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Frances Perkins, Secretary
Isador Lubin, Commissioner


Mechanization and Productivity
o f Labor in the Cigar
M anufacturing Industry
Prepared by

Bulletin 7S[o. 660
September 1938

W A S H IN G T O N : 1939

For sale by the Superintendent o f Documents, Washington, D . C.



Price 15 cents



C hapter I.— Summary___________________________________________________________
C hapter II.— Methods and machines___________________________________________
Leaf preparation_____________________________________________
Cigar making--------------------------------------------------------------------10
Making cigars by hand_____________________________
Making cigars by the combination hand and ma­
chine m ethod________________________________________
Making cigars by machine______________________
Long-filler machines__________________________
Short-filler machines. _ _______ _
Cellophaning and banding_______ _______________
Box labeling______________________________ ______________
C hapter III.— Labor productivity_____________ _ . _ ___ _ ____________
The sample_________________________________________
Productivity of labor_________ ________ _.
Leaf preparation_____________________________
Cigar making_____________________________________
Cellophaning and banding_
Box labeling___________________________________________
Miscellaneous labor________________________________
The plant as a whole_________________________________
C hapter I V .— Mechanization and its effects___________________________________
Cost advantage of mechanization_________________________
Extent of mechanization___________________________________
Effects of mechanization on production__________________
Effects of mechanization on number and size of estab­
Effects of mechanization on labor_________________________
Total employment____________________________________
Type of labor employed by the industry____________
Organization of labor__________________________________
W ages____________________________________________
Hours of labor_________________________________________
Mechanization and the future_____________________________




T a b le s
T able
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T able
T able
T able
T able
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T able
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T able
T able
T able
T able
T able
T able
T able
T able
T able
T able
T able
T able
T able

1.— Average number of four-operator, long-filler cigar machines on
lease to cigar manufacturers, 1917-36____________________
2.— Labor requirements in the leaf preparation departments of
plants stripping wrapper and binder leaf and receiving filler
leaf in stripped condition_________________________________
3.— Labor requirements in stripping wrapper leaf tobacco by
m achine________________________________________________
4.— Labor requirements in stripping binder leaf tobacco by
5.— Labor requirements in stripping departments of plants strip­
ping only wrapper and binder leaf tobacco by machine____
6.— Labor requirements in making cigars by ha^nd (team-work
7. Productivity of hand bunch makers and hand rollers________
8.— Labor requirements in making short-filler cigars, bunching by
machine and rolling by hand_____________________________
9.— Labor requirements in making long-filler cigars on four-operator
cigar machines___________________________________________
10.— Labor requirements in making short-filler cigars on two-oper­
ator cigar machines______________________________________
11.— Labor requirements in the packing departments of cigar
12.— Labor requirements in cellophaning and banding cigars_____
13.— Labor requirements in pasting labels and affixing internal rev­
enue stamps on cigar boxes_______________________________
14.— Average miscellaneous labor requirements in cigar plants___
15.— Approximate amounts of labor required to make one thousand
5-cent cigars by various manufacturing methods__________
16.— Over-all man-hour productivity in plants manufacturing 5-cent
cigars by alternative methods____________________________
17a.— Costs of manufacture by four-operator, long-filler cigar
machines not common to manufacture by hand methods.
17b.— Costs of manufacture by four-operator, long-filler cigar
machines not common to manufacture by hand methods.
18.— Percentage distribution of production of cigars, by retail price
classes, 1921 to 1936_____________________________________
19.— Average farm prices of domestic leaf tobacco used for filler,
binder, and wrapper, 1919 to 1936________________________
20.— Distribution of cigar factories according to annual output in
specified years___________________________________________
21.— Annual pay roll and average annual earnings per worker in the
cigar-manufacturing industry, 1921-35_______



Per capita consumption of cigars and cigarettes, 1880-1936______________
Estimated consumption of tobacco in various forms, 1900-36____________


Letter o f Transmittal

U n ited S tates D epar tm en t of L a b o r ,
B u r e a u of L abor S ta tistic s ,

Washington , D . C ., November SO, 1938 .
T he S e c r e ta r y of L a b o r :

have the honor to transmit herewith a report on Mechanization
and Productivity of Labor in the Cigar Manufacturing Industry,
prepared under the direction of Boris Stern of the Bureau of Labor
I sador L u b in , Commissioner .
H o n . F ran ces P e r k in s ,

Secretary o f Labor .



The cigar-manufacturing industry presents an unusual case in the
study of mechanization, since major changes in man-hour produc­
tivity in this industry over the last 20 years have been brought about
principally by the mechanization of one process. Moreover, not all
concerns have mechanized, a substantial number of establishments
for one reason or another continuing to use the older, hand-labor,
craftsmanship methods. In many factories today one may find and
study manufacturing methods substantially the same as those in
general use 20 and 30 years ago. For these reasons, the present
survey, though designed principally to study the productivity of
labor in the industry today, has been somewhat extended in scope to
appraise changes brought about by the introduction of improved
manufacturing methods in the last 20 or 30 years.
This report is one of a series on surveys of labor productivity in
a group of industries made by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in
cooperation with the National Research Project, Works Progress
Administration, under the general direction of Boris Stern, of the
Bureau of Labor Statistics. Field work was done during the latter
half of the year 1936 and in the early months of 1937.
I sador L u b in ,

Commissioner o f Labor Statistics.
S e p tem b er 1938.



Bulletin 7s[o. 660 o f the
U nited States Bureau o f Labor Statistics

Mechanization and Productivity in the Cigar
M anufacturing Industry
Chapter I
The most important recent changes in the productivity of labor
in the cigar-manufacturing industry have come from the introduction
of ingenious power-driven machines which semiautomatically perform
the cigar-making operation itself.
In the manufacture of long-filler cigars, use of four-operator cigar
machines was found to reduce the amount of labor required in the
fabrication department of a cigar factory about 62 percent as com­
pared with the hand process. This is equivalent to a reduction of
about 52 percent in the total amount of labor required in the plant as
a whole.1 In terms of production costs, this reduction in labor time
is estimated to represent a difference in favor of the mechanized process
of at least $3.00 per thousand cigars on the basis of wage rates prevail­
ing in 1936.
Long-filler cigar machines were first introduced in 1917, and since
then have spread through a wide section of the industry. It is esti­
mated that in 1936 they were used in making about three-quarters
of all long-filler cigars, or about six-tenths of the total production
of all cigars, long-filler and short-filler combined.
A different machine is used in the manufacture of short-filler cigars,
the filler of which does not run the full length of the cigar as in the
case of long-filler cigars, but consists instead of smaller scraps or cut­
tings. This machine requires two operators, compared with four for
the long-filler machine. Adequate data covering the manufacture of
short-filler cigars by hand are not available, and a direct comparison
of productivity between hand and machine methods cannot be made.
However, since the labor time required to make short-filler cigars by
hand is approximately the same as that required to make long-filler
cigars, it is clear that the labor-time savings made possible by mechan­
ization of short-filler cigar manufacture are even greater than in the
case of long-filler cigars.

i Figures refer to the manufacture of cigars retailing at 5 cents each unless otherwise stated.
103023 ° — 39-




Short-filler machines were introduced about the same time as longfiller machines. Data on which to base numerical estimates are not
available, but it appears that the manufacture of short-filler cigars is
now almost completely mechanized.
Not only has the manufacture of both long-filler and short-filler
cigars become substantially mechanized, but there has also been a
trend from the manufacture of long-filler to short-filler cigars. It
is estimated that the proportion of total production represented by
short-filler cigars increased from 11 percent in 1920 to about 27 per­
cent in 1936. Reduced labor costs have probably been a large factor
in this increase, since the amount of labor required to make shortfiller cigars by machine is less than that required to make long-filler
cigars by either machine or hand— about 25 percent less in the former
case and about 64 percent less in the latter.
Aside from introduction of cigar-making machines, the only other
significant changes in labor productivity in the industry have come
from increased use of stripping machines, which aid in removing the
midrib of tobacco leaf. Mechanization of the stripping operation
has reduced the amount of labor required in cigar plants by probably
not more than 15 percent. Stripping machines were available before
1900, but for many years did not find wide application. Today,
however, their use appears nearly universal.
There have been other changes in manufacturing techniques in
the last 2 or 3 decades— for instance, the development of conveyor
systems and the introduction of cellophaning and banding machinery—
but the net effects of these on average labor productivity or the organ­
ization of the industry have been slight.
The major changes wrought by mechanization are thus attributed
almost entirely to one factor— cigar machines. Perhaps the most
direct effect of mechanization has been a reduction in the size of the
labor force required by the industry. It is estimated that an addi­
tional 27,000 workers would have been required to produce the num­
ber of cigars manufactured in 1935 except for the use of long-filler
cigar machines alone. Inclusion of the effects of other mechanical
improvements might swell the displacement to well over 30,000
Displacement because of improvements in manufacturing technique
has been aggravated by a reduction in the total volume of production
of cigars amounting to more than 36 percent between 1920 and 1936.
On the other hand, the effects have been mitigated to a degree by a
marked decrease in average hours of labor, which, however, has not
been sufficient to balance disemployment caused by the other two
factors. The industry employed 112,000 wage earners in 1921; by
1935 this number was reduced by half, to a total of 56,000 workers.



In addition, it is important to note that hand cigar makers have
generally not been employed as cigar-machine operators. These
have most commonly been recruited directly from the ranks of
unskilled labor, many, if not most, having had no previous experience
in the cigar industry. Installation of each machine then has usually
caused the induction into the industry of a few new unskilled workers
and the complete displacement of a greater number of skilled hand
cigar makers. It is estimated that by 1935 about 44,000 such hand
workers had been severed from the industry due to the use of longfiller cigar machines alone, and concurrently, that jobs had been pro­
vided for about 17,000 new workers, mostly unskilled, brought in to
run the machines.
While the newly introduced workers have been, in the main,
unskilled young women, those displaced have been principally in the
upper age groups, and of both sexes. The displaced hand workers
have been accustomed to indoor work of a specialized nature, and
their acquired skills have been of little use in other industries or even
elsewhere in the cigar industry. As a result, they have often found it
extremely difficult to locate new employment, or to readjust them­
selves to changed employment conditions. Employment dislocations
caused by mechanization have, therefore, frequently caused great
hardship and distress among displaced workers.2
At the same time that gradual displacement of hand workers has
changed the character of the industry from one employing largely
skilled labor to one using principally unskilled or semiskilled workers,
distribution of employment between the sexes has been changed.
While many hand cigar makers are men, cigar-machine operators are
almost exclusively women. As mechanization has spread through the
industry, the proportion of males employed has steadily decreased.
In the pre-machine era, the skill of hand cigar makers commanded
relatively high wages. However, mechanization and the decline in
production after 1920 together glutted the market for this type of
labor, with a constantly depressing effect on wage levels. The average
annual wage of workers in the cigar industry remained about constant
through the twenties, but declined sharply after 1929, reaching a
level in 1935 of but $598, or 27 percent below the average in 1921.
The situation in the hand branch of the industry has been particularly
acute, with manufacturers under constant pressure to reduce labor
costs because of competition from more efficient mechanized units,
and a large body of workers competing for a place in an industry
which has shown a constantly shrinking demand for their services. An
abnormal situation has resulted, whereby in many cases skilled workers
in the hand branch of the industry receive less for their services than

Creamer, Daniel, and Swackhamer, Gladys V.: Cigar Makers*—After the Lay-Off. National Research
Project, Report No. L-l, W. P. A., pp. 79-84. Philadelphia, December 1937.



partly skilled or unskilled workers in machine factories. All recent
studies have found hand cigar makers—highly skilled workers— gen­
erally receiving smaller rates of pay than cigar-machine operators
working on cigars in comparable price classes.
Mechanization has had other important effects on the industry.
Whereas in 1921 only 30 percent of all cigars manufactured retailed
at 5 cents or less apiece, by 1929 this proportion had risen to 55 percent,
and by 1936 to 88 percent. This general price decline was forced by
bitter competition between manufacturers for a share in the shrinking
cigar market, in turn caused by consumers’ increasing use of cigarettes.
Lowered prices were made possible in large part by declining prices
for the raw material of the industry, cigar leaf tobacco, but reductions
in labor costs achieved through mechanization were also a factor.
The impact of mechanization is also to be found in changes in the
number and type of factories making cigars. Before cigar machines
were introduced, a large share of all cigars were produced in small
factories. Such shops did not entail a large investment, and could
dispose of their product on relatively even terms with larger plants.
Mechanization, requiring a greater investment, and steady mass out­
lets to markets, changed this situation. Only large factories in general
could meet these conditions, so the benefits of mechanization have
accrued principally to such units. In the declining market and the
bitter competitive situation following 1920 these benefits proved
decisive. In 1921 there were 14,578 cigar manufacturing establish­
ments; by 1936 this number was reduced to 5,292. However, during
the same period, the number of establishments manufacturing 40
million or more cigars each per year increased from 11 to 27, and their
collective proportion of the total output of the industry rose from 15.7
percent to 56.5 percent. It is evident that the smaller establishments
have been forced to bear the brunt of the industry’s decline.
Probably more than three-quarters of all long-filler cigars made
today are produced on machines, and the manufacture of short-filler
cigars appears mechanized to an even higher degree. Mechanization,
therefore, has not much further to go. The question as to the rate
at which mechanization will spread through the balance of the indus­
try, or whether there will be further significant mechanization, cannot
be definitely settled. Physically, there appears to be no barrier. The
fields in which the use of machines would probably not prove econom­
ical, that is, the manufacture of expensive cigars where the highest
quality of workmanship is required, and the filling of special orders
for small lots or odd sizes, comprise a very small part of all cigar
Practically, the persistence of hand methods of manufacture on a
significant scale seems to rest in two major factors. The selling appeal
of the term “ hand-made” is still important, and as long as some con-



sumers prefer cigars so styled, hand manufacturers will find a market
for their product. The second factor is the size of the labor-cost
differential normally in favor of mechanized methods of operation.
Any influence tending to increase this differential, such as higher wage
levels in the industry as a whole or especially in the hand branch,
would accelerate the trend to mechanization.

Chapter II
Methods and Machines
The manufacture of cigars involves three major steps: Assembly
and preparation of the leaf tobacco, actual fabrication, and further
processes designed to assemble and pack the cigars in a form most
suitable for marketing. However, in most cigar manufacturing
plants of any size a more detailed departmental separation may be
made, as follows:
Leaf preparation, stripping, cigar making, packing, cellophaning
and banding, and box labeling.
Changes in manufacturing methods within any one of these depart­
ments ordinarily have little effect on operations in other depart­
ments. Moreover, there are for several of the departments different
characteristic methods of operation. A variety of combinations of
these characteristic departmental types of operations is found in
different plants. It is therefore most convenient and expedient to
consider cigar manufacturing as a series of relatively independent
operations, each of which may be performed by different methods in
different plants.
Leaf Preparation

Leaf tobacco does not move directly from the growers’ fields to
cigar factories. It must be stored in warehouses for a period of
from 6 months to 3 years, during which time it cures and mellows,
before it can properly enter manufacturing processes.
The tobacco, as it conies to the cigar factory, is packed tightly in
boxes or bales. It is dry, brittle, and friable. The first step in the
preparation department after the leaf is unpacked is, therefore, to
moisten it to a degree sufficient to permit further handling. This
process is known as “ casing” or “ conditioning.”
The tobacco is usually packed in the form of “ hands,” a hand com­
prising a bundle of from 12 to 20 leaves tied together at the butt end.
The hands are taken from the box and given a brisk shaking to separate
the individual leaves. They may be sprayed, but more usually are
dipped in a tub of cold water and set on a drain board to allow excess
water to run off. They are then again packed in boxes, covered with
burlap, and left for a day or two to permit the moisture to permeate
the leaves evenly.



