Nailed Wood Boxes

A National Cigar History Museum Exhibit 

© Tony Hyman



Type reset for readability: May 22, 2010

Trimmed Nailed Wood boxes

If your cigar box is plastered all over with paper labels and stickers, you probably have what the industry calls a “Nailed Wood” box that has been “trimmed.”  Trim is the generic word for all the paper labels and printed matter that adorns the standard cigar box.  Boxmakers and collectors call them NW boxes.  70% of the one TRILLION cigars made in the U.S. before 1940 were packed in more than ten BILLION trimmed Nailed Wood boxes, averaging a phenomenal one-hundred million NW cigar boxes every year for a century!  In 1914, one of the few years for which reasonably good records are available, 233,355,000 wooden cigar boxes were manufactured and used. No wonder there are so many around for collectors to enjoy.         [4280]   [4281]
 

NW  13/13


 

NW  12/12


 

NW  12/6  “salesman’s sample”
















Cigars by J.W. Gohn Cigar Co., Fact.        Cigars by United Cigar, Fact.            Cigars by J.H. Fink, Fact. 1220,
396, 9th PA (East Prospect)  1903.             1116, 3rd NYC c1905.  Cut                 1st PA  (Allentown)  c1922. Only full

Custom label. [6604]                                    down inner and flap [6613]                size inner I’ve seen on a 12.  [6675]

     NW 12/6 boxes could theoretically be packed horizontally or vertically, whereas boxes of 10 were almost always horizontal. Nearly all 12/6’s are packed vertically like these boxes. Boxes of 12 were intended by law to be salesmen’s samples, but were frequently used as retail packs since smokers demanded boxes with fewer than 25. Most salesmen’s samples used cut down inners or outers. Boxes intended as samples were more likely to use cut-down labels so retailers could see what label the larger box would have, whereas boxes of 12 intended to be sold retail would have custom labels to appeal to the smoker.  Boxes of 12 were most popular from 1900 to 1910, after which boxes of 10 dominated the market.

 

Click <here> see an exhibit of Salesmen’s Sample  boxes.

 

NW  12/4  “salesman’s sample”












GOLD STANDARD cigars by Wirth’s Cigar Co.,              LONDON WHIFFS cigars by Marcus Feder, Fact. 531,

12th PA  (Canton, PA)  with cut-down outer c1905.        18th  Ohio (15 Middle St., Cleveland) custom  c1905


        Salesman’s Sample boxes of 12 were legalized in 1891 and remained the smallest box of cigars until 1910 when 5’s and 10’s were authorized. It is possible to pack 12 cigars in a box three different ways, 12/4. 12/6, and 12/12.  In a NW 12/4 box cigars were packed horizontally (side to side), three high and four across. More often than not, the NW12/4 size box has a custom label designed to fit the small shape, tho this type box is sometimes found with cut down labels as well.

 

NW  10/5










[Left to right]

S.C.W. cigars by G.J. Johnson, Fact. 45, 4th Dist. (Grand Rapids) Illinois in 1910.

    Custom label was practical because this was a large volume brand.   [6632]

PLANTERS SMILE cigars by Z.B. Toomey, Fact. 269, 9th PA (Dover) in 1912 with

    overall lid and top oval used as an inner.   [8190]

EL DIMISCO Generals cigars by A.J. Dimming, Fact. 353, 1st PA (East Greenville) c1922

    with inset lid and outer label used as an inner.   [6636]

CLAUDY ESTELLA cigars by E.J. Sitler, Fact. 1852, 9th PA (East Prospect) c1912 with inset lid.

    Rare vertical 10 packing requires severely cut-down label used as an inner.   [6661]

        First legal in 1910, boxes of 10 cigars were an instant hit and remained popular until the 1930’s and are still around today. By far, the most common way of packing boxes of 10 was as 10/5’s. A 10/5 is packed two rows deep with 5 in the top row. The cigars can be packed side to side or front to back, but the latter is seldom seen because it made label application awkward and the short hinge was more fragile. Side to side packing with a 4” x 4” outer used as the inner label is the most common form. When large volume cigars like S.C.W. were packed in boxes of ten, it was worth the expense to have custom labels printed. The Tax Class notice printed on EL DIMISCO dates it after 1919.
 

