The object pictured is a box for Royal Jamaica Cigars, produced by the Jamaica Tobacco Manufacturing Company. Two cigars are shown in the box.

A cigar consists of tobacco rolled in a wrapping of tobacco leaves, whereas a cigarette has tobacco rolled inside paper. Cigars have three components: the wrapper, the binder and the filler. The wrapper is the external leaf and must be of best quality, the binder leaf is under the wrapper leaf and cannot be seen, so its appearance is not as important. It holds the filler together. The filler is the tobacco or tobaccos chosen to produce the desired flavour and strength. There is no correlation between the size of a cigar and its strength. A  large cigar filled with mild tobaccos will be mellow, while a thin, short cigar containing powerful tobaccos will be full bodied.

There are many types and sizes of cigar. The size of a cigar is measured by length in inches and diameter, which is measured by the number of ring gauges, of which one measures 1/64th of an inch.  The cigars illustrated are minor coronas, which are four and a half or five inches long with a ring gauge of 42, i.e 42/64 of an inch in diameter. There are cigars which are eight inches long and others with a ring gauge of 52. The cigars in the box have straight sides and cigars of this shape are known as Parejos. One end of the cigar, known as the foot is open and is the end which is lit. The other end – the tip- is enclosed by a small piece of tobacco leaf and needs to be cut before smoking.

Tobacco is an indigenous plant in Jamaica, but it was Cubans who introduced cigar making to the country. The Royal Jamaica brand was first manufactured in 1935. The industry in Jamaica flourished during the Second World War, when Cuban firms moved in and Jamaican produced ‘Cuban’ cigars were exported to Great Britain. Later sales to the USA expanded with Cuban imports banned. In September 1988, Hurricane Gilbert had a devastating effect on the Jamaican industry, with stocks, buildings and crops destroyed. As a result production of Royal Jamaica cigars was transferred to the Dominican republic. The industry gradually recovered and in 1995 the Jamaican Tobacco Manufacturing Company was formed.

More information:

Date 1990s, 2000s, 2010s, 1930s, 1940s, 1950s
Material(s) CardboardPaper
Item number MBPO179

Questions to help you remember using this item

  • Can you name two famous people, known for their cigar smoking?
  • Apart from cigars and cigarettes how else can tobacco be smoked?
  • Do you like the smell of cigar smoke?
  • Have you ever smoked? If so what did you smoke?

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