All types of leaf are not moistened to the same degree.1 For
instance, filler leaf receives less manipulation in later processes than
binder or wrapper leaf; in many cases it enters the plant in a stripped
condition, that is, with the hard midrib of the leaf removed, in con­
trast to other types which are most usually stripped in the cigar fac­
tory. Consequently, the same degree of flexibility, and so of moisture
content, is not required of filler leaf as in the case of binder and
Most tobacco receives a final curing treatment, known as “ sweat­
ing” in the preparation department. Sweating is an aptly named
process. The tobacco, in open boxes, or occasionally on racks, is
moved into a “ sweat room,” an insulated chamber maintained at a
high relative humidity and a high temperature (up to 120° F.). The
tobacco remains here for from 4 to 8 weeks, during which period it
undergoes a type of fermentation and gives off strong fumes. The
odor of ammonia is much in evidence, and workers entering sweat
rooms frequently are required to wear gas masks for protection.
Sweating is really a continuation of the curing process begun in the
storage warehouse, and has the effect of mellowing the tobacco,
driving off much of those substances which give the smoke of raw
tobacco a sharp and acrid flavor.
Filler tobacco is usually stored in bins for 3 to 6 weeks or longer
before it leaves the preparation department. This permits the
tobacco to attain a more even condition and aroma, especially where
several grades of filler have been mixed together.
Binder leaf may be binned for a short time (1 week), but wrapper
leaf usually proceeds directly from the preparation department to
the next operation.
Very little machinery of any kind is used in leaf preparation depart­
ments. Where found, it takes the form chiefly of conveying equip­
ment to move the tobacco from one operation to another or to carry
it through humidifying or sweating chambers. Naturally, the use of
such machinery is economical only in the case of the largest plants,
since the labor-time saving is small and relatively few employees are
found in this department.

i Three types of leaf enter the making of most cigars. The body of the cigar, a clump of loose leaves or
cuttings, is formed of filler leaf tobacco. Filler is selected principally on the basis of its smoking qualities
The filler is held together by a strip cut from a single leaf, known as the binder. Binder leaf tobacco is
selected for smoothness, toughness, and elasticity. The outside covering of the cigar or wrapper is a strip
cut from still another single leaf. Wrapper is selected on the basis of its color, smoothness, elasticity, and
Most of the wrapper leaf used in this country is either imported from the Dutch East Indies (Sumatra
leaf), or is grown under shade in the Connecticut River Valley, in Georgia, or in Florida. Binder leaf is
grown principally in the Connecticut River Valley, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Filler type leaf is
grown in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, and adjacent States, and is also imported from Cuba, Puerto Rico,
and the Philippine Islands. The types given are not exclusive, since there is a degree of alternative use
within these classifications. For instance, although most Cuban-grown leaf used in this country is of the
filler type, manufacturers of “all Havana” cigars use wrapper and binder leaf from the same source.



With the exception of those in charge, nearly all workers employed
in leaf-preparation departments are unskilled men paid on an hourly
Stripping, also called stemming, is the operation in which the hard
central rib or mid vein of the tobacco leaf is removed. With respect
to filler tobacco, either domestic or imported, this is most character­
istically done at the storage warehouse before the leaf enters the cigar
plant.2 Binder and wrapper leaf, on the other hand, are usually
stripped at the cigar plant.
As the binder or wrapper leaf enters the stripping department, it
may or may not go through a process known as selecting. This
consists of classifying the leaves according to size, and picking from
the less expensive filler and binder grades leaves which may be suit­
able for use as binder or wrapper. However, this process is not found
in most plants.
Stripping may be done by hand or by machine. Either type of
operation is relatively simple. When leaf is to be stripped by hand,
the operator grasps the tip end of the leaf in one hand, and with the
thumb and forefinger of the other hand picks out the end of the leaf’s
midrib. The midrib and stem is then removed by winding the leaf
around the wrist and hand.
Hand stripping of cigar tobacco is unusual today. It is generally
found only in very small factories, or in those plants where selecting
is done, in which case leaves too small to be stripped economically
by machine may be stripped by hand.
A number of stripping machines are on the market, all operating
in about the same manner. The attendant picks up a leaf, spreads
it out, and feeds the tip end between two rollers. When the operator
presses a foot pedal, the rollers turn, and a small strip of leaf wide
enough to include the stem is cut out or torn away. The stem is
rejected and the remaining halves of the leaf are wound on a drum.
The machine is so constructed that the drum on which the leaf is
wound always returns to the same relative position. Thus the tips
of the various strips wound on it are always together.

* The Annual Report of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue for the fiscal year ending June 30,1937,
states that 125.9 million pounds of tobacco (unstemmed basis) were used in the manufacture of large cigars in
1936. About Ho of the weight of tobacco used in cigars consists of binder and wrapper leaf (according to
information given by cooperating manufacturers). Therefore, about 38 million pounds of the tobacco used
in 1936 was binder and wrapper. It may be assumed that all this leaf entered cigar factories in unstemmed
condition. A total of 55 million pounds of unstemmed leaf entered cigar factories in 1936 (Annual Report of
Commissioner of Internal Revenue). Therefore it is estimated that on an unstemmed basis about 17 million
or on a stemmed basis about 13 million pounds of filler tobacco entered cigar factories in unstemmed con­
dition in 1936 (on basis 25 percent waste in stemming—conversion basis used by Bureau of Internal Reve­
nue). This compares with 35 million pounds of stemmed leaf (which may be assumed to have been all
filler) and 18 million pounds of scrap (filler) which were used in 1936 (stemmed basis). It is therefore esti­
mated that only 20 percent of all filler leaf used in 1936 was stemmed after reaching the cigar factories.



After about 50 leaves have been run into the machine the two
packets of stripped leaf are removed, one consisting of all right-hand
strips, the other of all left-hand strips. These pads of leaf are known
as right-hand or left-hand “ books.” The separation is important
because the direction of the spiral of the binder and wrapper around
a cigar is determined by the side of the leaf from which the strips are
cut. Since a cigar machine is built to handle only one type of spiral,
it is necessary to supply the machine operators with the correct
halves of the leaf.
As stated, most filler leaf, either domestic or imported, is stripped
before it reaches the cigar factory. In cases where it is stripped at
the plant, the operation is carried on in much the same manner as
for wrapper and binder leaf, except that less care is necessary to keep
the leaf unmarred.
Most plants making short-filler cigars buy their filler leaf in the
form of scrap, a byproduct of the manufacture of long-filler cigars.
This, of course, requires no stripping. However, in recent years a
new type of operation has been introduced. A few manufacturers
making short-filler cigars buy unstripped whole leaf, and at the fac­
tory feed it into a machine known as a “ thresher.” This machine
beats the leaf between revolving arms, tearing the leaf from the stem.
A current of air removes all dust and sand, and carries the scrap leaf
to a storage receptacle. The heavier stem falls to the bottom of the
machine. This machine thus eliminates the need for stripping, but it
is applicable only to the manufacture of short-filler cigars and is used
in few plants.
The skill required to strip leaf tobacco by hand is slight. Even
less skill is required of the machine operator. The process of strip­
ping leaf by either method is learned in a short period of time.
Both hand and machine strippers are usually paid on a piece-work
basis. The fact that the labor time required to strip leaf depends on
the type of the leaf, and within any one type more on the size and
uniformity of leaves than on aggregate weight (since it requires nearly
as much time to strip a small leaf as a large one), has produced in
many factories a rather unusual system of piece-work payment. The
person in charge of the stripping department separates the unstripped
leaf tobacco into lots, each of which in his judgment represents a
standard amount of labor. These lots are then given to the strip­
pers, who individually receive payment for the number of lots they
are able to complete. Because the worker’s record is usually kept
on a card which is punched to indicate the number of lots completed,
the lots are known in many factories as “ punches.” The size of a
“ punch” is different for filler, binder, and wrapper tobacco, and, even
within one of these grades, varies in size according to the supervisor’s
103023°— 39--------- 3



judgment as to the average size of the component leaves and the strip­
ping difficulties involved.
Changes in pay in the stripping department of cigar factories are
often made by changing the average size of the “ punch” rather than
by changing the piece-work rate. Naturally, this has tended to
make wage-rate or productivity data applying to stripping depart­
ments difficult to obtain and unreliable.
Stripping machines were introduced about 1890.3 However, adop­
tion of the machines was slow at first because of the low wages paid
strippers and the then relatively profitable condition of the industry.4
The decline in the total volume of production of cigars during the
1920’s forced manufacturers to make economies wherever possible and
the use of stripping machines became more common. By 1933 the
bulk of all stripping was carried on with their assistance.5 The Code
of Fair Competition for the Cigar Manufacturing Industry, negotiated
under the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933, in guaranteeing a
minimum wage for all workers in the cigar industry probably acted
still further to reduce hand stripping with its higher labor cost. In
the plants covered by the present survey, hand stripping of leaf was
found in only two cases, and in these cases was applied to but a very
small proportion of the leaf used.
Another contrast between present-day and earlier plants may be
pointed out. It appears that the stemming of filler leaf tobacco in
cigar factories is less prevalent today than formerly, much of this
work being done before the filler tobacco reaches the plants. This has
resulted in a diminution in the amount of stripping department labor,
which, however, is more apparent than real, since the labor is now
performed in storage warehouses and its cost included in the cost of
the tobacco.
Cigar M aking

This department, in which the actual operation of making the cigar
is carried out, accounts for the bulk of all workers employed in a
plant. The cigar-making operation at the present time may be per­
formed by hand, by machine, or by a combination of hand and
machine methods. The same company may use different methods of
manufacture in different plants and it is not even uncommon to find
different methods employed side by side in a single factory.

s Baer, W. N.: The Economic Development of the Cigar Industry in the United States. Art Print­
ing Co., Lancaster, Pa., 1933, p. 86.
4The work (stemming) is done almost entirely by hand; only a few factories have machines, and employ
them on wrapper and binder leaf alone. U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Bull. 135: Wages and hours of
labor in the cigar and clothing industries, 1911 and 1912. Washington, 1913, p. 12.
5A special survey of the cigar-manufacturing industry, conducted for the National Recovery Adminis­
tration by the Census of Manufactures of 1933, covering 52,273 wage earners, reported 3,048 machine strip­
pers employed as compared with 2,457 hand strippers.



Maying Cigars By Hand
The oldest and the simplest method of making a cigar is still in use
in a few shops, particularly those making higher-priced cigars. By this
method one worker starting with the leaf tobacco and using no tools
except a knife with a curved blade and a board on which to work
produces finished cigars. This is referred to as the “ out-and-out”
hand method.
The worker cuts a thin strip from the wrapper leaf, another from
the binder, and selects the right amount of filler leaves. He fashions
the filler into proper form and size in the palm of his hand and wraps
it in the strip of binder, making the “ bunch.” This is then placed on
the strip of wrapper which lies flat on the board and with a deft
rolling movement the worker fashions the cigar, beginning at the
lighting end (the “ tuck” ) and finishing at the end which goes into the
mouth (the “ head” ). It is necessary to trim the wrapper a trifle just
before the head is formed; then with a bit of paste made of water and
gum tragacanth the last bit of wrapper is fastened securely and the
head is smoothed between the thumb and forefinger. The other end
of the cigar is then trimmed to the proper length. When the worker
has‘completed a standard number of cigars, usually about 50, he ties
them together with a ribbon and takes them to a foreman who inspects
them and credits the cigar maker with the number finished. This
“ out-and-out” method of cigar making was general until the introduc­
tion of the mold about 1870.
The mold consists of two wooden boards, one thicker than the other.
The heavier board has deep cigar shaped grooves carved in it, usually
about 15 in number. The upper board is correspondingly carved to
fit on the lower board and compress material placed in the grooves to
a cigar shape. In use, a worker makes bunches as previously de­
scribed and places them in the depressions of the mold. When the
mold is filled the top is placed on and the mold put under pressure for
a short while. The blocks are then separated and the bunches,
properly shaped, are ready for rolling. Excess tobacco of the bunches
protrudes from the grooves on each side of the mold. The cigar maker
who is to wrap the bunches first trims one end of each of the bunches by
running his knife down the edge of the mold. He then removes the
bunches from the mold and puts on the wrapper leaf as previously
The mold made it possible to introduce division of labor into cigar
making since one person, known as the “ bunch-maker,” could fashion
sufficient bunches to supply about two others applying wrappers,
known as “ rollers.” Some increase in productivity could be effected
in this way since less care was necessary in fashioning the bunches,
and in addition shorter training periods were required for the various



This team-work system made possible by the mold has formed the
pattern for hand manufacture of cigars ever since the device was
introduced. Later tools were designed principally to aid in making
the bunches or in rolling the bunches after leaving the mold.
About 15 years after the introduction of the mold, a hand-operated
device to assist in making bunches was developed. This tool consists
of a heavy cloth or canvas belt fastened at one end to a stationary
cross frame and at the other end to a movable lever handle. The
belt rests on the base, which has a cigar-shaped depression at the
handle end and a convexly curved surface from this depression to the
other end where the belt is attached. The filler is placed in the de­
pression and a strip of binder leaf laid on the belt a short distance
ahead. The handle is then pushed forward, rolling the bunch in the
binder strip and giving it a cigar-like shape. Bunches so made are
put in molds until the wrapper is applied. The use of this device has
resulted in some increase in labor productivity, but its principal effect
has been to lower still further the skill requirement in making bunches.
At about the same time that the manually operated bunching tool
was introduced, a device to assist the roller was invented— the suction
plate. This consists of a perforated steel plate with a sharp edge of
exactly the shape to which the roller would trim the wrapper leaf. In
operation, the roller places the wrapper leaf on the plate. Suction
applied through the perforations holds the leaf smoothly in place,
and a bar passed over the edge of the plate cuts the wrapper strip
to shape. A bunch is then taken from a mold, laid on the wrapper
strip, and the cigar finished as usual.
Skilled cigar makers may be found who will claim that the suction
plate is of little or no value to them. In many hand plants today
rollers who prefer their unaided hand skill may be found working at
a bench next to workers who use the suction plate. However, like
the mold and the manually operated bunching tool, the suction plate
somewhat reduces the skill requirement, and less experienced rollers
find it helpful. Its use is favored by the manufacturer since he finds
that it may bring about a considerable saving in wrapper leaf, par­
ticularly in the case of inexperienced workers. This saving is of
importance because of the relatively high cost of wrapper leaf. In
hand factories, manufacturers ordinarily supply suction plates to
workers who wish to use them, but do not arbitrarily require either
method of operation. The same piece-work rates are paid whether
the tool is used or not.
The most characteristic combination of methods employed in the
manufacture of cigars by hand today consists in making the bunch
with the assistance of the manually operated bunch machine and
placing it in the mold. The bunches may then be wrapped with or



without the assistance of the suction plate, both methods frequently
being used in the same plant.
One bunch maker ordinarily works with two rollers forming a team.
The team is paid on a piece-work basis for the number of cigars
produced and the workers divide their earnings either equally or
according to some prearranged schedule. Hours of labor may or
may not be the same for all members of a team, depending upon the
speed and skill of the individual workers.
Despite the fact that use of the manually operated bunching
tool and the suction plate have reduced to a degree the skill required
of team workers, a high degree of manual dexterity is still requisite.
A long training period, usually of several years duration, is required
before a worker is qualified to become a member of a team.

