Guide to the Virgil Johnson Collection of Cigarette Packages
Digitized Content

Summary
Collection ID:
NMAH.AC.0645
Creators:
Brown and Williamson.
Johnson, Virgil
American Tobacco Company.
Benson and Hedges.
Philip Morris, Inc.
Lorillard.
Liggett & Myers Tobacco Company.
Reynolds, R. J.
Dates:
circa 1890-1997
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
25 Cubic feet
26 boxes
Repository:
As a teenager, Virgil Johnson [b.1918] became interested in the designs and symbols on cigarette packs like "Black Cat" and "White Roll", and he began actively collecting in the 1930s. His interest intensified during the 1940s when he was stationed in North Africa and across the Mediterranean region as a photographer with the U.S. Navy. Mr. Johnson collected cigarette packs for over fifty years, and was a member of the Cigarette Pack Collector's Association. Approximately 6000 cigarette packages, foreign and American, arranged in 24 albums. Manufacturers include names such as those shown below.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The collection consists of approximately 6,000 cigarette packages, ca. 1890-1997, arranged in 24 albums. The cigarette packages offer a strong base for research into the categories of visual imagery created, associated with, and manipulated for the sale of tobacco products. Researchers interested in the history of design will also find these packages a useful source, as they reflect design modifications (in image, logo, typeface, and package features) over time for virtually every brand marketed in the U.S. and an enormous selection of those marketed overseas, by both U.S. and other global tobacco concerns.
Series 3: BOOKS ABOUT TOBACCO AND TOBACCO COLLECTING These titles have been transferred to NMAH Library.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is divided into 3 series.
Series 1: Cigarette Packages
Series 2: Articles and Other Publications About Tobacco
Series 3: Books About Tobacco and Tobacco Collecting

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
As a teenager, Virgil Johnson [b.1918] became interested in the designs and symbols on cigarette packs like Black Cat and White Roll, and he began actively collecting in the 1930s. His interest intensified during the 1940s when he was stationed in North Africa and across the Mediterranean region as a photographer with the U.S. Navy. Mr. Johnson collected cigarette packs for over fifty years, and was a member of the Cigarette Pack Collector=s Association.

Administration
Processing Information
Collection processed by Mimi Minnick, July 1998
Separated Materials
Thirty (30) empty wood, metal, and plastic cigarette packs are also part of the Virgil Johnson Collection. They are housed with the Consumer Culture Collections in the Cultural History Division, which also holds several dozen cigarette packs from the Walter Landor/Landor Associates Industrial Design Collection (AC 500).
Author
Mimi Minnick
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The collection was donated to the Archives Center of the National Museum of American History in July 1998, by Mr. Virgil Johnson, a resident of Alexandria, Virginia.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The collection was donated to the Archives Center of the National Museum of American History in July 1998, by Mr. Virgil Johnson, a resident of Alexandria, Virginia.

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation
Virgil Johnson Collection of Cigarette Packages, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Conditions Governing Use
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open for research.

Related Materials
The Archives Center is nationally recognized as a site in which to pursue research into the history of tobacco advertising. The Warshaw Collection (AC 60) include many thousands of tobacco advertisements and cigar box labels from the 19th and 20th centuries; the Ayer Collection (AC 59) includes advertising proofsheets for American Tobacco, Phillip Morris, R.J. Reynolds and other cigarette and cigar manufacturers since the 1870s. The Marlboro Collection (AC 198) includes print ads, company publications, and oral history interviews with tobacco industry and advertising agency personnel. The Walter Landor/Landor Associates Industrial Design Collection (AC 500) includes documentation on package design for numerous tobacco companies since the 1950s, and the newly acquired Sandra and Gary Baden Collection of Celebrity Endorsements in Advertising (AC 611) contains several hundred ads featuring movie stars, singers, politicians, and athletes promoting tobacco products since the 1890s.
4,000 cigarettes, also donated by Mr. Johnson, each contained in a screw top glass vial, were donated to the Center for Disease Control's Office of Smoking and Health in Atlanta, Georgia.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Packaging -- 1850-1900 Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Packaging -- 20th century Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Tobacco -- 1850-2000 Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Tobacco -- 20th century Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Albums Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Cigarettes -- 1850-2000 Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Cigarettes -- 20th century Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
P.O. Box 37012
Suite 1100, MRC 601
Washington, D.C. 20013-7012
archivescenter@si.edu
http://americanhistory.si.edu/archives