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Individual cigars can be finished and presented in various ways.
Cigar bands (anillas) were introduced in Cuban circa 1870s.
Since mid 2006 all Cuban cigars have bands applied. Limited and Special Releases usually have a second band. Commemorative issues may have a special band and/or a second band. On rare occasions, the bands may be individually numbered.
Within the website, bands are classified as Early, Standard, Special, and General.
Early bands are usually pre-1960s, being a precursor to the standard bands. Early bands for machine-made cigars are imprinted Elaborado A Maquina.
Standard bands are the normal bands used for the standard production cigars and some special releases.
Special bands are either commemorative bands or custom bands used for a specific release, and can be either main or second bands.
General bands are non-brand specific, and includes the Limited and Regional Editions, LCDH, and the like.
Between 1939 and 1976, tax stamps were applied to cigars sold within Cuba by Non-State businesses.
Private enterprises who bought cigars from the State Monopoly to sell within Cuba, had to pay tax in advance, by buying these tax stamps from the Cuban Government. To prevent tax evasion each cigar being sold had to display a tax band underneath the cigar band.
The reason for this tax was attributed to a loan of 35,000,000 Cuban Pesos that Cuba borrowed from the US in 1939, to help Cuba out its financial difficulty.
The text on the band “Impuesto del Emprestitito $35,000,000 1939” refers to that 1939 US loan. At the time, the Cuban Peso was pegged to the US$, so it was equal to the same amount in US Dollars. The company name and address is overprinted on the stamp.
This tax stamp ceased to exist in 1976 when Cuba officially declared default on this loan.
Not many Cuban people had the privilege to sell cigars within Cuba outside of the State business, so these stamps are extremely rare.
The following stamp is from a Partagás Eminentes Aluminium pack of five cigars. The cigars were handmade non-cellophane sleaved, unlike the standard production cigar, that was machine-made and had a cellophane sleave.
Previously, un-banded Cuban cigars were limited to Slide Lid Boxes and Bundles. Between 2004 and 2006, this packaging can be found with or without bands. Un-banded cigars are no longer produced.
Some cigars are only available in aluminium tubes, while others are available either with or without tubes.
Aluminium tubes have a thin cedar timber veneer lining. Tubes help preserve cigars from physical damage and short-term drying out. Habanos recommends removing the cigars from their tubes if storing in a humidor; but MRN recommends leaving cigars in their tubes for improved (but slower) aging.
Since 2006, Habanos SA has been extending the available tube range in their major brands, using both the recoloured standard tubes and a new premium style tube. Some of the minor brands are having the tubes withdrawn.
The standard tubes have a bottom screw-cap. The older style tubes generally have black text printed on the natural silver background; while the newer style tubes have the same screw-cap construction but with more colourful tube colour and printing.
The new premium tubes have a twin tube construction, with top friction pull-apart section. They are usually print in multiple colours.
Davidoff had a special multi-tube system with a long slot, that could be opened or closed by twisting the tube. This slot was intended to give the user humidity control by adjusting the slot width.
In 2008 a super-premium Humidifier Tube was released for the Travel Retail Selection pack. It incorporates a rechargeable humidifier sponge within a double aluminium chamber and a clear plastic upper section, and a cap that incorporates a reusable cigar punch.
Cedar wrapping is intended to add a cedar aroma to the cigar. It provides some protection against physical damage. The cedar wrapping may be left on when storing in a humidor.
Only one brand is currently available tissue wrapped; the Fonseca. The wrapping adds nothing and provides negligible protection. The tissue may be left on the cigars in a humidor. It must be removed before smoking.
This may be silver or gold coloured, and is currently used to fully or partially wrap some cigars, such as the Cuaba Diademas and the Bolivia Gold Medal.
Paper foil has been used since 1980, when it replaced Aluminium Foil.
In recent times, cellophane sleeves were only used with machine-made cigars. Until circa 1992, almost all Cuban cigars were available in cellophane sleeves.
