There are three theories as to the origin of cigar bands, all of which are incorrect:
Russian empress Catherine the Great was a heavy smoker. She demanded a silk lining be put on her cigars to keep them from staining her fingers. At the time, silk was used to bundle cigars together, but it was never used for individual wrapping.
Cubans put bands on cigars for nineteenth-century English smokers who didn't want to stain their white gloves. England wasn't a big market at the time, and paintings from the period show people smoking bare-handed.
Cheap cigars need the bands placed on them because they were poorly wrapped. Bands were used on a wide range of cigars, and even poor-quality ones would hold together on their own.
The real reason bands were added to cigars was to help market them.
In the mid-1800's most cigars were made in Germany, with a few luxury cigars making their way to Europe. Realizing they could sell cigars for higher prices, these local manufacturers flooded the market with counterfeit Cuban cigars. Frustrated by the knock-offs, Don Francisco Cabaņas started adding hand-signed bands to his cigars to make them easily identifiable as genuine Cuban cigars.
The practice would become widespread a few years later. At the start of the 20th century, cigar smoking was hugely popular in America. Printing costs had declined, making it feasible for local manufacturers to put bands on their products. This started a collector craze, boosted by promotions where smokers could send in their bands for merchandise ranging from baseballs to dining tables. It's thought the term "guttersnipe," which in England referred to poor children digging through ditches for food, made its way to America to refer to children digging through ditches for cigar bands.
Posted 3466 day ago