CIGAR HISTORY   1916-1962  Machine Age

A National Cigar History Museum Exclusive 

Text and images © Tony Hyman, all rights reserved

Modified October 1, 2014

        This page covers the closing days of the Golden Age to the Fidel Castro era, the closing of Cuba and the end of the small factory.

        Government activities (usually laws) are in printed in bold type, as are particularly noteworthy companies and brand names. If I own a box, label or other ephemera, it is marked in claret color.  Entries in red are social or historic events with significant impact on the country.

        This timeline is under construction. I add dates as I find them. Since the information was gathered over a period of 50 years from more than 1,000 sources, errors, contradictions or differences of opinion are inevitable. Feel free to write <>.


A Review of Some Relevant Tax Laws

1910  US Government drops denominations from small white import stamps, now dated 1910.

1910  US Government totally redesigns cigar tax stamps, shortening them to 9± inches.

1910  US Government allows boxes of 5 and 10 regular cigars as well as 5 and 8 small cigars

1910  US Government allows Caution Notices to be printed directly on cigar boxes instead of pasted on. Specifies strict uniform dimensions and shape.

1913  US Government issues first Manufactured in Bond customs stamp. Continued as long as supplies of Cuban tobacco are available (early 1960’s). See Dating Import stamps for detail.

1915  Canadian Government issues new series of tax stamps the same as 1897, but redated and  printed only in black. Small denomination stamps (5 & 10) were redesigned as small horizontals printed in gold-orange, but not color-coded. See Dating Canadian boxes for more detail.

The Machine Age

1916  US shortens all 25, 50, 100 and 250 cigar stamps to a uniform 4± inches. Tax Stamps no longer feature a portrait.  Short tax stamps are a foolproof way to know whether a box of US or imported cigars was sold before or after 1916.

1916  EL PRODUCTO brand of cigars established.

1916  Reynaldo Cigar Co. is incorporated with a capital of $5,000 for “manufacturing cigars and cigarettes, and dealing in and vending all products thereto relating.” Offices in NYC and most products manufactured in Gilbertsville, PA, east of Reading. Relationship of this company to the REYNALDO cigars imported from the Philippines in staggering numbers since 1910 is not clear, but the company ultimately uses a modernized version of the same label.

1916  Membership in the Cigar Maker’s International Union peaks at only 53,000 members, but they are very influential philosophically. more than one hundred other union charters and constitutions are based on the example set  by cigarmakers.

1916  Don Francisco Pego Pita partnered with Cifuentes in producing Partagas. Name changed to Cifuentes, Pego y Cia.

1916  WILLEM II brand established in Valkenswaard, the Netherlands, by H. Kersten, former employee of the van Best Brothers. In the pre-WWII era, approximately 60 small cigar factories and three big ones, operated in the area. Most were wiped out by US bombing raids during the last weeks of WWII.

1916   A German soldier’s ration during WWI was officially two cigars and two cigarettes a day.  History doesn’t record how often they succeeded in collecting it.

1916  American Tobacco Company introduces LUCKY STRIKE to compete with Camels and Chesterfield.

1916-1920  Nearly all state and local laws prohibiting sale of tobacco products to minors were passed during WW One, at a time when the modern blended cigarette became mass marketed. Cigarettes outsold cigars for the first time in 1920.

1917  US Government sets 5 tax classes for cigars based on their retail price; Tax class shown both on the box and stamp, now color coded by amount paid. See: “Dating Boxes”

1917  TOBACCO magazine reports that there are 580,000 retail tobacco dealers in the U.S.

1917  E. Latimer Sechrist and W.C. Fruitiger form the Superior Cigar Co. in York County, PA. Sechrist buys out Fruitiger 6 years later.  Maker of FAVORITE PLAYERS, PAY DAY, JENNY LIND 5¢ cigars, JOLLY FELLOWS 2/5¢ cigars and KALO 3/10¢ cigars.

1917-1918  The Salvation Army, Red Cross and the YMCA all distribute free cigarettes to the troops in France.

1918  John Dengler opens St. Louis cigar factory and tobacco shop that lasted 50+ years.

1918  An entire generation of young men returns home to England, France, Australia and the U.S. from World War One addicted to cigarettes.

1919  US Government enacts national PROHIBITION of booze. Saloons by the tens of thousands closed, cutting off an important retail outlet for cigars.

1919  First fully automated short-filler cigar machine introduced in US.  One machine sold. A decade later, more than 4,000 would be in production, each making more cigars in an hour than a hand-roller could do in a day, at about half the daily wage cost.  With those numbers, adoption was inevitable.

1919  Philadelphia's Juan F. Portuondo celebrates 50th anniversary with gold/orange tin can. Have boxes, anniversary can, sign.

1919  D. Emil Klein becomes first President of the newly formed Consolidated Cigar CorporationJulius Lichtenstein, President of American Sumatra Tobacco Company, becomes its 2nd president in 1922.

1919  Waitt & Bond. moves production of BLACKSTONE from Boston to Newark, a move made by other companies as well, usually the result of a labor dispute ending in mechanization.

1919  Census reports 19,832 people employed making cigars and cigarettes in Manhattan. 

1919  Toraño y Campañia opens warehouses in Havana, specializing in Vuelta Abajo and Partido fillers from their own farms. “Buy direct from the grower; your dollar brings you better value.”

1919  Nationwide, 56% of cigar and cigarette factories produce less than $5,000 worth of goods a year.

1919  Cigarette makers use more pounds of tobacco than smoking tobacco makers for the first time.

1919  Membership in the CMIU drops 40% in NYC because of the strike of 1919.  One quarter of cigar rollers remain  members, but in New Jersey less than 3% of cigar rollers are unionized. Important cigar companies in NY, PA and MA begin plans to move to New Jersey.

1919  London cigar importer N.R. Silverstone founded by Nat Silverstone. Still operating in 2000.

1920  Amalgamated Tobacco Workers of America founded as CMIU rival, small ineffectual, harassed NYC manufacturers, driving some to relocate to non-unionized New Jersey.

