History of Tobacco

Tobacco plant was originated in the American Continent. According to observations of Christopher Columbus the Caribbean natives smoked tobacco making use of a cane with the form of a pipe called Tobago, giving the origin to the plant name. They seemed to attribute medicinal properties to it, and used it in their ceremonies.

In 1510, Francisco Hernandez de Toledo took its seed to Spain, fifty years later diplomat Jean Nicot introduce it in France, to whom the plant owns the generic name (Nicotiana). In 1585 the sailor sir Francis Drake took it into England, the English explorer sir Walter Raleigh initiated the habit of smoking tobacco in pipe in the Court of Elizabeth. The new product was rapidly spread through Europe and Russia, and in the 17th century reached China, Japan and the Western Coast of Africa.

Spain monopolized the tobacco commerce, and in 1634 established a tobacconist of this product for Castilla and Leon. In 1707, this regime was extended to all territories of the crown, along with the prohibition to cultivate the plant in the peninsula to facilitate the customs control. The tobacconist extension in Cuba, where a great part of production took place caused numerous revolts and in 1735 Spain handed is exploitation over the Company of Havana.

The Anglo Colonial America became the first world producer of tobacco. This cultivation initiated in the Jamestown settlement, where in 1615 the plant already grew in gardens, farms and even in the streets. In brief, it became the basic agricultural product and the main exchange measure of the colony.

In 1776, its cultivation spread around North Carolina and got to Missouri through the West. By 1864, a farmer from Ohio obtained bay chance a kind of tree stump with deficiency of chlorophyll that receive the name of burley blanco, and finally became the basic ingredient for the American pitting, especially from the invention of the machine to elaborate cigarettes in 1881.

The tobacco was spread out quickly through the American colonies, but it was not until the advanced 16th century that the economical colonization of America began. At that time Cuba was a sort of diving board and scale to get to the Americas.

Trade and smuggling of tobacco in Cuba

It was in the last quarter of the 16th century that tobacco acquires economical category of the international commerce, and Havana with the fortress “El Morro” and “La Punta” becomes an important market place.

At this time tobacco was exploited and over wanted in Cuba. The very desire native tobacco was reached at Havana harbour by the illegal commerce between smugglers, pirates and the local population. The Havana Harbour came to be the broadcasting centre of Indian tobacco, because it was in Havana where the Spanish ships gathered with their crew members and rich passengers, for their returning trips to the sands of Guadalquivir.

At the beginning of the 17th century the tobacco commerce constitute an income source for a great part of the Cuban population. Cuba’s name was being favourable known among the worldwide tobacco lovers. The “Habano” is not still mentioned, but they already talk about Havana as the place where the best tobacco is found. The embarkations that set sail at Havana, Santiago de Cuba and other Cuban harbours toward Sevilla exported a great amount of tobacco branches using containers very similar to those of today; the typical medium sized made of palm tree’s dry leaves not only for being cheaper material but also for being at the hand of the tobacco gatherers.

According to the 1614’s Royal Decree of Philip Third, the prohibition for tobacco trade with the enemies of the Spain Crown let us deduce how extended was the tobacco smuggling. The Spain monarch knowing about its smuggling and trade benefits, ordered to take to Sevilla all the tobacco¬† coming from his domains over the new world. These were the antecedents of the tobacconist to be born within a century.

The smuggling continued to export tobacco leaves all over the world. Authorities and smugglers acted in agreement, and this Cuban product continued going with no interruption to the British Islands, North America, Holland, France, Portugal, and to the Spanish domains of the New World. Even in Canarias the illegal traffic counted with active agents in charge of the distribution of the Cuban product through the whole world, even Spain.

The “Habano” boom, the Cuban cigar.

In August 1617, it’s known in Havana the Royal Decree of abolition of tobacconist, signed by Fernando Seventh to favour the cultivation of the first class of tobacco. The glory of Habano Cigar is due to the virtues of its mother “La Vega”. The first secret of this cigar is in this peculiar and virtuous complexity mixture of plant, land, family, poverty, craftsmanship and tradition that in Cuba is known as “La Vega”. ¬†

Tobacco production, in many varieties, satisfied all the tasters of the world. Commerce exported tobacco not only as cigars, but also twisted as a cord, rolled for pipes, in breads to chew, and as powder to inhale. These were the alternatives for the taste of consumers. While in France predominate the rape, in England pipes were preferred, and in Spain the pure cigars were for rich people. The cigarettes were for poor people. The manufacture of Cuban cigar satisfied all those kinds, even when the pure Habano was the most characteristic one.

This commerce was developed in the middle of a double smuggling: Its free export from Cuba prohibited by Spain and restricted import from European nations due to its own production or fiscal tobacconist.

In 19th century 30’s, it was established a great industry in Havana, owing its development to the tobacco industry. We are talking about the industry of lithography that made known marks of tobacco, cigars and pitting produced in Cuba. Labels were generally accompanied by excellent drawings, mainly signed by Martin and N. Mendez. Big size labels for tobacco and small size (2 inches) for cigars. In rare occasions printed over papers in blue, green, yellow, pink, etc. The label’s text response to the manufacture name and generally are written in Spanish or English, and sometimes in French and German. The label also records the location of the factory or workshop.

The “Habano”, the world’s best tobacco

The 20th century begins the Trust era for the tobacco makers, it was an era of strikes, strike breakers and union claims. New guarantee stamps were made for tobacco productions, as a guarantee of the origin of the tobacco harvested in Cuba.

The environment of free industrial and mercantile competition, the “Habano” became the world’s empire centre of tobacco by unanimous consent of the peoples.

During the first decades of the 1990’s, the consumption of tobacco moved toward the manufacture of cigars and tobacco for pipes. Then in the 30’s moved toward the manufacture of cigars and cigarettes machine made. During the 40’s cigarettes occupied the greatest part of the market. By the 1960’s and after the economic embargo to Cuba, other nations began to develop crops of tobacco to export and cover the leak of tobacco from Cuba. This process still continues in our days. This is mainly for the first class tobacco production that is used to manufacture of handmade cigars.

In the middle of the 1990’s, handmade cigars came back to fashion and created a market branch tobacco of the Premium kind that is still kept.

The international quality of the tobacco “Habano” is still the best, the most aromatic and tempting for the smokers of the whole world.