From the 1880s into the early 20th century, cigar manufacturers provided an avenue for the lithographic arts to flourish. Layering up to 10 colors in a stone-lithography process and even adding gold embellishments and stamped embossings, the images sold cigars through romantic landscapes, Western adventures, and hot-blooded señoritas.
Historian Loy Glenn Westfall recently donated a portion of his collection of lusciously printed cigar box labels (possibly the world’s largest collection) to the New Mexico History Museum. In Out of the Box: The Art of the Cigar, opening Oct. 7, 2016 (precise closing date to be determined), Palace Press Curator Thomas Leech shares primo examples to showcase the rich breadth of artwork created during the golden age of cigar box labels.
“Western imagery portrayed in this collection includes the brands Nue Mexico, Santa Fe, Flora Fina (Annie Oakley), Tom Mix and Chas. M Russell,” Leech said. “The themes run from Western Americana to printing technology, advertising, popular culture, and Cuban-American relations, past and present.”
The exhibit includes a 19th-century lithography press and an explanation of the lithographic process.