__An entire web-site or books could be about collecting cigar bands, a hobby enjoyed by millions at the turn of the century. Band collecting played an important part as the predecessor of cigar label collecting. There are many stories about the origin of cigar bands, but it seems that the old continent and the new have their own arguments. One story is that in order to protect the fingers of the many ladies who smoked cigars and complained about nicotine stain on their white gloves, while be in the court with the royalty. Another says that a prominent cigar manufacturer in Cuba, discovering that some unscrupulous individuals were manufacturing cigars with inferior tobacco under his name, designed a colorful ring identifying each cigar in the box; the idea caught on, and other reputable manufacturer began to do the same. What is a fact is that they are existing as far as 1870, but it is known from Cuban archives that the first bands were issued in the 1830's.
__What was available in great supply were sidewalks and gutters littered with beautiful multi-colored, gold embossed cigar bands courtesy of the millions of cigar smokers of the era, who usually discarded with no interest in the band when they unwrapped their cigar outside the store.
__With the time the lithographers concentrated their effort on a major artwork, which was the inner label that was exposed when the cigar box was opened for display in the cigar case, they usually tried to create a smaller pictorial image of the person, animal, building, or other subject on the band. this practice died out after War World I, as in many industries, price unfortunately won out over quality and workmanship. Lithographers, at request of cigar makers, began to replace the pictorial images on bands with simply a name, initial or embossed logo.
__Sometimes the cigar maker got some millage out of the used bands by setting up a premium program, in which the smoker would send old bands for premium gifts ranging from a three-pack of cigars up to a humidor.
__We are very fortunate to have in our company a good collection of cigar bands from the United States and other countries. And we invite you to come and see it, and enjoy this lost art...
Note: The lables presented are part of our private collection.
Research by : W. Reyes, Ph.D.
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