NW 10/10

          NW 10/10 packing was most popular for 10¢ cigars from the time boxes of 10 regular size cigars were legalized in 1910 until 1930. Nailed wood 10/10 boxes are seldom seen after then as the Depression wiped out the market for 10¢ cigars during the 1930’s. In the late 1940’s (after WWII) boxes of 10 were usually made of cardboard.  These beautifully presented gold foil wrapped cigars were packed in Fact. 1195, 3rd Dist. NYC (Manhattan) in 1910, the first year possible. Foil was especially popular at Christmas time. Old timers report that as school kids they made a couple cents for each 100 cigars they hand foiled after school in the Fall. The 6.5” tapered cigars are boxed in alternate directions.    [6931]



The tiniest tax paid 10/10 houses

3/4 inch long cigars from 1930.

That’s a nickel along side it.

[4479]

 

NW 5/5

 

NW 3/3








    The smallest legal cigar box holding 3 cigars was first permitted in 1918 or 1926 (unclear). The nation’s largest user of NW 3 boxes was R.G. Sullivan who gave them to visitors and sold them with custom labels for banquets, events and tobacconists. Cigars were made in

Fact. 57 New Hampshire, 1937.


    This odd trapezoidal covered in gold paper was a Golden Anniversary gimmick given away by Eli Witt Co. at the 50th annual convention of the Florida State Pharmaceutical Association in St. Petersburg, May, 1937. Cigars were made in

Factory 174  Florida. 

[4458]


 

 

NW 1/1

    Boxes holding a single cigar are almost always oversize novelties of one sort or another and rarely NW boxes.  Nor are they legal, as no tax stamp has ever been issued in that denomination. That means boxes holding single cigars must be packed in larger boxes on which a tax stamp can be applied.

      This 9” jumbo’s cellophane wrapper is marked Broadway Special, New York Souvenir, A Fine Smoke - Mild & Mellow, Mfc. by Jose Capitaro, 1668 B’way, N.Y.C.     [4464]

 

Custom labels












        Kernels was a small Los Angeles cigar factory with 20 Latina rollers in the 1950’s. They made one type cigar, a small dark strongly favored offering selling for 7¢ nearly every-where cigars were sold in Southern California. Inside their factory was a small table top printing press cranking out monochromatic labels by the thousands, serving everyone who wanted the opportunity to offer a custom brand. In 1955, the owner gave fellow cigar box collector Howard Richards (now Esq.) a selection of labels from 200+ different custom brands under which his cigar was currently selling in similar NW 20/10 minimally trimmed boxes.  No other company is known to use a similar box.
 

Stock labels










    The major lithographers offered catalogs of stock images. More than 250,000 images have been reported, covering every possible theme: pretty girls, famous men, celebrities, animals, local scenes and events...if it could be imagined and drawn, it become a cigar label.  The stock labels found in catalogs represent only a small fraction of the brands under which cigars have been sold since every image

[left] Cigars made by Hull, Grummond & Co., a 250 roller factory (227, 21st tax district) in Binghamton, NY, for A. Ethridge &  Co., Rome, NY 1885

[right]  Cigars made by Ullman, Bloom & Co., a 115 roller factory (272, 6th tax district) in Dayton, OH, for Jno. A. Gorly & Co., St. Louis, MO 1885

could be ordered with whatever brand name, banner, maker, or other info the customer wanted. I’ve seen one Howell label on boxes with seven different names.

An estimated 2,000,000 different brands of cigars were offered.

