The Indian, the first American to cultivate tobacco, became the advertising symbol for smoke shops. By the second half of the 19th century, cigar store Indians reflected the taste and success of the proprietor. Indians of all shapes and sizes lined cities throughout America until the 1890s, when ordinances required that the obstructions be placed inside the shops. The placement of the figure inside the shop along with the marketing of chain stores was the onset to the demise of both the cigar store Indian and the independent tobacconist.
Cigar store figures with stylized features similar to this example are exhibited on forms produced in Samuel Robb's workshop. For example an Indian brave signed Samuel A. Robb is located in the New York Historical Society and is illustrated in Bishop, American Folk Sculpture, p. 256, no. 478. Another closely related example was sold in these rooms 17 June 1997, lot 375.