Ma\ing - Cigars by the Combination Hand and Machine Method
While the various tools mentioned in the preceding section were
being devised there was also an effort made to perfect power equip­
ment which would perform automatically all or part of the making
operation. As early as 1886 a power-driven machine to make short
filler bunches was introduced by a New Jersey firm.6 In 1902 another
New Jersey firm introduced a similar but improved device.
These earlier machines represented a combination of the manually
operated bunching machine and the suction plate. The proper
amount of scrap filler was placed in a groove on a canvas belt, a strip
of binder was placed ahead of it, held by suction applied through
perforations in the belt, and the machine rolled the bunch, depositing
it in another groove. The finished bunch was then placed in a mold.
Two operators were required, one to feed in the filler, the other to
lay the binder and place the finished bunches in a mold. Gradually
the machines have been improved until today the filler is fed auto­
matically and only one operator is required on a machine.
In plants using this machine the hoppers are kept full of shredded
filler by floor boys or employees known as hopper fillers. Strips of
binder are cut to shape from books of leaf by a worker who uses a
hinged knife similar to that used to cut paper. The resulting pads
of binder strips are brought to the machine operators.
Two types of power bunching machines are in use: In one a set of
mechanical fingers picks up the proper quantity of filler from the
hopper and drops it into a chute from which it falls by gravity into
the machine; in the other type of machine, the filler is forced by
pressure through a hole at the bottom of the hopper and so in successive
measured quantities into the depression or pocket in the canvas belt.
With either type, the operator simply lays a strip of binder leaf on

6 Baer, W. N.: Economic Development of the Cigar Industry in the United States. Art Printing Co.,
Lancaster, Pa., 1933, p. 85.



the canvas belt where it is held in position by suction through holes
in the canvas belt. The filler is brought forward in a rolling motion
by the belt, wrapped in the binder strip automatically, and placed in
the depression. The operator picks up the bunch, inspects it, and
places it in a mold. When a mold is filled it is placed under pressure
until it can be used by hand rollers who finish the cigar by hand. In
general one buncher using the power bunching machine supplies
bunches for about 8 or 10 hand rollers.
This machine not only substantially reduces the number of persons
required to make bunches, but also permits employment of relatively
unskilled persons directly in the cigar-making operation. Only a
short training period is necessary for a person to operate one of these
machines. Both rollers and bunchers using the power machine are
usually paid on a piece-work basis.
The adoption of the short-filler bunching machine by the industry
stimulated efforts to devise a machine which would make bunches for
long-filler cigars. Early devices were not very successful. When a
satisfactory machine was finally devised to perform this operation it
was overshadowed by the invention of a machine which would make
a complete long-filler cigar. As a result, very few long-filler bunching
machines are used at the present time.
At the same time that the complete cigar-making machine became
available, a machine which would apply wrappers to bunches made
by hand or machine was introduced. This made it possible to have
a type of combination manufacture where bunches were made by
hand and wrapped by machine. Although this combination of methods
has been found in use in the industry, it is applied to an extremely
small number of cigars. Where the rolling machine is used, it is
usually teamed with a power bunching machine.

Maying Cigars by Machine
L on g -filler m a ch in es .— The use of power equipment in making
bunches focused attention on the advantages of a machine which would
apply the wrapper to the bunches as well. Since a team of hand workers
consists in general of two rollers and one bunch maker, it is seen that
use of power-driven bunching machinery reduces the labor require­
ments for that part of the cigar-making operation requiring the
smallest number of workers.
Attempts to devise a machine to replace the work of hand rollers
are recorded as early as 1890. At least one such machine was put on
the market as early as 1912 but did not prove fully satisfactory.
However, in 1917 the American Machine and Foundry Co. perfected
and introduced a machine which has since almost revolutionized cigar
manufacture. This machine uses leaf tobacco as material, and, with



four operators, produces finished cigars in a continuous and integrated
series of operations.
The following rather detailed description of the operation of this
machine is abstracted from the Monthly Labor Review of December
This machine carries out all the necessary operations for the complete manu­
facture of a long-filler cigar, from the feeding of the filler leaf into the machine by
the first operator to the inspection of the cigar by the last operator.
The first operator, known as the *
'‘filler feeder,” places the filler on an endless
feed belt, between a guide and a shear bar which is adjustable for the length of
cigar desired. There is an even distribution of the tobacco, and with the ends of
the filler against the guide bar, the operator cuts off the other ends with the filler
knife. As the tobacco feeds forward it passes under a row of star wheels and a
set of guides adjusted to the correct height for the size of the cigar. It then
passes under a second row of star wheels which travel at a slower rate of speed
than the first row, giving sufficient time for the tobacco to be slightly compressed
before being fed against the mechanical measuring fingers. As soon as the proper
amount of tobacco has been pressed against these measuring fingers, a trip block
stops the entire feed mechanism at this point. When the measured amount of
tobacco is removed, the feed belt and star wheels again begin to operate, bringing
forward each succeeding portion.
The measured tobacco is drawn by a set of reaper fingers to a pair of corrugated
cutters which trim the ends to shapes determined by the amount of tobacco
required at the “ head” and “ tuck” ends of the finished cigar. The tobacco that
is trimmed off is carried by a return belt to the filler feed box. The tobacco, now
formed to the shape of a cigar, is pushed forward to the rolling table where the
binder, placed in position by the binder carrier, awaits it.
The second operator, known as the “ binder layer,” places the binder leaf on
the binder die, where it is held down by suction and cut to the correct form for
the type of cigar to be made. The suction is then transferred to the carrier,
which picks up the leaf and deposits it on the rolling apron. The head end of the
binder receives a supply of paste from the paster roller before being rolled around
the cigar-shaped filler to form the bunch.
The bunch is softened by being rolled between a knurled drum and a concave,
after which it is placed by thimbles at the head and tuck ends for the succeeding
operations. A set of transfer fingers then carry it to a crimping mechanism for
compression of the head and tuck of the shape required. Any projecting tobacco
at the ends of the crimper jaws is trimmed off while the bunch is held firmly inside
the jaws. From the crimper the bunch is carried over by another set of mechanical
fingers to the wrapping mechanism.
The third operator, known as the “ wrapper layer,” places the wrapper on the
wrapper die, where it is held down by suction and cut to the desired form in the
same manner as the binder. It is then carried by the wrapper carrier to the
wrapping device, where the bunch is revolving between fluted rollers. The head
end of the wrapper receives a supply of paste, after which the wrapper, drawn
off the carrier by the revolving bunch, is rolled in a spiral around it, starting from
the tuck end.
After being wrapped, the cigar is carried by mechanical fingers to a reroller
drum and concave where it is softened, smoothed at the head end by a knurler,
cut to length at the tuck end, and deposited on the inspection table.
The last operator on this machine, known as the “ inspector,” examines all
cigars before placing them in trays. Her duties often also include the patching
of imperfect cigars.



These machines are adjusted for the making of only one size or shape of cigar.
W ith any change in the size or shape of the cigar to be manufactured it is necessary
to change the dies. It is also necessary to have at least two machines, one
right-hand and one left-hand, to apply the right or left hand portion of the binder
and wrapper.

The machine utilizes practically any grade or kind of filler, binder,
or wrapper tobacco and makes complete headed cigars uniform in size,
shape, and weight. Each machine will make only right- or left-hand
cigars, so a battery of at least two machines is required for full utiliza­
tion of the leaf. The machine must be carefully adjusted to a
particular size and shape of cigar, so considerable time may be lost
where frequent changes are made.
No special skill is required of any of the machine operators, nor is
it even particularly advantageous for any of them to have had
experience in making cigars by hand, except perhaps in the case
of the inspector who patches minor defects. In most factories the
machine operators are girls. In addition to the four operators, a
number of mechanics, oilers, and machine adjusters are required to
tend a battery of machines.
Each machine occupies about 6 feet by 9 feet of floor space. Each
is operated by a ^-horsepower motor and a K o - h o r s e p o w e r auxiliary
motor. The machine is geared to operate normally at a rate of
about seven and one-half cigars per minute, although by using special
gears it is possible to increase this rate. In one plant the machines
were operated normally at a rate of about 9 cigars per minute, and
satisfactory cigars had been produced at the rate of 10 per minute.
Automatic long-filler cigar machines have usually been supplied to
plants on a lease basis, the cigar manufacturer paying the cost of
producing and installing the machine— about $4,500— and contracting
to pay a royalty on all production and a minimum charge whether
the machine is in use or not.7
The royalty is reported to be $1 per thousand cigars made.8
Apparently the manufacturers of the machines have preferred not
to install them in units of less than six.9 This limitation has resulted
in a fairly sharp line of demarcation between hand and machine
producers of cigars. Because of the high cost of installing, using,
and maintaining automatic machinery, the great majority of the
machines have been concentrated in the hands of relatively few largescale producers. The large output of a battery of machines and the

7 Mack, R. H.: The Cigar Manufacturing Industry. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia
Press, Philadelphia, Pa., 1933, p. 54, states in a footnote, “The writer has been informed by the secretary of
the International Cigar Machinery Co. that not all machines are leased on this basis, some being leased on
the basis of a flat monthly rental irrespective of the number of cigars actually produced on the machines.
Details concerning this matter, however, cannot be made public.”
s Fortune, issue of June 1930.
9 Baer, W. N.: The Economic Development of the Cigar Manufacturing Industry in the United States.
Art Printing Co., Lancaster, Pa., 1933, p. 201.



high cost of maintaining idle machines has necessitated assurance of
a large sustained demand. Therefore, while there are a few large
manufacturers who make cigars by hand, there are practically no
small producers using the four-operator machine.
During the period 1919 to 1924 the machine really passed through
a testing period. Many manufacturers did not concede its efficiency,
while others felt that the public would not knowingly accept a machinemade cigar. After 1924 the rate of installation of machines increased,
and it may be recalled that by 1929 certain manufacturers were
advertising that their cigars were made by machine rather than by
hand. Since 1931 the number of machines installed has remained
about stationary (table 1).
There are no reliable statistics indicating the proportions of cigars
made by different methods today. However, on the basis of data
presented later in the text, it is estimated that about six-tenths of all
cigars made at the present time are manufactured with the aid of
long-filler cigar machines.
T a b l e 1.—

A v e r a g e n u m b e r o f f o u r - o p e r a t o r , lo n g -fille r c ig a r m a c h i n e s o n lea se to
cig a r m a n u fa c t u r e r s , 1 9 1 7 - 8 6


_____ ________________
_ ________
_ _ _ _______
_ _ _ _ _____ _____
_________ ____________

Number of

1931___________ ______________
1932_________________________ . _
1933___________ ___________ _
1936_ _ ___________ ___

Number of
2, 659
2, 991
3, 591
3, 777
3, 764
3, 774
3, 683

Source: International Cigar Machinery Co., subsidiary of the American Machine and Foundry Co.
Short-filler m a ch in es .— Success of a machine to make short-filler
cigars, after the invention of the power bunching machine, depended
upon the development of a practical attachment which would auto­
matically apply wrappers. This occurred at about the same time that
the complete long-filler machine was introduced.
The machine used to make short-filler cigars is in reality a combina­
tion of two separate devices, each worked by one operator. The first
device is a short-filler power bunching machine operating as previously
described. The rolling attachment operates in the same manner as the
rolling part of the long-filler cigar machine, excepting that a separate
operator to inspect the cigars is not used on each machine. The
operator of the bunching machine, instead of placing the finished bunch
in a mold, places it in an attachment of the rolling machine. In some
machines there is a place for only one bunch at a time. With this type
303023°— 39--------- 4



of machine the closest type of cooperation must exist between the two
operators. Other machines are equipped with a large wheel which
carries places for a number of bunches. With this machine the two
operators work more independently of each other.
The speed of the combined machine is governed by the speed of the
rolling equipment, which is fixed as long as the machine is in operation.
The speed of the bunching attachment is dependent on the operator.
In plants using a number of these machines, the inspection and patch­
ing of defective cigars is often done by a group of workers in a separate
inspection department.

The term used to designate this department, though in general use
throughout the cigar industry, is somewhat misleading to the layman.
In this department cigars are not usually packed in the boxes in which
they are sent to the market. The principal functions of the workers in
the packing department are to separate the cigars by color and shade
and to pack them in stock boxes, in which pressure imparts to them
their characteristic flattened shape.
Even before 1900, it was found that a mottled or variegated appear­
ance in the top row of a box of cigars was not pleasing to customers.
Accordingly, a class of workers known as packers or shaders grew up
whose function was to sort cigars according to color. The work re­
quired considerable manual skill and a very high degree of accuracy
in estimating the shades of color of cigar wrappers. These workers
were well paid and were considered to be about on the same skill level
as hand cigar makers.
About 1926 a machine was introduced which selected cigars accord­
ing to color with even greater accuracy than the human eye. It was
based upon the operation of a photo electric cell and separated cigars
into 32 classes of color gradations.
The machine had a much higher productivity than hand workers
but was not accepted generally by manufacturers. One manufacturer
stated that though the machine had been installed in his factory it was
removed because it damaged too many cigars. Another major reason
why the machine was not more widely used is probably to be found in
the fact that cellophane wrapping of cigars became general a few years
later. Cellophane, slightly obscuring the color, eliminated the need
for shading cigars into a great number of finely differentiated color
classes. Whereas formerly cigars often were sorted into as many as 20
different color groups, today the general average seems to be around 5,
and in some cases less.
It was early determined that workers have difficulty in accurately
shading cigars in the yellow light of ordinary incandescent lamps.
The packing department of a cigar plant is, therefore, usually located



on the top floor of the building where skylights admit abundant
sunlight. However, some of the larger factories have recently
installed their packing departments on other floors illuminated by
special lamps which give off a blue-white light very similar to sunshine.
Packers, working at benches, are supplied with large lots of cigars
in stock boxes or trays. The worker spreads a double handful of
cigars out on the bench and then, moving rapidly from one end of the
row to the other, separates the cigars according to shade. When a
sufficient number of cigars of the various groups have been separated
the worker takes a shell, which is of the same shape as the box in
which the cigars are to be sold but more substantially constructed, and
fills it with cigars of one color. Ordinarily the operator also subshades
the cigars, that is, the darkest cigar in a row is placed at one end of
the box and the lightest at the other, the intermediate cigars being
graduated according to shade.
When a shell is filled, it is covered with a lid and put under pressure,
usually by means of a small screw press operated by hand. Up to
this time the cigars have had a perfectly round cross section. This
pressure gives them their characteristic square shape. The cigars,
still in the shells, are then transported to the next department of the
Ordinarily the operations of shading, subshading, and packing in
shells are all performed by a single worker. In a few plants this work
is divided between tray packers who separate the cigars into the
primary color groups, and subshaders who make the finer distinctions
while packing the cigars in shells.
The amount of labor involved in shading cigars is dependent to a
considerable degree on the type of wrapper leaf used and on the price
class of the cigar. Sumatra leaf, being usually of a more even color,
requires less shading than some other varieties of wrapper leaf.
Many of the cheaper cigars are not shaded at all or are shaded in only
perfunctory fashion, while the more expensive the cigar the greater
the care taken in shading and subshading.
Though the degree of skill required of packers today is naturally
somewhat less than before the use of cellophane became general, still
packers are relatively well paid and work on a piece-work basis.
Cellophaning and Banding