 










[9888]

[3209]

  Cedar, redwood, pine, basswood, mahogany, fir, and more than fifty other woods have been used to make cigar boxes.  Box factories frequently offered three grades of box wood: cedar (mahogany), cheap wood veneered in 1/32” mahogany on one or both sides and cheap wood. Cedar scent was available from chemical supply houses and offered as an option by box makers since the 1860’s. In general, Nailed Wood boxes destined to be completely covered in paper were made from the cheapest available woods. The Nailed Wood box dominated the cigar industry until rising costs after WWII encouraged the use of cardboard boxes. The technique of building cardboard boxes entirely by machine (as many cigars had been for 20 years) was perfected in the late 1930’s, but WWII delayed manufacture of many machines. Cardboard reduced the cost of boxes by a third, a large amount in an industry known for its penny-pinching. The new machines could take raw card-board in one end and spit completed boxes out the other, but a goodly number of cigar companies continued to use well made, hand trimmed boxes into the 60’s and beyond.


        Cigar boxes were usually delivered from the box company to the customer by horse and buggy, train, or canal barge wrapped in brown paper bundles tied with cord. A bundle could contain any number of boxes, usually in units of 50 or 100 depending on the size of the cigar factory’s order. It was not unusual for a cigar factory to place standing orders such as “ship 5,000 every two weeks.”

 

Ordering trimmed boxes

        Cigar makers usually order trim through their box maker, tho the cigar industry is so huge that generalizations are impossible. Some bought directly from printers, others bought left-overs from failed factories. Salesmen representing cigar factories that specialized in custom brands might carry sample books of trim to show to customers, especially in the Fall when orders for Christmas packaging would be placed.  Wherever a cigar factory was located, a box maker wasn’t far away. When large numbers of cigar factories were clustered in areas like Cincinnati or the NY Finger Lakes, regional printer/box makers like F.M Howell (Elmira, NY, 1880, seen above) were established to meet demand. By 1900, more than 200 cigar box makers and label printers served the industry. Altho inexpensive labels could be (and were) printed anywhere  about 10 major printers located in NYC and Philadelphia dominated the fancy label market.


To learn more about box factories, eventually you will be able to click <here>.

To learn more about lithographers and label printing, eventually you will be able to click <here>.

 

Trim



  Trim is applied partly at the box factory and partly at

the cigar factory after the box is packed full of cigars.

Most is optional, some required by law.  Trim includes:


  1. Bullet  top brand on outside top of lid to identify brand name,

  2. Bullet  edging to cover the joints and nail heads,

  3. Bullet  inner label to attract the smoker’s eye,

  4. Bullet  outer/end label to identify the product on a shelf,

  5. Bullet  liner to prevent cigars from interacting with the wood                        on the sides and bottom,

  6. Bullet   flaps to protect the inner label from the cigars,

  7. Bullet  required factory ID  (1868-1962+)

  8. Bullet  required Caution Notice (1868-1959)  

  9. Bullet  required Tax Class Notice (1917-1962)

  10. Bullet  required Federal tax stamp.

  11. Bullet  frontmark identifying size and shape of the cigar,

  12. Bullet  color mark stamped / pasted on to note the cigars’ color,

  13. Bullet  nail tag to cover the nail which seals the box,

  14. Bullet  price stickers,

  15. Bullet  cigar bands for decoration,

  16. Bullet  banners across the inner label with ads or offers,

  17. Bullet  tags glued inside front, back or sides with ad copy,

  18. Bullet  distributors label to identify the distributor.


To learn more about these and other labels and trim,

click <here>.

 

Construction

  Nailed Wood boxes are usually made from six pieces of wood: a top, a bottom, a front and back, and two end pieces nailed with fourteen nails, four in each end and six in the bottom. The lid is hinged by a strip of muslin glued to the top and back. The hinge and joints where pieces of wood meet are usually covered with a strip of paper called edging. Nailed wood boxes have changed only once in nearly 200 years. Until the 1880’s lids rested on all four sides of a box, which allowed lids of the 1870’s to twist off, a fact lamented by today’s collectors. Box men redesigned lids so that they rested on the front and back, but were inset between the two ends, thus preventing twist. The two types of lid are today called ‘overall lids” and “inset lids.”  [9881]
 

        A major new “wing” is under construction here at Hyman’s National Cigar Museum which will feature more than 2,000 examples of the most popular 50 themes in cigar advertising, custom labels, and vanity labels used between 1860 and 1960.  Click <here> to visit.