1920  American Cigar Co., General Cigar Co., Consolidated Cigar Corp., American Tobacco Co., P. Lorillard, Liggett & Myers and other domestic and foreign manufacturers have NYC headquarters.

1920  George & Herman Schroer open what in 1972 would be Louisville’s last surviving cigar factory.

1920  Bayuk Bros. incorporates, adding Inc. to their name.

1920  J.C. Winter operates 32 Pennsylvania factories, large and small. Maker of O’SAN, CHAMPAGNE, 50-50 and many other brands.

1920  Biggest cigar production year ever. Only 7.5% of cigar tobacco used in the US is imported, much of that from Sumatra via the Netherlands. Eight BILLION U.S. cigars used eight million pounds of tobacco imported from Cuba. That’s one pound for every 1,000 cigars. The word “Havana” on a cigar box almost always refers to a type of domestic U.S. tobacco called “Havana See,” but is used in ways to make the smoker (and today’s ebay sellers) think of Cuba.

1920  The development of the modern blended burley cigarette, cup packs, World War One, the jazz age, automobiles, flappers, movies, and women smokers led to 100 Billion cigarettes going up in smoke and combined with the fully automated cigar machine brought an end to the Golden-Age of the cigar. Cigar consumption remained around 8 Billion cigars while cigarette consumption skyrocketed.

1920  Cigarettes accounted for 51% of tobacco taxes, up from 2% in 1880. By 1970, cigarettes would account for 97% of all tobacco taxes collected by the Feds.

1920  NYC from 50th St to 96th, from 3rd Avenue East remains the greatest concentration of cigar factories in the world, but the introduction of the fully automated machine is about to change that.

1920  Crippling 11 month long strike bankrupts many Tampa cigar factories.

1920  Cigar making machine permits four unskilled girls to make 4,000 cigars a day, compared to four skilled and much higher paid workers’ output of around 1,200,   The handwriting was on the wall and everyone could read it.

1920  Jose Fernandez Rocha and Jose Rodriguez Fernandez (owners of J.F. Rocha y Cia, Inc., a Havana tobacco company) established LA GLORIA CUBANA. Brand today is made in Cuba, but also in the Dominican Republic by Cuban refugees.

1920-1935 marks a fifteen year depression in the CT tobacco industry.

1920  WINNIE WINKLE, the first significant daily comic strip starring a working single woman, starts in the Chicago Tribune. Before the decade is out, she appears as a cigar brand. The strip lasts 76 years, the unlikely cigar brand more than 50.

1921  Advent of broadcast radio in the United States.

1921  13,983 factories made less than 2,000,000 cigars a year each (average 125,607) 26% of US total.

          121 factories made more than 10,000,000 cigar a year each (average 23,125,826) 42% of total.

           Compare to 1906, 40% and $37% respectively.

1921  Average cigar production per factory 461,000 per year, double that of 1900. Factories larger, more mechanized.

1921  Canadian Government ID’s change from IRD (internal revenue districts) to Ports. Boxes with ID’s referring to “Ports” date after 1921. Those with IRD numbers date from 1921 or before.

1921  Consolidated Cigar Corporation formed from Grand Rapids cigar maker G.J. Johnson and five other companies. Johnson’s DUTCH MASTERS becomes their flagship brand.

1921  R.G. Sullivan, one of New England’s largest cigar factories, making 225,000 cigars a day for the ten cent market.

1921  Only 4% of US cigar factories roll more than 2,000,000 cigars a year but they account for 74% of all US cigars made.  The remaining 96% of the factories sold the other 26% of the cigars, with an average production of only 70,000 cigars. The majority of these were chinchalles (one man shops, also called ‘buckeyes’ because of their prevalence in Ohio).  Estimated 100,000 cigar brands being sold in the United States.

1921  To compete in the post-war boom, most York County (PA) makers converted to shredded domestic filler, frequently mixed with Puerto Rican and / or Havana scrap to keep retail price at 5¢, wholesaled at $35/1000; larger companies were able to make a long filler cigar for $38.50/1000. Shredded filler cigars dried out quickly, a problem solved by foil wrapping them. Previously foil was mostly decorative, now became a matter of necessity. Cellophane invented, adopted and machine apply-able by the end of the decade.

1921  60% of expensive domestic clear Havana cigars are made in NYC, more than Florida. But Florida cigar makers cooperated in a manner unthinkable in New York and became masters of romantic PR.

Florida companies and the Tampa Manufacturer’s Association successfully campaigned to make and market fine cigars, and lock Florida positively in smokers’ minds. They made excellent cigars.

1921  Cigar production in CT peaks. A century of growth and continual expansion ends.

1921  Iowa became the first state to tax cigarettes. By 1950, 40 states had followed suit taxing them from 1¢ to 8¢ a pack.

1922  Canadian Government issues new series of redesigned black strip tax stamps, smaller than previous issues. Issued only in 25 and 50 denominations.

1922  Faber, Coe & Gregg founded to take over the cigar distribution of fiscally troubled  Acker, Merrall & Condit (originally founded in 1820) who had become part of the Tobacco Trust in 1903.

1922  Bayuk Bros., Inc. begins packing PHILADELPHIA PERFECTO in now ubiquitous tin boxes. See exhibit of Bayuk and tin.

1922  Wages in a cigar factory range from $12 to $70 a week.  80% of cigar makers nationwide are women, and the lowest paid, generally as strippers and machine operators.  “Never hire a man if you can get a woman” was employer's creed.  Laws requiring separate bathrooms kept women from being hired in small factories. Generally factories under a dozen employees were Unisex, though female relatives worked alongside their menfolk.

1922  One in every 10 cigars (10% of US production) is machine made only five years after the first fully automated machine was introduced.

1922  The 35 largest factories in the U.S. made 12.5% of the cigars. The machine age gets established in the 1920’s and by 1930 the 35 largest companies would make 49.8% of all cigars.

