Offset lithography was developed in the 1870s and patented in 1875 to create an efficient way to print on tin. Until then, transferring ink from hard stone to hard tin had been largely unsuccessful. This new technique allowed the ink on the litho stone to be passed to a cardboard cylinder (later, rubber would be used) and then offset onto the tin.
The ability to print on tin was particularly important to tobacco companies since tin containers allowed their products to be sealed from the air, which dried out tobacco, and protected from damage (a tin in the pocket was a smarter way to store rolled cigarettes than a soft paper wrapper or box).
Tobacco tins were manufactured in only a small number of shapes and styles. Cylinders and boxes were used for tobacco sold in bulk, while smaller flat or concave tins were design...
Because the shapes of tobacco tins were relatively standard, the lithographed artwork on the outsides of the tins was just about the only way to differentiate products on a tobacconist’s shelves. Imagery ranged from birds to butterflies to flowers, with some brands targeted to wealthy men (the tips of some cigarettes produced for this upscale demographic were tipped in real gold) and others to women (Muratti’s was just one of many companies that packaged cigarettes for “Young Ladies”).
The most popular images, though, focused on sailors and the Navy. Probably the best known tobacco-tin brand was Player's, whose Navy Cut cigarettes featured a portrait of a sailor framed by a life preserver. Ogden's made Royal Navy Cigarettes, as did Gold Leaf, Crown, Harvey & Davy, and Hignett, whose Pilot Flake tins depicted a slickered sea captain gripping the wheel of a ship listing hard to starboard.
Interviews & Articles
How did I get started collecting advertising antiques? My dad was a lecturer and tutor in graphics and art from the 1960s onwards,… [more]
At the very beginning, my interest in lighters was about the mechanism. I had my first lighter when I was 14. I saved up my nickel… [more]
Cigarette lighter collecting is a hobby that never gets boring. Just by browsing eBay auctions for ten minutes, for example, I rec… [more]
I liked to collect things even as a child. Things that didn’t cost anything, like different colors of stones. There was somethin… [more]
Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)
Kensitas Silk Flowers
Truth in Advertising
American Package Museum
Found in Moms Basement
Clubs & Associations
- Antique Advertising Association of America
- North American Society of Pipe Collectors
- The Cigarette Pack Collectors' Association
- On The Lighter Side
- The Cigarette Packet Collectors Club of Great Britain
- The Rathkamp Matchcover Society
Other Great Reference Sites
- Cigar Label Junkie
- Duke Library: Emergence of Advertising in America
- Oxford Library: John Johnson Collection Exhibition
- NYPL Digital Gallery: Tobacco Prints
- NYPL Digital Gallery: Cigarette Cards
- Library of Congress: Broadsides and Ephemera
- Duke Library: Presidential Campaign Memorabilia
- Vintage Flames
- The Cartophilic Society of Great Britain