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Every cigar smoker has wondered about his cigar’s band at one time or another. For those that smoke “Cuban” cigars, they wonder if they really have a “genuine” Cuban or not and carefully study the band. If you are really vain, you probably bought some really “expensive” cigars, carefully removed their bands, and put them on your everyday cigars. Obviously, no need to be embarrassed in front of your snobby cigar buddies. For others, the cigar band is a way to identify your favorite brand or maker, even though sometimes many mistakenly generalize the flavor and body simply by the band. How many buy a cigar simply because of the band? Most do, you want everyone to know that you are a cigar buff and want to show off your wisdom, right?
The cigar band has evolved over time, just like everything else. When first conceived either by or for Catherine the Great, the cigar band was a way to keep from touching the actual tobacco and transferring the cigar’s aroma to your fingers or hands. Having not been around at the time to interview Catherine the Great, one can only assume the cigar band was a status symbol. If you were of royal heritage, for example, you may have had purple cigar bands to match your royal cape.
Later the cigar band became an advertising tool. The lowly cigar band could advertise a braces (we call them suspenders today) maker, buggy whip sales, general store, or a myriad of other product lines or commercial establishments.
Eventually, the cigar band became a symbol of the cigar’s manufacturer — a proud and sometimes extremely beautiful label, usually designed by the maker.
The single item that lasts beyond the art of a truly fine hand-rolled cigar is definitely the band. If you search Google, you will find hundreds, if not thousands of examples of these little works of art. Some show the history of the cigar while others show the history of its country of origin. They are all symbols of a product that has more than likely been deeply appreciated by some individuals. The zenith of the cigar band, in my humble opinion, occurred at the same time as the height of Ybor City, Florida, once considered the “Cigar Capital of the World”. Many of the brands that are famous today can easily be traced back to their roots in Ybor City.