Sunday, April 7, 2013

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

In honor of the sixth season opener of MadMen tonight, Letterology is taking a slight detour to the smoking lounge for a look at some nicely designed 20th century cigarette packaging. The examples featured here all vary tremendously in style and age from 1912 to the 1980s. However my particular favorite design of the bunch is the Palette cigarettes from the 1960s, designed in Switzerland. The different color cigarettes inside the box, wrapped with their gold-tipped Orientales Filtres and imprinted with the word Palette; also in gold, were like incredibly beautiful paper candy. I suspect these colorful cigarettes were probably far more alluring to women than men in the 1960s. 
     Meanwhile, the US tobacco company Philip Morris, decided they would target young professional women and introduced the Virginia Slims cigarette in 1968 with the campaign slogan, "You've come a long way, baby", attempting to link women's liberation and empowerment to smoking. These cigarettes were designed to be longer and narrower than most, and said to be "tailored for the feminine hand." Unfortunately, they were wildly successful and gave rise to many more women smokers including young teenage girls. Nearly fifty years later now, the smoke is happily clearing as the number of smokers steadily decline. As we become wise to Madison Avenues' ways, their messages grow weaker. We realize that no matter how beautiful or beguiling the package design, the product is not always a public health benefit. Yes, we have indeed come a very long way, yet we still have a long way to go! 
:: All images are from the Zigsam Austrian cigarette collection containing nearly 20,000 packages from 153 countries.  
Severnye hard pack from the Ukraine, 1980s.

Charros soft pack from Mexico, 1940s.
Armiro in box from Finland, 1959.

Armiro in soft pack from Finland, 1976.

Snowflake soft pack from Denmark, 1950s. 

Spagnolette Orientali sliding box from Italy, 1912.
Campeones soft pack from Mexico, 1920s.
Skior snap lid box from Bulgaria, 1943.

Sport Ekstra soft pack from Poland, 1977.
Sport snap lid box from Slovenia, 1950s.

Sport snap lid box from Germany, 1938.

Faros soft pack front and side, from Mexico 1960s.
Bosco Superieur soft pack from Germany, 1947.

Carré hard pack from East Germany, early 1960s.

Carioca soft pack from Finland, 1948.
Soltani sliding box from Iran, 1960s.

Bastos soft pack from France, late 1970s.


  1. These are wonderful, Jennifer! Take a peek at my post on Gauloises cigarettes and its famous blue package...

  2. I love all of them! AND your blog. You do some consistently great sleuthing Shelley. I don't know how you find time for your own work.


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