The cigar has been a much-sold item since 1820. Because cigars are relatively expensive, sales often go individually or in small quantities. As a suitable packaging the paper cigar bag has been devised. Made of paper, this has been in general use since 1840. Such a cigar bag was appropriately printed as an advertisement for the retailer, sometimes also to advertise a certain brand.
From the very first moment, cigar bags were printed in lithograph printing. Very fine results could be achieved in that technique. The scene was drawn on the stone with a greasy pencil, often with great refinement. Because of the thin lines that make lithographs possible, the cigar bag developed into a separate type of advertising printing.
The oldest bags are strongly textual. Cigar bag quickly become a fascinating piece of printed matter because it proves that any picture or representation could be printed. For example, genealogy of the shop owners could be shown, but we also see all kinds of themes. Hundreds of shop facades are depicted, giving an impression of what these tobacco shops looked like at the time and how they changed over the years. We also see certain fads, like for example a craze in the 1890s to portray the tobacco plant. Later, rebuses and rhymes are added in the hope that the bag will be kept by children, and the address will still appear somewhere as advertising. The large numbers are proof that the retailers followed each other closely and imitated unashamedly.
After the Second World War, the importance of the cigar bag declined. The cigar is sold in boxes of ten, individual sales are gradually disappearing. It is not surprising that the cigar bag, which used to be at every shop with its own design, is no longer in vogue. When appropriate, the last retailers use generic pouches provided by the major cigar factories to advertise their product.