Smoke, Smoke, Smoke that Cigarette!

This fun cigarette advertising campaign for Sovereign Cigarettes, which personified a cigarette as a southern child of good breeding and manners, appeared in the Watchman and Southron (Sumter, S.C.) newspaper in January and February 1917. He’s a darling little fellow, with matchsticks for arms and legs and a flame capping his crown, who is proud to point out that his mother was from Virginia and his father an aristocrat from the Carolinas. He appears first as a baby being washed by his nurse, then playing with tumbling blocks, learning to spell, and lastly, being carried by his friends on their shoulders who clearly seem to be singing “For he’s a jolly good fellow!” You can click on each image to see the ads as they appear in Chronicling America.

“My folks down South keep telling me: ‘Be sweet, clean, and pure.'”

“My isn’t there a lot to learn? And the Governor keeps saying you can’t get it all out of books.”

“So a clean sweet wholesome cigarette makes heaps of friends down South.”

“I’ve never lied to my friends, nor cheated them, nor double-crossed them…They know me by right name-Sovereign! A true gentleman of the South, born and bred.”

Here are some more fun ones…

I, a Southern Gentleman am Named

A Scholar and A Gentleman

A Southern Gentleman Makes a New Friend

Merit Wins Folks, Merit Wins Every Time

The American Tobacco Company was founded in Durham, N.C. by J.B. Duke in 1879, which consolidated in 1890 and was known as the “Tobacco Trust.” Subject to the Sherman Antitrust Law of 1890, the American Tobacco Company was indicted in 1907 and in 1911, was ordered to break its monopoly on the cigarette industry and to dissolve into several companies, the same day as the Standard Oil Company was forced to do the same. These Sovereign Cigarettes ads emerged a few years after the break-up of this giant tobacco monopoly.

There are several more Sovereign Cigarette ads in Chronicling America. To find them, go to and search “sovereign cigarettes.”


This entry was posted in Articles and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.