SIZES AND SHAPES OF NAILED WOOD BOXES

      Just as there are a seemingly endless supply of different labels, Nailed Wood boxes were made

in a huge variety of sizes and shapes. One purpose of this exhibit is to introduce you to each of the standard sizes permitted by law between 1860 and 1960.  I follow box maker practice describing a box with two numbers, the number of cigars in the box and the number of cigars in the top row.

All comments regarding boxes, stamps or the law refer to the century 1860 to 1960.

NW  20/10




Sorry,

photo

unavailable.


 

 

NW  25/5

H. Westcott, Binghamton                        S. Levy, 36 Green, Albany                 Richardson & Coltman, Fact. 178,

Fact. 320, 21st New York   c1883           Fact. 515, 14th New York  c1885        11th Ohio (Shelby)  c1886


Maker unknown. Fact. 2216, 9th PA  c 1886

 

NW  25/13

















        Cigars by Chauncey M. Neff, Yoe, PA                                 Cigars by John Trask, Gloucester, Mass

        Fact. 1360,  1st Dist. PA,  c1930     [7011]                            Fact. 47, 3rd MA,  c1885     [2702]

        NW 25/13 is the most popular packing for 25 cigars after 1890.  Joining 12 cigars in the bottom row was a wooden or cardboard “block” to take the place of the 13th cigar so the two rows stacked evenly. A few boxes have blocks built into the sides of the box. The WHITE HOUSE QUEEN Perfecto sports a centered back flap and printed tissue to decorate, advertise and protect the cigars. Trays were an occasional addition to NW 25’s during the Golden Age. Labels on these two boxes are excellent examples of Machine age (1920’s-1930’s) and early Golden Age (late 1870’s-early 1880’s).
 

NW  25/8  and  NW 25/25





        25/8 is a less common shape (8 in the top row, 9 in the middle, 8 in the bottom) basically a quarter wheel bundled with a ribbon and flattened into a box. They were first referred to around 1900 but probably used earlier. They are difficult to tell from 25/5’s.


        25/25’s can be square like this 1905 BACHELOR by Milwaukee’s Victor Thorsh and also as long novelties with 25 cigars in a row. Both forms are generally seen only at the Christmas season. These odd boxes are usually SBN’s rather than Nailed Wood boxes. The Boite Nature exhibit contains one of the few long 25/25’s I’ve seen in 55 years collecting. Note the addition of hinges to an NW box to support the heavy lid.

 

NW  50/10

        NW 25/5 was the most common way to pack 25 cigars from the 1830’s until the late 1880’s. Similar in shape to an NW 12/4, these are the smallest boxes of 25, packed 5 deep and 5 across laid horizontally (side to side). NW 25/5’s tend to be 4”± across, 3”± front to back, 3”± deep. These petite 25/5 boxes are often charmers with brand names and images that emphasize their diminutive size. As with other small boxes, you’ll find them with custom printed labels that fit, as well as with trimmed inners or outers. LITTLE MASHER is unusual with its use of both.  The unnamed NWHC to the left is especially severely trimmed but still has the heart of the message.

[4447]     [4448]    [4449]

[4477]

 

NW  50/17


Cigarette-size cigars

made in Fact. 1790,

3rd NYC c1890.

[4452]


Crooks made in PA,

early 1970’s.

[7123]


        NW 50/17 is an unusual configuration used for only two types of very different cigars, the cigarette size small cigars of the 1880’s and 1890’s and Crooks. When empty, a 50/17 looks pretty much like a standard 50/13.  The most noticeable difference is the small size of the former, 5” or less compared to a standard 50/13’s 7” to 9” in width. Too, the small boxes have cigarette tax stamps as the cigars weigh less than 3# per 1,000 and were taxed at cigarette rates until 1897.
 

