I met Chuck Tuthill by mail in 1980 when he ordered a copy of my Handbook of American Cigar Boxes.  Chuck lived in Denver and was an avid collector of cigar boxes from Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and the Dakotas. For the next 25 years Chuck and I traded boxes, photos, photocopies and stories. In the late 1980’s he briefly visited me in California.

        In early 2006 Chuck passed away at age 61, reminding us of life’s fragility and the need to discuss problems with your doctor. He will be missed by a lot of people. His collection, for the most part, will become public.

        Chuck owned an amazing 125+ boxes from Colorado (bequeathed to the Denver Historical Society). His equally large collections from Kansas and Nebraska were given to their respective State Historical Societies. I was surprised to learn that I was the recipient of the rest of his boxes, which were generously packed and delivered in person by his brother John and his wife. 

        Opening about 25 cartons filled with stuff you collect sends a buzz up your spine. Thank you Chuck and John for the thrill. As you can imagine, I found some common items, some pretty good items, and a handful of great rare historical pieces.

       The latter included boxes from states with comparatively few cigar factories, especially Wyoming, Utah, Oklahoma Territory, Washington and Dakota Territory. Chuck’s collection of cigarillo boxes tripled mine. A half dozen unusual Cuban vitolas from the 1950’s were a nice discovery.  Among a couple dozen boxes picturing long forgotten thespians were a half dozen gems I’m delighted to get.

        It would be tough to say what was the single best box, as there are so many reasons why a box might be desirable. How do you compare a one-of-a-kind plain label box from a one man factory in 1900 Oklahoma Territory with a 1905 box labeled with a bucking bronco painting used by a small town Wyoming roller? Where would you rank a photographic vanity from 1904 picturing toddler triplets rolling and boxing cigars? What about an 1870’s book box that’s very different in style from any of the 100+ I’ve owned? And I haven’t described my favorite yet.

        I’m pleased to share a few of the best of Chuck’s collection with the world, the same as I hope the three historical societies do.


Chuck Tuthill’s Collection

a selection