Almost a decade ago we observed a trend having to do with musical instruments made from cigar boxes. Since then, interest in such instruments has grown and expanded to instruments made from other "found objects, such as gallon size oil cans. Most of the the activity has always had to do with cigar box guitars, but fiddles and other instruments as well. The part of the trend that we were, and still are, keenly interested in is cigar box fiddles.
Two Types of Cigar Box Fiddle
The 1860s or Civil War Style
Cigar box fiddles have a history going back at least 150 years. The Spanish "Cedar" (not really cedar, but a hardwood that smells like cedar) cigar box was introduced in the 1840s, and there were plenty of discarded ones around by the 1850s. These boxes were plain wood, usually with the name of the cigar maker, and the type of cigar branded somewhere on the box. Pasted on paper "artwork", which we now associate with cigar boxes, did not come until the 1890s. There is pretty good evidence that home made cigar box fiddles were common among soldiers during the American Civil War.
In the late 19th Century and well into the 20th Century, cigar boxes were less likely to be solid Spanish Cedar and were generally cedar-lined plywood boxes. These newer boxes are generally covered with paper artwork and branding information. We call fiddles made from these newer boxes, which are still used today to package fine cigars, "Modern" type cigar box fiddles. Making a functional fiddle from one of these newer boxes requires a lot of added bracing to keep them from caving in.
D. Rickert Musical Instruments Make Both the Civil War and the Modern Types
See the updated product listings at the Don Rickert Musician Shop:
Also, you will find lots of additional information, photos, video demos etc. in some of our earlier blog posts: