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8/10/2010

Habano’s Footprints in Lithography

The first drawings on pieces of paper intended to wrap cigars were printed in 1831 at the La Lealtad workshop,according to what Carlos Venegas Fornias.

A few years later –he adds- the cedar boxes were spruced up with one-color lithographic marks. There are records of over 600 brands in the entire history of the industrial process of hand-rolled cigars.
And he goes on to write that “in the mid 19th century, more than 250 brands were vying in the market with increasingly complicated patterns.”
By 1870, legislation was passed to tidy up the granting of licenses and since then splendid full-color lithographic designs and patterns started popping up, featuring reliefs and gilts that distinctively tell habanos apart and that were eventually copycatted by cigar factories in other countries. Lithography as an industry picked up steam alongside tobacco’s. Cigar brands breathed life into a mythology of its own.
For her part, renowned researcher Zoila Lapique writes that “back in the 1840s, when cigar’s grand expansion kicked off, cigar makers or branders embarked on a thorough decoration of habano boxes and cases, not only for esthetic reasons and in a bid to lure buyers, but also as a way to fight back forgery and phony imitations our cigars have endured in markets around the world, especially after they had already gotten a hold on the world scene thanks to their quality and presentation."
All printings were printed in the first two lithographic plants built in Havana, nearly in the same breath, back in 1840. These workshops were coming from Europe, one of them run by Frenchmen and the other one by Spaniards.”
On the other hand, Lapique writes on: “chromolithography was then used in the industry of cigarette making long before it landed in the habano industry, imported since 1859 for the La Honradez cigar factory, owned by Susini (father and son), and located in the square of Santa Clara, just a stone ’s throw from the like-name convent.
It took nearly 20 years for chromolithography to highlight the decoration of habano boxes and cases. This actually happened when branding came in force, coupled with labeling in a variety of forms and sizes that started decking out the packages from that moment onward.”

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