It wasn’t until the Revenue Act of 1864 that all cigars were required to be packed in boxes, and in 1865, President Lincoln enacted a law that required they be packed in bundles of 25, 50, 100, or 250. Shortly thereafter, cigars became cheaper and more available, and many of the boxes that they came in are considered collectible items today.
Although the majority of cigar boxes were made of wood, examples can be found in numerous other materials, such as glass, plastic, aluminum, brass, tin, and china. They come in a range of shapes and sizes, from intricately carved and decorated wooden chests to cardboard boxes with bold, attention-grabbing advertising text.
The most common type of cigar box is known as "Nailed Wood" (some collectors shorten this to simply "NW"), which is made up of six pieces of wood nailed together, most often allowing room for 50 cigars.
Novelty cigar boxes are also highly collectible, and some were designed in such a way that they had other uses after being emptied—for example, during the Depression, companies offered cigar boxes that could later be used as jewelry boxes. Others were made into tramp art by local carvers.
Cigar boxes were sometimes designed in fun shapes to catch the attention of potential buyers. These include cigar boxes in the shape of log cabins, cars and buses, bottles, books, and trunks, as well as those that can be used as checkers or backgammon boards.