Now before any American readers get upset about the title of this post – a fag in the UK is a slang term for a cigarette. 😀

You see, I found this old empty packet of Capstan Navy Cut cigarettes in the attic of the hall at Barony St. John in Ardrossan.

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And I was keen to find a date for this packet, so I searched the internet to try to match it (if any readers remember smoking these and this particular packet design, please let me know).

There were a few advertising signs showing a Capstan cigarette packet with slightly different wording or a completely different design –

capstan capstan1

And a number of different posters and newspaper adverts, again showing slightly different packets –

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Old advertising sign for "Capstan cigarettes, around 1950, Armscote, Warwickshire, England, United Kingdom, Europe

It seems that a lot of actors advertised these cigarettes from Evelyn Laye (an English theatre and musical actress popular in the 1920’s) to British Hollywood star David Niven.

This packet from the 1950’s is almost identical to the one I found with only the wording at the top different – “Medium Strength” instead of just “Medium”.

1960 capstan

But this one, which is in the Owaka Museum in New Zealand, is identical.

museum capstan

This specimen is from the collection at Owaka Museum – Wahi Kahuika / The Meeting Place “a rest on your journey” and is labelled as follows;

About this object: Cigarette packet; a cardboard ‘Capstan Navy Cut’ cigarette packet. Made in New Zealand by W.D. and H.O. Wills (New Zealand) Ltd.

Medium and Materials: processed material, paper, cardboard.

Inscription and Marks: Printed on the front of the packet: ‘MEDIUM / CAPSTAN / NAVY CUT / CIGARETTES / W.D. & H.O. WILLS / BRISTOL & LONDON’

Measurements: h 76mm x l 47mm x w 18mm

Unfortunately, the display does not have a date for the specimen. 😦

It seems that W.D & H.O. Wills manufactured these cigarettes using Virginia leaf tobacco grown in New Zealand – which reminded me of one of my earlier posts “Clipper Ships” where I found out about Ardrossan’s ship building past and the clipper ships which used to bring tobacco back to the UK from Australia and New Zealand.

So although we cannot say which era this cigarette packet comes from, at least we can take satisfaction in knowing that it is so old that an identical packet is on display in a New Zealand museum.

Thank goodness this packet never went up in a puff of smoke – like the contents. 😀