NW  50/50

      You can collect a lifetime and not see an NW 50/50, but if you do, it may be a SPLITS because when I paid $5 for this in 1974 the seller had a half dozen of them. This 14” x 16” NWCC with its cigar smoking red raven was not standard packing for the brand made by East Prospect Cigar Co. in Factory 3, 1st PA in the 1930’s. The powdery fluorescent blue is impractical as it shows fingerprints so must be handled carefully. The cigars pictured are from a less attractive 50/50.  [3476]
 

NW  100/10

NW  100/13


















FIRST TRIAL by Sam Sidle, West Lebanon,              THREE BLACK KIDS by Amos Swartz & Son, Dover,

Fact. 618, 18th Ohio, c1880. Early 70’s style              Fact. 2898, 9th PA, 1898. Typical cheap dropfront

with overall lid and outer label used as inner.           cigar box using inexpensive monochromatic labels.

[5802]        A curator’s favorite                                     [4382]


    Between 1800 and the 1880’s the most popular way to pack a box of 100 was 13 across front to back, 8 rows deep. More NW 100/13’s seem to have survived than any other size box made before 1885. That may not be a true reflection of how cigars were packed as 100/13’s tend to be more durable than other boxes of 100, and when empty hold bigger items and fit more conveniently on shelves, hence more likely to be kept when emptied. The fact that printers design stock labels for boxes of 13 probably played a role in the choice as well. After 1883, the 100/13 remains the most common 100, but NW 50/13’s become the most common box.

        Only a few boxes of 100 are found with dropfronts, the correct name for the split front with the drop down panel. Cigars packed in dropfront boxes can be packed lying down or standing on end. When box brand names refer to two or three of something, or quote a price for multiple cigars, it typically indicates the cigars were banded or bundled together, probably standing on end.

        Both boxes seen here have overall lids that rest on all four sides of the box, usually a sign of a box made before 1885, but required on any box with a dropfront.

        Cigars packed in a NW 100/17 are stacked 6 high as opposed to the 8 of a NW 100/13 and the two styles can be difficult to tell apart. Fortunately, no one cares. 

 

NW 100/20  “Cigarette boxes”



















KEY WEST HAVANAS made in Fact. 874, Maryland

by an unknown Baltimore maker.  c1884     [6353]


OFFICE BOUQUET was made by D.E. Rose & Co.

in Fact. 28, 2nd NYC,  c1893.  In today’s anti-smoking

climate, the idea of tobacco odor providing pleasant

bouquet for the office wouldn’t fly.   [6357]


SANCHO was made in Fact. 184, Maryland, by

Maggie Schmidt, 1443 N. Gay St. Baltimore, c1890.

[6356]

     These distinctive NW boxes of 100 are easily recognized due to their diminutive 4” x 7” ± size, approximately one inch shorter side to side and front to back, but almost the same height, as a

standard 50/13 yet (and here’s the key) they held 100 smokes and have cigarette tax stamps.

What came in these attractive packages? They are labeled in a variety of ways, cigars, cigarros

(which is Cuban for cigarettes not cigars), all-tobacco cigarettes and cigarettes; They have

cigarette tax stamps and are frequently identified as cigarettes on the Caution Notice, but none

of that means much. Labels can legally say whatever they want and small cigars and cigarettes

were taxed, hence stamped, at the same rate as long as they weighed less than 3 lbs. per 1,000. 

Boxes almost always have overall lids with contents made in New York or Maryland in the 1800’s.

 

NW 100/20  and  NW  100/25   “space hogs”


















BUCK was made by Hampden Cigar Co., Westfield, Mass.

