Gotham Cigar Museum Collection expected to light up Morphy's June 18 Antique Advertising Auction The premier Gotham Cigar Museum Collection of cigar-related antique advertising is the centerpiece of Morphy's June 18, 2011 auction. The sale includes other tobacciana and Coca-Cola advertising.
News-Antique.com - May 30,2011 - DENVER, Pa. – A superb collection of early tobacciana will be smoking its way across the auction block on June 18 as Morphy’s presents a 900-lot Antique Advertising sale featuring the specialty collection of the Gotham Cigar Museum of Tampa, Florida.
“It’s amazing how many different types of cigar-related items are sought after by collectors. This premier collection traces to the early days of the cigar industry in America and includes everything from cigar boxes to hand-painted cases to beautiful die-cuts and figural advertising pieces,” said Dan Morphy, owner of Morphy Auctions.
In the 1990s, the owner of the featured collection became interested in the history of “clear” Havana cigars – those that were rolled in the United States in pre-embargo days (before 1963) using Cuban tobacco. “At one time, there were ten of thousands of factories, all over the country,” the collector said. “I began collecting remnants from days gone by and became interested in the actual history of clear Havana cigars, cigar boxes, cigar art and advertising.”
The selection of cigar boxes to be auctioned includes not only rare and beautifully lithographed boxes, but also cigar containers that were artistically “recycled.” Some were skillfully notched and carved into decorative, sometimes practical articles – what collectors call “tramp art.” Other cigar boxes served as painters’ canvases, like the unique pedestal-style tramp art box with a baseball-theme interior image. It may be the only extant example. Another prized piece is a cigar box whose lid was skillfully painted with an attractive early American wooded landscape scene.
Expressions of fine artistry are also seen in the collection’s mid-19th-century hand-painted and lacquered papier-mache cigar cases. Considered connoisseur’s pieces, these cases were expensive, high-end productions with pullout sleeves to house the cigars.
The collection also features many glass items, including advertising change trays and paperweights with a crossover gambling theme. “Each paperweight contains five dice and could be used as game,” the collector explained. “You’d shake it and whoever got the best ‘hand’ – a straight or three of a kind, four of a kind, etc. – was the winner.”
A variety of exquisite advertising die-cuts is included in the collection. One such piece, promoting Class A Cigars, depicts a girl dressed in an early “sailorette” uniform, waving goodbye with a hankie. Another eye-catcher is the large 4ft-tall by 3ft-wide hand-painted and signed 1874 advertisement for Commodore Ritz Cigars that features the image of a dapper gentleman with prominent moustache and hair parted in the middle.
A select grouping of countertop chalkware cigar store figures featuring busts of nymphs and Indians also will be offered. Three large, highly detailed – and very heavy – bas-relief tobacco-advertising pieces were cast in plaster and framed for wall display. These huge advertising pieces dating to around 1860-1870 measure 4ft by 5ft and were fabricated for the oldest Cuban cigarette maker, La Honradez. “They were offered to me by a collector in Argentina. It’s possible that they are the only surviving examples of their type,” said the