The history of the cigar-making Bayuk brothers begins in 1896 when Sam, Max and Meyer Bayuk pooled $325 and opened their first factory in a rented Philadelphia attic, joining 900 or so other Philadelphia cigar makers.

    Their first cigar brand, PRINCESS BONNIE, sold well enough they were able to opened a second factory in Lancaster county, PA. In 1910, they introduced PHILADELPHIA HAND MADE PERFECTO, which the smoking public quickly adopted, shortening the name to “Phillies.”  In 1912, the Bayuk Bros. Cigar Co. moved to larger headquarters in Philadelphia while operating small factories in Allentown, Steelton and Bethlehem in PA, Newark and Perth Amboy in NJ as well as one in Binghamton, NY.

    Over the next decades, the company maintained five brands of cigars in their catalog, all made in multiple sizes and sizes and shapes: PHILADELPHIA PERFECTO, CHARLES THOMSON, HAVANA RIBBON, MAPACUBA and PRINCE HAMLET.  In addition, like most of the nation’s cigar factories, Bayuk would package cigars under other names to create custom brands for wholesalers, retailers and other customers.

The original plan was that CHARLES THOMSON cigars, named after the first signer of the Declaration of Independence, would become their focus, but PHILADELPHIA PERFECTO or “Phillies” became the smoker’s favorite, and the THOMSON brand ultimately became the first of their five late teens brands to be dropped.

    The Brothers incorporated in 1920, becoming Bayuk Bros., Inc., a name which lasted for only three years, as in 1923 they changed the focus from the original brothers to their product and became Bayuk Cigars, Inc.

    In 1926 the company opened the largest air conditioned factory in the world to make cigars by machine in Philadelphia. Since 1922 PHILLIES had been packed in distinctive tin boxes of 50 cigars. The handy re-usability of the boxes in garages and workshops kept the name in front of smokers, a clever form of ‘free’ advertising that continued until the WWII need for metals ended the two decade run. See the four variants below.

    Plagiarism of the design, colors and name of the PHILADELPHA PERFECTO was so widespread, Bayuk sought legal protection. In 1931, they won a NY State Supreme Court ruling stopping two NY cigar manufacturers from using the words “Phillies” or “Philadelphia” in the brand name, though the latter was permitted if the design of the box and band was distinctly different so as not to cause confusion on the part of a customer. Two years later, during the Depression, machine manufacture and general economic conditions led Bayuk to drop the price of PHILLIES from 10¢ to 5¢. Sales went from 17,000,000 to 365,000,000 in just two years, skyrocketing the brand to #1 in the United States (and probably the world) in cigar production in 1935.

    During World War II, Bayuk joined H.Fendrich (Indiana maker of LA FENDRICH and CHARLES DENBY) in allocating a full 30% of production to the Armed Forces. Retail war-time purchases were frequently limited to only two cigars at a time.

    In the post-war years of the 1940s and 50s, Bayuk began the take over of brands from other prominent companies.  In 1952, Bayuk Cigars Inc. bought Webster-Eisenlohr (already an amalgam of multiple companies) obtaining HENRIETTA, CINCO, WEBSTER and TOM MOOREThree years later, Bayuk bought New Jersey’s I. Lewis Manufacturing Co. adding JOHN RUSKIN, FLOR DE MELBA and the already-absorbed-by-Lewis SEIDENBERG lines. Later in 1955 they also acquired the Grabowsky Brothers and their ROYALIST and AMERADAS brands. None of these late acquisitions are covered in this exhibit. Some of them, notably the products of Eisenlohr and I. Lewis, will be covered in separate exhibits.

   The boxes in the following photo gallery should help you date and place your own old cigar boxes in context. A date or date range is assigned to the boxes; dates are of the specific example in my collection, not the 1st or last date of a particular design.

    For those visitors interested in the history of Bayuk after the 1962 termination of Museum records, the www is your next step.



Philadelphia Perfecto

Bayuk Cigars, Inc.

A National Cigar History Museum Exclusive 

© Tony Hyman, all rights reserved

Uploaded June 11, 2012

Addition: October 9, 2012

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