Poison Yourself…Elegantly

11 09 2013

This beautiful polychromed Melachrino cigarette ad appears on the back of a stagebill from the early 1900s.  Graphically, this is an interesting blend of historical accuracy and the prevailing artisitic sensibilities of that time.  The text reads “For over forty years Melachrino’s (their typo) have enjoyed a social prestige not attained by any other cigarette………”  Available in plain-cork or straw tips.

Melachrino, color-small



Nicotine Bling

1 12 2012

In days past, people smoked with class.  I know, it sounds absurd to use the word ‘class’ in conjunction with such a disgusting, nihlistic habit.  But countless movies, television shows, and advertisments of the pre-1970 era depict the art of smoking: hands elegantly poised, men courteously lighting their female companion’s cigarette, and of course, all the related accessories.  Lighters of both pocket, purse, and tabletop variety; long enameled holders a-la Breakfast at Tiffany’s; fancy boxes for your coffee table; and even ornamental cases to carry your smokes in – because using the original carton was ever so tacky.  This example is an enameled copper ladies’ case, depicting the bust of Nefertiti, c.1960.

cigarette case

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

6 02 2012

Murad cigarettes have had a robust history, no doubt due to their colorful packaging and allure borrowed from the exotic Orient (Turkish cigarettes, Egyptian iconography).  The second image is an advertising postcard c. 1900 that cleverly appears to have a hand-written message from a fella named Jim: “The only thing to keep you in good humor while you are waiting for one thing or another here is (?) Murad cigarette.  Get them no matter what you have to pay – they’re worth it.  Regards from all to all.”

Blowing Smoke

19 09 2011

Something about the sweet, thick smoke of quality tobacco conjurs up exotic imagery.  So what if the designer of this elaborate cigar box label squeezed in a few extra pyramids?  More is better.  Almost every theme associated with ancient Egypt is represented here, rendered in brilliant color and accented with metallic gold and embossing.  Tobacco companies at the turn of the last century weren’t familiar with the word ‘subtle’.


Taste Me!

16 04 2011

Egyptian themes are rather prevalent in tobacco ads and packaging from the 1800s through the early twentieth century.  In more recent decades, the references are often secondary to the overall modernity of the ad, such as in this Doral cigarette ad from 1971.  The premise is that during the filming of “The Seven Pharaohs”, a singing pack of Doral cigarettes interrupts and steals the scene.

That’s right, I said singing.

Won’t Cure a Sore Throat Though…

27 11 2010

If it were 1950 instead of 2010, I might just be reaching for one of these Kool menthol cigarettes to soothe my sore throat.  After all, the ad says “the mild menthol is definitely refreshing” and “it gives your throat a welcome change”.  Sounds good!  And that penguin in the desert imagery is pretty clever.  However, these being enlightened times, I’m going to reach for a noncarcinogenic throat lozenge instead.

An Homage to Progress

11 04 2010

Ladies, I sure do hope you realize how lucky you are to live in a society where you can light up and puff away without fear of  causing a scandal.  In the  mid 1980s Virginia Slims capitalized on this freedom  with these two ads.  The contrast of their slogan “You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby” mirrored against Victorian taboo works nicely in this first ad, where the inset reads “While on a 1908 museum tour with her husband, Mrs. Celestia Kohl forgot herself and lit up a cigarette. She quickly found herself all wrapped up in Egyptian history.”  The second ad’s reference to ancient Egypt is more general, referring to the many tasks women performed in ancient times.

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