A cigar band is a piece of foil or paper made into a loop and wrapped around the midsection of a cigar. Gustave Bock invented them in the 1830s. Torcedores originally wrapped cigar bands come in silk or fabric bands, to protect fingers from staining. Over time, Bock's invention of paper bands with a signature spread worldwide.
Cigar bands are an indicator of prestige and quality. They keep the wrapper in place and prevent your hands from the scent and stain of tobacco. Standard cigar shapes leave the foot of the cigar open, contrary to the capped cigar head. The wrapper at the foot is susceptible to damage if the cigar moves on display or inside a box. The band comes in handy to prevent unwanted tears on the open side of the cigar.
The band denotes the cigar brand or variety. It also symbolizes the cigar’s country of origin, variety of wrapper, year of release, or whether it is a limited edition. Some cigars come with a second band for visual appeal. It attracts attention from afar and conveys extra information about the cigar. Secondary bands also have serial numbers to prove their authenticity and deter counterfeits.
Cigar bands have evolved with the advance of printing technology. Initially, they were made out of quality stock created from rags. They then coated the bands with casein and clay, which made them last for a lifetime. Century-old cigar bands still look new due to this technique. Over time, they became pictorial to represent themes ranging from famous people, birds, animals, cowboys, and beautiful women.
Modern cigar bands are made from wood pulp and printed on paper stock. Cigar bands have become collectibles today. Cigar band collectors have a joint organization known as the International Label, Seal, and Cigar Band Society. Vitolphilia is the art of collecting cigar bands.
If and When to Remove Cigar Bands
Whether to take a cigar band off remains debatable among cigar aficionados. Some think it is okay, while others revere the bands and collect them in scrapbooks. There are no definitive rules regarding cigar bands. However, these are some of the things you should consider.
Smoking Cigar Bands
Cigar band makers make them out of foil or paper with pictures and ink colors. When lit, the band will burn, leaving an unpleasant smoke and smell. You can leave the band on as you smoke but be careful not to smoke the band itself.
Tearing The Wrapper
Some cigar lovers like to tear off the cigar band before lighting their cigar. Others like to keep the band on to show the brand they are smoking. The ideal situation is to wait a few minutes after you have started smoking before taking off the band. You risk tearing or unfurling the cigar wrapper if you tear off the band of a cool or unlit cigar. However, if the cigar band is at the foot of the cigar, you should remove it before you smoke. Cigar bands at the foot of cigars are easily removable by sliding them off.
Loosening The Band
Torcedors fasten cigar bands over the cigar using plant-based cigar glue. They only apply glue to the part of the band overlapping the back of the cigar. Nevertheless, it is common for glue smudges to seep into the wrapper leaf. Leaving the band on while smoking heats and softens the glue, making it easier to loosen its hold. The ideal duration is to smoke until an inch to the band before loosening the band. Undo the band from the glued seam first before gently peeling it off.
Smoking Past the Band
It is okay to smoke past the cigar band. However, you must remove the band if you intend to smoke down to the nub. Burning cigar bands emits a bad smell and has an unpleasant taste. If you remove the band to smoke down, be cautious because the last two inches are the hottest and most intense flavor.
Disposing of the Band
If you do not intend to keep your cigar band as an art collection, dispose of it. Do not leave cigar bands in the ashtray. You or other smokers sharing the ashtray might not want to experience the aroma of burnt paper. Cigar aficionados also regard the proper disposal of cigar bands as an elegant gesture.
Cigar etiquette is more about what other cigar aficionados think about the practice. There is no proper or improper approach to it, so long as you do not ruin the wrapper while taking off the band. Fancy hand-made cigars make their smokers proud, and they might want to keep the band while smoking.