In the early days of the cigar industry cigars carried no identifying
marks, and one of the problems of the cigar manufacturer was to induce
“ brand consciousness” in his customers. This resulted in the plan
being adopted of pasting around the cigars a small varicolored band
bearing the brand name. These bands were pasted on by hand
until some time prior to 1925 when an automatic banding machine
was introduced. An operator fed the cigars into one end of this ma-



chine (taking them in rows from the packing shells) and they emerged
at the other end with a band neatly pasted around each. The same
operator then packed them in the cigar box in which they were to be
sold, retaining the order in which they were placed by the packer, and
closed and fastened the box with a small brad. This banding machine
was widely adopted by all but the smallest manufacturers.
In 1925 a machine was put on the market which wrapped cigars
in tissue paper or foil. It was not used a great deal until 1929, when
the machine was adapted to wrap the cigars in cellophane. The foil
or cellophane wrapping machine operated in about the same manner as
the banding machine— that is, an operator fed cigars into one end of
the machine and they came out at the other end in their original order.
The eellophaning and banding machines were placed next to each
other and eventually became one machine which still required two
operators. Recently an automatic feeding device has replaced one
operator. The single operator of this newest machine places all the
cigars contained in a packing shell into a hopper at one end of the
machine, and the cigars are dropped down, a row at a time, to a cor­
rugated belt which feeds them into the machine. As the cigars emerge,
banded and cellophaned, the operator packs them in boxes. Duties of
the operator also include keeping the machine supplied with bands,
paste, and rolls of cellophane.
Improved banding and eellophaning machines with automatic feed
are found in most cigar plants today. No particular skill is required
of the operators. The machine can handle any shape or size of cigar,
but adjustment is required whenever a change is made from one type
to another.
A small amount of banding and eellophaning is still done by hand,
usually in the case of small lots where it would not pay to adjust and
readjust the machine. The eellophaning is done in two ways— the
cigars may be slipped into little cellophane pouches, supplied by the
cellophane company, and the end folded over, or the cigar may be
wrapped in a straight slip of cellophane. Either method of operation
requires considerable manual dexterity.
While machines band and wrap cigars much more rapidly than
could possibly be done by hand, it is an open question whether this
has caused any direct displacement of hand labor. At the present
time, most cigars offered for sale are banded and wrapped in cellophane
or other covering, whereas before machines became available few
cigars had individual protective jackets and banding was not univer­
sal.1 It may be argued that the machines which made these opera­
tions economical are responsible for the prevalence of banding and

io “While the banding of cigars is a common practice, it is not universal.” U. S. Bureau of Labor
Statistics Bull. No. 135; Wages and hours of labor in the cigar and clothing industries, 1911 and 1912. Wash­
ington, 1913, p. 12.



cellophane wrapping today, and to this degree for an increase in the
number of workers required. At the same time, they may also be
charged with the indirect displacement of workers in the packing
Box Labeling

Before leaving the factory, boxes of cigars must have pasted on
them a Federal internal revenue stamp. In addition, manufacturers
usually paste on labels of their own which identify the contents of the
boxes. The labels are pasted around the box in such fashion that
they must be broken before the box can be opened. The operation is
normally done by hand; however, in a few of the largest factories a box­
labeling machine is used. This machine requires two operators, one
to supply it with boxes, the other to take the labeled boxes away. It
automatically affixes labels and internal revenue stamps and cancels the
latter at the rate of 50 or 60 boxes per minute. Whether the machine
is used or not, this department requires but a few unskilled workers.
M iscellaneous

There are in all cigar factories some workers who cannot be readily
allocated to any particular manufacturing department. Such workers
include floor boys, truckers, cleaners, office employees, shipping clerks,
and mechanics. Some plants are air-conditioned, and employees who
take care of this equipment fall in this class. In the larger plants
locker-room attendants and nurses may be found.
The number of such employees depends to a very large degree on
the company’s policy and the efficiency of the plant lay-out. For
instance, installation of conveyor machinery in a plant would reduce
the number of those subsidiary workers engaged in transporting cigars
or tobacco from one operation to another. Again, certain factories
distribute their product locally. These manufacturers therefore
require more shipping-room labor per unit of output than the manu­
facturer who produces only in large lots for wholesale outlets.

Chapter III
Labor Productivity
When this study was first organized, an attempt was made to secure
information from plants fairly representative of various methods of
manufacture. It soon became apparent that most of the small com­
panies and many of the larger ones kept no records of the type suitable
for this study. It was further discovered that even most of the larger
companies destroyed their records after a short period of time, in
general, not exceeding 2 years. It was thus possible to secure informa­
tion in most cases for the years 1935 and 1936 only, and in some cases
for the year 1936 only.
Wherever possible, production and pay-roll data were obtained for
the week including the 15th day of the month for the months of
February, May, August, and November 1935, and January, April,
July, and October 1936. Some small changes in productivity between
these quarterly periods were observable in the cases of individual
companies. However, it was felt that these changes were not of great
significance. Therefore, the data for the individual companies are
presented as averages over the entire period covered by the survey
rather than as series of quarterly figures. For instance, in the case of
a plant where information was obtained for eight pay-roll periods, the
average for the eight periods is used to represent the plant. In arriving
at averages, no periods were included during which changes in manu­
facturing methods occurred. Periods with incomplete information
were excluded from the calculations of the averages.
The information from different plants was obtained and treated on
a departmental basis. The methods used in averaging the depart­
mental data from different plants will be explained in detail in the
sections where this information is presented.
T he Sample

The sample originally included 19 factories, 4 of which were excluded
from final tabulations because of incomplete records. The 15 plants
included in the sample employed an average of about 9,600 wage
earners. This represents 17 percent of the number of wage earners
reported for the industry by the 1935 Census of Manufactures.




Average annual production of the plants included is estimated at
about 863 million cigars, or 18 percent of the total reported by the
Commissioner of Internal Revenue for 1935. The distribution of the
sample according to retail price classes as compared with the distri­
bution for the entire industry as reported by the Commissioner of
Internal Revenue in 1935 is as follows:

Class “A”_____ ________________________________________________________
Class “B”. _ _ _
Class“C”_________________________________________________________ ____
Classes “D ” and “ E” ____________ _____________________ ____


Percent 5 Percent 5


1 Less than 0.05 percent.
Principal coverage of the sample was therefore in the two most
important retail price classes, class “ A ” and class “ C ” , in about the
same proportions existing in the industry as a whole.1
Average annual production of the plants included in the sample
was divided according to methods of manufacture approximately as
follows: Hand, 65 million; machine, 788 million; combination hand
and machine, 10 million. No reliable data applying to the industry
as a whole with which to compare these figures are available.
In general, the survey is representative only of the larger plants.
No plant included in the sample produced less than 5 million cigars
per year and eight of the plants included produced over 30 million
per year. However, according to the reports of the Commissioner
of Internal Revenue, plants producing more than 5 million cigars per
year have in recent years consistently produced more than 80 percent
of all cigars manufactured.
Regionally, the plants included in the sample were all located in
Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York. An effort was made to
include some of the Florida plants, but none was found with suitable
Adequate data regarding man-hours and production could not be
obtained for all departments of all the plants. In a few cases, a par­
ticular process was carried through by two different methods in the
same plant, with no way of determining output or labor time expended
for each. In several other instances, groups of workers were found
who divided their time between two or more of the smaller depart­
ments, without any records available to show the time spent in each

1 The letters, which will be used frequently in the following pages of this report, refer to the classification
of cigars established by the Bureau of Internal Revenue for the purpose of assessing tobacco taxes. It is
commonly used in the industry, and is based on the intended retail price, as follows: Cigars which are
manufactured to retail at not more than 5 cents each are designated as class “A”; more than 5 cents each and
not more than 8 cents each as class “B”; more than 8 Gents each and not more than 15 cents each as class
“C”; more than 15 cents each and not more than 20 cents each as class “ D”; and more than 20 cents each as
class “E”. Within each class cigars are usually referred to by the trade according to their intended retail
selling price. Thus in class “A” there are, among others, 2-for-5-cent, 3-for-10-cent, and 5-cent cigars.



In all such cases, data regarding the affected departments were not
The sample is definitely not properly constituted to give any infor­
mation regarding wages and hours of labor purporting to be repre­
sentative of the industry as a whole. However, it is felt to be ade­
quate to indicate productivity of labor in individual types of operation.
This conclusion is strengthened by the excellent agreement frequently
obtained between productivity averages taken from different plants.
Productivity o f Labor

In most productivity studies, productivity is measured by the quan­
tity of product per standard unit of time. Because of the presenta­
tion of information on a departmental basis, it was found more feasible
in the present case to show the data in the form of the amount of labor
time required to produce a given quantity of product. By this
method, labor-time totals for any operation or series of operations
may be obtained by simple addition. Of course, if labor requirements
for any particular operation are given as a certain number of hours per
thousand cigars, productivity in the more familiar units of cigars per
man-hour may be obtained by dividing the given number of hours
into one thousand.

Leaf Preparation
A number of difficulties immediately become apparent in any at­
tempt to determine average man-hour requirements in the leafpreparation departments of cigar factories.
In the first place, unstripped leaf as a rule requires more labor in
preparation than stripped leaf. Therefore, it is necessary to adopt
some standard with regard to the condition in which the leaf arrives
at the plant. The most characteristic type of operation that was
found by this study was for a plant to receive all binder and wrapper
leaf unstripped and all filler leaf stripped.
In the second place, no data for the output of a preparation depart­
ment as such were available in the case of any cigar plant covered.
It therefore became necessary to apply the output of some other
department as a standard for the preparation department. In the
following study the output of the cigar-making department was
chosen, as man-hours of labor per thousand cigars provides a con­
venient unit which may be used for comparison of all departments.
Adoption of this standard raises a third difficulty. A considerable
time may elapse between preparation of leaf and its use in cigars.
Therefore, during any 1-week period the outputs of the two depart­
ments— preparation and making—may not be at all closely correlated.
By averaging together a series of periods, differences may be expected
to be minimized and eventually to disappear. These differences



would also be less where plants had a relatively stable schedule of
Finally, records of labor time expended were not available for most
of the smaller factories. Four plants were found meeting the condi­
tions set up— that is, they stripped binder and wrapper leaf at the
factory and received filler already stripped, and they had adequate
records. The information derived is presented in table 2. Data for
two other plants, which received a small proportion of their domestic
filler in unstripped condition but satisfied the other criteria, are also
shown in table 2.
T able 2.—

L a b o r r e q u i r e m e n t s i n th e l e a f p r e p a r a t i o n d e p a r t m e n t s o f p la n ts s t r i p ­
p i n g w r a p p e r a n d b in d e r l e a f a n d r e c e iv in g fille r l e a f i n s t r i p p e d c o n d it i o n

Man-hours in the preparation de­
partment per 1,000 cigars pro­
duced in the making department
Type of filler tobacco

Domestic and imported______
Average, plants A and B ...
Domestic and imported______
Average, plants C and D_._
Imported only_______________
Average, plants E and F____

'lant i Direct labor only Super­
Type of cigar manufactured
visory Total
Maxi­ Mini­ Aver­ aver­ age
mum mum age age

(2 3)


(3 )


2. 04
1. 77
1. 72
2. 22

1. 56



1. 67
1. 66
1. 35

. 12
. 14
. 15
. 13

1. 80
1. 50
1. 37

Class “A,” 5 cents each.
Class “A,” 5 cents each.
Class “A”, 5 cents each.
Class “A,” 5 cents each,
and class “C”.
Class “A,” 5 cents each,
and class “C.”
Class “A,” 5 cents each,
and class “C.”

1 Letters assigned plants have no connection with letters given in other tables.
2 Plants A and B receive a small proportion of domestic filler tobacco in nnstripped condition, and so are
given separately from plants C and D.
3 Weighted on basis of total production of cigars by individual plants during periods covered by survey.
Source: Plant records, 1935-36 survey.
It will be noted that not only average but also minimum and
maximum direct labor requirements are given in the case of each
plant. These are inserted to show the range of values encountered in
practice. The differences exhibited between maximum and minimum
values are probably in most part a reflection of different rates of
operation in the preparation and making departments.
The type of filler tobacco used seems to be in part a determining
factor as to the amount of labor required in leaf-preparation depart­
ments, much more so than binder or wrapper tobacco, since it forms
a greater proportion of the total amount of tobacco entering the plant.
From a comparison of the average labor required in plants C and D
with that required in plants E and F, table 2, it seems that less labor
per unit of output is required in the preparation of imported filler.
Because of the many experimental difficulties and assumptions
involved, the data of table 2 are presented as merely indicative of
approximate labor requirements in preparation departments.
103023°— 39------ 5



Many of the same difficulties experienced in attempting to deter­
mine labor requirements in the preparation department are encoun­
tered in a treatment of the stripping department. However, in this
case some output data were obtained, making it possible to calculate
directly the average labor involved in stripping different kinds of leaf.
Table 3 presents labor-requirement data in terms of man-hours
per hundred pounds of stripped leaf for workers stripping wrapper leaf
tobacco by machine. The information is given separately according
to the type of leaf stripped. The data are presented for strippingmachine operators separately and as an average for all labor in the
department. The averages of plants presented were calculated on the
basis of average leaf stripped per plant per period since it was felt
that the larger the plant operations in this field the more reliable and
more representative the information would be.
Maximum and minimum average amounts of labor required per
hundred pounds of leaf are given for stripping machine operators.
Since in this case labor time was related directly to output data, the
differences shown may be taken as indicating variations in labor
requirements occasioned by changes in type of leaf used by a plant at
different periods. Most of the differences from the averages shown are
It seems that the labor time required to strip Connecticut shadegrown wrapper (plants C and D) is less than that for Sumatra leaf
(plants A and B). Labor requirements in stripping Connecticut and
Florida shade-grown together (plants E and F) appear to be even less;
however, the plants from which this information was taken were not
producing cigars of a grade comparable with the other four included in
the sample. The higher productivity here, therefore, may be caused
by greater emphasis on speed and less on the quality of results in these
In the case of plant F, table 3, some information with regard to hand
stripping of Connecticut shade-grown wrapper for use in 5-cent cigars
was obtained. These hand strippers took an average of 75.8 hours to
produce 100 pounds of stripped leaf, with a maximum labor require­
ment of 78.7 hours in one period and a minimum of 70.9 in another.
Therefore in this plant the productivity of machine wrapper strippers
was on the average 3.3 times greater than that of hand strippers.
Table 4 presents labor requirements in machine stripping of binder
leaf tobacco. The differences between plant A and plants B, C, and
D in this table may have been due in part to a difference in the type
of leaf stripped. It seems more probable that they were caused by the
difference in the type of cigars manufactured— the binder used in the
more expensive class C cigars produced in plant A probably requiring
more care than was necessary in the other plants.