(Fact 36, 10th Dist. MA) between 1880 and 83. The graphic

style is that of the late 1870’s,  fully explained elsewhere.        [4488]


AB FRANK’S PLANTATION by W.J. Smith, 308 Commercial St., San Francisco, in Fact. 40, 1st Dist. Calif. in mid-1880’s [4367]


PLANTATION was made by F.W. Thomas & Co. (Fact. 773, Maryland) in Baltimore in the mid 1880’s. Flap contains a complaint about other companies copying their brand.        [4368]

 

NW  50/13 

   
 

NW 100/50  &  NW  100/100  &  200/anything




Sorry,

photo

unavailable.


     Two packages you will probably never see and a third that’s almost as scarce.

    Boxes of 200 were legalized in 1879, the 1st new box size permitted since 1865. Very few boxes of 200 turn up, almost all from the 1880’s. The few I’ve seen have been very idiosyncratic, some shaped like four boxes of 50 in a square, another like two 100 boxes end to end, another as if there were two boxes of 100 side by side. The heavy cigar sales in bundles of 2, 3, 4, 5...up to 9...adds to the difficulty of deciphering how the cigars were originally packed.

 

NW  500



 

 

Wooden boxes of one-thousand, 500 and 250 were the three most common packages for cigars in international commerce prior to 1860. Tax laws of 1863 eliminated boxes of 1,000, leaving legal the “half box” of 500 and the “quarter-box” of 250.  Boxes that held 500 cigars are as fragile as they are rare so didn’t survive use or coping-saw wielders eager to build a birdhouse. In 55 years, I’ve seen only two other boxes of 500 except for the sturdy walnut SBN saloon box called PRINCESS. 

    The very desirable example at left held 3¢ cigars made in 1878 by Carney, Short & Co. of Scranton, PA (Fact. 82, 12th PA).

    That’s a 15” ruler.

[DN8825]

NW  250


















WAR EAGLE Cheroots by Roth, Bruner & Feist,

a long time maker of cheap cigars and cheroots

in Cincinnati Fact. 387, 1st Ohio, 1898. Retailers got a free box of 25 OLD GLORY Cheroots free with each box of 250 WAR EAGLE they ordered.



 

end


NCM Home            Box type overview            Wooden boxes

 

     The most common way that cigars have been purchased for the last 80 years is in packages of 5, but NW 5’s are one of the most rare boxes because a nailed wood box of 5 is so much more expensive than an easily mass produced card-board five pack.  To make wood practical the cigars packed in them have to be very expensive. Modern (post 1960) wooden 5’s are usually SBN’s.

        This box is especially rare because the top reads that the cigars inside were “manufactured by the Cigar Machine Corporation of America” and  given away at a convention or trade show to demonstrate how good machine made cigars were in 1916, the year before the first such machine was put into commercial cigar factory operation.

[4457]


       NW 12/12 is a very seldom used format, in part,

I believe, because the 13/13 was a very logical one and required less adaptation by the box factory to build.


       The 1940 Roosevelt campaign selected 12/12 for their oversize foil-wrapped give-away cigars, but it’s not clear why. Perhaps someone on the staff was triskadecaphobic.

Cigars made in Fact. 3, 1st tax District of PA by the East Prospect Cigar Co.

[6933]

     Boxes of 13 were legalized in 1891 as samples.

NW 13/13 was a more logical configuration than 12/12 since most boxes of 50 had 13 cigars in the top row so a 13/13 sample box allowed salesmen to display the cigars and inner label exactly as a full 50/13 box would look. Sounds good but today’s collectors find few 13/13’s compared to the large numbers of 12/6’s. Was the NW 13/13 not popular with salesmen or is it that a 13/13 isn’t a very useful empty box so few of them got saved, skewing the sample. All 13/13’s in the NCM collection, like this one, are made of cardboard, full, date from the 1970’s, and were gifts from cigar broker A.J. Jerry Golden.

[7085]



    A most unusual box of 13 is this standard 50 box with an insert so the box could contain only one row of cigars. Why? Alas, we didn’t ask the Hollywood tobacconist for whom it was custom made back in 1951 by Cuesta Rey & Co. in Tampa’s Factory 55.

The Series 120 13 denomination tax stamp is very rare.

