Sunday, January 16, 2011

Early American Cigars: Supers, Long Nines, and Short Sixes

Before the demand developed for Connecticut tobacco, its product was confined to a few towns in Hartford County, and most of it was worked into cigars by the female members of the family of the grower. The cigars made were known to the trade as "Supers," "Long Nines," and "Short Sixes."
The Supers were rolled as cigars now are, with the exception of a twist that would kink the wrapper at the end and prevent it unrolling, which was the method of finishing the heads of all cigars up to 1839, when the first specimens of "paste heads" were imported from Havana. The Long Nines were a long, thin cigar, about the size of a new lead pencil, looking something like a Catalpa-bean pod. They were made by the wrapper being rolled lengthwise of the filler, with the edges pasted the whole length of the cigar, in the same way as the cheroots of Manila are made. The Short Sixes were made in the same way, and were about two thirds the length of Long Nines. They were made with more care and of better material, as they were intended for the home trade. They could always be found on the bar of the country tavern, free to the guests after a meal; but to the local frequenter of the house they were sold at two for a cent.

The Supers were sold in bulk to the storekeeper, in exchange for store goods, for from a dollar and a quarter to two dollars per thousand. They would then be packed into cigar-boxes, labeled and branded, and again be "traded" for goods to some wholesale dealer in the city; and by him they would be distributed into all sections visited by the sailor or trader. The Long Nines were always done up in bundles of twenty-five or fifty, and held together with three bands of bast, one at each end and one in the middle of the bunch. They were packed in barrels which would hold about five thousand each, and were usually sent to Boston, and from there found their way into all the fishing and seaport towns along the coast. The storekeepers usually paid the farmers for this sort from seventy-five cents to a dollar and a quarter per thousand. A good hand would make from eight to ten hundred per day of the Supers, and a third more of the Long Nines and Short Sixes.

As the tobacco was not taken into the account in calculating the cost of these cigars, the day's wages would be estimated at all they received for them when sold; and, as money was scarce in those days, the cigars produced by the families answered as a good substitute for currency. These were receivable in any of the local stores for whatever was wanted; and it was not infrequently the case that all the dry goods and groceries that were necessary for a farmer and his family were purchased with the cigars rolled by the farmer's wife at such times as she would not be employed by her household duties. After the great demand for Connecticut tobacco had developed, the trade of making cheap cigars by the farmers gradually lessened; and the internal revenue tax put an end to the whole business.
In addition, there were a few establishments that employed more competent hands and worked tobacco that had improved somewhat by ago. Such cigars were handsomely packed, and were supplied to the trade as "Half Spanish." They would be sold at from four to five dollars per thousand by the box, and were retailed at the stores for one cent each. - From "The memorial history of Hartford County, Connecticut, 1633-1884, Volume 1" edited by James Hammond Trumbull, 1886.

Photos: !. Library of Congress 2. Marsh Wheeling Olde Style Stogies are descended from early American cigars. (National Cigar Corporation) 3. & 4. Library of Congress.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Thanks. Now I know all about long nine seegars. I have always wondered thanks. Mark. In. Mississippi. On the River