T able 3.—

L a b o r r e q u i r e m e n t s i n s t r i p p i n g w r a p p e r l e a f to b a c co b y m a c h in e

Man-hours per hundred pounds
of stripped leaf
Plant i Stripping-machine oper­ labor 2 Type of cigars manufactured
ators only

Type of leaf

Maxi­ Mini­ Aver­ Aver­
mum mum age


a s

Sumatra _ __ ___ _________ { i
Average, plants A and B 3_
Connecticut, shade-grown___ { S
Average, plants C and D 3.
Connecticut and Florida,
Average, plants E and F 3_




Class A, 5-cent, and class C.
Class A, 5-cent.
Class A, 5-cent.
Class C.
Class A, 5-cent and less than
Class A, 5-cent and less than


1 Letters assigned to plants have no connection with letters given plants in other tables.
2 In addition to stripping-machine operators, includes supervisors, mechanics, weighers, floor and stock
boys, and other incidental labor attached to this department.
3 Weighted average, based on average quantity of leaf stripped per period.
4 Information not available.
Source: Plant records, 1935-36 survey.
It is apparent that productivity in machine stripping of binder leaf
is about twice that in stripping wrapper leaf. This is due to greater
care necessary in stripping better grades of wrapper leaf where an
unblemished condition of the stripped leaf is of major importance.
T able 4.—

L a b o r r e q u i r e m e n t s i n s t r i p p i n g b in d e r l e a f to b a c co b y m a c h in e

Man-hours per hundred pounds
of stripped leaf
Type of leaf


operators only

labor 2 Type of cigars manufactured

Maxi­ Mini­ Aver­ Aver­
mum mum age
Connecticut broadleaf_______ A
f B
Connecticut broadleaf and \ C
Pennsylvania seed leaf.
Average, plants B and
Average, plants B, C,
and D.4





Class C.
Class A, 5-cent and less than
Class A, 5-cent.
Class A, 5-cent and less than

1 Letters assigned to plants have no connection with letters given plants in other tables.
2 In addition to stripping-machine operators, includes supervisors, mechanics, weighers, floor and stock
boys, and other incidental labor attached to this department.
3 Information not available.
4 Weighted average, based on average quantity of leaf stripped per period.
Source: Plant records, 1935-36 survey.
Data on machine stripping of domestic filler type leaf were obtained
from only one plant. This filler was used in making 5-cent longfiller cigars. The information covered quite a large production over
a number of periods. Machine strippers in this plant required an



average of 9.49 hours to produce 100 pounds of stripped leaf. Maxi­
mum and minimum labor requirements were 10.36 and 9.14 hours per
hundred pounds, respectively. Including all labor found in the
department with the machine operators, average labor requirements
were 10.06 hours per 100 pounds of stripped leaf. It appears that
man-hour productivity in stripping filler by machine is about one and
a half times as great as the productivity exhibited in stripping binder.
Table 5 gives the man-hour requirements in the stripping depart­
ments of cigar plants stripping wrapper and binder leaf by machine
but stripping no filler. The data were calculated in a manner
analogous to that employed for the preparation department.
In the four plants shown an average of 1.47 hours of labor by
stripping-machine operators was required per thousand cigars pro­
duced in the making department. In the case of individual plants
this figure ranged from 1.33 to 1.88 man-hours. There seems to be
no particular correlation between these labor requirements and the
type of cigar made, the type of wrapper or binder leaf used, or the
small variations in the proportion of total leaf stripped which was
wrapper or binder. It is probable that the differences displayed
were due to a combination of these influences, no one acting as the
determining factor.
The lack of adequate data covering stripping by hand makes it
difficult to estimate the labor-time savings made possible by stripping
machines. In the one case where data were secured comparing the
two methods, it was found that about 3.3 times as much labor time
was required to strip the same amount of product by hand as by ma­
chine. However, this covered wrapper tobacco only. If it be as­
sumed that a like ratio holds for binder tobacco and that the same
amount of supervisory and incidental labor is required by either
process, the average requirement of 1.64 hours of stripping labor per
1.000 cigars produced as shown in table 5 for plants stripping binder
and wrapper leaf by machine would be increased to about 5.11 hours
in plants where this was done by hand, a difference of 3.47 hours per
1.000 cigars in favor of the mechanized process.
This calculation excludes savings made possible by mechanized
stripping of filler leaf, savings which are of equal importance in relation
to costs whether the operation is carried on in the plant or at the
storage warehouse. It may be estimated that about 1.2 hours of
labor are required to strip by machine the filler tobacco required for
1.000 cigars.2 Even were machine productivity three times greater,

2 Dividing the total amount of leaf tobacco used (stemmed basis) by the total number of cigars produced
in 1936, as given by the Annual Report of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, indicates that about
18.26 pounds of stemmed tobacco are used per 1,000 cigars. About Mo of the weight of tobacco entering
cigars is filler (information volunteered by manufacturers). Combining, it is indicated that about 12.8
pounds of stemmed filler are required per 1,000 cigars. It was found that about 9.49 hours are required to
strip 100 pounds of filler leaf tobacco by machine. (Seep.29.) It would therefore require about 1.2 hours
to strip sufficient filler tobacco for 1,000 cigars by machine.

T a b l e 5. —

L a b o r r e q u ir e m e n ts i n s t r i p p i n g d e p a r tm e n ts o f p la n ts s t r i p p i n g o n l y w r a p p e r a n d b in d e r l e a f to b a cco b y m a c h in e

Type cigars manufactured

Average, plants A, C, and D 6__. ... _ _
Average, plants A, B, C, and D 6_-_


1. 59

1. 50







. 13



Type of leaf

62.5 Connecticut shadegrown.
do. __________ _
72.8 Sumatra
73.1 Connecticut and Florida
66. 9

Connecticut broadleaf and Wiscon­
• Do.
Connecticut broadleaf.
Connecticut broadleaf and Pennsyl­
vania seed leaf.

1Letters assigned plants have no connection with letters given plants in other tables.
2 Man-hours of labor per period in the stripping department divided by output of cigar-making department expressed in thousands of cigars,
s Includes supervisors, mechanics, weighers, floor and stock boys, and other incidental labor attached to the stripping department.
4 Sum of 2 preceding columns.
6 Information not available.
s Weighted average, based on average production of cigars per period.
Source: Plant records, 1935-36 survey.


Class A, 5-cent, and class C_ _______ ____
Class A, 5-cent_ _________ _ ___ ___
Class C ____ __ ___
Class A, 5-cent and less than 5-cent_______

Man-hours labor, stripping department,
1,000 cigars output of making dept.2 Percentage total
leaf stripped
which was—
Stripping-machine op­
erators only
Other All
labor, labor,
aver­ aver­
Maxi­ Mini­ Aver­ age 3 age4 Wrap­ Binder
mum mum age





only 2.4 more hours of labor would be required by the band process.
While no data are available, it seems doubtful that productivity in
mechanized stripping of filler leaf is so much greater than by the hand
process, and the general average may be materially less than the
figure given.3
Combining the data calculated for binder, wrapper, and filler typesr
it is estimated that the labor-time savings resulting from complete
mechanization of the stripping process probably do not exceed, and
may be materially less than, 6 hours per 1,000 cigars. Since stripping
by machine is now common, while 20 and 30 years ago it was decidedly
unusual, this figure of 6 hours may be taken as the probable maximum
difference in labor requirements per 1,000 cigars in the stripping de­
partments of present-day cigar factories as compared with those of an
earlier period.

Cigar Maying
Table 6 presents data on the man-hours of labor required to make
various types of cigars by hand. Throughout all the plants shown
the team-work system was employed, workers using the hand-operated
bunching tool and, where desired, the suction plate.
The approximate uniformity in the productivity of cigar makers
from plant to plant within the various price groups is apparent. As
might be expected, more labor time was expended the more expensive
the cigar made.
Perhaps more insight may be gained by examining the productivity
of the individual operatives making up the teams. Table 7 presents
this information.
The most striking divergence in output per man-hour is displayed
between short-filler and long-filler cigars. Rollers making 5-cent
long-filler cigars averaged 59.5 cigars per hour. In the case of shortfiller cigars retailing at less than 5 cents, productivity averaged 77.5
per hour. The difference of 18 cigars per hour, equivalent to 5.55
man-hours per thousand cigars, illustrates the lesser care taken in
making the cheaper cigars. However, the greatest difference appears
in the bunching operation. The short-filler bunch makers averaged
more than twice as many bunches per hour as those making 5-cent
long-filler cigars. A part of this also is due to the less painstaking
methods used in making cheaper cigars, but much of it must be attrib­
uted to the fact that it requires less labor time to make short-filler
bunches than to make long-filler bunches with the hand-operated
bunching tool. The difference in productivity represents the extra

3 There is a marked difference in productivity between hand stripping of filler, and hand stripping o
binder and wrapper tobacco, due to the fact that greater care must be exercised to avoid tearing or otherwise
marring the latter types of leaf, slowing the speed of the operation considerably.



time needed by the long-filler bunch maker to arrange the filler leaves
and make certain they lie evenly and in the correct density through
the length of the bunch.

T a b l e 6. —

L a b o r r e q u i r e m e n t s i n m a k i n g c ig a r s b y h a n d

(t e a m -w o r k

system )

Man-hours per 1,000 cigars manufactured
Type of cigar
Short filler:
2 for 5 cents__________________________________
3 for 10 cents__________________
5 cents each___ ______ . _ _________________
Average, all short filler 4 _ ______________
Long filler:
5 cents each_____________________________ ____
Average, all 5 cents each 4 __ __ ____________
Class C___________________ „_________________
Average, all class C4_ _ _ __ __ _____ __
Class D ____ ________________________ ______
Average, all class D 4 _____ ____... ______



Cigar makers

All other
labor 2

16. 27
16. 34
26. 97
25. 51
24. 40
32. 23
32. 67
«32. 66
34. 70
35. 81
35. 38

. 19
. 15
. 15
«. 80

16. 32
16. 49
16. 67
27. 27
23. 75
33. 20
6 33.46
36. 07

1 Letters assigned plants have no connection with letters given in other tables.
Includes all supervisory and other incidental labor, such as inspectors, floor boys, etc., attached to this
3 Sum of preceding columns.
4 Weighted on basis of average production per period of cigars of type indicated.
8 Information not available.
6 Average of plants E, F, and H.
Source: Plant records, 1935-36 survey.
T a b l e 7. — P r o d u c t i v i t y o f h a n d b u n c h m a k e r s a n d h a n d ro llers

Type cigar made
Short filler:
Retailing for less than 5 cents each_____________________
D o.___ _________________________________________
Average, plants A and B 1__________________________
Long filler:
5 cents each______________ ___________________________
Do____________ _________________________________
Do.......... ...............- _____ _________________________
Average, plants C, D, E, and F 2__________ ________
Class C— ________ _____ ____________________________
Do______ __________ ____________________________
Do_____ __________ _____________________________
D o.— ___________ _______________________________
Average, plants E, F, G, and H 2____________________


Cigars per man-hour
Bunch makers


1 Letters assigned plants have no connection with letters given in other tables.
2 Averaged on basis of total production of plants of type indicated.
3 Not available.
4 Plants C and D only.
Source: Plant records, 1935-36 survey.


90. 7




The rollers and bunch makers making class C cigars showed a
substantially lower productivity than those making class A cigars.
The difference is principally due to more careful operation. A
second cause for a part of the difference may lie in the fact that the
more expensive class C cigars are usually a little larger than class A
It may be pointed out that although one buncher is usually teamed
with two rollers in making long-filler cigars, productivity of bunchers
is not in general exactly twice that of rollers. This is due to the fact
that the buncher must keep ahead of the rollers, but at the same time
must not get too far ahead. As a result, though production of a
buncher must be equal to that of the other two members of the team
over a period of time, the buncher’s hours of labor may be somewhat
different. Because of this, and because hand cigar makers are paid
on a piece-work basis, hand cigar plants permit a rather flexible
schedule of working hours.
In one plant it was found that for two pay-roll periods a separate
record was kept of the output and man-hours of rollers using the
suction plate and others rolling strictly by hand. The cigars pro­
duced by the two groups of rollers were of the same size and in the
same price class (class C), but were of slightly different shape. The
rollers using the suction plate averaged 43.0 cigars per hour, those
rolling by hand averaged 44.6. This comparison lends point to the
claim of many experienced cigar makers that the suction plate lowers
the skill requirement and the necessary training period but is not of
much assistance to the experienced and skillful worker.
Two plants were found where bunches for 5-cent short-filler cigars
were made by means of a short-filler bunching machine, the bunches
then being finished by hand. Information regarding these two plants
is presented in table 8. Productivity in these plants should be com­
pared with productivity in plants C, D, and E of table 6, rather than
with productivity for 5-cent short-filler cigars made by hand in plant
B, table 6, since the plants of table 8 were engaged principally in
making higher-priced cigars, whereas plant B of table 6 was engaged
principally in making cheaper cigars. The hand rollers in plant B,
table 6, showed a very high productivity, comparable to the speed of
rollers making cigars to retail at less than 5 cents each, whereas the
hand rollers in the two factories of table 8 were applying wrappers at
almost exactly the same rate as the rollers finishing 5-cent long-filler
bunches shown in plants C, D, and E, table 6, and plants C, D, E,
and F, table 7.
The machine buncn makers m the plants shown in table 8 averaged
528 bunches per hour. This is exactly twice the productivity of the
hand bunch makers of plants A and B, table 7. The difference in
productivity would probably be even greater if the comparison were



made directly between machine bunchers and hand bunch makers
making cigars of a comparable quality in the same plant.
Data obtained regarding the four-operator long-filler cigar machine
is presented in table 9. Information was obtained regarding this type
of operation from six plants, three of which were operating their
machines at rates of between eight and eight and one-half cigars per
minute, the other three at rates from eight and one-half to nine cigars
per minute. The averages for these two groups of plants are presented
both separately and combined.
T able 8.—

L a b o r r e q v i r e m e n t s i n m a k i n g s h o r t-fille r c i g a r s
a n d r o llin g b y h a n d


b u n c h in g b y m a c h in e

Man-hours per 1,000 cigars manufactured
Type of cigar


Five cents each __________________ ________...
Average, plants A and B 4_______ _____ ___________


18. 87

All other
labor 2

Total labor 3



1 Letters assigned plants have no connection with letters given in other tables.
Includes supervisors, mechanics, oilers, inspectors, floor and stock boys, and other incidental labor
attached to this department.
3 Sum of preceding columns.
4Weighted on basis of average production per period of cigars of type indicated.
Source: Plant records, 1935-36 survey.

T able 9. —


r e q u ir e m e n t s i n

m a k i n g lo n g -fille r cig a r s o n f o u r -o p e r a t o r
m a c h in e s

Type of cigar

Plant 1

5 cents each____ _____
2 for 5 cents and 3 for 10 cents. ________
Average, plants A, B, and C 4
Class C __________________
Scents each_________ _________
Do ___________________
Average, plants D, E, and F 4 __
Average, plants A to F, inclusive 4___


cig a r

Man-hours per 1,000 cigars manufactured Approximate
rate of opera­
tion of ma­
All other Total labor 3 chines, cigars
labor 2
per minute
7. 75
7. 98
7. 96
8. 32

1. 23

10. 77
9. 20
9. 55

8 to 8%.
8 to 8M8 to sy2.
8K to 9.
8y2 to 9.
$y to 9.
s y to 9.

1 Letters assigned plants have no connection with letters given in other tables.
2 Includes supervisors, mechanics, oilers, inspectors, floor and stock boys, and other incidental labor
attached to this department.
3 Sum of preceding columns.
4 Weighted on basis of average production per period of cigars of type indicated.
Source: Plant records, 1935-36 survey.
It is interesting to note that the rate of operation of this machine in
different factories does not seem to depend on the quality of the cigars
made. Indeed, productivity in plant D was practically the same in



making both class “ A ” and class “ C” cigars, and was higher than pro­
ductivity in plant C, which made cigars to retail at less than 5 cents
Table 10 presents data on man-hour requirements in making shortfiller cigars by means of the two-operator short-filler cigar machine.
Here again it is apparent that the labor time required depends on
company policy with regard to the rate of machine operation rather
than on the quality of the cigar made. Plant C, making the most
expensive cigar of the three plants shown, had the highest productivity.
The amount of incidental labor required by this method of manu­
facture is much higher than in the case of the four-operator machine,
the average being 1.80 man-hours per thousand cigars in the case of
the two-operator machine as compared with 1.23 man-hours per thou­
sand with the four-operator machine. This is due principally to the
fact that patchers and inspectors appear as incidental labor rather
than as machine operators where the two-operator machine is used.
In the case of the four-operator machine, the fourth machine operator
acts as inspector and patcher. A comparison of the two methods on
an “ operators only” basis would therefore not be equitable.

