Tobacco vignettes

Until factory-packaged tobacco was introduced, every tobacconist had its own cutting machine and packaged the freshly cut tobacco himself. It is therefore not surprising that the self-respecting retailer used his own wrappers with a brand vignette to advertise the product. That vignette consisted of an eye-catching image with a text and the address of the store added to it. Such brand vignettes were printed from a simple wood block, later with copper-plate engravings, also as wood cut. It concerns the tobacco packaging, so for the smoker there was no interest in keeping it. Hence, this type of printing is now rare.

The oldest vignettes are simple with an unambiguous image of, for example, a tobacco barrel, an animal or a human. Gradually, the picture is developing and the amount of text and thus the advertising value increases. Brand protection did not yet exist and the retailers did not have much imagination, so we see in many cities that the same brands are used.

Important brands are featured in several places, one copied from the other. That custom even extended beyond national borders. Numerous Dutch tobacco brands, especially from Amsterdam, have been copied in the province, but were also used by retailers in Germany and Switzerland. It is special to see that the detailing of these counterfeit brands is decreasing. Sometimes even the Dutch spelling has been completely misunderstood but yet copied.

Towards the end of the nineteenth century, larger tobacco factories dominate and standardize their packaging. Then we see more and more advertisements with a fixed logo for which it becomes possible to register the brand. The factories are gradually winning over the small tobacco retailers, the old-fashioned vignette making way for printed material with a higher advertising value. At the same time, we see that the printed matter is getting better in quality. The detailing increases, more colors are used. Thus the old vignette transforms into modern advertising as we know it today.

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