Cigar boxes keep cigars fresh and help them maintain their flavor over a longer period of time. Although modern cigar boxes can be made out of a variety of materials, including cardboard, antique cigar boxes are almost always constructed entirely out of wood. These vintage boxes make ideal holiday gifts or can help you complete your collection.
Determining the Value of a Vintage Cigar Box
Like most collectible items, the value of a given cigar box rests at least partially on its condition. Your goal when buying cigar boxes strictly for their monetary value should be to purchase boxes that lack mold, water damage or chipped pieces. Inspect each box carefully for signs of damage or misuse before making your purchase, as antiques are often not refundable. Perform the following inspections of the cigar case before making your purchase:
- Evaluate the interior condition of the wood or felt
- Check for fading
- Examine the label for signs of peeling
- Check the bottom of the box for manufacture stamps
An experienced collector or reputable antiques appraiser in your area should be able to give you an estimate of your cigar box’s value. Keep in mind, however, that if the individual shows interest in purchasing your cigar box, he may have incentive to appraise the case for less than its actual value in the interest of making a deal.
Where to Find Antique Cigar Boxes
By far one of the best places to find antique cigar boxes is at a yard sale given by your local veteran’s organization. Veteran’s organizations are often comprised of elderly individuals who performed military service overseas and may have purchased and brought home old cigar boxes from other countries. Other places to find valuable and collectible cigar boxes include:
- Small antique shops
- Flea markets
- Church yard sales
- Estate sales
The best antique shops to scour for vintage cigar boxes are those “hole-in-the-wall” places that aren’t frequented by tourists or big-city collectors. Popular antique stores are quickly picked over and you’re unlikely to find valuable cigar cases to add to your collection when competing with other collectors.
Online Auction Listings and Valuable Cigar Boxes
If you’re a novice collector, you may be tempted to begin your search by browsing online auction listings. Unfortunately, you’re unlikely to find a good deal on vintage cases online. The competition for online auction listings is fiercer than that of the most popular antique store. You’ll naturally find yourself competing with buyers for whom price is no object, and bargaining isn’t a feature most online auctions offer.
The benefit of browsing online auction listings for antique smoking memorabilia, however, is that the price a vintage cigar case sells for gives you a rough idea of how much the box will fetch on the open market.
Pre-Civil War Cigar Boxes
If you’re particularly lucky, you can find unconventional cigar boxes that pre-date the Civil War. Unlike the standard cigar box, these cigar boxes were perfect squares. Cigars were inserted vertically, rather than horizontally, into the box and the manufacturer subsequently nailed the lid shut. A pre-Civil war cigar box in good condition commands a high value among seasoned collectors.
Other Collectible Cigar Smoking Accessories
Even if your collecting preference is primarily geared to antique cigar cases, you may also enjoy collecting other vintage smoking accessories such as:
- Cigar box labels
- Cigar cutters
- Vintage lighters
- Cigar jars
Storing Your Cigar Case Collection
After establishing your collection, properly storing it ensures that it will remain in good condition for many years to come. If you display your antique cigar boxes, place them in a dry area away from the ground – especially if you have children or pets. Clear gun cases can be modified to showcase your cigar box collection and are equipped with locks to protect your cases from theft and damage. Never store your cigar boxes in a damp basement or public storage facility. Damage from mold and pests can destroy the value of a beautiful antique cigar box.
Note: The term “cigar case” can also refer to cylindrical cases for transporting individual cigars.