1922  Baltimore had 132 registered cigar factories producing 350,000,000 cigars annually.

1922  The Magnolia Cigar Company of Park Avenue in Brooklyn filed for bankruptcy leaving a bill for $200 owned their lithographer, plus two other bills for $2,381.

1922  British trade directory lists 4,360 licensed retailers of cigars in London, 1,200 in Liverpool, 280 in Edinburgh, 340 in Glasgow, and 285 in Dublin.

1923  Connecticut’s cigar tobacco crop small than that of any other crop, but worth twice as much.

1923  Bayuk Bros. Inc. changes name again, now to Bayuk Cigars, Inc. which helps date boxes.

1923  J.B. Back & Co. founded in Ulster County New York has the distinction of being the last NY cigar factory when it closed its doors in 1986, laying off 65 people, mostly women.  Boxes.

1923  BULL DURHAM smoking tobacco ceases production. Will be reintroduced in 1931 with a price reduction from current 8¢ to 5¢ a pouch.

1923  Exports of Cuban cigarettes hit an all time low. Once the world’s most sought after, they couldn’t compete with the Tobacco Trust’s marketing and price-cutting. By 1910 exports dropped to 15,000,000 packs; by 1920 less than 10,000,000 by 1923 only 2,000,000. Cuban in-island consumption rose dramatically, aided in part by lavish use of insert carts, including nudies. Cubans traditionally consumed half their output; by 1923 they smoked 80% of their production.

1924  Canadian Government issues 100 denomination tax stamp in style of 1922 stamps.

1924  Philip Morris re-introduces MARLBORO as a ‘woman’s cigarette.’

1924  Independent Tobacco Growers of Puerto Rico founded. Offices in Caguas, PR, and NYC.

1924  QUINTERO brand established in the town of Cienfuegos, Cuba, by Augustin Quintero.

1924  Cuban Government changes the design of the green Cuban Guarantee stamp, adding text in English, French and German to previously all Spanish stamp.

1925  United Cigar Stores Company of America rang up $85,000,000 in sales, it’s highest figure yet.

1925  Only three brands, Camels, Chesterfield and Lucky Strike, sell 82% of all cigarettes, in great contrast to the cigar industry with many tens of thousands of brands sharing the pot.

1925  7,000 full and part time people are involved in cigar tobacco growing in Connecticut. More than 50% of tobacco was grown outdoors (as opposed to shade leaf) on small farms of 10 acres or less.

1925  Of the 3,300 cigar workers using automated machines, only 157 were men. Women who worked the machines were not well paid. Nearly 80% made less than $1000/year; 10% of the women made less than $5 a week, mostly in PA.

1925  POR LARRANAGA became the first Cuban factory to make machine made cigars for the lower price market. The addition of machines led to a boycott by factory workers.

1926  US Government tax laws change. New “Series of 1926” stamps issued, used 1926-1932.

Still color coded and without portrait.

1926  Canadian Government issues undated Series A small denomination tax stamps.

1926  Consolidated Cigar Corp. buys G.H.P, makers of EL PRODUCTO, favorite brand of comedian George Burns who smoked them until age 100.

1926  The Porto Rican-American Tobacco Company buys controlling interest in Congress Cigar Co. and LA PALINA cigars for $12,500,000.

1926  Bayuk Cigars Inc. builds what is billed as the largest completely air-conditioned cigar factory in the world in Philadelphia.

1926 WHITE OWL, which had been selling at 2/15¢ dropped to 3/20¢.

1926 Costa’s Directories Company, New York City, publishes the first in a series of annual and bi-annual TOBACCO DIRECTORY OF THE UNITED STATES, some of which include Canada, Cuba and Puerto Rico. The Museum would like to buy any issue of Costa’s Directory you might own.

1926  Ronson introduces the “Banjo” as the company’s first fully automatic lighter.

1927  Regina Cigar Co. founded in Philadelphia. A 1969 letter from the Company to potential customers says: “...we make hundreds of private labels...”

1927  Jno. H. Swisher & Son, maker of KING EDWARD and RED RANGER among others, moves manufacturing operation to modern machine factory in Florida from three story wood and brick building on West Main Street in downtown Newark, Ohio.

1927  Cigar manufacturer C.E. Bair & Sons operates Pennsylvania factories in Harrisburg, Craley, Yorkana, Goldsboro, Strinestown and Wrightsville. Leading brand is EVEN STEVEN. Also made STRICTLY PURE, EL JURIDICO, ACHIEVER, STAGO, NOBLE KNIGHT, SQUARE DEAL, and COLBERT.

1927  United Cigar Stores contracts with daring pilot showman Roscoe Turner flying a 1925 Sikorsky S-29-A bi-plane to become “The Flying Cigar Store” for a 10-week 25-city tour as a sales and publicity gimmick. Have photos, paperweight, paper plane, etc.

192Benson & Hedges begins Canadian cigar manufacture by purchasing J. Hirsch and Sons who had been making cigars in Montreal since the late 1800’s.

1927  Cuba establishes the Comision Nacional de Propaganda y Defensa del Tabaco Habano. The protection of the cigar business of Cuba was thus entrusted to an official organization whose goal was to secure measures for domestic stabilization but also for developing an intensive campaign to expand markets for Cuban cigars and cigar tobacco.

1928  US Government allows boxes of 20 large (over 3# per 1,000) cigars and issues tax stamp.

1928  Waning power of the CMIU is reflected in their loss of sick and out-of-work benefits.  Five years later, the death benefit would also be lost, leaving only strike benefits to members.

1928  Cigar banders working by hand could put on 7,000 cigar bands in a day. The newly available banding machine, tended by two not so nimble girls who got paid less, applied 30,000 cigar bands a day.  A hard working youngster could foil wrap about 2,400 cigars a day, usually in September and October in preparation for the Christmas trade. A new 1928 model foil wrapping machine could do ten times that.

