Only on few days after having discovered the New World and the island that would become Cuba, Christopher Columbus discovered one of its treasures. He described the Taïnos as 'rolling leaves of petun into a sort of great cigar they call tabaco' and that 'they burn the plant with charcoal and inhale the odorant smoke'. This leaf, they call cohiba, rolled into a tube shape, was used by the Taïnos for their religious ceremonies, as appetite suppressant and medicinal plant, and of course by sheer pleasure.
Columbus' companions having tried and appreciated those 'great cigars', tobacco became one of the riches of the New World. Cuba is therefore associated with cigars since 1492.
Swiftly planted in Europe, tobacco was either seen as a beneficial plant, thanks to its medicinal virtues, a 'panacea of all ills', or was seen as a malefic habit, that could bring one to prison or even death. Pope Urban VIII, in 1642 denounced tobacco as "causing hallucinations and wayward behaviour, upsets relations between men and women, and, in the end, destroys the fabric of society", smokers risked excommunication.
Produced in Cuba and in numerous countries worldwide, it is in Spain, in 1676, that the cigar as we know it today took shape. Cuba only produced tobacco leaves at the time, but when it was discovered that the cigar itself can easily withstand the travel to Europe, the first manufacture of cigars opened in Havana in 1799. In 1817, King Fernando VII of Spain granted free trade to Cuba, leading to the creation of hundreds of cigar manufactures.
Luis de Torres and Rodrigo de Jerez, the first Europeans to have smoked tobaco, discovering Taïnos smoking. Back in Spain, Jerez did 7 years in jail, because the Inquisition thought "only the Devil could give a man the power to exhale smoke from his mouth"...
But the collection is not only dedicated to great houses and great men, but is too an homage to the men and women, torcedores, artisans and all those who make the name Habano synonymous of the best cigar quality.
Tools and documents who belonged to them are presented, honouring their talents. Documents on cigar trade, marquillas, advertisements and paintings are also shown here.