M2181.0-1 | Cigar or cigarette case

Cigar or cigarette case
Anonyme - Anonymous
Eastern Woodlands
Aboriginal: Huron-Wendat
1840-1900, 19th century
Birchbark, stroud, moosehair, cotton thread, dyes
6.6 x 13.3 cm
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Case (40)
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Keys to History

In the second half of the 1800s, cigar cases like this one were greatly prized as gifts. Men also bought them for themselves as souvenirs. Often they were inscribed inside, directly on the birchbark. Other "gifts" of this type had the inscription written on a small piece of paper.

The cases were made of birchbark and decorated with pretty floral motifs. Some were covered with cloth in red (like this one), black or even brown and featured embroidered motifs illustrating local personalities and scenes from daily life in Lorette at the time.

  • What

    In the 19th century a cigar case was a favourite gift, given by men to their male friends. A dedication or inscription was often written on the birchbark inside, under the flap. Or a few words might be written on a piece of paper accompanying the case.

  • Where

    This case was fashioned by Huron-Wendat artisans of the village of Wendake during a period when tourist art was at its height. It was also a period when Huron-Wendat families could anticipate a decent income.

  • When

    This object was made between 1840 and 1900, that is, during the second half of the 19th century.

  • Who

    Birchbark cigar cases were a speciality of the Huron-Wendat. Decorated on both sides with flowers embroidered in moosehair, these cases were often presented to men as gifts or souvenirs.