Image of a beautiful young woman with reddish wavy hair, alabaster skin, and rosy cheeks. She is framed by a red ribbon at the top that reads Belle of Yuba; there are gold coins continuing the frame on the left and right; and at the bottom are the words Cuban Hand Made, Manufactured by J.H. Marcuse

Beauty Marks on Box Tops

Flat and rectangular cigar box tops were ideal for display of attractive trademark images. Of all types of label images, portraits of beautiful women were the most popular choice to adorn cigar boxes. Idealized depictions of women, romantic scenes, floral decoration, and gold accents all flourished on cigar box labels.

Image of a cigar box label with actress Little Lotta Crabtree dressed as various characters she portrayed on stage.

Celebrating the Famous

Many cigar box labels featured portraits of well-known persons. These were the celebrities of their day, and it would have been advantageous for a cigar company to be associated with them. While some labels honored personages that we still venerate, others were ephemeral celebrating, for example, theatrical performances or endorsing political campaigns that might soon be forgotten.

A colored cigar box label showing a youngish man enjoying a cigar. He is finely dressed and is sitting on a balcony, a box of enjoyment cigars with his image is on the ledge next to him.


Cigars for Young and Old

In the past, children were often pictured smoking cigars. Such images, although shocking by today’s standards, were thought to be humorous and reflected the reality that many 19th century children did smoke. Street urchins, in particular, were pictured smoking cigars, adding to their mischievous appeal. Some cigar box labels had images of young newspaper boys smoking cigars, while others depicted older male smokers. These comical images may have been meant to "poke fun" at smokers.