What Did I Collect as a Teenager? Part Three

As I wrote earlier, extra money was short for the average working family during the Depression years and the post Depression years.  Very little was set aside for personal hobbies and collecting. Among the “free” items we collected were cigar labels, actually the bands that were wrapped around the cigars to identify the brand and type of tobacco. Before smoking, the band was removed and usually discarded by the smoker, but were attractive collectibles. There were many beautiful designs and logos, often on gold or silver foil. With so many cigar manufacturers around the world making different cigars, you can readily imagine how quickly we could build collections of size and variety at basically no cost.

Sometimes the labels were used for ornaments.  It wasn’t uncommon for them to be worn by kids as "rings" and skilled children could loop them together and make bracelets and necklaces to wear.  During the Depression years, jewelry was not seen too often seen on children, as there was little money to purchase it.  So jewelry made from the cigar bands was worn for fun and embellishment.

So the constant hunt was on. Actually those who gathered cigar bands also did a public service, cleaning up what would be litter if left on the ground, on tables, or in other locations. It was a good deed for the community!

Collecting cigar labels became another hobby for me and I had several cigar boxes containing the hundreds of labels I amassed. On rainy afternoons when we had nothing to do we might gather in someone’s bedroom or basement, and exchange our duplicates to build our collections. We enjoyed collecting these, even as we started to have some spending money and moved on to other collectibles, including baseball cards and comic books. I will discuss these collectibles in upcoming portions of this story.

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