Friday, November 20, 2020

A Short History of the Cigar


The native people of the American continent were the first to grow and smoke tobacco. Tobacco was first used by the Maya of Central America.  When the Maya civilization collapsed, scattered tribes carried tobacco into North and South America. Columbus brought awareness of tobacco to Europe.

In due course returning conquistadores introduced tobacco smoking to Spain and Portugal. The habit, a sign of wealth, then spread to France, through the French ambassador to Portugal, Jean Nicot (who eventually gave his name to nicotine).

The word tobacco, some say, was a corruption of Tobago, the name of a Caribbean island. Others claim it comes from the Tabasco province of Mexico. The word cigar originated from sikar, the Mayan word for smoking.

The habit of smoking cigars spread from Spain, where cigars using Cuban tobacco were made in Seville from 1717 onwards. By 1790 cigar manufacture had spread north of the Pyrenees with small factories being setup in France and Germany.  Cigar smoking did not become really popular in Britain until after the Peninsular War (1806-12) against Napoleon, when returning British veterans spread the habit they had learned while serving in Spain. Production of segars, as they were known, began in Britain in 1820.

Cigar smoking became such a widespread custom in Britain that smoking cars became a feature in trains, and the smoking room was introduced in clubs and hotels. The habit even influenced clothing--with the introduction of the smoking jacket.

How Sherlock Holmes Lived

Arizona’s Superstition Mountains are mysterious, forbidding, and dangerous.  The Superstitions are said to have claimed over five hundred lives.  What were these people looking for?  Is it possible that these mountains hide a vast treasure?  Is it possible that UFOs land here?  Is it possible that in these mountains there is a door leading to the great underground city of the Lizard Men?  Join us as we recount a fictional story of the Superstitions and then look at the real history of the legends that haunt these mountains in our new book:  Gold, Murder and Monsters in the Superstition Mountains.