Some earlier cigars were available in Glass Tubes (discontinued mid-1970s), Aluminium Foil (discontinued c1980), and more recently Plastic Tubes.
Cigars are packaged for sale in the following various forms.
For a list of Packaging Abbreviations used in this website, click here.
This is the standard cigar box. Also referred to as a current box, labelled box or semi-plain box (semi-plain more correctly applies to boxes pre-WW2, where the dressings did not cover the whole box).
The standard dress box contains 25 banded cigars. The cigars are normally box pressed (the cigars are slightly flat on four sides) except for cedar-wrapped or tubed cigars. The box is "dressed" with specific paper labels and trimmings. Until the mid-1970s, the box is constructed from solid cedar, after which time it changed to cedar veneered plywood. The box is sealed using a pin / nail.
There is a smaller version of the dress box, usually containing 10 cigars.
Slide Lid Box
Also referred to as a Cabinet. This is a varnished or unvarnished timber box containing 25 or 50 round cigars; packed in a bundle and tied with a silk ribbon, with cigars-bands since mid 2006. Around 1997, the timber changed from solid cedar to cedar veneered plywood.
Semi Boite Nature
A varnished or unvarnished timber box containing 10, 24, 25, or 50 round cigars in layers. This box has a flat hinged lid (no sealing-collars) and is fitted with a clasp. Around 1997, the timber changed from solid cedar to cedar veneered plywood.
A varnished cedar timber box normally containing 10 or 25 round cigars in one or more layers. This box has a formed hinged lid with projecting sealing-collars, and is fitted with a clasp.
A varnished cedar timber box with the longer sides being curved, normally containing 25 round cigars, arranged in 3 layers of 8, 9, and 8 cigars. There are other sizes of the 8-9-8. There is a box containing 10 cigars, arranged in 3 layers of 3, 4, and 3 cigars. There is also a special release 8-9-8 box containing 50 cigars, packed in a bundle.
Also known as the coffin box. A varnished or unvarnished cedar timber SLB or SBN containing a single round cigar or a Culebras (three intertwined cigars). The single boxes are normally packed in a 3 or 5 pack dress or slide lid box. Usually reserved for expensive cigars.
Bundles (Mazos) of 25 round cigars, with cigar-bands since mid 2006. Either wrapped in cellophane or silver paper foil. May be presented in a cardboard outer box or a standard dress box.
Cardboard Packs of 3 or 5 round cigars. These packs are normally available in lots of ten, in an outer box suitable for retail display. This is a recently revived form of packaging (circa 2002). Used for small Packaging of premium cigars (including Cohiba) for affordability, but also for non-premium cigars for cheapness. Cardboard Packs existed pre-revolution but lapsed in the early 1970s. At the end of 2006, some of these packs were phased out.
Packs for the range of small machine-made cigars (cigars less the 3 grams) are marked "Habanos S.A.", "HECHO EN CUBA", and "Producido por Internacional Cubana de Tabacos bajo licencia de Habanos, S.A.". They have the small version of the Cuban warranty seal (no serial number) on the pack.
Special packaging takes many forms; from ceramic jars (the Millennium editions) to special individually made Boite Nature boxes (sometimes containing a small humidifier) with a varying number of cigars (5 in the Robusto & Pyramids collection, up to 30 in the Cohiba Select Reserve). Some releases take special forms, such as the Habanos Collection, which is presented in the form of a book. Occasionally a Cajon (large box) of 50 or 100 cigars is used.
Special humidors can take many forms and are usually issued for a special occasion. They are normally limited in quantity, carry a premium price surcharge and may contain vitolas not in normal production. The cigars may have a special or an extra band. The humidors are usually numbered and (rarely) the bands may be numbered.
There are two types of jars....glass and ceramic.
Glass jars were common in the 1950s and 1960s, but were phased out by the mid-1970s. Ceramic jars were first produced in the 1920s but were also phased out by the mid-1970s.
Jars were reintroduced again in 1966, 1999, and 2009 on.
