The Frank Gallagher Cigar Store Indian is one of our favorite products. Hand carved from Aspen tree's and wonderfully decorated and accented. Originally created as advertisements for tobacco or smoke shops, carved wooden Indians remained the same within an ever-changing world. They were commonly known as "trade figures" as they were created as a logo or brand for tobacco companies and tobacco shops.
The first wooden cigar store Indians date back to 1617 in England when tobacco companies would put small, carved wooden Indian figures known as Virginie Men on the shelves of tobacco shops to serve as spokesmen for the company products. Afterall, it was the American Indian that introduced tobacco to the world. Similar carved figureheads were placed on the front bows of the sailing ships that belonged to the tobacco companies so as to further their advertisements and promote their "brand".
In the mid-eighteenth century the early American colonialists remembered the Virginie Men at the tobacco shops in the old country. Then, out of the woodwork, artists like the Skillin Family, John Cromwell, and Thomas Brooks started carving life-sized wooden Indians and gained reputations for being some of the notable first sculptors in America.
The Cigar Store Indians provided an important function in a time when many of the immigrants in America spoke only their native languages and the statues served as store signs allowing people to know that they had arrived at the tobacco shop.
Later, in the nineteenth century, the "Cigar Store Indian" became a symbol that people of all languages could understand. Now, the Cigar Store Indian is a reminder to all of us, of a pre-digital time when things were carefully carved by hand and created from natural materials for the benefit of merchants and their customers. Our Cigar Store Indians are made by Native American Indian carvers and truly bring a feeling of admiration for the craftsmen and provide a handsome reminder of the days of the Old West.
Cigar Store Indians
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