Interior label design for Booth’s Bouquet Cigars
Last week I featured a cigar label from New Westminster on Illustrated Vancouver and I wound up outlining the history of cigars in New West. This week, Vancouver takes centre stage with Booth’s Bouquet, a cigar box label printed by Rolph & Clark, Toronto. Who manufactured the cigars and where they were made is yet to be determined, but in the mean time, let’s look closer at the printer of this cigar box label. Later known as Rolph-Clark-Stone Ltd, this firm was one of the oldest lithography, printing, and packaging firms in Canada, established back in 1849. Folks over at TorontoIsAwesome.com, take note! From the book Industrial Canada: Volume 68, Issues 1-6 on Google Books:
The story of Rolph-Clark-Stone began in London, England, in a small engraving shop from which an ambitious apprentice, Joseph Thomas Rolph, seeing broad opportunities in British North America, set out for Toronto, capital of Upper Canada, on May 2, 1857. During the ensuing decade, he gained a reputation there as a craftsman and man of principle. In the year of Confederation he purchased the one-room engraving shop of Ellis & Co. which in 1849 had been established at 11 King Street West.
According to Art and Work: A Social History of Labour in the Canadian Graphic Arts by Angela E. Davis, Rolph purchased Ellis & Company for £2,000 in December, 1867.
We can deduce the approximate age of this painting with a number of indicators. The City of Vancouver’s new coat of arms was first designed by James Blomfield in 1901; the Dominion Building appearing on the left was built in 1910; the Vancouver Block on the right was built in
1916 correction: 1912. In 1917, Rolph & Clark changed it’s name to Rolph, Clark, Stone, Ltd. Thus, I think it’s safe to estimate this cigar box dates from around 1912 to 1916; incidentally, 1916 also happens to be the same year that Joseph Thomas Rolph passed away.
As for the company that produced the cigars, I found but one slim lead; the book Papermakers: the Blandin Paper Company and Grand Rapids, Minnesota mentioned George Booth’s Cigars, including Pokegama Bouquet. Pokegama is the name of a lake in Minnesota (a big fishing destination) as well as the name of a different lake nearby in Wisconsin. From the city of Superior, Wisconsin’s website, “The word ‘Pokegama’ (pronounced po-kay-gehmeh) is of Chippewa extraction, and means ‘bay or lake in or at one side of a river.'” I have a hunch that Mr. George Booth may have been an entrepreneurial cigar maker who was branding his products after various tourist destinations. I tried asking the Grand Rapids, MN Library for help with this theory, but I have not yet received a reply.
There may be one more clue buried in the fine print at the bottom left of the label; if the right side states “Rolph & Clark, Toronto”, what the left side states has not yet been resolved. If we have any cigar historians or aficionados in our midst who can shed some light on the subject, feel free to add a comment below.Granted we may never discover who actually drew this piece of vintage commercial artwork, but at least we now know a little more about the label and the company that printed it.
You’re probably wondering where I found a nearly 100 year old cigar box. Good question. The fact is, this cigar box illustration is listed for sale on eBay from the seller thekennelclub for $400 USD. A smaller version of the graphic (below) is priced at $200 USD. But don’t tell your grandpa; he might just get wound up and say, “Back when I was your age, $200 could have bought you dinner, a show at the Orpheum, AND a convertible!”
UPDATE! I just heard back from the seller, and the text on the left simply says “Registered”, so alas, still no artist credit.
Exterior cigar label design, via eBay