[Blind Box] #1. Cigar Box

Posted August 12, 2007 by avantiquarian
Categories: ephemera

Item #01. Cigar Box

  • Creator: Puros Nirvana
  • Function: Case for 25 “Churchill” type cigars
  • Creation Date: Unknown
  • Origin: Nicaragua
  • Dimensions: 4 1/4 x 8 1/4 x 4 1/2 inches

First up, the cigar box. It proved more of a challenge than first expected, shrouding much of its history in…well…a cloud of smoke.

Cigar Box OpenStamp DetailBottom

Its most prominant identifying feature is the inscription “Churchill 7 1/2″ x .50” branded onto three of the four of its outer walls. As you may have guessed, these cigars get their namesake from everybody’s favorite stogie-totin’ British statesman, Winston Churchill. The title “Churchill” refers to a specific size and shape of cigar, rather than a brand, first given that name by the Cuban company, Romeo y Julieta, who renamed their “Julieta” line out of appreciation for their biggest customer. Reportedly, Curchill bought 4000 of them annually.

The measurements refer to the size of the cigar, the length and the diameter (or “ring guage”) respectively. The original Churchill actually measures 7″ x 47, making these a bit larger. Apparently, it takes about two hours to smoke an entire Churchill, meaning a good two days of nonstop smoking could have taken place to rid this box of its original contents. If, perchance, you have time and the inclination to smoke a whole one, you may pass the time with this lengthy account of a supposed Nazi plot to assassinate Churchill by poisoning his cigars.

The bottom of the box bears a stamp that reads “Totally hand made in Nicaragua by Puros Nirvana.” This means that not only were certain parts of the cigars assembled by hand, but the whole cigar was handcrafted (“Totalmente a mano”), a mark of superiority in the tobacco world. I couldn’t track down many references to Puros Nirvana, but two linked them to the Dominican Republic, so they may have migrated at some point.

Unfortunately, the red stamp turned out to be more of a red herring; I found another impression of it on a note enclosed with the box, suggesting it was added by the artist. As far as rubber stamps go though, it is an interesting image, with two crossed rifles in front of a branch, and something I can’t quite make out at the base (a gunpowder horn? a carrot?).


A Box of Dust, part I

Posted August 9, 2007 by avantiquarian
Categories: ephemera

Missouri-based graphic designer and photographer Douglas Wilson recently collaborated with the Coudal Partners Swap Meat to create 15 “blind boxes,” customized cigar boxes bursting at the joints with recovered items from bygone (American) eras. Opening one of these unique boxes is meant to mimic the sensation that accompanies discovering, for example, a grandparent’s long forsaken drawer of knick-knacks.

After receiving one of these special boxes in the mail yesterday, I can attest, as my eyes began to well up (only in part from dust irritation) that it produces its intended effect unbelievably well! And while Grandpa Doug was clearly more deliberate and varied than your actual father’s father was, this only enhances the overall experience, doing little to diminish the feeling that these objects have been sharing one another’s company for the greater part of the 20th Century.

The Coudal website contends of the box’s contents, “there’s no cohesive purpose for them to all be packaged together,” but after fingering through the first few bits, the notion quickly surfaced that these items could share, in their randomness, much more in common than advertised. Especially by treating Wilson’s carefully crafted creation as something that toes the line toward a work of art–a found object, interactive, bookish sculpture type thing–the contents all but demand further contemplation.

So, for the inaugural series of posts for DustBubble, each entry will feature sequentially one of the fading treasures in the blind box (starting with the box itself), and attempt piece together their histories and cultural significance (or, in some instances, simply finding out what the heck it is). Finally, without forcing the circular issue into a square hole, we’ll see what connections, themes, or narratives might unwittingly present themselves.