In the end of the nineteenth century the use of a cigar box became popular. Labels were introduced embellish the boxes, both on the inside and the outside. Soon the labels get more or less standardised as a kind of advertisement, resulting in beautiful printed labels in colour and gold.
Most of the boxes have a large size label in the interior on which the brandname is advertised. Next to that a smaller seal is used on the outside of the box, while sometimes also a separate label is laid in the interior as a gift for collectors.
The nicest examples of labels are series of two or three in the same style, on which the main subject is repeated in a slightly different way. By using the same colours but varying the design in detail a maximum of unity is achieved. A good example is the label with the coronation portrait of the Dutch queen Wilhelmina. The main subject is her portrait, but to give some change to the design the facade of the royal palace The Loo is illustrated on the label in the box. All three labels show the arms of Holland on the base.
Subjects and designs of the labels vary largely. Popular are portraits of men and women, elegant and fashionable next to historical or exotic. Except for fantasy persons famous persons and popular types are illustrated. Also heraldry is popular as a subject, however often the arms are more fantasy than correct. Some of these arms became important brand marks in course of the time.
Impressive are the allegoric women in classical dresses. They are illustrated with a snakestick of Mercury or a sword representing and guaranteeing the exotic quality of the tobacco and the value of the product in general.
Often the labels show series of medals, awards from national or international exhibitions received my the manufacturer. Especially in later times these medals devaluate and are more fantasy than real.
The label is kept in use till present days. Already in the 1950's a change in design takes place. The complicated and beautiful lithographic print, including a lot of gilding, is changed for quicker and less elaborate work. For this kind of printing new designs are developed. They are more graphical and give the labels a modern look, interesting in another way.
Illustrations on this page from the collections of Amsterdam Pipe Museum
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