A humidor is any container designed to store cigars, cigarettes, or pipe tobacco at the ideal level of humidity, which is 68 to 75 percent. They can be made of wood, glass, pottery, metal, or plastics and come in a wide range of sizes. Some are small enough to be carried in the hand, holding 2-10 cigars; others take up whole rooms, used by cigar stores to hold thousands of their wares.

As a collector, you’re more likely to come across desktop humidors in the form of boxes or jars designed to hold dozens to hundreds of cigars. Particularly charming desktop humidors have built-in pipe stands and Lazy Susan bases. Table and cabinet humidors, which have legs and rest on the floor like furniture, can store a couple thousand cigars.

While some humidors are lined with mahogany, the most popular wood for the interior of humidors is Spanish cedar because it holds more moisture than most woods and is not given to warping in high humidity. This salmon-red, tight-grained wood, which is not actually cedar but a member of the mahogany family, also repels tobacco beetles, which are the size of pinheads, eat tobacco, and lay eggs in cigars.

Spanish cedar can also infuse the cigars it surrounds with a pleasant spicy scent, which is why some cigars are sold in Spanish-cedar sheets. However, Spanish cedar dents easily and is not ideal for a beautiful veneer or marquetry, which is why humidors are generally built with a hard wood like cherry on the exterior.

Maintaining the right humidity level is vital to a cigar’s flavor, which is why, regardless of its material, a humidor must have an airtight seal. If the storage is too dry, a cigar will become stale and brittle. If the storage is too moist, the cigar will lose its flavor and attract beetles.

All humidors have a means of maintaining humidity. Antique humidors have a space or metal container in them for a wet sponge. Humidity was also achieved by adding water droplets to a tissue. Today, smaller humidors may also employ silica gel beads or high-tech polymer acrylic fleece, while larger humidors are sometimes equipped with electronic sensors that detect when the humidity inside needs to be adjusted.

Humidity level is measured through a device known as a hygrometer, first conceived by Leonardo da Vinci in the 1400s. Swiss physicist and geologist Bénédict de Saussure perfect t...

Early tobacco curing barns were built out of Spanish cedar, which is very common in Central America where tobacco is grown. Before the 18th century, Europeans mostly smoked tobacco in pipes, and cigars first became popular there in the 19th century. The first cabinet humidor was thought to have been invented by an Irish furniture maker Terence Manning, who brought home exotic woods and cabinetry techniques from South Africa in 1887. His family became known for their handcrafted humidors, and their techniques spread throughout Europe and America.

Earthenware, stoneware, and porcelain humidors—like those made by Royal Doulton, Delft, and Limoges—resemble cookie jars, and often have a place inside the lid to hold the sponge. Antique pottery humidors, which were often figural, were sometimes shaped into racist caricatures of African Americans or Native Americans. What’s more troubling is that the collectors market for such items is so strong, replicas of majolica pieces from Austria and Germany are being made now. If the clay is red or tan rather than white, then you know it's a knockoff.

Particularly rare examples of Black Americana porcelain humidors were made in Japan during the Nippon period (1891-1921). Only a handful of such patterns are known, including a design showing a black man in a hat playing a banjo. In this case, the replicas are much more common than the originals, so buyer beware.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Match World

Match World

This ambitious site showcases the 20,000-item Rankei Library matchbook collection, owned by the Japan Match Manufac… [read review or visit site]

Kensitas Silk Flowers

Kensitas Silk Flowers

Don Wearmouth and his wife showcase the 230 beautiful silk designs that were distributed free with Kensitas cigaret… [read review or visit site]

Matchbox Labels

Matchbox Labels

Jane McDevitt's huge Flickr photoset of matchbox labels, primarily Eastern European, from the 1950s and 60s. These … [read review or visit site]

Truth in Advertising

Truth in Advertising

This gallery of cigarette magazine advertising from the 1940s and 50s contains no surgeon general's warning, just p… [read review or visit site]