1928  The United States ranks fourth in the world in the use of Philippine tobacco, behind Spain, France and Czechoslovakia. Japan ranks fifth, with North Africa, Northern Europe, Hong Kong, China and Australia following in that order. Except for the US, the top five buyers are all government monopolies.

1928+  The buying power of chain stores, and the subsequent cost benefits given them by makers of major brands, is a major concern within the retail tobacco trade during the 1920’s, 30’s and onward.

1928  American Tobacco Company begins sponsoring the Lucky Strike Hit Parade on radio, the first national use of a musical-variety show to promote tobacco products.

1928  E. Regensburg & Sons, New York, introduce HAPPY brand nickel cigars.

1928  Otto Eisenlohr reduces price of CINCO foiled from 2/15¢ to 3/20¢.

1929  Jno. H. Swisher & Son boxed 100,000,000 machine made and wrapped KING EDWARD cigars every year in Jacksonville, FL.

1929  Autokraft Box Corp. opened its doors to supply the cigar industry. Ruthlessly, according to some observers, they began buying out small competitors, sledge-hammered old equipment, and shut them down, effectively reducing competition.

1929  The Porto Rican-American Tobacco Company buys controlling interest in Waitt & Bond Cigar Co. and BLACKSTONE cigars for $3,000,000.

1929  More money is spent on advertising than education in the U.S. for the first time.

1929  The stock market crashes, country begins sinking into financial depression for entire next decade.

1929  375 cigar factories closed; 90% of them made higher priced cigars and employed 6 or fewer workers.

1929  American Tobacco Co. “developed the mass production of cigars along sanitary machinery lines.”  CREMO begins running controversial “spit” ads, an offshoot of that move.

1929  Deisel-Wemmer Co. merges with Bernard Schwartz Cigar Co. of Detroit to become D.W.G. The new company made ODIN, SAN FELICE, EMERSON, EL VERSO and owned substantial portion of Bernard Schwartz Cigar Co., maker of R.G. DUN and BRADSTREET.

1929  Innovative packager Francisco E. Fonseca, founder of cigar factories in New York and Havana, dies at his home in Havana. TOBACCO LEAF reports that his Havana burial is temporary; he will be disinterred and shipped to NY for final resting place.

1929  American Litho taken over by US Printing & Litho.

1929  ROYAL JAMAICA brand introduced to the market.

1929  A. & P. Grocery chain reduces the price of cigarettes to two packs for 23¢,

1929  The state of Washington requires the installation of one ash receptacle per passenger in automobiles driven in the forest and grain regions during the summer.

1930  US Government reaps $500,000,000+ from tobacco taxes, 80% from cigarettes.

1930  After the death of Celestino Lopez, the Tampa firm of Arango y Arango agrees to take over the brands belonging to Arguelles, Loipez & Bro.: TADEMA, INFINITO, LORD BYRON, FLOR DE GASTON, EL TIPO, EL SUCCESO, LA ALCOVA, ME LEAH and EL ROCCO.

1930  Eduardo Leon Jimenes changes name of his company, maker of LA AURORA, to Empresa Leon Jimenes. His sisters enter the business.

1930  Cigar label business of American Litho sold to Consolidated litho (1930-1980’s).

1930  Weidman, Fisher & Co., Tampa box makers, merge with Tampa Box Co. into Leiman-Weidman Box Co, believed to be the largest cigar box company in the Southern U.S.

1930  The country’s 6,976 smallest cigar factories made 5.2% of the US output.  The 35 largest cigar factories made 49.8% of the US output.  Middle size factories (those with an annual output 5 million to 40 million) were close behind, roughly 45%.

1930  4,500 fully automatic cigar making machines in operation in the U.S.  Four young girls can make almost 480 cigars an hour in contrast with a skilled hand roller’s daily 300 to 400.

1930  Reflecting mechanization, the average number of workers per cigar factory is 64. In 1900 it was only 6.

1930  Nickel cigars account for 63% of all sales for next 12 months. By July 1931, that rises to 73%.

1930  Amando Gonzalez & Son open business in Tampa as dealers in all types of domestic cigar leaf and importers of Puerto Rican and Cuban tobacco. 

1930  Autokraft Box Corp. continues campaign of buying and shutting down small box factories, smashing antiquated equipment and machines. Large companies were refitted and opened as branch Autokraft factories. Introduces “the new Autokraft wooden cigar box,” made with the latest technology.

1931  US Government changes 1910 white import stamp slightly, now dated 1931.

1931  US Government rules that the Navy must buy domestic cigars when within US waters, but admits it cannot prevent them from buying Cuban cigars when outside US territorial waters. The law relieves tobacco products intended for ships stores from paying taxes.  Wording of the Free of Tax stamp changed.

1931  A Tampa manufacturer of clear Havana cigars remarked “If our smokers can’t afford our higher priced sizes and demand a nickel cigar, I am willing to give it to them in the hope of keeping their loyalty on my brand until such time as the economy permits them to go back to the 2/25¢ and 3/50¢ sizes.” Many Tampa brands adopt this attitude.  Many companies begin packing 1/40ths (boxes of 25) instead of 1/20ths (boxes of 50).

1931  WHITE OWL reduces price to a nickel and becomes the largest selling 5¢ cigar, at 520,000,000 per year.  H. Fendrich drops price of CHARLES DENBY from 8¢ to 5¢.  Congress Cigar Co. drops price of LA PALINA from 6¢ to 5¢.

1931  P. Lorillard begins packing cellophane wrapped POSTMASTER at 2/5¢ in boxes of 100.

1931  Standard Cigar Co. of Pittsburgh reports production of stogies steady at 1,000,000 a week.

1931  American Cigar Co. operated factories producing machine made 5¢ cigars in Camden, Philadelphia, Passaic, Kansas City, Louisville, and Charleston.

