Antique tobacco pipe

by Dr. Lori Verderame

Historians can trace images associated with smoking which date back to the ancient world. The vast number of tobacco and smoking objects include pipes, cigar advertising posters and calendars, cigar boxes and bands, Zippo novelty lighters, cigar store Indians, tobacco tins, smoking automatons, etc. Values are high and objects are rare as many people are kicking the habit. Since the first Great American Smokeout in 1976, the contemporary market for tobacco and smoking collectibles has seen new interest as more and more smokers part with their smoking jackets, humidors, and cigarette-pack woven vintage purses and pocketbooks.

Famous smokers

cigar box

Smokers from Hollywood celebrities to Washington politicians offer objects for collectors like posters of starlets like Lauren Bacall and Betty Davis smoking or lighters that were given away to voters during the 1960 political campaign of United States President John F. Kennedy and Vice President Lyndon Johnson which both sell for several hundreds of dollars. Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton’s cigarette ration tin for his 1909 expedition sold for nearly $9,000 at auction as the heavy smoker only allowed himself one cigarette per month during the journey.

Like travel posters and other prints, World War II smoking posters sell for big bucks today as do tobacco jars made by Royal Doulton and other Staffordshire pottery firms.

Some of the most collectible tobacco and smoking collectibles are figures and forms of Indians or Native Americans. This is because there is a longstanding association with the Native Americans as they introduced tobacco to the new American settlers. A rare full size cigar store Indian figure from 1885 used as an advertisement sold for $125,000.

What to Look For

smoking pipe

When it comes to tobacco and smoking collectibles, keep it simple. Look for authentic advertisements and ephemera made and marketed by major tobacco suppliers, manufacturers, and distributors. Collect tobacco objects like cigar bands, boxes, pipes, cutters, and other objects used in the tobacco industry from famous sites like New England, Cuba, and South Florida. Smoking cabinets, humidors, and pipe stands are viable market collectibles for their functionality and handsome design. Condition is always important to value. When in most areas of antique collecting, odors are bad  news… when it comes to tobacco and smoking collectibles, tobacco aroma is all inviting and welcomed.

Get an online appraisal report about your tobacco and smoking collectible from Dr. Lori.