Matchbook Museum

Matchbook Museum

James Lileks' gallery of 400 matchbooks from coffee shops, hotels, motels, bars, banks, restaurants and more. Lilek… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Mid Century Modern Bitossi Style Raymor Rosenthal Netter Blue Humidor Lidded JarRare Antique Black Americana Negro Man Figure Tobacco Jar Humidor Jm 3424Antique Art Deco Humidor Copper Lined Smoking Cabinet Old Magazine Holder StandLot 10 Pipes & Decatur Walnut Pipe Holder/humidor 2 Lighters /pipe ToolsCollection Of. 17 Pipes 2 Stands 1 Humidor Smoking PipesEstate Large Lot Of 34 Smoking Pipes/bowls & Humidor!Showcase Ii Bubinga Cigar Star Humidor Glass Top. Great Auction Chance!Vintage Estate 31 Pipe Lot Plus Aztec Stand / Humidor And MoreAntique Victorian Gilt Brass Tobacco Humidor Jar By Adolph Frankau & Co No Res1800's Black Forest German Carved Grizzly Bear Pipe Holder Humidor Stand TobaccoRoyal Bayreuth China - Rare Eagle Figural Covered Tobacco HumidorElie Bleu Medals Gold Yellow Sycamore 75 Count HumidorDesktop Glass Top Wooden Humidor Box W 2 Cigar Cutters Hygrometer Mancave GiftBlack Cigar Caddy 5 Stick Travel Case Humidor With Humdifier Carry Strap MoreRare Eichwald Majolica Frog #2166 Humidor Tobacco Jar Tea Caddy CzechoslovakiaGorgeous Piano Finished Classic Cohiba 100 Cigar Humidor. Nr Auction!Antique Large Mother Goose On Egg Tobacco Jar HumidorVintage Mahogany Tobacciana Cigar Humidor Monogrammed Storage Box Whitehouse Cigar HumidorGorgeous Cohiba Cigar Humidor Custom Mahogany Display CabinetCuervo Y Sobrinos La Habana 1882 Birds Eye Maple Humidor Box * Ex Cond! *Antique Staffordshire Tobacco Humidor Jar - Man Smoking PipePrometheus Don Carlos 2006 Limited Edition Fuente Fuente Opusx Cigar HumidorVintage Ceramic Native American Indian Tobacco HumidorVintage Wooden 6 Pipe Holder Stand Glass Humidor Tobacco HolderAntique Saluting Pink Pig With Sword Figural Tobacco Jar Austria HumidorVintage Neiman Marcus Pipe Tobacco HumidorPheasant By R.d. Gomez Tan Leather Travel Cigar Humidor, Made In Spain, Must SeeSolid Wood Montague Cigar Humidor Box HygrometerAntique Majolica Old Pig Smoking Pipe Humidor Tobaco JarC1910 Ceramic Porcelain Pottery Humidor Tobacco Jar Warwick 10ga China MonkPadron Millennium 1964 Series 772/1000 Limited Edition Cigar HumidorDaniel Marshall Limited Edition Burl Wood Humidor 65 Count 50 Out Of 200Heintz Sterling On Bronze Humidor #2539 Ap&pa 1912 2190200 Plus Count Curved Clear Top Burlwood Cigar HumidorCao Vision Humidor With Blue Light20t Humidor Cherry It Is 11" X 8" X 3"Vintage 1915 Thompson & Co Humidor Cigar Box Cherry & Cedar Wood, NiceVintage Silvercrest Bronze Humidor Box Sterling Silver Overlay Art Nouveau TAntique Briggs Smoking Tobacco Barrel Shaped Advertising Cigar W/ Lid HumidorHumidor With Hygrometer Made By Thompson & Co. Inc.Rare Antique Cigar Smoking Jolly Man Head Tobacco Jar Humidor 9675 Majolica 25Torano Cigars Red Leather Small Travel Humidor Case 3 CountNo Reserve 150 Ct Red Wood Cigar Humidor - Great Display Show Case - RefurbishedCigar Humidor WoodDon Salvatore Cuban Wheel Humidor Spanish Cedar Lining Cherry FinishThompson Humidor W/cutter + Matches Vintage Walnut 6 Pipe Holder And Humidor BoxAntique Burl Cigar Humidor / Cutter / Match Safe / Store Counter CigarMastro De Paja Cigar Humidor - Cedar - Made In Italy & Cohiba Travel Case Cigar Humidor Wood Box-will Keep Your Cigars FreshCherry Wood Humidor With Cedar LiningWood ?walnut 4 Pipe Stand Glass Jar Humidor W Lid Tobacco StorageCigar Humidor BoxThe Fuente Story Travel Humidor - Fuente Aged Selection High Gloss LacquerVintage Wooden Dun-rite Tobacco Pipe Caddy Holder Rectangle W/ Glass HumidorOld Cigar Box Wooden Flor-fina Imported Dominican Republic A Fuente Humidor Humidor Ceramic Pipe Tobacco Made In England WelbeckVictorian C1890 Silver Cigar Box Humidor 1850 To 1899 EraCross Keys Pipe Tobacco Humidor Ceramic Bowl Dogs Gold Trim