Style labels into the 1940s. 

    From its very beginning, the U.S. cigar industry has been too large and too diverse to permit definitive statements about much. By a fortunate set of circumstances, the Style Periods somewhat parallel changes in Federal tax law, making it possible to date boxes, whether they are style anomalies or not.

        Trends and styles referred to in the text are observational, based on owning, handling, photographing and cataloging many thousands of cigar boxes during the 60+ years I’ve been collecting. They are my opinions, logical deductions, extrapolations, and reporting.

I am at work while you read this workingon the story of boxes. I have 4 of the following periods complete and all others underway.

I have too many pictures to choose from.

ONE  1762 War comes to Havana.

        1762-1862  Early US Cigar Boxes.

The beginning. Little choice in packaging. Boxes of 1000 cigars standard for trade,

of 25 and 100 for smokers.

        1820-1868  Cuban Boxes & Labels.

Huge world demand for cigars puts pressure on for consumer-size cigar boxes w/ labels.

         1863-1878  U.S. boxes of 1860s & 70s.

US Government imposes rules for box size and material. Elaborate themes & pictures developed without advertising or packaging experience or precedent, similar to what Cubans faced in 1840.

         1878  Novelty boxes. design revolution unlike before or since. Reusables popular.

         1880  Ladies of the 1880s.

A decade of soft pastels, pretty girls and unlimited imagination.

         1878-1915  Golden Age of bad ideas.

Huge numbers of gilded and embossed labels on boxes. Plenty plain ones too.

         1916-1931 Machine Age boxes. Machines. Simpler label design; national brands; fewer companies, factories, and brands; cellophane.

         1932-1941  Depression boxes.

Death of small companies & brands; price drops.Creative novelty boxes.

        1942-1962  WWII & beyond boxes. All-machine-made box. 1962, the embargo ends a spectacular 100 years.

         1962-2012  “Modern” boxes.

A brief  acknowledgement.   

        I believe you’ll find the differences in Style Periods so great that, with a little practice, you will tell from across a room what period a box is from and approximately when it was  made.


How to Date Cigar Boxes

History of Cigar Boxes in the U.S.

Hyman’s Cigar History Museum Exclusive 

© Tony Hyman, all rights reserved


Last addition: August, 2015. More to come.

      18 Open Exhibits

23 Types of Cigar Box

A quick overview


Dating Cigar Boxes

Everything you need


Wooden Boxes

All types


Hinges & Clasps

For all types of boxes


Boxes w/Photo Labels

Called “vanity labels”


Tin Boxes

All types


Boxes Made of Metal

Chrome aluminum silver


Cardboard Boxes

All types


Plastic Boxes

All types


Glass Jars & Boxes

Since the 1850s



Cigars stand on end


Novelty Boxes

All periods


Cuban Boxes

A sampler


Cuban Chests & Inlay

All types


Box Patents

All types


Full Boxes

All periods


Cigar Box Wood

Cedar or not cedar


2B Written

A to Z


The Perfect Package

What is it?



All, to varying extent

Boxes: 1762-1862

Early years

Boxes: 1863-1878

Pre  Golden Age

Boxes: 1878-1883



Boxes: 1878-1892

Early Golden Age

Boxes: 1892-1915

Golden Age

Boxes: 1916-1942

Machine Age

Boxes: 1932-1941

The Depression

Boxes: 1942-1962

World War II & Beyond

Small boxes: 1892-1962

5s, 10s, 12s, and 13s

Boxes: 1963-2010


This is a greatly expanded in-color version of my 1979 book on boxes.
  I hope you find it useful.


Museum HOME        Cigar History         Cigar Box History       

Dating Boxes