The Value of Antique Cigar Boxes: What to Look For

Published January 11, 2021
Closeup of an antique cigar box

While cigar smoking might not be as popular as it once was, people are still attracted to the unique packages that they were sold in, and antique cigar boxes value hasn't wavered over the years. You might find an antique cigar box in the unlikeliest of places such as in drawers and cabinets storing sewing threads, old buttons, or fishing hooks. Yet, not every antique cigar box is worth reselling, so you'll need to assess your antique cigar box using a few different criteria.

Estimated Antique Cigar Boxes' Value

Since cigars were required to be packaged in boxes in the United States in accordance with the Revenue Act of 1864, there came to be a thriving cigar market in the 19th and 20th centuries. As cigars grew in popularity, manufacturers began making highly stylized, artistic labels and art to adorn their cigar boxes. Due to this, there are a wide variety of different antique cigar boxes that collector's search for, and some styles, materials, and conditions are worth more than others.

Types of Antique Cigar Boxes

Antique cigar boxes were most typically made out of "nailed wood" which consisted of six different pieces of wood being nailed together to create a box that allowed for up to fifty cigars. These boxes were the manufacturing standard until the cheaper materials and technological developments of the 20th century expedited the production process. While these boxes can be valuable, those made before the Revenue Act was implemented are particularly desirable, and novelty cigar boxes and commemorative cigar boxes are more collectible because of their visual appeal. Some of these artistic renderings you may come across include:

  • Sports
  • Familial scenes
  • Pets & animals
  • Presidents and political figures
  • Holiday scenes
  • Indigenous people
  • Automotive scenes

What Antique Cigar Boxes Were Made Out Of

These collectibles were crafted out of various different materials, ranging the finest chinas to the cheapest woods. Generally, antique cigar boxes made out of finer materials are worth more than the majority that were manufactured from wood. However, pristine boxes created out of valuable woods like mahogany can be comparably priced to their luxury counterparts. These are some of the materials that your antique cigar boxes might have been made out of.

Box of Cuban cigars
  • Wood
  • Aluminum
  • Tin
  • Brass
  • Glass
  • China

Age & Condition's Impact on Antique Cigar Box Values

The two most important factors to consider when evaluating antique cigar box values are age and condition. These two elements can significantly increase both the monetary value and collector's demand for the antique cigar box that you might be considering selling.

Antique Superiores cigar box

Antique Cigar Boxes and Age

Considering that the Revenue Act standardized the cigar packaging industry, cigar boxes that come from before the mid-19th century are relatively rare and will have higher values than the mass-produced boxes of the early 20th century. However, even the oldest cigar boxes aren't worth very much if they are in rather poor condition. Thus, you don't only want to considering a cigar boxes age as an indicator for being a 'golden ticket.'

Antique Cigar Boxes and Condition

Collectors prioritize antique cigar boxes that have remained in good condition over those with noticeable damage. There are a few different things you want to look for when evaluating your antique cigar boxes' condition, and these include:

  • Mold - Since most antique cigar boxes were made out of wood, they are susceptible to the harmful effects of water and any signs of mold or mildew on the edges and inside these boxes' corners can bring their values down.
  • Labels - Labels that are fully intact and are not either peeling from the box or have rips and tears in them will increase an antique cigar boxes' value.
  • Manufacturers Marks - Sometimes manufacturers marks can increase an antique cigar boxes' value, and boxes that still have clear marks on the bottom or inside the lid of the box will reap the greatest rewards.

Antique Cigar Boxes at Market

The collector's market for antique cigar boxes is rather interesting because average prices for these items can range from between $20 - $5,000 depending on their rarity, condition, connection to famous figures or commemorative events, and the materials they were made out of, with some boxes exceeding even those estimates. For example, a 1925 Art Deco Cartier Cigar Box made out of sterling silver is listed for almost $50,000 in one online auction. However, you're much more likely to find expensive cigar boxes in the lower thousand dollar range, such as a 1920 Art Deco Brass Cigar Box with engraving from Rockwell Kent for about $3,000. In addition to these, boxes with decorative labels and brightly colored artwork are generally valued to be worth around a few hundred dollars, such as this set of antique cigar boxes which is priced at just over $100.

Antique cigar box with cigars

The Hidden Value of Antique Cigar Boxes

Aside from being perfect reusable storage containers, even the most modest antique cigar box can bring in a worthy sum because of its label. Collectors are constantly searching for rare and unique cigar box labels, with some enthusiasts even looking for highly niche prints to add to their collections. Therefore, don't be alarmed if you have a slightly mildewed, wooden antique cigar box because that unusual label glued to its front lid might just pay for your next vacation.

The Value of Antique Cigar Boxes: What to Look For