The Cigar Machine Cometh

The Union’s First Reaction

A National Cigar History Museum Exhibit 

© Tony Hyman, All rights reserved


    “There has been patented and placed on the market a machine which makes the complete cigar. I have seen this machine in full operation. The machine costs about $4,500 and a royalty of $1,000 per year is charged for each machine, on cigars that sell for ten cents or more, and $750 on cigars that sell for less than ten cents. It requires four persons to operate one machine. One feeds the filler; another handles the binder; another, the wrapper; while the fourth does the patch work as the cigar comes out complete.

    One machine will make only one size cigar and can roll only a right hand or a left hand wrapper. Two machines, however, could make two different sizes or shapes by rolling only right hand wrappers on one size or shape and left hand wrappers on another. A manufacturer could produce ten sizes with ten machines by using left hand wrappers on five sizes and right hand wrappers on the other five.

    One skilled machinist is required for every six machines. The capacity of one machine is said to be from four to six thousand cigars a day.

    According to reports submitted, there are 112 machines now in operation, giving employment to 451 people. I am of the opinion however, that there are more of these machines in operation than have been reported by our local unions.

    As stated in another part of this report, the hand work method is the Simon-pure, proper and most satisfactory way of making cigars.  Whether the general public can be educated to the point of using the machine made cigars, and whether such cigars will prove successful, remains to be seen.

    These are the facts in connection with the new machine as I understand them. This question merits your active thought. Your judgment, after debate, must determine what the attitude of the International Union shall be toward the new machine.”


The New Cigar Making Machine

Volume XLIV  Number 4                                                                                               April 15, 1920

Little did G.W. Perkins, the Journal editor and soon to be President of the CMIU, realize that those machines were the grim reaper, coming inexorably for his Union, and nothing he or the members could do could stop them.