We’ll talk about their history and creation, and how they have changed throughout the years. Whether you are a box collector or a casual smoker, knowing the rich history of your favorite past-time will help you enjoy your smokes more. So sit back and relax and get ready to think outside the box.
Today, cigar manufacturers have so many ways to get their name out there, it is almost overwhelming. They can host events and pow-wows (see what I did there?), advertise in mailers, on the radio and television, in newspapers and magazines. They can post a blog, have reviews written, create websites, blab on and on about it on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets. Hell, some even take to YouTube to try and create viral videos. It’s never-ending and sometimes it’s even over saturated.
Cigar humidor history is vast and somewhat complex – there are many different types of boxes, and their importance in history is debatable amongst historians of the topic. In the following paragraphs, I will be highlighting the ones that I think are the most interesting – not necessarily the ones that were the most important.
If you are a historian or amateur hobbyist of cigar humidor lore, drop us some lines in the comment section – we would love to hear your take, or feel free to start a thread over in our forums.
The Nailed Wood cigar humidors
The Nailed Wood cigar humidor – also referred to as NW for obvious reasons – is probably the most popular and common of all the cigar humidor ever created. It has been in use for over 200 years and is a pretty simple construct – a few pieces of wood (6 in total), 14 nails, and a hinge. The end.
The most common of these boxes stored 50 cigars, stacked four on top of each other in rows of 13. They could also be found in the 25 size, with the depth being divided by two. Obviously the math does not quite add up – you would end up short two cigars one the 50 box for instance – so box makers would just use a wooden block to make up the space.
The Nailed Wood with Hardware cigar humidors
Abbreviated as NWH, the Nailed Wood with Hardware cigar humidor are pretty similar to nailed wood boxes, but there are a few differences. For starters, NW cases usually have paper labels that act as trimming and edging. NWH boxes, meanwhile, do not. Instead, the company name is printed on the box itself.The hinge types on NWH differ from NW boxes too, and some even feature a clasp. These types of boxes ran from around 1880 through 1930.
Assortment cigar humidors
This is sort of a catch-all phrase for cigar humidor that hold stogies of varying shapes and sizes of one particular brand of cigar. It first appeared near the end of the 1800s and usually are given as a gift or sampler set.
Novelty cigar humidors
Perhaps my most favorite box due to their unique character and style, the “novelties” are a group of boxes from around 1880 that were made to look like anything other than a box. Common shapes included vehicles, houses, barrels, and even giant cigars or wine bottles. In some instances, novelty boxes even had a purpose beyond storing cigars, such as acting as a piggy bank or chess set.
Tin Novelty humidors
Similar to wooden novelty boxes, tin novelty boxes mimicked their cousins, only they were – of course – made of tin material. They were popular because you could use them for other purposes after your cigars were all smoked up, such as holding change, candy, nails, nuts, bolts, and other such items.
I would be remiss if I left out the Tin cigar humidor. The name itself is a little misleading, as there is more than one type of “tin cigar humidor”. In 1870, a law was passed allowing manufacturers to use tin instead of just wooden boxes. These boxes had their disadvantages, as they tended to rust out and break easily. They also, to me, just aren’t as pretty or full of character as some of the other boxes I’ve mentioned, though in truth, they do have a sort of nostalgic feel to them that remind me of my grandfather.
Another type of tin storage unit, was the tin can. They can in a variety of different shapes and sizes, including round, square, upright, oval, and rectangular. Some had paper labels, while other used lithography. They were a cheaper alternative to wood boxes, and were in fashion between 1910 on up to 1960 or so.
Cardboard cigar humidors
One of the earliest types of cigar humidor is the cardboard box. First popping its head up in the mid 1800s, cardboard was cheaper and did not weigh as much as wooden boxes. Interestingly enough, early cardboard boxes were actually nailed together, like their wooden brethren. Cardboard boxes were also easy to print on, but did not hold up as well as wooden or tin packaging.
Glass cigar humidors
Glass is another common packaging material for cigars that also began around the mid 1800s. To call them boxes is not always accurate, though there are certainly examples of that type. They also came in chests and jars. These are some of the most beautiful packaging for cigars, though not a lot of them survived intact, as they were frequently dropped or knocked over or used for other purposes and eventually tossed aside.