Cigar Box Labels
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The Cigar Labels...

__ As more and more items of memorabilia enter the expanding world of collectibles, it can never be said that cigars label took the collectibles market by storm, when they first started emerging from dusty old warehouses and abandoned factories back in the 1960's. The history of Tampa, Florida, is recorded in seemingly endless numbers of cigar innerlabels and cigar bands, produce as advertisements for the once thriving "clear Havana" (cigars produce with 100% cuban tobacco) industry.


Johann Alois Senefelder (1771-1834)



.....It was by the 1870's, when lithographers switched from old printing techniques to chromolithography which produced brilliant, multi-colored cigars labels and posters to entice the eyes. This labels were placed directly on the cigar box or were printed on promotional posters which were placed in drug stores, saloons and country stores across the continent.

__This beautiful windows into the past reveal an era when a Spanish topic or title was popular and profitable form of advertising for the Florida cigar industry. A Spanish theme associated with the "Clear Havana" industry directly affected both cigar sales and production in the United States from 1870 to 1930's. Since cigar labels both attracted new customers and maintained old ones, no expense was considered too great to advertise properly and promote sales.

__Lithography or "chemical printing" revolutionized the printing industry. With this new method, it was possible to print hundreds of duplicate copies from a single image drawn directly onto a stone without reducing the quality of the image. Johann Alois Senefelder, a German inventor, created the stone lithography process and the hand press in 1796.

__The chromolithography separate several colors, opened a new vistas in appealing advertisements. From six to as many as twenty-two colors were placed on one label. Embossment added an even more refined touch with a three dimensional effect. This involved placing the label on a mold of the desired design, then applying thirty to forty tons of pressure to the paper with huge presses. Lithographic companies received specific descriptions of the labels they were to produce, and often sent artist to the factory owners to discuss the details. Numerous pre-1900's labels were printed in Germany, France or Cuba, but after the turn of the century, several's firms based in New York, such as Consolidated Lithographic Company, American Lithographic Company and the popular firm George Schlegel, Lithographiy, Co. hired German lithographers and produce a majority of the lables used by Tampa's clea Havana manufacturers.

__ Factory owners often contracted production labels in order to lurethe general smoking public to their brand. Poor sales sometimes resulted from eitherpoor quality tobacco or unappealing labels. The trial and error process to find a popular label led to thousands of different designs and topics; successfull labels were used for decades. The production of a cigar lable was expensive, ranging from $ 2,000 to $ 6,000, ($12,000 to $16,000 todays money) for new label. The ones presented in the left are a good example of this art.

__ Manufacturers took pride in the craftmanship of hand-made cigars in Tampa by Cubans, while the northern factories owners increasing relied on molds & machines for mass produced cigars, but Tampa 's cigars were works of art. The labels themes vary widely. Generally speaking, any image that might appeal to men was printed on labels to help promote cigars. Thousands of different lables were printed for hundreds of factories in Ybor City , West Tampa & Tampa depicting everything from a beutiful girls to Abraham Lincoln.

__ With the advent of the Depression, the artistic talents of both the cigarmakers and lithographers suddenly became too expensive to compete profitably with cigarettes or machine-made cigars. Tampa was still known as a " Cigar City ", based in the hand-made production but things change and its output was made mostly by machines, not by hand. To appreciate closely the beauty and details of this lables set the pointer over any of the labels samples in the left and click.

__Our idea is to present you an example of this lost great art and the connection with the industry and one gone era...labels are more than just pretty pictures.


Biography of Johann Alois Senefelder


Reference:" The Art of the Cigar Label" by Joe Davison - Copyright 1989

Researcher: W. Reyes, Ph.D.

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