Talavera jars for Partagas from the 1920s.
Savilla produced jars for Partagás and Ramon Allones until the mid-1970s.
Bidasoa produced jars for the Cohiba 30 Aniversario (1966) and the millennium releases (1999).
Byron has produced jars for releases and regional packaging since 2009.
Other earlier cigar packaging included: Cajóns of 50 and 100 (discontinued pre-1960), tin cans (discontinued mid-1960s), and aluminium packs (discontinued mid-1980s). There were also humidors of all forms e.g. tree branches, etc.
Inside each box is a 104mm x 69mm advisory notice printed on a waxy paper, in Spanish, English, French, and German.
Since circa 2005, a newer notice was used, correcting the spacing error (in the English section) after the (16°C-18°C) text.
A further revision was released circa 2007 when the German & French texts were rewritten. The original German text had spelling and grammatical errors. Presumably the French text was changed for the same reason.
In 2012, the Habanos D.O.P. image was superimposed on the top right-hand corner of the notice, and the notice text has been amended.
As with most things Cuban, where will be a date overlap while old stocks are used up.
In 2011 Habanos SA released selected aged (Ańejados) cigars.
The cigars are aged for more than five years and are identified by the addition of a special band added to the cigars, an internal notice, and Revisado stamped on the base of the box.
Cuban cigar boxes produced since 1985 contain a coded date stamp. Prior to 1985, there was no official date identification on boxes (some dealers dated the boxes themselves, usually handwritten in pencil).
These codes are ink stamped onto the bottom of the timber box or the cardboard outer packing, sometimes both. The dates (and the factory codes) are applied before leaving the factory, either for warehousing or for immediate export.
There have been three date systems used since 1985:
Original Date System - 1985 to 1998
This is the so called "NIVELACUSO" code. Each of the 10 letters was given a number from 0 to 9 (starting at 1) as follows:
The code for each month is assigned to the number of the month, represented as 1 to 12 (1 or 2 digits). The year code is the last two digits of the year (in short year format, where 1985 is expressed as 85). The full date code is either 3 or 4 digits, with the month first and the year second (myy or mmyy) as follows:
January 1985 is: NUL
December 1998 is: NISU
Transition Date System - 1999
This is the so called "CODIGUNETA" code. Each of the 10 letters was given a number from 0 to 9 as follows:
However, while this system was intended to be a replacement for the original date system, it became only a transitional system. To further complicate this period, some factories (about half) only used this system from January 1999 to May 1999, and then used a fixed code system for the remaining seven months. This gives the following date codes for 1999:
January 1999 is: CCUN
December 1999 is: CCNE or LROO depending on the factory of origin.
Current Date System - 2000 on
This is the current date system. Each month is given an alpha code based on the first three letters of the Spanish spelling of the month. The year is indicated by the last two digits of the year (in short year format, where 2006 is expressed as 06). The full date code is 5 digits with the month first & the year second (mmmyy) as follows.
January 2000 is: ENE00
December 2005 is: DIC05
Cuban Cigar Boxes produced since 1985 contain a coded factory of origin stamp. Prior to 1985, there was no factory identification on boxes.
These codes are ink stamped onto the bottom of the timber box or the cardboard outer packing, sometimes both. The imprinted factory code (and the date) are applied before leaving the factory, either for warehousing or for immediate export.
These codes are used for quality control purposes as in different years, several factories may make a particular brand or vitola.
The codes keep changing to deter buyers from demanding or rejecting a particular factory as it went in or out of favour, as this causes stock problems for Habanos and their distributors.
Factory codes normally comprise three capital letters, although some two & four letter codes exist. Up until about 2001, they were sometimes enclosed with a rectangle.
There have been four code systems used since 1985, coinciding with the box date code changes, with the fourth (and still unbreakable) code introduced in 2003.
First System - 1985 to 1998
The first series of factory codes involved two, three, & four capital letters, was very simple, and often obvious (e.g. BM for the Romeo y Julieta Briones Montoto factory, FPG for the Partagás Francisco Perez German factory, and CFGS for the Quintero Cienfuegos 1 factory).
