Pre-Columbian (before 1492) - The smoking of tobacco and other leaves in the Americas has been evidenced through stone pipes found in southern Patagonia from 7000 years ago.
1492 – Christopher Columbus discovers tobacco in Cuba.
The indigenous Indians were rolling up Tobacco leaves, inserting them into their noses [according to some accounts] and breathing out smoke.
It is widely accepted that the Arawak Indians emigrated from the mainland of South America to Cuba, and brought the original tobacco seeds with them. By the early 1500’s, the Tainos, Cuban natives descended from the Arawaks, had already shown Spaniards their intricate and laborious processes for growing and processing tobacco. The steps of transplanting seedlings, creating “pilones” for fermentation, and even packaging leaves in palm bark remain the foundations of cigar production today.
The indigenous peoples of the Americas were already transplanting seedlings, curing, and fermenting tobacco long before Europeans arrived!
1518 – Conquistador Hernan Cortez brings tobacco seeds back to King Charles V of Spain.
1520 – Having developed a taste for the plant, Spanish settlers in Cuba begin to cultivate tobacco for their own personal use.
1602 – Pipe smoking had spread throughout Europe and reached parts of China, India, and Japan
1612 – Settlers begin to cultivate tobacco in Jamestown, Virginia.
- John Rolfe (husband of Princess Pocohontas) is the first to grow tobacco commercially for export.
- The settlement of Virginia would not have been as successful if tobacco had not been so profitable. In fact, tobacco production had to be curtailed so that ample food could still be grown.
1676 – The “Cigar” is born in Sevilla Spain where thousands of laborers give birth to the cigar industry.
1700s – Cigar factories sprout up all across Europe: including Rome, Germany and France.
1817 – King Ferdinand VII, by royal decree, made the production and sale of tobacco a legal endeavor in Cuba. The birth of the Cuban Cigar Industry!!!
-Until then, only raw materials came from Cuba. Essentially, for taxation and control purposes, Cigar producton in Cuba had been illegal until 1817.
1827 – Don Jaime Partagas establishes Flor de Tabacos Partagas y Companía on the edge of Old Havana (where it still operates today).
1830s – Cuban archives indicate the use of cigar bands.
1850 – Innovative Dutch merchant Gustave Bock distinguishes his own cigars by placing a paper band on them.
1920s - The cigar rolling machine is introduced in America just as Cuban cigar making is reaching the pinnacle of achievement.
1959 – Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution instigate a mass exodus of Cuban cigar makers to the Canary Islands, Dominican Republic, Central America, and the United States.
This “Brain Drain” initiates a new era of great cigar making outside of Cuba.
1992 – The launching of Cigar Aficionado magazine by Marvin R. Shanken (publisher of Wine Spectator) helps instigate the beginning of a worldwide “Cigar Renaissance”.