In 1870, with the civil unrest in Cuba, Cuban cigar makers fled their country to Florida’s Key West Islands. The immigrants brought with them the only skills they knew – hand rolling cigars – so factories began to emerge along the Florida Keys, and their products made inroads up and down the east coast.
If a customer asked for a Key West cigar they knew they were getting a cigar every bit as good as a Cuban Imported cigar. Soon cigars began to be classified into three distinct classes: Imported, Domestic and Key West. As the Key West Cigar grew in popularity, the industry spread northward to Tampa where shipping facilities could better handle the transport of tobacco.
Many Cigar Box Labels of the 1870’s displayed the Key West theme to indicate to customers it was a genuine Key West cigar. The themes included beautiful women, symbols of Industrial progress, and the marketing of fine tobacco.
Today, many cigar box label collectors highly prize the Key West Cigar labels. There still remains enough existing Key West Cigar Box Labels that by themselves they can make up a nice subject area for a collector.