1931  Short filler “shredded tobacco” cigars kept Red Lion district alive in the depression. Thousands of company and private brands. A few FAMOUS PLAYERS, NE-HI, LONG SMOKE, LUCKY LINDY, CITY NATIONAL, FIFTY-FIFTY, EL WADORA, O’SAN, PAYDAY, EMILIA GARCIA, LAS VEGAS, U.S. CLUB HOUSE, MEDITATION, HAVANA SWEETS, UTICA CLUB, CANADIAN CLUB, AMOS ‘N’ ANDY, SLEEPY EYE, HELLO WORLD, PEGGY O’NEIL, .

1931  Of 3,800,000 Class A cigars (retailing for not more than 5¢), 800,000 sold for less than 5¢.

1931  Bayuk wins NY State Supreme Court ruling stopping two NY cigar manufacturers from using the words “Phillies” or “Philadelphia” in the brand name, though the latter is permitted if the design of the box and band is distinctly different so as not to cause confusion on the part of a customer.

1931  Autokraft Box Corp., headquartered in Lima, Ohio, opens new Philadelphia box factory capable of making 200,000 boxes a week.

1931  Readers in Tampa factories fired “for reading communist and socialist propaganda” claim owners. 7,000 rollers walked out. When they returned to work about three weeks later, radios had replaced readers. Re-hiring was not automatic as “the strikers are no longer employees” but the original wage scales prevailed.

1931  Philadelphia’s Louis and Theodore Grabowski launch ROYALIST cigars.

1931  Continental Cigar Corp. founded in Scranton, PA, to make ABBEY and reintroduce R-B.

1931  I. Lewis, Newark, claims to be the largest independent cigar factory in the world.

1931  OLD KING COLE little cigars introduced in boxes of 10 for 30¢; later would be packed in boxes of 50 with a label by Maxfield Parrish.

1931  The great depression leads to the reintroduction of “roll-your-own” smokes and previously popular string-pull pouches of BULL DURHAM cigarette tobacco now priced at 5¢, down from 1920 price of 8¢.

1931  Radio is a hot fad with the public. PHILLIES, WHITE OWL, ROBT. BURNS, FLOR DE MANUEL, CREMO, LA PALINA, DUTCH MASTERS, X-TEDDY, ROI-TAN, LUCKY STRIKE and other brands of cigars and cigarettes sponsor radio programs, mostly music and comedy-variety shows.

1931  CREMO cigars gives away a “car-a-day” in a successful ad campaign. With assistance of singer Sophie Tucker, ROI-TAN will conduct a similar campaign in 1939.

1931  For the Christmas trade, Cuesta-Rey cigars offer a limited production wooden book inlaid with ivory, a duplicate of that was presented to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales the previous year.  Cigars are a special Corona. The  Cigar Museum would like to obtain one of these.

1931  A survey taken by J. Oliver Snyder, maker of HAPPY HEINE cigars, determined the majority of cigar smokers, male and female, preferred to leave the band on rather than remove it before smoking.

1931  Crown Drug Stores of Kansas City, became part of the Retail Druggists of America, a holding company which consists of Shapero & Co of Indianapolis, Economical Drug of Detroit, and 22 other non-competing chains. Crown operates 80 stores, Economical and Shapero another 54. The goal is to coordinate purchasing and marketing.

1931  Though wildly popular in Missouri, punchboards are the target of law enforcement officials in Kansas, where they are illegal.

1931  Mail order specialist, Edwin Cigar Co. of New York City, moves most production to a completely renovated three story factory formerly occupied by the Fackler Cigar Co. in York, PA.  About 30 rollers are employed, with more scheduled as new equipment arrives.

1931  Cornell University issues a solemn warning against “eating transparent wrappings (cellophane) of cigars and other articles.”  Science marches forward!

1931  First smoking compartment on an airplane established by Eastern Air Transport on its New York to Philadelphia to Washington flight. Stewardesses serve free cigarettes, coffee and cookies to the 18 passengers.

1931  A bill was introduced into the Missouri State Legislature that would ban women “real or imaginary, in the nude, in costume, or dressed in any manner whatsoever” from advertising tobacco products. Bill was killed in Committee a week later. Sex sells and men apparently like it.

1931  Hunter College for Women accepts its first cigarette advertising in the school paper.

1931  Travelers to Cuba are permitted to bring back $100 worth of cigars duty-free.  With average prices around a quarter, that was a lot of cigars.

1931  Fernando Palacio, of the firm of Fernandez, Palacio y Cia. reports the factory is working at full capacity with 400 rollers making BELINDA, HOYO DE MONTERREY, PUNCH and LA ESCEPCION. He claims to arrive at the factory every morning at 6 a.m. and to not leave until around 8 in the evening.

1931  Tobacco-packer J.B. Diaz y Cia. took over the old PARTAGAS factory on Yndustria St. from Cifuentes, Pego y Cia thanks to booming business. Storage capacity in the former PARTAGAS cigar and cigarette factory is 24,000 bales, and the location right next to the Capitol is only a block and a half from the Diaz offices. Diaz expects to pack 40,000 bales for export and domestic markets this year.

1931  Puerto Rico has glut of high grade tobacco, too expensive for makers of cheap cigars, the US industry trend. Tobacco that is sold barely covers production cost.

1931  Two years after the death of founder Francisco Fonseca, Frank E. Fonseca announces dissolution of the company, makers of FLOR DE FONSECA.

1931  1,300 workers walk out of the LA YEBANA factory in Manila in protest over wage reductions. Spreads to other factories with 5,000 more walking off the job.

1931  Havana cigar companies stop shipping to England as a result of the devaluation of the pound resulting from switch from gold standard to silver standard. England normally absorbed about 40% of Cuban production, so, combined with US depression, the move hit Cuba hard.

1932  US Government allows boxes of 3 and 7 regular cigars and issues stamps accordingly.

1932  US Government starts adding annual Series numbers on all cigar tax stamps, starting with “Act of 1926, Series 102” in 1932. Numbering system continues through “Series 125” (1955). Stamps still color coded and without portrait (until 1942).