In several provinces, all the factories use a common code (e.g. SS for the ten factories in the Sancti Spiritus province).
Second System - 1998 to 1999
The second series of factory codes involved three capital letters, was less obvious, and the factories were all given separate codes.
As in the above examples, BM became EDC, FPG became EAT, CFGS became OTC, and the 10 SS province factories were given separate codes.
Third System - 2000 to 2003
The third series of factory codes involved three & four capital letters, changed the main codes again, and introduced another system for the provinces; where each province shared a group of codes.
The failure of this system lead to the current system.
Current System - 2003 on
With this system of factory codes, all factories have a unique three capital letter code that can be changed monthly and yearly. With this system there are a substantial number of unique codes available, which means there need not be a duplicate code for many years.
Consequently identifying and tracking them is virtually impossible. Only those with access to the code generator program would know codes in advance.
Occasionally a code may be reported but even if correct, it is of limited use as it may only be valid for short time.
Given the much improved quality control from 2005/6 on, the difference between factory output is reduced, making it less important to "chase factories". In addition, the rationalisation, improvement, and replacement of factories means that individual brands are now more likely to be made in a single factory, rather than in multiple factories.
For more information about factories....... click here
In addition to the box date codes and factory codes, Cuban cigar boxes have other box stamps. These are impact stamped onto the box and some indentation should be evident.
Country of Manufacture
Before September 1960, the fabrication of cigar boxes was not centralised, with each Factory making their own boxes. The following stamps appeared on all boxes over the years and (in conjunction with other details) can be used to date boxes. (Original research by MRN)
There were two sizes of Hecho en Cuba stamps; a large and a small.
The small stamps were used mainly on single stick Slide Lid Boxes (coffins). They were also occasionally used on very small boxes (smaller than the Montecristo No.5 for example). They were also used on all boxes between 1978 and 1980.
Short Filler Cigars
Machine-bunched Hand-finished Cigars
Fully Machine-made Cigars
Fully machine made (Mecanizado) cigars usually have no third inscription, except that an inscription "Envuelto a Mano" has been reported, meaning that the cigars were placed, packed, and wrapped by hand.
No longer produced by Habanos.
EAN-13 Product Code
Since circa late-2010, a EAN-13 European standard product code (and the description of the product) is being added to the rear edge of dress boxes.
This number is different from the unique warranty seal number.
Box Seal - Original Type 1994 to 2004
Type 1 is a self-adhesive, rectangular 102 mm x 20 mm seal. It comprises a white seal with full length gold line top & bottom; the leaf emblem and a second thin line in black; and the word "Habanos" is in red and is embossed, and has a yellow shadow background.
Box Seal - Second Type 2005 to circa 2008/9
Type 2 is a self-adhesive rectangular seal. It comprises a white seal with single full length gold line top & bottom; the leaf emblem and the text "Denominación de Origen Protegida" in black; and the word "Habanos" is embossed, and is red and has a yellow shadow background. The are two sizes; 107 mm x 21 mm for boxes, and 60 x 20 for small packs.
Box Seal - Third Type circa 2008/9 on
Type 3 is virtually identical to the type 2 but with the abbreviation D.O.P. (for Denominación de Origen Protegida) added.
This seal is slowly being introduced factory to factory as the older (type 2) seals are depleted. Actual dates appear to be late 2008 to 2010.
Box Seal - Limited & Regional Editions
Limited Edition and Regional Edition boxes have a second seal set below the white Habanos seal.
Box Seal - Machine-made Cigars circa 2011 on
A new seal exclusively for the ICT machine-made cigars appeared in 2011 (on a box of Partagás Chicos).
Union and Warranty Seals
The Union seal was first introduced on 13th February 1889 by Royal Decree of the King of Spain to be used by the manufacturers (Union de Fabricantes de Tabaco).
