Lucky Strike collectibles & memorabilia



2015-06-26 10:38:01

Lucky Strike is a brand of cigarettes introduced in 1871. Advertising memorabilia related to the brand is a popular area of tobacciana collectibles.

Advertising background

The Lucky Strike brand began life as a cut-plug chewing tobacco, and later became a cigarette.

The 1917 advertising campaign used the phrase ‘It’s Toasted’, suggesting a better flavour due to the process of toasting the tobacco rather than sun-drying it. This continued into later decades, some adverts explaining: ‘Toasting expels certain black, biting, harsh irritants naturally present in every tobacco leaf’.

The advertising also began to focus on the higher quality of the tobacco used in Lucky Strike cigarettes. Hollywood actors endorsed the brand, including Douglas Fairbanks, who testified to the cigarette’s better flavour.

During the 1920s, Lucky Strikes built up a relationship with radio music programmes, and later television programmes, sponsoring them and involving the brand name in the title in various ways.

In the late 1920s, advertising campaigns aimed at women suggested that Lucky Strikes could make one thin. The adverts read: ‘Reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet’.

In 1942, the signature dark green packet of the Lucky Strike brand turned to white. The accompanying advertising campaign joked that copper was used to make the green colour, and it was now needed for the war effort. The slogan was: ‘Lucky Strike has gone to war’. The truth was that it had become apparent that white packaging was more appealing to female smokers than dark green. This advertising campaign therefore successfully marketed the product more effectively, and branded the company as patriotic. The new white packaging was designed by Raymond Loewy.

The initials: ‘L.S.M.F.T.’, standing for ‘Lucky Strike means fine tobacco’, were placed on the packaging from 1945 onwards.

The brand is somewhat iconic, and referenced in much popular culture,films, games, and music. They often bear the nickname ‘Luckies’.

Collectible items of memorabilia

  • Lucky Strike lighters and Zippo lighters
  • Antique & vintage Lucky Strike tobacco tins, especially green ones pre-1942
  • Antique & vintage Lucky Strike ‘Flat Fifties’, flat cigarette tins, used to house one layer of 50 cigarettes
  • Vintage Lucky Strike cigarette packets, especially the green ones pre-1942.
  • 1950s Lucky Strike Pin-up girl advertising posters
  • Lucky Strike ashtrays
  • Vintage advertising signs (tin, neon, glass, porcelain)
  • Lucky Strike clocks
  • Lucky Strike gum
  • Vintage Lucky Strike shop displays
  • Lucky Strike bridge cards
  • Lucky Strike trading cards

Collecting tips

Lucky Strike collectibles are widespread and relatively inexpensive.

Adverts that date back to the early days of Lucky Strike, and when it was the top selling US brand of cigarettes in the 1930s, are the most sought after. Large shop displays and signs are the most valuable.

Paper and cardboard advertisements are often the subject of reprints, so a collector must be careful when ascertaining if an item is a genuine vintage advertisement.

Vintage cigarette packs are delicate items, and it can be hard to find them in good condition. However, Lucky Strike had a great tradition of tin packaging, which is common and less easily damaged. The vintage green tins can be picked up for less than $50-$100.

As a burgeoning Lucky Strike collector, it may be worth collecting current cigarette packets and adverts. They will inevitably eventually become vintage, and potentially collectible as the brand develops in the future.

Notable sales

  • Lucky Strike window size advertising store display, sold for $5,500 at Showtime Auction Services in 2009.
  • 1930s Lucky Strike ‘Doctor’ advertisement, sold for $4,200 at Grey Flannel Auctions in 2006.
  • 1930s ‘Luckies’ cigarette and gum dispenser, sold for $4,000 at Victorian Casino Antiques in 2012.
  • Lucky Strike Bubble-Glo neon sign, sold for $3,500 at Showtime Auction Services in 2010.
  • 1940s Lucky Strike salesman sample coin-op dispenser and carrying case, sold for $1,600 at Morphy Auctions in 2012.
  • Lucky Strike glass tobacco humidor, sealed and containing original tobacco, sold for $1,600 at Morphy Auctions in 2010.
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