T a b l e 10. —

L a b o r r e q u i r e m e n t s i n m a k i n g s h o r t-fille r c ig a r s o n t w o -o p e r a t o r cig a r
m a c h in e s

Man-hours per 1,000 cigars manufactured
Type of cigar
2 for 5 cents and 5 cents each___ ____ ___ __________
3 for 10 cents__ __ _____ _ _ ___________ ________
5 cents each. _____ ___________ ___ ___ __________
Average, plants B and C 5_ ______ ___ _ _______
Average, plants A, B, and C 8_______ _____________



All other



3. 94
3. 94



Total labor 3
5. 47
5. 78
5. 74

1 Letters assigned plants have no connection with letters given in other tables.
2 Includes supervisors, mechanics, oilers, inspectors, patchers, floor and stock boys, and other incidental
labor attached to this department.
3 Total of preceding columns.
4 Information not available.
8 Weighted on basis of average production per period of cigars of type indicated.
Source: Plant records, 1935-36 survey.
In order to compare the various methods used in the making de­
partment a standard of some sort must be adopted. Perhaps the
most typical cigar made is the 5-eent long-filler cigar. Plants C, D,
and E of table 6 required 25.19 man-hours of labor on the average to
make 1,000 of this type of cigar by hand. All plants shown in table 9
using the four-operator machine averaged 9.55 man-hours of labor
per 1,000 cigars. Thus, on the average, only 38 percent as much
making-department labor is required to make the same type of cigar
by this machine as by hand. A change from the hand method of
operation to the four-operator machine would then entail a decrease
in employment in the making department of about 62 percent, pro­
vided no change was made in the operating schedule.



Comparing the data presented in table 8 with that presented in
table 6 it appears that installation of power bunching equipment to
take the place of hand bunch makers would probably result in a net
reduction of employment in the making department of about 22 per­
cent. Of course, this would also entail a change from short-filler to
long-filler operation. If the change should be carried further and
rolling machines be combined with the bunching machines to form
two-operator short-filler cigar machines the reduction in labor would
be much greater. Comparing the average shown for the three plants
of table 10 with table 6 it appears that the labor force in the making
department might be reduced as much as 78 percent.

Information regarding the packing departments of 10 cigar plants
is presented in table 11. Two determining influences are apparent,
namely, (1) the more expensive the cigar, the more care taken in
shading and subshading; (2) the less uniform in color the wrapper
leaf used, the more labor is required to shade and subshade. The
latter effect is borne out by the fact that in the case of plants F, G,
and H, and J and K, the plants using the more uniformly colored
Sumatra leaf required less packing labor than those using Connecticut
shade-grown wrapper.

T a b l e 11. —

L a b o r r e q u i r e m e n t s i n th e p a c k i n g d e p a r t m e n t s o f c ig a r f a c t o r i e s

Type of cigar

5 cents each and less ____Average, plants A, B,
and C.
5 cents each_______________
Average, plants D
and E.
5 cents each and class “C”_.
Average, plants F, G,
and H.
Class “C”________________
Average, plants J and


Man-hours per 1,000 cigars
Planti Pack­ Other All
ers direct direct Super­ Total4
only labor2 labor3 visory
( A

0. 82


l/ D

1. 27
1. 38




l c




l K

1. 61
1. 86
1. 76
2. 03
2. 05
2. 10
2. 22

0. 05
. 15
. 19

Type wrapper leaf used

1.36 Connecticut and Florida shadegrown.
1.95 Sumatra.
2.13 Sumatra and Connecticut
2.18 Connecticut shade-grown.
2. 25 Sumatra.
2. 53 Connecticut shade-grown.

1 Letters assigned plants have no connection with letters given in other tables.
2 Includes examiners inspectors, floor boys, and other incidental labor attached to this department.
3 Sum of 2 preceding columns.
4 Sum of 2 preceding columns.
Source: Plant records, 1935-36 survey.
One subsidiary item of information was gathered in a plant that
manufactured class A 5-cent and class C cigars, using Connecticut



shade-grown wrappers. In this plant the cigars were tray packed;
that is, shaded by one group of workers and subshaded and packed in
shells by another group, instead of the more usual method where one
worker performs all operations. In this plant, tray packing and
shading required 0.33 man-hours of labor per 1,000 for both class A
and class C cigars. Subshading and shell packing required 1.25 man­
hours of labor per thousand cigars in the case of the 5-cent cigars and
1.27 hours for the class C cigars, making totals of 1.58 and 1.60 man­
hours of labor for class A and class C cigars, respectively. It is ap­
parent that by far the greater proportion of labor required in packing
departments goes into subshading and shell packing rather than the
primary separation of cigars according to colors.

Cellophaning and Banding
Table 12 presents information on cellophaning and banding opera­
tions in a number of cigar plants. Plants A to F used the improved
cellophaning and banding machine with automatic feed, requiring one
operator. The remarkable uniformity of results from plant to plant
indicates that the speed of this machine must be relatively standard
throughout the industry.
In one plant (plant G) the older style two-operator machine was
found in use. The labor time required by this machine was almost
double that required by the improved machine.

T able


1 2 — L a b o r r e q u i r e m e n t s i n c e ll o p h a n i n g a n d b a n d in g c ig a r s

Man-hours per 1,000
cigars output
Type of operation

1-operator cellophaning and banding machine with automatic feed___
Average, plants A, B, and C *.
1-operator cellophaning and banding machine with automatic feed.
Average, plants A to F 4_______________________
2-operator cellophaning and banding machine, hand feed.
Banding only by hand______________________________
Average, plants H and I________________________





Oper­ All
ators others 2 Total s
1. 302
1. 288

0. 031

0. 339
( 5)
( 5)




1 Letters assigned to plants have no connection with letters given plants in other tables.
2 Includes mechanics and supervisory and incidental labor attached to this department,
s Sum of preceding columns.
4 Weighted average, based on average production per period of the individual plants.
4 Information not available.
Source: Plant records, 1935-36 survey.
In two plants a small amount of banding by hand was found.
Cellophaning of these hand-banded cigars was also done by hand, but



no reliable man-hour data for this operation were available. Super­
visory officials stated that the productivity of hand cellophaners was
approximately the same as that of hand banders; that is, one hand
cellophaner would be teamed with one hand bander where a batch of
cigars was to be banded and cellophaned entirely by hand. There­
fore, the figure given for hand banding should probably be doubled to
afford a comparison between hand and machine cellophaning and
banding. On this assumption, it is estimated that man-hour pro­
ductivity in cellophaning and banding by machine on the basis of
operators only is approximately eight times higher than where the
operation is done by hand. However, this does not at the present
time raise any question of labor displacement since the use of cello­
phaning and banding machines is quite general throughout the
industry, the hand process only being used in small shops or where
relatively small lots or special orders are made up.

Box Labeling
Man-hour requirements in pasting labels and affixing internal
revenue stamps to cigar boxes by hand and by machine are presented
in table 13. Only four plants, two by each method, are shown,
since in most cases satisfactory man-hour data were not available.
Output information was lacking in all cases, so, as with leaf prepara­
tion and stripping departments, output of the making department
was used as a basis for comparison.

T a b l e 13. —


r e q u i r e m e n t s i n p a s ti n g la b els a n d
s t a m p s o n c ig a r b o x e s

Type of operation
By hand________________ _ __
Average, plants A and B 8_________
By machine__________ _________________
Average, plants C and D 3__ _______

Man-hours per
cigars out­
Plant i 1,000of making
department 3


a ffix in g

in t e r n a l


Type of cigar

0.87 Class C.
.59 Class A, 5 cents each, and class C.
.17 Class A, 5 cents each.

1 Letters assigned plants have no connection with letters given in other tables.
All labor, including labelers, pasters, supervisors, and other incidental labor attached to this department.
3 Weighted on basis of average production of cigars per period by individual plants.
Source: Plant records, 1935-36 survey.

Approximately four times as much labor per thousand cigars was
required to perform this operation by hand as compared with the
machine. The machine used for this purpose has a very large capac­
ity (50 to 60 boxes per minute) and is found in only the largest factories.
The large capacity of the machine, combined with the fact that only
a small amount of labor is required for the operation in any case,
would probably make the use of the machine uneconomical in small



Miscellaneous Labor
As might be expected, quite a wide range in the amount of miscel­
laneous labor used in cigar plants was found. Two general factors
appear to determine the quantity: First, more labor is found in plants
making more expensive cigars; and second, more labor is required in
hand plants than in machine plants. Of even greater importance are
the matter of company policy and the matter of special conditions.
For instance, an inefficient plant lay-out would require extra miscel­
laneous labor.
Table 14 presents information with regard to this group of workers
for eight cigar plants. The man-hour data are correlated with output
data of the making department to provide a basis of comparison.
The hand plants shown required on the average about 2% times as
much miscellaneous labor as the machine plants. Within each group
the plant making the most expensive cigars required the most labor.
It is probable that the comparison between the hand and machine
plants is not completely equitable since the hand plants were in
general making more expensive cigars than the machine plants.
Moreover, the machine plants were in general larger than the hand
plants, and so probably better fitted to make use of such devices as
conveyors, automatic lifts, and the like, or to take advantage of
modern plant-efficiency methods. Though the figures of table 14
should probably be considered at best as approximations, they are
of interest in at least indicating the relative amounts of miscellaneous
labor required.

T a b l e 14.— A v e r a g e

m i s c e l l a n e o u s la b o r r e q u ir e m e n t s i n c ig a r p la n t s

Man-hours of
labor per 1,000
P lant 1 cigars output of
making de­
partment 2

Type of plant operation
Using the 4-operator long-filler cigar machine to make:
Class A, 5 cents each, and class C cigars_______________________________
Class A, 5 cents each______________________________________ ________
Do_____ „ _______ _________________ __ __ ..
Do _______________________________ ..
Average, plants A, B, C, and D 3___________________________________
Making cigars of the following classes by hand:
Class C. __________________________________________________________
Class A, 5 cents each, and class C _ __________________________________
Average, plants E, F, G, and H 3___________________________________




. 62
. 62
2. 95
2. 51
1. 97
1. 50
2. 16

1 Letters assigned plants have no connection with letters given in other tables.
2 Includes all labor not previously assigned departmentally, such as watchmen, elevator operators,
cleaners, office help, shipping clerks, electricians, nurses, maids, locker attendants, etc.
3 Weighted on basis of average production of cigars per period by individual plants.
Source: Plant records, 1935-36 survey.



The Plant as a Whole
While it is of interest to examine the changes occurring within any
one department, it is more significant to determine the effects on the
plant as a whole which occur when the method of operation is changed.
For instance, whereas installation of a labeling machine to paste on
internal-revenue stamps might reduce the amount of labor required
in this department to less than one-fourth of its former figure (table
13) the effect on the total amount of labor employed by the factory
would be very small.
For this purpose, it again becomes necessary to adopt some type of
standard for making comparisons. Probably the most typical cigar
is the 5-cent cigar. Table 15 presents departmental averages derived
from preceding tables with regard to this type of cigar.
The types of plants represented are designated “ hand made” and
“ four-operator cigar machine” for long-filler cigars, and “ machine
bunched, hand rolled” and “ two-operator cigar machine” for short-filler
cigars, according to the methods employed in the making departments.
No totals are presented for hand-made short-filler cigars, since there
was doubt as to whether the making-department data obtained for
5-cent cigars of this type could be considered representative (available
in but one plant, and that principally engaged in the manufacture of
cheaper short-filler cigars).
An effort was made to select figures representing conditions actually
prevailing in a majority of the factories investigated, rather than any
ideal factory using either the least efficient or most efficient plant
methods, or using all possible hand methods as compared to all possible
mechanized methods.

T a b l e 15. —

A p p r o x i m a t e a m o u n t s o f la b o r r e q u ir e d to m a k e o n e th o u s a n d
c ig a r s b y v a r i o u s m a n u fa c t u r i n g m e th o d s

5 -c e n t

Number of man-hours



Four-operator Machine- Two-operator
Hand-made cigar machine bunched, cigar machine
Leaf preparation_____________________________
Stripping ----------------------------------------------------Making______ .. __ ___________________ Packing-------------------------------------------------------Cellophaning and banding____________________
Box labeling___________________ ____ ________
Miscellaneous labor________________ ________
Total, all above operations______________

33. 38

9. 55

Source: Plant records, 1935-36 survey. Figures taken from tables 2 to 14.


5. 58
11. 99



The choice of certain of the figures presented in table 15 perhaps
requires a few words of explanation. Proceeding departmentally, the
figure for the leaf-preparation department is the average for plants
C and D, table 2. It is felt that this figure best reflects average labor
requirements in plants making 5-cent long-filler cigars, where binder
and wrapper leaf are stripped at the factory, and filler is received in
stripped condition. Plant D is included even though this plant
manufactured a small number of class “ C ” cigars. These data, ap­
plicable to long-filler cigar manufacture, are carried over to the two
short-filler classes even though in such plants the amount of leafpreparation labor would probably be much less, because no other
more appropriate data are available. However, any errors introduced
by this procedure are necessarily small, compared to total labor re­
The figure for the stripping department, taken from table 5, is an
average for plants making less than 5-cent, 5-cent, and class “ C ”
cigars. Since in these plants the amount of labor required did not
appear to be directly correlated with the price class of the cigars
manufactured, it was felt that the general average was probably most
representative. The figure used is for machine stripping, which is the
most common method employed.
The labor requirements for making 5-cent long-filler cigars by hand
and 5-cent short-filler cigars by combination hand and machine
methods are taken directly from tables 6 and 8, respectively. The
amount of labor required in the making departments of plants using
four-operator long-filler or two-operator short-filler cigar machines
appears to depend principally on other factors than the price class of
cigars manufactured (tables 9 and 10). Averages for all plants using
these methods are therefore presented in table 15 as being probably
most representative of general industry conditions.
Packing department labor requirements are taken directly from
table 11 and need no explanation. The figures for the cellophaning
and banding department, taken from table 12, refer to the mechanized
rather than the hand process, since use of cellophaning and banding
machines is quite general throughout the industry.
There is a choice with regard to the averages used for the box­
labeling department. Plants making cigars by hand or by combina­
tion hand and machine methods in general have smaller outputs
than mechanized plants, and so presumably would not find use of
a box-labeling machine economical. Accordingly, the figure for a
nonmechanized labeling department has been used for hand and
combination hand and machine plants, while the figure for a mecha­
nized department has been applied to factories using four-operator or
two-operator cigar machines (table 13).