A Provision seal is now known to exist during the period of United States had provisional administration of Cuba, between 1898 and 1902
The Warranty seal was introduced in 1902 when Cuba gained formal independence from the United States.
In 1912 the Cuban Government authorised a new design, that was subsequently modified in 1931, 1999, and 2009.
Union Seal - 1889 to 1898
Union Seal - 1898 to 1902
Warranty Seal - 1902 to 1912
Warranty Seal - 1912 to 1931
Warranty Seal - 1931 to 1961
Warranty Seal - 1962 to 1999
Warranty Seal - 1999 to 2009/11 (overlaps with following seal)
Currently there are several known variations of this seal.
i. Darker green shade of ink, printed on bright white paper, providing a good contrast. Under UV light: the paper fluoresces, a poorly defined pinkish-orange coloured shield appears, and the whole serial number appears a very dark black-red.
ii. Lighter green shade of ink, printed on creamy white paper, providing a less distinctly appearance. Under UV light: the paper does not fluoresce, a well defined lemon-yellow coloured shield appears, and the whole serial number appears a very dark black-red.
iii. Similar to ii, but under UV light, the letters of the serial number remain a very dark black-red, but the numbers strongly fluoresce bright red.
The serial number consists of two letters and six numbers, and the first letter of the Serial Number "should" correspond with the following box date code. The second letter appears to be somewhat random. Any serial number on the warranty seal commencing with XX or XY has been opened and inspected at the Habanos SA facility as part of their quality control and these boxes may have a "REVISADO" (reviewed) stamp on the base of the box.
Warranty Seal - 2009 to circa late-2010
Current Warranty Seal - circa late-2010 on
Until 2009 seals were normally located on the left-hand side of the opening side of the box, and positioned so that the fold is through the centre of the coat of arms. If the cigar box comes packed inside an cardboard outer carton, the warranty seal is normally adhered to the outer carton only.
The new seals are also be placed with the fold through the centre of the coat of arms, but with the barcode showing at the front of the box, resulting in the seal being fixed in reverse of the previous seals.
There is a transition period between 2009 and 2011 when both the new & old seals are affixed.
Health, Logos, and Duty Paid Stickers
These are stickers applied by the Regional Distributors before being sent to retailers.
Government Health Warning Stickers
These are placed on boxes by the regional distributors to comply with local anti-smoking laws.
Logos and other Duty Paid Stickers
These include stickers applied by some distributors to authenticate their point-of-distribution origin. In some countries, a duty paid sticker is also applied. The following is an example of this type of seals from some regions.
Habanos cigars produced for sale within Cuba have a exclusive hologram on the boxes. Only Habanos SA approved retailers in Cuba sell boxes of Cuban cigars with this hologram. Boxes produced for export do not have the hologram. The sticker is a transparent hologram with a serial number printed on it.
UK Distributor, Hunters & Frankau, resurrected the old EMS (English market selection) sticker in 1993. They are applied to cigar boxes after clearing bond by the payment of the duty and excise.
UK Travel Retail, Republic of Ireland, Gibraltar and the Channel Islands
For boxes of Havana cigars sold unopened by Hunters & Frankau, a "H & F Imported Directly from Cuba" sticker is used. These stamps are applied to all boxes for UK Travel Retail and the Hunters & Frankau export markets (Republic of Ireland, Gibraltar and the Channel Islands).
German Distributor, Fifth Avenue, apply a logo and a government duty sticker. Old style and new style shown.
Italian Distributor, Diadema, apply their own logos as shown (2005 to 2010).
The Asia Pacific Distributor, The Pacific Cigar Co applied the following quality and authenticity seals as shown.
China's Distributor, Infifon Hong Kong apply the following logo seal.
Habanos Packaging Codes
On the Habanos SA website, a special packaging code is used to describe the Packaging available for each vitola.
The packaging code is made up of 6 parts, each part separated by the hyphen symbol (-).
The various parts of the code are shown in the following table:
The individual codes in each part are as follows:
For a list of Website Packaging Abbreviations.......click here