Read about the history of cigar bands. Find out where they came from, what they mean, how they progressed, and what they represent with El Cigar Shop.
Cigar bands range from the simple to the extremely ornate, from the mundane to the beautiful, from the generic to the extravagant. However, in the modern era of cigars and cigar smoking, they are a common thing that is very important to the marketplace.
Some cigar bands are simply a single word, such as Tatuaje cigar bands. Others are simple symbols, such as on the cheaper Padron cigars.
But some cigar bands are ornate beauties, works of art that someone put time and effort into. Think of the Arturo Fuente Opus X cigar bands, for example, or the My Father bands.
Cigar bands tell a story and advertise the brand while you’re sitting and smoking your cigar among friends or strangers. But where did the practice of putting bands on cigars begin? Where did this practice that we all take for granted come from?
Some nonsensical stories suggest that it was Catherine the Great, former Tsarina of Russia, who began the practice. It was alleged that she wrapped silk around the cigars she smoked so that her fingers wouldn’t be stained by the tobacco.
Historians who specialize in the history of cigars (mostly cigars in the western world) suggest that the practice goes back to the 1800s. Dutch-born cigarmaker Gustave Bock is believed to have begun the process and is widely credited with it.
In the 1830’s, Gustave ordered paper rings to be put on the cigars that he was exporting to Europe. His belief was that people would see this as an indication of the quality and prestige of the cigar.
Within two decades or so, the practice had spread across the world. At this point, even the master cigarmakers in Cuba were putting bands on their cigars.
More and more cigar makers saw this as a way to begin trademarking not only their names but also their band designs. Further, they were telling cigar buyers that they needed to ensure that they were buying only the banded cigars. After all, if the cigar didn’t have a band, it likely wasn’t an authentic one from their facilities.
As the 20th century rolled around, cigar bands began to serve a new purpose. Products needed to stand out, and the best way to make cigars stand out (the way that they STILL stand out to this very day) was to utilize well-designed bands that suggested quality. This way the high status of the cigar was never in question.
In the early 1900s, it’s estimated that four out of five men in the United States of America smoked cigars. Cigars were so popular that historians suggest 2 BILLION (yes, with a B) cigar bands were sold in 1900.
In the early 1900s, those bands were sold by a printer, usually in bags of 100, and applied by the manufacturer. To make sure it would stay in place, they used a dab of a plant-based adhesive on the band.
As the 1900s moved on and two world wars took their toll, even enjoyable frivolities like cigars began to cut costs. One of the ways to cut costs was to cut down on their cigar bands, going from more ornate bands to more simplistic, four-color bands. As cigarettes became more common and cigars became less so, it also became almost uncommon to see a lot of ornate cigar bands on tobacco store shelves.
When cigars began to make a comeback in the last few decades, and as premium cigars became more and more viable, the bands have begun to return to their original form.The ornate bands of yesteryear (and some of the artwork from the ‘golden era’ of cigars in the early 1900s) have begun to make a comeback.
At this point, cigar bands run a wide gamut, from the simple bands to the huge ones you can see on some brands. Cigar bands can be less than an inch thick to multiple inches thick, all based on the desires of the maker of the cigar to set themselves apart.
It’s not uncommon to see people who even collect the bands of their favorite cigars. I personally do just that, carrying around a couple dozen bands from my favorite cigars. It’s quite easy to remove them after you smoke the cigar for a while, as the heat will generally loosen the adhesion of the plant-based adhesive used on the cigar band.
Next time you go to the walk-in humidor of your local cigar shop, or you look at your favorite online cigar store and the things they have to offer, take a look at the bands. Notice the differences. Notice what they’re trying to convey. Notice what they’re trying to do and which ones catch your eye.
Someone worked hard to make those bands, after all.
El Cigar Shop is an online cigar store and local cigar shop located in Glenside, PA. Our deals on premium cigars, rare cigars, and cigar accessories are available for both our online clientele and customers in the greater Philadelphia area. Come by and speak with any of our staff members to help you find the perfect cigar. You can also call us 215-576-5300 or Contact El Cigar Shop via email for additional information.