Somewhat the same reasoning has been followed with regard to
miscellaneous labor, the average for hand plants being used for both
hand and combination methods, while that for factories using fouroperator machines has been extended to plants using two-operator
machines (table 14).
Greatest interest attaches to a comparison of 5-cent long-filler cigars
as made by hand with those made on four-operator cigar machines,
since long-filler cigars constitute the bulk of all cigar production.
The totals given in table 15 show that only about half as much labor
is used in machine plants. Presupposing a comparable schedule of
hourly operation, a plant changing from one method to the other then
would either double its output, or at the same production level would
reduce the number of workers employed by about half.
Adequate data for the hand method of making short-filler cigars
were not obtained. However, it is shown that concerns using twooperator machines require about 57 percent less plant labor than con­
cerns using a combination of machine bunching with hand rolling to
make short-filler cigars. Since making bunches by hand would require
some additional labor time, an even greater proportionate reduction in
total plant labor required would be expected in the case of concerns
using two-operator machines as compared with plants using straight
hand methods of making short-filler cigars.
Since 1920 there has been a steady increase in the proportion of
short-filler to total cigar production (p. 54), lending point to a com­
parison of labor requirements in the manufacture of short-filler cigars
with those in the making of long-filler cigars by different methods.
The characteristic method of making short-filler cigars is with the twooperator machine, which requires about 25 percent less plant labor
than to make the same number of long-filler cigars with the four-oper­
ator machine, or about 64 percent less than to make an equal number
of long-filler cigars by hand.4
The foregoing comparisons have all been between present day
“ average” plants, but the results of the field survey may also be used
to indicate some of the differences between factories of today and those
of several decades ago.
In most departments, little difference in the amount of labor re­
quired in present day plants as compared with those of an earlier
period would be expected. For instance, in the preparation depart­
ment no significant changes in methods of operation have occurred.
In the packing department, use of cellophane has probably reduced
the amount of labor needed to a degree. In the cellophaning and
banding department, wide-spread use of machines today may or may
not have caused a decrease in the average amount of labor required.
Box labeling is still done by hand in most present-day plants. The

4 The totals given in table 15 have been recalculated in the more familiar units of product per man-hour
of labor and are so presented in table 16.



amount of miscellaneous labor required around a factory may have
been slightly reduced because of better planning and arrangement in
modern plants. However, since the labor time required by all these
departments together is only about 6% hours per thousand cigars in a
present-day hand factory (table 15), the total difference in labor time
occasioned by all changes probably does not exceed 1 or 2 hours per
thousand cigars.
T able 16.— O v e r -a ll

m a n -h o u r p r o d u c t iv i t y i n p la n ts m a n u fa c t u r i n g 5 -c e n t c ig a r s b y
a lte r n a tiv e m e th o d s

All plant labor
Method of manufacture

Hand-made, long-filler_______________________________________________:
Four-operator-machine-made, long-filler_________________________________
Machine-bunched, hand-rolled, short-filler______________________________
Two-operator-machine-made, short-filler________________________________

Productiv­ ity relative
ity, cigars
to hand­
per man-hour made longfiller cigars
62. 7

2. 78

Source: Calculated from data presented in table 15.
Significant changes in labor requirements have been confined to the
stripping and making departments. It has been shown that the reduc­
tion in labor time brought about by complete mechanization of strip­
ping probably does not exceed 6 hours per thousand cigars, and that
this may be assumed to be the probable maximum difference in labor
requirements in this department between modern and earlier factories.
In the making department, hand factories use substantially the same
methods today as were in general use 20 and 30 years ago. Labor
requirements in this department of present-day factories may therefore
be fairly used to represent those in plants of an earlier period.
It seems probable therefore, that labor requirements in hand plants
today are not more than 7 or 8 hours less per thousand cigars than
they were in plants of the premachine era. This would indicate that
earlier factories required about 40 or 41 hours of labor per thousand
cigars as compared with about 33.4 hours in modern hand plants
(table 15). This is equivalent to a reduction in labor requirements of
20 percent or less. Practically all the reduction must be credited to
use of stemming machinery in the modern plant.
The present-day mechanized producer, taking advantage of labor­
time savings made possible both by stemming machines and longfiller cigar machines, would require only about 40 percent as much
labor to produce the same output as the 1910-17 plant. By changing
to short-filler cigar manufacture and using two-operator short-filler
cigar machines, the present-day manufacturer could further reduce
his labor requirements to about 30 percent of those in the 1910-17
long-filler factory.

Chapter IV
Mechanisation and Its Effects
Major changes in the productivity of labor in the cigar industry
have resulted principally from the mechanization of one process
only— from the development of ingenious machines to perform the
fabricating operation itself. However, introduction of these ma­
chines was not followed by their general installation throughout the
industry. Today, more than 20 years after the machines were first
made available, a number of factories continue to use manufacturing
methods little different from those which might have been observed
20 and even 50 years ago. These circumstances make the industry
a somewhat unusual case in the study of mechanization. Many of
the effects of mechanization, which in other industries are all too
frequently obscured in a multiplicity of small changes, are here
brought out in sharp relief. The following sections briefly appraise
some of these effects.
Cost Advantage o f Mechanization

The economic force behind introduction of mechanical aids into
the industry has naturally been the savings in costs made possible by
their use. Before attempting an analysis of the effects of mechan­
ization, it may be well to appraise the extent of these cost savings,
insofar as this is possible. It has been shown that significant reduc­
tions in labor time have come from increased use of two types of
machines only— stripping machines and cigar machines.
In the case of stripping machines, it has been estimated that com­
plete mechanization of the stripping process does not reduce the
labor required per thousand cigars by more than about 6 hours.
In terms of costs, this labor-time saving is not as important as it
would be in the case of other operations, since stripping is and has
been in the past the lowest-paid occupation in the cigar industry.1
On the basis of wage rates prevailing in 1936, the gross labor-cost
savings resulting from complete mechanization of the stripping
operation would probably not exceed $1.50 per thousand cigars (6
hours at about 25 cents per hour). From these gross savings should
be deducted certain costs pertaining to the use of machines, such as

1 Bulletin of the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics No. 135, Wages and hours of labor in the cigar and cloth­
ing industries, 1911 and 1912, shows male hand strippers receiving wages of 13 cents per hour and female
hand strippers 12 cents per hour on the average, and adds in the text (p. 11) ‘'Stemming is the lowest paid
occupation of the industry and very little skill is required.”
Monthly Labor Review, April 1937, p. 961, shows that in March 1936 hand strippers averaged about 251
cents per hour, less than average wages paid any other regular class of employees.




interest on investment, depreciation, repairs, and power. No infor­
mation is available regarding the extent of these other costs, but they
would probably serve to reduce the maximum net cost savings result­
ing from mechanization of stripping to well under $1.50 per thousand
Turning to the making operation, it was shown that use of longfiller cigar machines in place of hand methods results in a reduction
of about 15Y2 hours of labor per thousand 5-cent cigars manufactured.
At a rate of 35 cents per hour, reported as the average hourly wage
paid hand cigar makers in March 1936,2 this represents a gross laborcost saving of about $5.50 per thousand 5-cent cigars.
The extent of the extra costs entailed by use of long-filler cigar
machines as compared with hand methods may be estimated from
data shown in tables 17a and 17b. It will be seen that the items
given include many charges not directly applicable to the use of cigar
machines. Thus, in table 17a, the item of power includes all factory
power and light as well as power necessary to run cigar machines.
The item of machine repairs and repair parts includes costs of repair
of all other machines used at the factory. In table 17b all items,
except royalties, apply to the factory as a whole rather than simply
to cigar machines. Taken together, the two sources indicate that the
extra costs entailed by use of automatic long-filler cigar machines
do not exceed and may be materially less than $2.50 per thousand
cigars. Subtracting this from the estimated gross labor-cost savings,
it is concluded that manufacturers using the four-operator long-filler
cigar machine have a net cost advantage over nonmechanized pro­
ducers of at least $3 per thousand 5-cent cigars manufactured. Since
the net wholesale price of such cigars is in the neighborhood of $33
per thousand, the great relative importance of this cost saving is
readily appreciated.

T a b l e 17a.—


C o s t s o f m a n u fa c t u r e b y f o u r - o p e r a t o r lo n g -fille r c ig a r m a c h i n e s n o t
c o m m o n to m a n u fa c t u r e b y h a n d m e th o d s

Elements of cost
Power (all factory power and light)______ ____ ___ _______ _ _. _ . . .
Machine repairs and repair parts (all machines, including cigar machines)..
Depreciation of cigar machines___________ _ . ... _____________ ... _
Interest on investment in cigar machines __________ _________________
Insurance on cigar machines_________________ ____ ____________ ...
Overhead chargeable to cigar machines, including supervision_____... .
Cost of maintaining idle cigar machines___ ________ ______ ________ .
Royalties on leased cigar machines........................................................................
Total____ ________ ... _____________________________________

Costs per 1,000 5-cent cigars
May 1933
2. 5863

September 1933

Source: Rossmore, Robbins & Co., Investigation of cigar manufacturing industry in re Establishment of
a code of fair competition, Nov. 11, 1933, table 15. Brief filed with National Recovery Administration, pre­
pared in behalf of group of cigar manufacturers by firm of accountants; based on certified data from 4
leading manufacturers; in National Recovery Administration files, U. S. Department of Commerce.
2 Monthly Labor Review, April 1937, p. 961.


T a b l e 17b.—



C o s ts o f m a n u fa c t u r e b y f o u r - o p e r a t o r lo n g -fille r c ig a r m a c h i n e s n o t
c o m m o n to m a n u fa c t u r e b y h a n d m e th o d s

Elements of cost
Power (all factory power)_________________ _____ ____________ _________ _______...
Maintenance (all factory maintenance)_______ ___ _ __ _______ _____ ____________ ___
Lubrication (all factory lubrication)_______ __________________ _________ _________
Depreciation (all factory depreciation)_____________ ________________________________
Miscellaneous (all miscellaneous expenses)________________________ ________ ______
Royalties (on cigar machines)_________________________ __________________________

Cost per 1,000
5-cent cigars
2. 562

Source: Special canvass regarding costs of production of 5-cent cigars made by Census of Manufactures
as of July 1, 1933, of 11 representative manufacturers of 5-cent cigars selected by the National Recovery
No data are available regarding the savings made possible by use
of two-operator short-filler cigar machines. Since the labor time
required is far less than in the case of four-operator machines, and the
cost of the machines and the power, lubrication, and similar items
they require is less, it may be concluded that the reduction in costs
made possible by their use is substantially greater.
The cost difference between hand and mechanized processes is,
of course, not constant. It will vary according to the efficiency
with which the various methods of fabrication are applied or as wage
scales prevailing in the industry or its branches fluctuate. Also, in
the manufacture of the more expensive types of cigars it becomes
less important as other items, especially cost of raw materials and
emphasis on quality of workmanship, assume greater significance.
However, a definite and important cost advantage in favor of mecha­
nized producers seems indisputably established, this advantage being
most effective in the low-priced field. It is in this field that most
cigar production takes place.3
Extent o f Mechanisation

With a substantial cost difference in favor of mechanization defi­
nitely established, it becomes of interest to determine how far mech­
anization of the industry has actually proceeded. Mechanization of
the stripping process is probably nearly complete. Cellophaning and
banding machines are now almost universally used. Box-labeling
machines are found in a few factories, but they are of minor impor­
tance. Examination of the extent of mechanization, then, confines
itself to a study of the degree to which cigar-making machines are
used by the industry today. This must remain, in large part, an open
question, since much of the data necessary for an accurate determina­
tion are lacking, though some inferences may be drawn.

3 Cigars selling for 5 cents or less constituted 88 percent of all cigar production in 1936, according to the
Annual Report of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1937.



In the first place, on the basis of the amount of scrap tobacco used
in the manufacture of cigars as compared with all leaf so used, it is
estimated that short-filler cigars constituted about one-quarter and
long-filler cigars about three-quarters of the total number of cigars
produced in 1936 (p. 54).
Turning first to long-filler cigars, the concern which manufactures
and leases long-filler cigar machines states that 3,683 machines were
used on the average in 1936 (table 1). On the basis of this number,
and an estimate of average annual productivity per machine in 1936,4
it is calculated that about 60 percent of all cigars produced in 1936
were long-filler cigars made on four-operator long-filler cigar machines.
This is in approximate agreement with opinions expressed by cigar
manufacturers visited in the course of the present survey. The num­
ber of long-filler cigars made by hand in 1936 may then be estimated
to have been in the neighborhood of 15 percent of the industry’s total
production.5 It is therefore estimated that the manufacture of longfiller cigars in 1936 was about three-quarters mechanized.
There is no method available by which the degree of mechanization
prevailing in the manufacture of short-filler cigars may be calculated.
It is probably greater than in the case of long-filler cigars. Use of the
two-operator short-filler cigar machine offers such economies in labor
costs that manufacturers using hand methods must have found com­
petition extremely difficult. There are many instances in the in­
dustry of factories— even whole areas— formerly producing large
numbers of short-filler cigars by hand, which within the past 10 years
have turned almost exclusively to use of short-filler machines. This

4 It is estimated in table 9 that an average of 8.32 hours of labor by machine operators was required to pro­
duce 1,000 cigars by means of the 4-operator cigar machine. Since 4 operators are required to each machine,
this would represent 2.08 hours of machine operation. A survey of the cigar industry by the Bureau of
Labor Statistics indicates that in March 1936 average hours of labor of cigar-machine operators were about
31 per week (Monthly Labor Review, April 1937, p. 961). However, production of the industry in March
1936, as Judged by withdrawals of internal revenue stamps for use on large cigars (Annual Reports of the
Commissioner of Internal Revenue, 1936 and 1937) was only 88.3 percent of the monthly average for the
year. Presumably, then, the average hours of labor of cigar-machine operators over the year would have
been about 31 divided by 0.883, or 3fi hours per week. Multiplying by 52, the number of weeks in the year,
would indicate that average hours of cigar-machine operators and also hours of operation of cigar machines
were about 1,800 in the year 1936. Dividing by the number of hours of machine operation necessary to
produce 1,000 cigars, as derived above, indicates that each cigar machine in operation in 1936 probably
averaged a production of about 865,000 cigars. Multiplying by the number of machines reported in use in
1936 (3,683) gives an estimated total production of long-filler cigars on cigar machines of 3.19 billions of cigars.
This is 62 percent of total cigar production of 5.17 billions in 1936 as reported by the Commissioner of In­
ternal Revenue. On the other hand, two factors have not been taken into account in the above. In the
first place, mechanized factories appear to operate on a steadier production schedule than hand plants.
The level of operations of machine factories in March 1936 might therefore have been somewhat above the
88 percent of the average for the year indicated for the industry as a whole. In the second place, some cigar
machines in place in cigar factories in 1936 might have been idle for periods of a week or more, these periods
of idleness not being taken into account in either the figures for average hours of labor of machine operators
or number of machines used by the industry during the year. Both these possible sources of error operate
in the same direction, and correction for their influence would somewhat reduce the estimate of total
production on cigar machines given above. It may be concluded that the number of cigars produced on
four-operator long-filler cigar machines in 1936 was less than 62 percent of the industry’s total production
of all types of cigars, and was probably in the neighborhood of 60 percent.
5 Since this figure is derived as the approximate difference between two much larger numbers, both esti­
mated. it must be regarded as liable to substantial error.



machine was even found in use in some plants primarily engaged in
the production of long-filler cigars by hand, such plants finding it an
economical way of utilizing scrap tobacco.
Effects o f Mechanisation on Production