1932  LILLIAN RUSSELL reduced to 2/5¢; CREMO and MARSH STOGIES reduced to 3/10¢. CREMO said to be “the only cigar brand of national consequence ever to be made to sell at this price.” American Tobacco Co. production stepped up to 6,000,000 a day  allegedly identical in every respect with those made at five cents straight. Factories in Louisville, Camden, Charleston and elsewhere.

1932  G.H.P., makers of EL PRODUCTO and NEW BACHELOR goes on a 5 day work week as part of a national movement to combat the great depression by spreading jobs around and encouraging week-end spending.

1932  Charles Schiege Jr. of Round Top, PA, maker of TEXAS STAR, LA ROSA SUPREMA and GREAT SPORT, celebrated the 50th anniversary of his factory with a specially packaged BOSS cigar, then shut down.

1932  Red Lion district of PA reports made 107,744,000 cigars last year.

1933  US Government passes National Recovery Act, intended to help workers during the great depression. Act declared unconstitutional in 1935. NRA blue eagle logos and stamps appear on boxes until mid 1935. To see NRA stickers go <here>.

1933  Prohibition repealed. Legal saloons reopen.

1933  Jno. (John) H. Swisher & Son becomes one of the first cigar companies to take the NRA pledge and became spokespersons, urging cooperation from retailers.

1933  NRA laws force Tampa cigar makers to raise wages to 30¢/hour minimum.

1933  The once powerful Cigar Makers International Union discontinues death benefits. Once the most generous  of unions, declining membership and power call for retrenching.

1933  J. Mazer of Detroit introduces CADILLAC 5¢ cigars.

1933  Alfred Dunhill opens New York City shop.

1933  American Tobacco moves LA CORONA, BOCK y CA, VILLAR y VILLAR, HENRY CLAY and other Cuban brands to modern air-conditioned factory in Trenton, New Jersey.

1933  Wolf Bros. lost their private brand business so began making RUM-SOAKED CROOKS.

1933  In response to a threatened strike, the Cuban army raids the Tobacco Worker’s Union headquarters in Havana, burning paper records and smashing all equipment and machines. See Corruption in 20th century Cuba.

1933  HARVESTER and PHILLIES among many brands reduced from 10¢ to 5¢. KING EDWARD drops from 5¢ to 2/5¢.

1933  G.H.P. revives former 10¢ brand LA AZORA as a nickel cigar.

1933  Most cigarettes sell for 12¢ a package of 20.

1933  The Roxy and other theaters start permitting smoking during performances.

1933  Reno, Nevada, prohibits sale of tobacco products in drug stores.

1933  J. Mazer cigar firm established in Detroit.

1933  Declining demand causes cigar tobacco growers in CT and PA to cut acreage by up to 50%.

1934  Wenglr and Mandell aquired Sanchez y Haya.

1934  18 year old Stanford Newman goes to work for his cigar-making hungarian immigrant father in Cleveland. He eventually takes over the business and was instrumental in relocating it to Tampa, The company flourished under his leadership. He actively personally bought tobacco well into his late 80s.  Stanford died in 2006 at age 90.

1935  US Government passes the Tobacco Inspection Act.  Directs the Secretary of Agriculture to establish quality standards and control auction markets. The act preserved the two elements causing colonial regulation: the encouragement of quality and the discouragement of quantity.

1935  Canadian Government issues undated Series C tax stamps, used until 1960. Eleven types, including black strip and small horizontal as well as colored verticals, were issued.

1935  This year, the Famous Cigar Co., a self-proclaimed “manufacturer of high grade long-filler stogies” offered “special brands” of stogies including LIBERTY BONDS, QUALITY DUTCH, GRAND BABIES, INDIAN RED, ORIGINAL RAT TAILS, PITTSBURGH FAMOUS and MILLIONAIRE.

1935  MONTECRISTO reintroduced in Cuba by the owners of H.UPMANN.  Box logo of crossed swords designed by Jack Benham, a director of Hunters, a big-time British distributor.

1935  Americans could no longer afford Cuban cigars. Imports dropped from $41,000,000 worth in the 1920’s to less than $14,000,000 worth in 1935.

1935  In two years since the price drop from 10¢ to 5¢ Bayuk’s PHILLIES go from selling 17,000,000 to selling 365,000,000 and become the number one selling cigar in the U.S.

1930’s  Depression prices for Wisconsin tobacco drop to 1¢ to 3¢ a pound,   Tobacco growers continue, much on barter for labor which was widely available.  After 1934 prices began to climb upward somewhat to the 7¢ range.

1936  Empresa Leon Jimenes’s company begins making cigarettes in the Dominican Republic, a short lived venture since the owner of their chief competitor was Rafael Trujillo, the country’s dictator.

1937  Bayuk Cigars Inc. introduces PRINCE HAMLET in distinctively labeled box.

1937  Eduardo Jimenes dies. His brother Herminio takes over Empresa Leon Jimenes.

1937  The Cigar Manufacturers Association founded. Name changed in 1974 to Cigar Association of America.

1938  R.J. Reynolds begins sponsoring half hour national broadcast of Grand Ole Opry on radio.

1939  Canadian tax officials do away with Caution Notices on Canadian cigar boxes.

1939  First scientific study linking lung cancer with smoking was published.

1939  Hermann Goring forbids German soldiers to smoke on the street, during marches and during short breaks. ironic in that he was a heavy cigar smoker with a custom brand decorated with his family crest and, even more rare, a Berlin-made brand with his portrait in uniform. Both can be seen in the Museum.

1940  Marsh Wheeling factory in Wheeling, WV, celebrates 100th anniversary. Numerous boxes.

1940  After Death of Ramon Cifuentes in 1938 and Francisco Pega Pita in 1940, Partagas company was renamed Cifuentes y Cîa.

1940  GISPERT cigars founded in Pinar del Rio, a region in Western Cuba named after an important early citizen.

1941-1945  World War II.

