Cigarette cases of rich and famous


November 18, 1990|By Anita Gold | Anita Gold,Chicago Tribune

Q: It has been six months since I smoked my last cigarette, and now that I've successfully kicked the habit, I'm wondering if my old cigarette cases (some of which are quite fancy) have any value. Some of the cases date from the '40s.

A: The value of a cigarette case depends on its design, age, the material it's made from, whether it's signed by a famous maker or whether it belonged to a famous person. For instance, at a Christie's East auction in New York in June, several cigarette cases sold for sizable sums. Included was a sterling silver case engraved with the initial "C" on the front and inscribed "To Al and Mae, 12-18-29, From John Torrio" on the back that was given to Al and Mae Capone on their 11th wedding anniversary by Torrio (who was once Capone's boss), which brought $4,400.

Another sterling silver example is one designed like an envelope or package wrapped in yellow 14-karat gold twisted string, with an applied yellow, red and green enameled stamp "postmarked" 12-25-38 and addressed to Mayo Bogart, Hollywood, Cal. It was given by Humphrey Bogart to his then wife Mayo for Christmas, and it has brought $6,820 at auction. Yet another example, which has brought $5,720 at auction, was Rita Hayworth's Chesterfield cigarette case fashioned from sterling silver in a trapezoid design and embellished with a simulated ruby, moonstone and green tourmaline floral bouquet wrapped in a yellow gold scroll on the front. It was signed with Rita Hayworth's signature in red enamel and was used by the actress in a '40s Chesterfield advertisement.

Other valuable cigarette cases were Russian examples designed by Peter Carl Faberge and other artisans.

A circa 1900 silver and enamel Russian cigarette case embellished with a troika scene has a $200 value.

Cigarette cases can be found pictured and priced in the new 900-page sixth edition of "Official Identification and Price Guide to Antique Jewelry" by Arthur Guy Kaplan (available for $21.95 postpaid from House of Collectibles, 501 E. 50th St., New York, N.Y. 10022).

Anita Gold can be reached by writing Anita Gold, Maryland Living, The Sun, Baltimore 21278. Selected questions will appear in her column. The volume of mail makes individual replies impossible. When writing sources listed in this column, enclose an addressed, stamped envelope for replies.

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