And a mold to make more

People ask me, “Where do you find all these things for the newsletter?”

“Rachel’s Finds” are already in the museum collection. I try to choose an item that readers would find interesting. Most museums display less than a tenth of their collections. We are no different.

This find is an early 20th Century wooden cigar mold that could make 20 cigars.

Before cigars were imported from Cuba, high quality and expensive cigars usually came from New York, Detroit or Chicago where large cigar factories employed hundreds of people. To keep it affoadable, small-town merchant would buy from local cigar makers.

To make cigars, the tobacco leaves were soaked to become pliable then cut to the desired length and tightly rolled. They were placed in the bottom mold, covered with the top mold and bound shut. It was hung to dry and in two weeks to two months, depending on how dry the maker wanted the final product, they were ready for use.

The 1906 city directory lists at least three cigar makers in Sturgis, Richard Murphy, Claud Miller and Homer Allard. They employed women as tobacco strippers to prepare the leaves for rolling. According to the directory, Hall & Henry specialized in tobacco, cigars and confections. They also housed one of the many billiards and pool halls in Sturgis. Rather than give an address, the ad in the city directory says they were “opposite Elliott House.”