1941  Statistically every man, woman and child in the US smoked 45 cigars and 1,500 cigarettes, smoked 1 1/2 pounds of pipe tobacco, dipped a 1/3 of a pound of snuff and chewed 3/4 of a pound of chaw. Thirty years before, that same statistical “person” smoked 78 cigars and 108 cigarettes, smoked 1 3/4 pounds of pipe tobacco, dipped 1/3 of a pound of snuff and munched 2 1/2 pounds of chaw.

1942  US Government introduces 7 tax classes based on retail price, adding F and G. Issues stamps accordingly. Portrait returns.

1942  US Government radically changes manner in which revenue stamps are printed. Color coding dropped.

1942-1945  US Government rations cigars. Substantial production from large factories such as Bayuk and Fendrich goes to the military. Those two each devote 30+% of production to troops overseas.

1945  Machine-made cigars make up 85% of total US domestic production. Hand made cigars still make up 85% of Cuban production.

1945  Valkenswaard, the Netherlands, bombed during the last week of World War Two, wiping out most of the city’s cigar factories.  HOFNAR and WILLEM II among the few surviving brands.

1946  US Government discontinues use of import stamps on boxes of imported cigars.

1946  US Government begins two year process of dumping millions of stockpiled cigars from wartime inventory. The market glut hurt many small manufacturers who claimed the government was selling cigars cheaper than small companies could make them.

1948  Jose Arrango, Tampa, became one of the cigar companies going bankrupt thanks to dumping.

1949  Regina Cigar Co. of Philadelphia acquires Boston’s Estabrook and Eaton Co.

1950  H.Fendrich, Evansville, IN, celebrates 100th anniversary.

1951  Joe Wiedemeyer, 75, closed the Henry E. Wiedemeyer cigar factory in Marysville, KS, originally founded by his father in 1880, and where he had worked since age 15. “I still roll a few for friends.”

1952  Canadian Government begins overprinting Series C tax stamps to accommodate newly permitted quantities of cigars in boxes.

1952  Bayuk Cigars Inc. buys Webster-Eisenlohr obtaining WEBSTER, TOM MOORE, HENRIETTA and CINCO.

1953  Thirteen year old Tony Hyman joins Howard Richards founding the Cigar Box Collectors of Redlands a dozen-member cigar box collector’s club. The biannual club exhibitions are open to the public. The National Cigar Museum is an off-shoot of those activities.

1953  J.C. Newman Cigar Co. moves from Ohio and opens factory in Tampa.

1953  Regina Cigar Co. of Philadelphia acquires Bobrow Brothers Cigar Co., also of that city.

1954  R.G. Sullivan cigar factory, maker of 7-20-4, Manchester, NH, celebrates 80th anniversary.

1954  Benson & Hedges New York merges with Philip Morris.

1955  Glaser Bros. opens 40,000 square foot warehouse in San Francisco.

1955  Bayuk Cigar Co. obtains New Jersey’s I. Lewis Manufacturing Co. adding JOHN RUSKIN, FLOR DE MELBA and the already absorbed by Lewis SEIDENBERG line. Later this year they also acquired the Grabowsky Brothers and their ROYALIST and AMERADAS brands.

1955  Large high-grade clear Havana cigars selling in the 25¢ to 30¢ range became very popular. Around 100,000 a day were being sold by some companies, especially BERIING Plazas, GARCIA y VEGA Napoleons, GOLD LABEL Palmas, and PERFECTO GARCIA Waldorfs among others.

1955  Universal Cigar Co., bought out A. Santella, long-time Tampa maker of OPTIMO.

1956  US Government gives cigar makers a choice of continuing to use tax stamps after July 1 or pay their taxes by making daily returns to the IRS instead. Many companies opt to continue using stamps.

1956  Consolidated Cigar Corp. obtains MURIEL from P.Lorillard. Blonde bombshell Edie Adams’s “Why don’t you pick me up and smoke me sometime!” becomes one of the nation’s best known TV commercial theme songs.

1956  Frank Llaneza, under VILLAZON name, continues buying: EL REY del MUNDO, FLOR de A. ALLONES, BANCES, among prestige brands he controlled.

1957  US exports only 69,000,000 cigars, roughly  1% of production.

1958  Barely 595 US cigar factories in 32 states, down from an 1895 high of 40,000 factories.  This represents the fewest operating cigar factories since the start of the Civil War, 150+ years ago. Total cigar factories employees only 31,000.

1958  Only 313 establishments still manufacture cigarettes, snuff, smoking and chewing tobacco in the United States,. Approximately 7,000 wholesalers and distributors get them to 1,400,000 retailers.

1958  In January, 444,100,000 domestic cigars were shipped from factories and 1,700,000 Bonded “clear Havana” cigars (nearly all from Trenton, NJ, & Tampa, FL) were shipped.

1958    Bonded warehouses, primarily in Tampa and Trenton make 243,700,000 “clear Havana” cigars entirely of Cuban tobacco. The  Philippines shipped 134,000,000 cigars to the US, Cuba shipped 22,000,000 and 5,000,000 came from Europe and Southeast Asia.

1958  Julius C. Newman, president of M. & N. Cigar Manufacturers, Inc. and the Standard Cigar Co., passed away at 83. His autobiography is SMOKE DREAMS a worthwhile read. Sons Millard and Stanford continue the business.

1958  Only the bakery and meat industries use more cellophane than tobacco companies.

1958  SWISHER SWEETS introduced by Jno. H. Swisher & Son, Jacksonville Florida maker of 6¢ KING EDWARD.

1858  H. Simon & Sons, in Montreal, Canada, sold to Consolidated Cigar Corporation. Renamed Simon Cigar Company Ltd. Built large new factory in 1961.

1958  Benson & Hedges Canada merges with Philip Morris.


1958  Carl Cuesta sells CUESTA-REY to the Newman Cigar Co. who, in the 1980’s, moves production of the brand to the Dominican Republic. 

1958  Cuba’s prestigious POR LARRANAGA brand exported only 18.6% of their output, selling the majority domestically. This was a marked reversal of a half century before, when they were primarily an export brand. POR LARRANAGA accounted for 5.3% of Cuba’s cigar exports in 1958.

