Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Old Book: Guide to Cigars

A family member gave me this book recently. She found it in the bargain bin of a used bookstore and thought I'd enjoy it. Titled International Connoisseur's Guide To Cigars, the guide by Jane Resnick was published in 1996. To many of us, 1996 was "the other day," but was actually some 17 years ago!

The guide explores the world of cigar smoking from how a cigar is made, to cutting, lighting, and smoking. It goes on to explore a wide range of topics such as how and when to smoke, famous people (of the time) who smoked, as well as figures throughout history known to have enjoyed tobacco. The material is often covered in a simplistic "bird's eye" view, and is somewhat dated. There are even listings, obviously no longer accurate, of places one can enjoy a cigar in public. Oh, if only the listed venues still existed, and not the copious laws that now widely prohibit the practice. The age of the book provided an especially interesting historical view. 

A little a over a third of the book is devoted a sampling of specific brands of the day. Each page features a photo and a listing of some of the brand's offerings. Given the date of publication many of the illustrated cigars are Cuban, and many are no longer available. As an added interest, there are pages devoted to both the original Cuban company and also non-Cuban brands of the same name. These companies were founded by Cuban expatriates in places such as the Dominican Republic and Honduras after Castro nationalized the industry in Cuba. Often times those brands are featured on facing pages.

The whole section was very interesting despite, or perhaps because of many of the featured companies are no longer in existence. I also had a chuckle at the photos used for a couple of the Cuban brands. The illustrations were complete with cracks in the wrapper. 

The books was compiled in the time before the proliferation of handmade cigars produced outside of Cuba. It provides a fascinating perspective from a different time in history and how cigars played a role.


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