I am collecting cigarette packages meanwhile since around 30 years. There are many different ways to get a cig pack. A lot of them are easy to find on the streets or in bins or at rest-stations of motorways.
My holidays often brought me to countries, which were quite blind spots in my collection, like the Baltic States, Romania, Louxemburg, Malta or Cyprus. Or in the last years to Benin, Nigeria, Iran, Syria, Emirates, Lebanon. At the end of a journey , my last way often brings me to a tobacconist, to buy some brands, I didn´t find. I have never been a smoker, so others have hd to suffer for the contents of these cig packs. Meanwhile I started to collect as well full packages, which changed somehow as well my intersts of collecting
Another way, to get my cig packs is to ask all my relatives (those, who didn´t quit smoking in the last years!) and other people I know, if they could bring me a little present from their holidays, which works quite well for most of the time. But sometimes it doesn´t . Once I didn´t get anything from some african countries (e.g. Marlboro), where two travellers have been, because they believed, that I am only collecting domestic african brands. Meanwhile, I am less shy to ask people to bring me cigarette packages and there is now a "hall of fame" - a list of more than 500 donators!
As well I did exchange with some collectors, more than 10 yeas ago. but is was really difficult, to choose from some lists and you got an envelope with 50-60 packages and you checked that some of them are double, some are in not good condition. as well I could not build up an emotionbal relationship this huge amount. So I quitted exchanging for more than a decade. Since a year, because of our collectors facebook group, I started exchanging again. Now, we all present our packages with pictures. It is easier to check the condition and easioer to build up a relationshiop, till I personally hold them in my hands.
Older packs and tins I am still buying on fleamarkets. Years ago, as a student, I have had a limit of ca. 3 Dollar for an old tin. Meanwhile I am angry about this limit, because today I paying much more for old tins and cig packs. Sometimes there really have been lucky strikes. In Istanbul I´ve bought a collection of more than 150 cig packs rom the 50ies.
Collecting makes one superstitious - in the turkish city of Bursa, there was a magic power, which pulled me through an open door of a house and there I found a dusty but wonderful collection of cig packs from the 70ies with any turkish rarities.
When I have had my first contact with the Internet - in the spring of 1998, my collecting world was totally changed from one moment to the other.
After some hours of searching I found the first collector-links and suddenly I was just one collector from many all over the world. I was fascinated by the number and variety of their collections. In the meantime I have a lot of collector-friends. With a lot I lost the contact, some new I got and with a few I have had interesting personal meetings.
Still it is very important to me, that there is a personal relationship between the cig pack and me. The setting down of the find locations and donors in the last ten years has developed into a special kind of diary and as well I did a map of all places in the world, where I found packages .
Because I am very interested in older cig packs, in March 2000 I went for a trip to Prague, to meet an old collectorKnopek, a nice and very competent one with a really huge amount of wonderful cig packs!! So I bought there almost 2.000 cig packs from the 1960´s and 1970´s and especially from the countries of Eastern Europe. This was a wonderful time of two days, just looking hours for hours through the doubles.
But back at home, it needed a long time to register all these cig packs in my database. And then, I wanted to update my homepage with them – but it was too much work and so, unfortunately, this big booster for my collection was the end of my first homepage.
In the next years then, I started to buy cig packs at ebay. Suddenly you see this much of boxes and tins, you never could find at fleamarkets. But this market is dangerous, because you are playing after the rules of global economy with other collectors, who are in concurrence to you. So it can be very expensive to get a least a tin/box you really want. Like a tin from the not any more existing Danube island Ada Kaleh. So I really bought a lot of very good tins and packages which tell you really a lot of history. But if I buy for a cig pack or a tin, there is almost no emotional relationship between me and the new item (in difference if I buy cig packs at fleamarkets, there is a really good mood, either in Graz, Vienna, Nürnberg, Munich, Berlin, Temploux, La Valletta, Istanbul, Paris, Bordeaux, Aix en Provence, Amsterdam and where ever I visited them as well!).
So I set a limit within my collection of cig packs, which I buy, trade or swap. This is as well a reason why I reduced my swapping partners in the last years as well.
The most I like cig packs, I find in the streets or dustbins or which I get from friends.
Today, I am as well a little more near to my dreams.
One is, to organize more exhibitions with my collection (I did two single exhibitions in 2008 and 2009 and participtaed in two oter exhibitions in 2010 and 2011, which brought me very good feedback).
And my other dreams?
Well, I want to have a cig pack from each country (and a lot of territories) of the world, I want to establish a museum about cigarette smoking in some years and I want to write books about the cultural history of smoking.
So we will see what the future brings me and my collection …