[4344]

        Packing regular size cigars in boxes of 20 was legalized in 1928, and 20’s are the only boxes that have a tax stamp dated 1928. The idea seems to have been to create a one buck package for 20 5¢ cigars, but the good-sounding idea appears to have been a failure as boxes of 20 are quite scarce and I have yet to find one (other than the KERNEL’S Petite) that isn’t made of cardboard. My guess is that it was special interest legislation, tho there’s no evidence of widespread use of boxes of 20 cigars by any of the major companies.

        An NW 50/10 is a squarish box packed 10 cigars across, front to back, stacked 5 high. The oldest NW 50/10 I’ve found dates from 1871, so they’ve been around for a long time, but they’ve never been especially popular.  Surprisingly, it wasn’t until the mid 1880’s that 50 boxes of any configuration became mainstream packing.  Until then boxes of 100 were most popular with 25’s running a far distant second.  You can often recognize a 50/10 because the inner label is frequently slightly trimmed on both sides. Some stogies are packed 10 in the top row, laying side to side. Cigars by J.C. Heckert & Co., Dallastown,  Fact. 2076,

9th Dist. PA,  c1912.

 

When most people think of a “cigar box,” what they are picturing is inevitably a Nailed Wood 50/13. No wooden box in history has been made in greater numbers, hundreds of millions of them between 1860 and 1960. The top three rows contain 13 cigars each, the bottom row only 11 and a wooden or cardboard “block” to fill in the space.

    From a collector’s point of view, nailed wood boxes are rarely of interest in and of themselves.  The main attraction of Nailed Wood [NW] boxes is their colorful labels, a topic I plan to explore in great detail eventually.

    This box was used by Factory 489, 9th PA, owned by Jane Shindler of Red Lion, who rolled for twenty years. Fewer than 1% of factories were owned by women. Presidential band sets were sold in dime stores, and available today in many known varieties. Only two sets, however, have been found actually on cigars in a box.                  [6946]

        When you find a box of 100 that’s almost square, and the entire outer label shows on one end, it’s most likely an NW 100/10. These easily recognizable boxes are packed 10 across, 10 rows deep. Inner labels are often side-trimmed, though brands that used the shape regularly (like PIPPINS, BLACKSTONE, MARKSMAN) had fitted labels designed. 


        Cigars made by Henry M. Mason, Boston, owner of Fact. 825 Massachusetts. The label is marked as “Pat. ’82 by H.M. Mason” (and looks old) which would lead the careless to assign that date to the box, which the tax and CMIU stamps clearly identify as 1910-1912. The box is definitely out of period as 10/10 packing was most common before 1900.

 

    Low wide boxes with cigars packed 20 or 25 across date back to the 1840’s but, for the most part found themselves out of fashion by the 1890’s. You’ll find a few as late as the mid 20th century but retailers hated “space hog boxes” wider than common 50/13 and 100/13 sizes because they took up space in  showcases where two brands packed in 50/10’s could be displayed. How much larger a 100/20 is can be seen in the blank space on each side of what would otherwise be the full inner label. 

    Packing 25 cigars across resulted in the box hogging even more space. The lack of height made contents difficult to see in a case, forcing retailers to give up valuable top-of-the-counter impulse-buy display room.

      NW 250’s are the oldest forms of cigar box, dating back to the earliest days of international commerce in cigars. In 1810 these were called “quarter boxes” as a “box of cigars” contained 1,000. In the second half of the 1800’s large boxes were used for cheap (frequently 3/5¢) cigars, and were typically trimmed with inexpensive mono-chromatic labels making colorful ones fine prizes for collectors today. Most, but not all, NW 250 boxes have dropfronts so that customers can see the cigars, whether packed laying down or upright in bands, sleeves or paper bundles. Many dropfronts have been nailed shut by owners attempting to make the empty box useful. Most surviving NW 250’s appear to date 1883-1909 and are made in Ohio or Pennsylvania.

                                                                [4404]