1959  US Government tax laws go into effect in June, no longer requiring, or providing for, tax stamps on any tobacco product. Federal tax forms may now be filled out on a semi-monthly basis.

1959  Cuban government registry shows 960 active trademarks. The Cuban cigar price list reportedly contains 140 export brands being produced in more than 1,100 sizes and shapes..

1959  Corrupt Cuban President Fulgencio Batista flees Cuba, leaving revolutionary Fidel Castro in charge. Not long thereafter, after failing to get help for his new government from Washington, Castro infuriates foreign investors who own most of Cuba by nationalizing their businesses. See NCM exhibit about the corruption in 20th Century Cuba that led to Castro.

1960  Canadian Government issues new smaller 3 3/4” strip style tax stamps printed in black.

1960  Illinois, once the 3rd leading cigar producer, down to 27 registered cigar factories.

1960  Connecticut has only 4 cigar factories, rolling a mere 61,000,000 of the nation’s 8,600,000,000 total. Two exporters shipped Connecticut cigar tobacco to Germany, England, Canada and the Canary Islands.

1960  The U.S. tobacco industry provides Americans with 150,000,000 pounds of manufactured tobacco a year and pays upwards of $4,000,000,000 in taxes. No wonder the government has never been too enthusiastic about tobacco regulations other than those helping the IRS to collect taxes.

1960  The Cuban cigar industry nationalized under Castro.

1961  COHIBA founded as a brand in Cuba for Fidel Castro, other officials and as diplomatic gifts.

1961  Simon Cigar Co., Ltd.,  opens a new factory in Montreal, Canada. Company was previously known as H. Simon & Sons, Ltd.

1962  CUBATABACO (“Empresa Cubana del Tabaco”) was formed and the number of brands available to the international market was reduced to fewer than forty.

1962  U.S. embargo against Cuba leads to Cuban cigar makers beginning relocation to Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Mexico, the Canary Islands and elsewhere. When the embargo was enforced, the Florida industry was using $32,000,000 worth of Cuban tobacco annually. Within months, six thousand cigar workers were out of work in Cuba and the U.S.

1962  Bayuk Cigars Inc. buys Tampa’s GARCIA Y VEGA brand, holders of the largest stocks of pre-embargo Cuban tobacco already in the U.S.

1963  General Cigar Co. acquires Gradiaz, Annis, makers of GOLD LABEL. General continues operating Gradiaz, Annis in Ybor City, Florida, until 1976, when it was relocated to Kingston, PA.

1964  US Surgeon General releases report warning of the dangers of smoking cigarettes. “The death rates for men smoking less than 5 cigars a day are about the same as for non-smokers. For men smoking more than 5 cigars daily, death rates are slightly higher.”  Many saw these figures as an endorsement of substituting cigars for cigarettes.

1964  Boom year for sales of domestic and imported cigars.

1965  Canadian Government issues small vertical black tax stamps to replace the almost 4” long strip stamps of 1960.

1965  US Government requires addition of “Cigarette Smoking May be Hazardous to Your Health” to cigarette packs. This was a watered down warning compared to the wording originally enacted. No one, consumers, government, or the industry was happy.

1968  Ernesto Perez Carrillo, Sr. opens EL CREDITO in Miami. A cult favorite, most production moved to the Dominican Republic in 1995 to keep up with demand.

1969  US Government bans cigarette advertising from television. Small cigars allowed to advertise, resulting in boom in brands, ads and sales.

1970  Cuban DAVIDOFF brand created for Swiss cigar personality-retailer. Brand lasts until 1992.

1971   Canadian Government issues redesigned small vertical black tax stamps to replace the stamps of 1965.

1971  Half the US output of 6,000,000,000 cigars were made in Pennsylvania.

1971  US Government requires a new warning, another compromise, reading: "Warning: The Surgeon General Has Determined That Cigarette Smoking is Dangerous to Your Health."

1972  Membership in the Cigar Makers’ International Union drops to 2,500 and the Union ceases publication of The Cigar Makers’ Official Journal.

1973  US Government bans cigars from advertising on television.

1974  Canada becomes world’s last country to discontinue use of cigar tax stamps.

1974  The Cigar Maker’s International Union merges with the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Worker’s Union. An ignominious ending to a once-proud and important Union.

1974  The Cigar Manufacturers Association changed name to Cigar Association of America.

1982  Cuba’s formerly exclusive COHIBA cigar brand released for sale to the public

1989  Famous long-lived Cuban brand LA ESCEPCION ceases production.

1992 - 1997  Boom years in the cigar business.

1994  A new company, HABANOS, S.A., created to control the sale and distribution of Cuban tobacco products worldwide (except in the U.S. where the silly pointless ineffective embargo continues).

1996  JOSE PIEDRA, once among Cuba’s biggest sellers, revived as a Cuban export brand.

1998  TRINIDAD, a famous name in Cuban cigarettes, introduced as an export brand of cigars.

1998  Tobacco Institute and Smokeless Tobacco Council shut down, casualties of the Master Settlement Agreement entered into by the cigarette companies and the state attorneys general.

2000  Altadis, S.A., a combination of the Spanish and French government monopolies, Tabacalera and SEITA, purchase half interest in HABANOS, S.A.

NCM Home        History of Cigars

  History 1460-1760        History 1760-1860       History 1860-1880

History 1880-1915        History 1915-1962

        The consolidation of companies in the 1950’s, followed by the Cuban embargo in 1962, marked the end of the Post-WWII American Cigar Industry. The Modern era that replaced it is one of expensive high-quality imported cigars, and a small handful of  quality domestic survivors.
        Modern boxes are largely blasé repetitions of a classic BN. Sprinkled among them are some boxes of incredible beauty and engineering. 
        Altho I plan to eventually display my favorite modern boxes, the story of the Modern Age after 1962 is one for others to tell.