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The Art of Cigar Boxes

Four-Square Masterpieces Cigar-Box Labels Once Served as the Ultimate Image Makers for a Good Smoke
Tony Hyman
From the Print Edition:
Fidel Castro, Summer 94

(continued from page 3)

A Box Artist

Label artist Henry Maier was born in Germany in 1884, where he exhibited unusual artistic skills early in life. Considered a "boy wonder," Maier began painting professionally while still in his midteens. Emigrating to the United States in 1902 to avoid the draft, Maier was happily painting cigar labels for Steiner Litho within two weeks of arrival.

Although his skills were outstanding and the quality of his work exceptional in an industry known for its fine craftsmanship, Maier never became famous in the art world, primarily because he preferred partying and womanizing to work. A favorite ploy of this handsome, curly-haired artist was to invite girlfriends to his studio to get naked so he could "immortalize" their beautiful bodies on a cigar label.

Although hundreds of thousands of cigar labels were created by Maier and other artists, the original artwork almost never survived. It was standard practice of printers to destroy the originals as soon as the lithographers had transferred them to stone. If an artist insisted on his work being returned, the paintings were usually defaced or cut.

-T. H.

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