The 1930’s were tough times for the cigar industry. For the preceding decades, hand rolled cigars costing a dime or more outsold cheaper goods by a wide margin. More than 30,000 small factories had been located in every American town of consequence provided prosperous smokers with an unbelievable array of choices of sizes, shapes and blends. Three things changed that. Machines capable of automatically cranking out huge quantities of cheap cigars first appeared in 1917 and took over the industry during the 1920’s. About that same time Camels and other modern blended cigarettes addicted the soldiers of WWI and prohibition reared its ugly head. Those disasters were followed by the stock market crash of 1929 ending decades of free spending.
    More than 90% of cigars in the 1920’s sold for more than 5¢, but with businesses failing and massive unemployment, costly smokes were no longer affordable in the 1930’s. Cigarettes and cheap cigars dominated the market during the decade of economic depression. Sale of cigars by the box plummeted. In an effort to revive, or at least increase, by-the-box sales a goodly number of cigar makers and sellers returned to the 50 year old tradition of novelty packaging, but with a twist. Previously novelty packaging was designed to appeal to the men who smoked the cigars. Novelties of the 1930’s were designed to appeal to their wives and sweethearts.  
    “Look dear. See the nice box I bought you.”  Now you can see too.
Novelties of the 1930’s
A National Cigar Museum Exhibit
 (c) Tony Hyman
EL SATISFACTO red cedar novelty, 1935.  
Factory 1339, 1st PA. Note placement of
tax stamp so as not to interfere with design.
Interior of previous 50/10 box.
These red cedar boxes were the most popular
 wooden novelties of the depression era.
Lots of variations exist.
Same box design packed with same cigars
under a different brand name. Collar missing.
Fact. 1339, 1st PA, 1935.
Buy a cigar, select a girl’s name, write your own on
the blank. When box empty, the red seal is broken revealing who wins the cedar box. If someone opted not to write his name, the retailer could illegally add a cigar to the box.  [3366]
Fact/ 1385, 1st PA 1930’s. Technically
it’s a BN box. Separate padlock and key.
Interior label of the 1930’s box is in a much
earlier turn-of-the-century style.
Differently decorated red cedar chest with padlock.
Fact. 370, 12th PA,  1930’s.
One of the most elaborate and unusual of the cedar
chest boxes of the 1930’s. HUDSON’S TREASURE CHEST has thin copper trim and originally came
with a key. Fact. 304, 1st Ohio. A die-cut galleon
decorates the top.  [9867]
One of many types of small padlocks.
Lovely art deco box from the 1930’s meant to
be given to wife or girl friend when emptied.
Label was originally attached lightly to a mirror inside.  Fact. 777, 1st PA.
Another nameless brand in deco designed box. Mirror inside. “I bought this full of cigars in 1923 when my wife and I were first married in Chicago.”
Fact. 1171, 1st PA, Yes, the decal is original. Came with a padlock.  [3383]
Unusual pair of 25/5’s, each with a mirror for an
inside lid. Unusual joining of two boxes on a base was “Patent applied for” by John Olp in
Jacobus, PA, 1930’s.  Fact. 1514, 1st PA.
Stylish 1930’s Canadian box filled with cigars in Fact. 38, IRD 10D. “Design Registered.”
Decal is original to box. Snap catch, not lockable.
Un-named brand made in Fact. 404, 2nd NYC,
probably late 1930’s. Very unusual style.
Packed 20/10.
Routered box from Fact. 50, 1st PA. with collar
and machine stapled hinge. Late 1930’s.
Unusually elaborate 100/20 box from the 1930’s
with colored medallion inset in top center.
Cigars from Fact. 76, 1st PA. Mirror inner.
Unusually elaborately decorated wooden 100/17 box used by Fact. 64, 1st PA in 1930’s. Condition less than perfect on all that have been found so far.
Key lockable. Combination die-cut and
router work on top.