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    

Large Antique, Arts & Crafts, Sterling & Copper, Heintz Cigar Box Humidor, NrArt Nouveau Sterling Silver Brilliant Cut Abp Glass Crystal Humidor Jar Biscuit 19thc Antique Victorian Era Fox Hunt Figural Hunter Old Tobacco Jar Ws&s HumidorAntique Store Tin Cigar Humidor - King’s Herald Cincinnati Ohio - Great GraphicsDunhill Pipe Cabinet Humidor With Display Tobacco BoxCigar HumidorVintage Estate Lot Of 15 Pipes In A Revolving Stand Plus Humidor Germany1800s Antique Black Americana Head Porcelain Cigar Tobacco Jar Humidor MajolicaExquisite Vintage Hand Made Artisan Mint Niloak Smoking 5 Piece Set Tray HumidorVery Unique And Beautiful Antique Mahogany W/porcelain, Spanish Cedar Humidor Rare Figural Owl Hunting With Hounds Humidor Or Inkwell Really Neat ItemHomer Laughlin Art China Covered Biscuit Jar Brown Currants HumidorSupreme Limited Edition 2000 Cigar Humidor Never UsedMontecristo Rare Limited Edition Pyramid Cigar HumidorAntique Frank Smith Blossom Small Sterling Silver & Wood Cigar Cigarette HumidorClassic Cigar Star Ashford Jr 60 Cigar HumidorAntique Cigar Humidor Figural Buffalo Bison Western Cuban Crafters Medium Size Cigar Humidor Wood W/ Glass Inserts & HygrometerPaden City Black Amethyst Simplicity Pattern Glass HumidorReal Leather Cigar Case Tube Travel Humidor Holds 3 Cigars & CutterQuality Importers Humidor Deep Cherry Wood W/glass Top Cigar Keep HygometerCigar Star 'lexington' Large 150 Count Cigar Humidor.amazing Auction,no Reserve!Samson China Trade Chinese Export Fruit Wine Cooler Humidor Famille Rose Nr YqzVintage Hand Painted Milk Glass Cigar Humidor Jar Great Detail 6.75" See Pics Humidor With 180 Cigars (great Buy)Humidor Royal TraditionVintage Olde World Globe Pipe Holder And HumidorHi-gloss Espresso And Coffee Pattern Finish ~ Clear Lid Cigar HumidorLot Of Two Bally 100 Ct Cigar Humidor Cherry & 2 Free Double Blade Cigar Cutter.No Reserve 150 Ct Red Wood Cigar Humidor - Great Display Show Case - RefurbishedAvo 25th Anniversary Piano Cigar Humidor BoxWw2 Trench Art HumidorMajolica Palissyware Humidor Lidded Jar Snails Nuts Leaves Pottery Old MarkedCao Humidor Neon Light Comes With Free Travel Bag And Cedar SheetVintage German 1900s HumidorCohiba Brown Color Leather Cigar Humidor Cigar Case Holder Hold 2 Cigars # A3Diamond Crown Humidor!! No Reserve!! L@@kAmazing Heirloom 150 Cigar Star Limited Edtion HumidorSmall Humidor With 40+ CigarsCigar HumidorLarge 1900 German HumidorCigar Humidor - Cherry FinishAntique / Vintage French Majolica Boy Tobacco Jar / Humidor 1900'sBearded Man In Sleep Cap Figural Tobbaco Jar / Humidor MajolicaCigar Humidor -black With Cigar AccessoriesVery Unique And Beautiful Antique Mahogany W/porcelain, Spanish Cedar HumidorCohiba Brown Color Leather Cigar Humidor Cigar Case Holder Hold 3 Cigars # A6Cohiba Behike 56 Bhk 56 - Empty Cigar Box, Travel Humidor "whitetail" Glasstop Cigar Humidor - By Quality Importers - NibSavoy Zebrawood Medium HumidorAntique German Relief Embossed Gilt Bronze Cigar Tobacco Humidor Casket Box N/r.1920's Nautical Ships Pipe Tobacco Humidor With Original CorkSmoking Pipes, Humidor, Pipe Racks & HolderSilver Plated, HumidorVintage Dunhill Tobacco Humidor Round Metal Canister Golden Bronze ColorVintage Tobacco Humidor By Gray’s Pottery Stoke On Trent England; Vintage EstateCaptain Black - Special Edition - Pipe Tobacco Humidor Jar ContainerVintage Dark Amber Glass Indian Chief Cigar Tobacco Jar HumidorColibri Leather Travel Humidor Brown Leather Cedar Lined Cutter Cards & Dice Wood Cigar Humidor With Glass Insert Lid Empty