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Antiques Considered - December 17, 2008

This week's entry is an antique mahogany humidor, replete with its original lining.  It has belonged to a family in Lancaster County since it was new, and is in excellent condition, with its original finish and tin interior.  The lock works perfectly, and there is a silver escutcheon.
The humidor dates from the last quarter of the nineteenth century, when gentlemen retired in the evening to their smoking rooms to enjoy puffing away on a pristine Havana cigar, preferably sharing their stash with like-minded guests.
Unfortunately, over the years many of these boxes underwent radical transformations.  The tin interiors were stripped of the perforated tinware lining, and then painted or varnished, converting the pieces to letterboxes.  This one, having not only its interior, but also the silver escutcheon and brass corner pieces, is particularly nice.
By all means do not refinish, and do not paint the tinware.  The latter never will rust, and its presence doubles the value of the box.  In such fine condition, this humidor is worth $150, and at a good auction with cigar connoisseurs present the price might be even higher.
Humidor is an interesting word in that it speaks to the theory that the cigars should be able to breathe, that is, air should be circulating around them, thus the perforation of the tin top, all designed to keep the cigars fresh and moist.  Today, when smoking cigars offends many people due to the heavy smoke and odor, this custom has decreased.  To diehards it still is important, and items relating to the tobacco habits have their loyal followers.
Not being a smoker myself, I tend not to pay much attention to tobacco-related items, but I can appreciate the value of them to those who do.  This humidor would be a fine addition to any such collection.
Happy Antiquing ….

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