Advertising cigars with a card shark

This dude abides tobacco.
"I'm a card cheat. Come buy tobacco from me..."

I discovered this guy in a magazine about antiques, where they explained the origins of cigar store Indians and other tobacco advertising figures. Because they were associated with tobacco, most of the wooden figures used in early tobacco advertising were American Indians, but gradually others appeared.

The magazine said that this carved figure from around 1880 is called a dude. He's wearing flashy clothing and is postured to look like a slick con artist or card shark. Since many of these dudes smoked expensive cigars to indicate their success, they were a natural for advertising cigars and tobacco.

But after more research, I discovered the term "dude" was really a slang term for a strutting, foppish young man in the late 1880s who emulated fashionable English clothing styles, and didn't refer specifically to a cheat.

Also, that type of gentleman was sometimes called a "racetrack tout," or someone who didn't cheat, but sold advice on gambling, especially on horses.

So I guess when you look at that guy, you associate him with a haughty, well-dressed Englishman selling gambling advice at the racetrack.

And you think cheat.

(To read more than you ever wanted to know about the origins of the word "dude," read a reprint from Comments on Etymology at The Dudespaper>>)

Antique Arts Journal>>

Oodles of tobacco advertising figures at Cigar Store Indian Statue>>

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