In order to appraise the effects of mechanization on the cigar-man­
ufacturing industry, it is necessary first to examine the competitive
background against which the industry has operated.
At the beginning of the present century, cigars constituted the most
important form in which tobacco was consumed. In fact, the value
of the annual production of cigars at that time was over 50 percent
greater than that of all other tobacco products combined.6 During
the period 1900-1920, the annual production of cigars increased, reach­
ing. a peak of 8.1 billion cigars in 1920. That year saw the highest
production level ever attained by the cigar industry, and marked the
beginning of its decline. Between 1920 and 1929 production fell to 6.5
billions. During the depression years following, production declined
sharply to a low of 4.3 billions in 1933. Subsequent recovery raised
the level only to 5.2 billions in 1936, as indicated below.
C ig a rs p r o d u c e d







C ig a r s p r o d u c e d




373, 000, 000
519, 000, 000
894, 000, 000
348, 000, 000
383, 000, 000
300, 000, 000
526, 000, 000
685, 000, 000
172, 000, 000

1 Data are from annual reports of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue.
Per capita consumption is perhaps more revealing than total pro­
duction in analyzing general trends. On a per capita basis, cigars
began to lose favor with the public, not in 1920, but as early as 1907
(chart, p. 48). The downward trend was accelerated after 1920 and
1929. Each of these major changes in trend coincided with the onset
of a period of marked business depression.
Increased consumption of cigarettes is usually advanced as the
primary cause for decreased consumption of cigars. The divergent
trends displayed in this chart seem to bear out this contention.
Numerous explanations to account for the increased popularity of
cigarettes at the expense of cigars have been advanced. Perhaps the
most quoted is to the effect that the cigarette became popular through
its use by soldiers during the World War. The fact that the upward
trend of cigarette consumption was almost as marked from 1905-13

6 United States Commissioner of Corporations. Report on the Tobacco Industry. Washington, 1909,
pt. I, p. 149.




1 8 8 0 -1 9 3 6












500 -








H 200

I 00




1880 1885 1890 1895 1900 1905 1910 1915 1920 1925 1930 1935 1940
Production o f Large Cigars and Sm all Cigarettes as R eported
in A nnual Reports o f Comm issioner o f In te rn al Revenue, D iv id e d by Annuot
M id -Y e a r Population Estimates o f U S. Bureau o f the Census.




as it was from 1915-20 indicates that this explanation is not sufficient.
A second much-quoted reason ascribes the change to cigarette smoking
by women; a third to the need of this modern age for a quick, short
smoke. All these are undoubtedly significant factors, but others need
Cigarettes and cigars cater to the same human want— the pleasure
obtained from smoking tobacco. It is a common observation that
cigarettes are a less expensive form of tobacco consumption than
cigars. It seems logical, therefore, to assume that the relative costs
of the two products to the consumer have been a factor in the success
of cigarettes. This conclusion is strengthened by the observation that
the major changes in per capita consumption of cigars have taken
place during periods of general economic depression, when this influ­
ence should be at its strongest.
The process has not been simply one of substitution of a lower-priced
for a higher-priced article, however, as per capita cigarette con­
sumption also declined during depression periods. In addition to any
substitution which has taken place, there has been a real increase in
the demand for cigarettes. While the amount of tobacco used an­
nually in the manufacture of cigars decreased 34,800,000 pounds
between 1926 and 1934, that used in the manufacture of cigarettes
increased 85,500,000 pounds— a net increase of over 50,000,000 pounds
per year.7 Even with allowance for population growth, the per capita
consumption of tobacco in cigars and cigarettes increased.
The consumption trends of the two products, indicated on page
48, somewhat exaggerate the true situation since the units used to
represent the two products are not strictly comparable. One cigar is
equivalent to a number of cigarettes.
An approximate measure of the relative importance of the two prod­
ucts may be obtained by considering them on the basis of weight as
presented in the chart (p. 50). It will be seen that at the turn of the
century cigarettes, though produced in numbers equal to cigars, were
relatively unimportant as a form of tobacco consumption. However,
in the period around 1920 they became of approximately equal impor­
tance with cigars and by 1936 were nearly four times as important.
During depression periods both cigarettes and cigars might prove
too expensive, in which case consumers might well turn to smoking
tobacco, either in pipes or in the form of “ roll your own” cigarettes.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to follow the changes in demand for
smoking tobacco prior to 1931, since before that date smoking tobacco
was combined in the annual reports of the Commissioner of Internal
Revenue with scrap chewing tobacco— a product of decidedly dissim­
ilar character. However, it will be noted that during the depression

7 Annual reports of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue.






SO U R C E —
Annual Reports o f U.S. Comm issioner o f In te rn al Revenues
C IG A R S -L e a f Tobacco Used in Manufacture o f Large Cigars Converted to Stemmed
Basis, Using Method Adopted by U. S. Bureau o f Internal Revenue ( 3 Pounds Stemmed
Leaf Equivalent to 4 Pounds Unstemmed Leaf)
C IG A R E T T E S -L e a f Tobacco Used in M anufacture o f Sm all Cigarettes Converted on
Basis 15 Percent (Representing Turkish) Not Stemmed, Balance Stemmed.
SMOKING TOBACCO—Finished Weights, as Reported to U. S. Bureau o f Internal Revenue





years following 1931 the production of smoking tobacco increased, in
contrast to that of cigarettes and cigars which showed decreases
(chart, p. 50).
Differences in advertising methods have probably had some in­
fluence on the relative cigar and cigarette markets. Cigar manufac­
ture has been carried on by a large number of concerns with a multi­
plicity of brands, shapes, and sizes of cigars. Cigarette manufacture,
on the other hand, early attained volume production of a few stand­
ardized brands. Consequently, cigar advertising has been “ spread
thin” while cigarette advertising has emphasized and reemphasized
the merits of a few major brands. Moreover, the type of advertising
used has differed between the two products. Cigar advertising, in
general, has been of the type to induce only the selection of one brand
of cigar over another. Cigarette advertising, through design or acci­
dent, has served in addition to stimulate a desire to use the product
itself, thus widening the market for cigarettes.
As might be expected, the decline in the market for cigars following
1920 engendered severe competition in the industry. The efforts of
manufacturers to maintain sales volume in a shrinking market made
price cutting inevitable.
In the cigar industry this has taken two forms. Cigars are sold for
the most part in standard retail price classes under established brand
names, and improvement in the quality of tobacco used in any cigar
therefore may be the equivalent of a price cut without any price
change having taken place. Conversely, there may be a cut in the
retail price without a corresponding reduction in quality. Since
cigars have this quality flexibility, it is frequently difficult to follow
real changes in cigar prices.
From 1921 to 1929 economic conditions were in general quite favor­
able. No increasing economic pressure on the average cigar smoker,
making it necessary for him to revise his smoking habits and turn to
lower-priced cigars, was apparent during this period. Nevertheless,
between 1921 and 1929 the proportion of all cigars which sold for
5 cents or less each increased from 30 to 5 5 percent (table 18). It
seems reasonable to assume that during this period there was an actual
improvement in the quality of cigars offered for sale at any given price
level, which in turn permitted consumers to buy cigars of the same
quality at constantly decreasing average prices.
The second form of price cutting was much in evidence after 1929
when a number of large concerns selling cigars under nationally adver­
tised brand names directly cut their established retail prices, at the
same time guaranteeing to consumers that the quality of tobacco used
was not cheapened. In many instances, the cut in the advertised
price of these brands was from 10 to 5 cents apiece. During this same
period, the depression presumably operated on the average purchaser’s



budget so that there was a definite factor of consumer change to lowerquality products. Whatever the cause, by 1936 the proportion of all
cigars which sold for 5 cents apiece or less rose to more than 88 percent
of the national production.

T a b l e 18. —

P e r c e n t a g e d i s t r ib u t io n o f 'p ro d u c tio n o f c i g a r s , b y r e ta il p r i c e c l a s s e s
1 9 2 1 to 1 9 3 6



Percentage of total cigar production—cigars retailing at—
1929_____________ ____ _____
1932____ __________________
1935___ ___________________
1936_____ __________________

5 cents or Over 5 to 8 Over 8 to 15 Over 15 to
20 cents
88. 3




Over 20
(’ )



i Data are from annual reports of Commissioner of Internal Revenue.
1 Less than 0.05 percent.
Lower selling prices, while induced by competition, could have been
made possible only through decreased costs of production. General
wage reductions may have provided a part of the decrease. Costs of
raw materials certainly dropped materially (table 19). However,
economies made possible through improvements in techniques of man­
ufacture must also have been a contributing factor. It is not possible
to estimate the relative importance of each of these influences in
the price reductions which took place in the industry.
It seems probable that, barring unforseen developments, the era of
price reduction in the cigar industry is approaching an end. In the
past it was aided by savings on both labor and materials. However,
tobacco-leaf prices have been advancing since 1933. Wage rates since
the depression have been extremely low, so further savings from this
source seem unlikely.8 The only other possibility for savings in cost
would seem to rest with introduction of machinery into the still
unmechanized part of the industry, but the substantial degree of
mechanization already prevailing indicates that savings from this
source would be small.9
It may be mentioned that, although the use of improved cigar­
making machinery has lowered the cost of production, it has had a
secondary effect in stimulating low-priced cigar consumption. Cigar­
making machinery was first used and is still largely used in the manu-

8 Monthly Labor Review, October 1935, Man-Hours of Employment in 35 Manufacturing Industries in
1933. Table 1 lists cigar manufacturing as thirty-fourth in a list of 35 selected industries according to average
wages paid per man-hour.



facture of low-priced cigars where a steady demand is assured. Largescale producers in this field have therefore consistently encouraged
consumption of such cigars through advertising or other means at
their disposal.

T a b l e 19. —

A v e r a g e f a r m p r i c e s o f d o m e s t i c l e a f to b a c co u s e d f o r fil l e r , b in d e r , a n d
w r a p p e r , 1 9 1 9 to 1 9 3 6



Average farm prices a (in
cents) per pound of domes­
tic tobacco used for—

1920_____ ____
1922_ _____ _______
1925_ ........................




13. 2
16. 5

16. 2
20. 2
19. 0



Average farms prices1 (in
cents) per pound of domes­
tic tobacco used for—

Cents 0 1929........................... Cents
75.0 1930-.................
70.6 1931...........................
70.7 1932...........................
83.3 1933........................
73.1 1934_ ...................
83.8 1935- .................
83. 3 1936...........................
76 3

4. 5

Binder Wrapper


15. 3
12. 8



1 Data are from U. S. Department of Agriculture, Crop Reporting Board releases of Apr. 16, 1934; June 15,
1935; Apr. 15,1936; and May 10,1937.
J Average prices of tobacco grown during seasons in years indicated.

To sum up, labor-cost savings made possible by increased use of
improved, mechanized methods of cigar manufacture have been at
least in part responsible for reductions in the average retail price of
cigars since 1921. Also, to the degree that mechanization has per­
mitted price reductions, it has probably assisted the cigar industry in
competition with cigarettes, maintaining the total volume of cigar pro­
duction at higher levels than would otherwise have been possible. The
actual extent of this effect, however, is not subject to measurement.
Another change in the type of production since 1920 may be cred­
ited at least in part to mechanization. Before the introduction of
cigar-making machines, short-filler cigars constituted a relatively in­
significant proportion of all cigars manufactured. They were made
principally to dispose of the scrap and cuttings produced as a byprod­
uct of the manufacture of long-filler cigars. However, since 1920 the
ratio of short-filler cigars to all cigars manufactured has been steadily
increasing, as indicated by the statement showing the estimated per­
cent 1 the short-filler cigars manufactured each year formed of total
cigar production.
Of great significance is the fact that some concerns now manufacture
short-filler cigars directly from whole leaf, utilizing a thresher which
beats the leaf from the stem, this taking the place of the stemming
operation for the filler. In such factories, therefore, short-filler cigars
1 These estimates are based on the amount of scrap tobacco reported used in the manufacture of cigars.
This method, while not wholly satisfactory, is sufficiently accurate to indicate the steady increase in the
proportion of short-filler cigars.



become a primary product rather than a byproduct of the manufac­
ture of long-filler cigars.
P ercen t
o f s h o rtfille r
cig a rs

P ercen t
o f sh o r tfille r
ctg a rs



11. 1

12. 6




16. 5
20. 3



1 Computed as follows: The amount of scrap (filler) tobacco used in manufacture of cigars as given in an­
nual reports of Commissioner of Internal Revenue was assumed to represent seven-tenths weight of all
tobacco entering short-filler cigars (stemmed basis). This amount, compared to all leaf used in manufac­
ture of cigars, was assumed to represent proportion of short-filler to all cigars manufactured.
It cannot be doubted that manufacturers are attracted by the sub­
stantial labor-cost savings made possible by use of short-filler cigar
machines. Not only does manufacture of cigars by this method re­
quire about 42 percent less labor in the making department than where
long-filler cigars are made by machine, and about 78 percent less than
long-filler cigars made by hand, but a secondary saving is also possible
through elimination of stemming of the filler.1
In past years consumers objected that short-filler cigars tended to
shred in the mouth during smoking. Short-filler cigar machines,
however, have been improved so that today scrap tobacco in larger
sizes may be used, partially overcoming this tendency.
How much farther the manufacture of short-filler cigars may be ex­
pected to expand at the expense of long-filler cigars it is not possible
to estimate. It is significant that as yet there is no sign of any halt
in the steady increase in the proportion of total production represented
by short-filler cigars.
Effects o f Mechanisation on Number and Sise o f Establishments

Cigar manufacturing was introduced on a commercial scale in this
country about the year 1800. It was in general a small-scale industry,
and a typical cigar shop was frequently the establishment of a single
owner-worker. There was little change in the industry until after
the Civil War.
Between 1870 and 1900, the mold, suction plate, and hand-bunching
tool were introduced. Before this time no tools had been used save a
knife and a bench on which to work, so for the first time the matter
of investment in equipment had to be considered by a prospective
manufacturer. Moreover, the division of labor made possible by these

Figures refer to cigars manufactured to retail at 5 cents each. See p. 39.



tools gave a group of workers a slight efficiency advantage over a
single individual. This period saw the establishment of the factory
system of cigar manufacture.1
Nevertheless, small-scale manufacture continued to be most charac­
teristic. There were some advantages in large-scale manufacture, but
these were not such as to disqualify the small shop from successful
competition. A small cigar factory could be started with very little
money, and could compete on fairly even terms with larger longestablished concerns.
Increasingly bitter competition, described by the Supreme Court as
“ fierce and abnormal,” 1 had the effect of bringing about a combina­
tion of five important cigarette and tobacco manufacturing concerns
in 1890 by the formation of the American Tobacco Co., known at the
time as the “ Tobacco Trust.” This organization has influenced the
history of every branch of the tobacco industry.
By acquiring other important concerns, the company established its
position so strongly that by 1901 its proportion of the country’s total
output of plug and twist was 68 percent; of smoking tobacco, nearly 60
percent; of snuff, over 80 percent; of cigarettes, 90 percent; and of
“ little cigars,” 73 percent. The only important field that remained
to be conquered was the manufacture of cigars, and to that task
attention was next directed.1
The American Cigar Co. was incorporated as a part of the “ Trust”
in January 1901. Between 1900 and 1903 the “ Trust” increased its
proportion of the country’s cigar production from 4.8 percent to 16.4
percent. These increases were due not only to the further absorption
of independent concerns, but also to extensive advertising, price
cutting, and the granting of premiums. The ambitious program,
however, failed to accomplish the results expected, and the campaign
was relaxed after 1903. At no time thereafter did the “ Trust” make
more than 15 percent of the cigars produced in this country. It was
apparent that the cigar branch of the industry could not be captured
so readily as had been the other branches of the tobacco industry.1
The principal reason for the failure of the company to establish
itself in a dominant position in the cigar industry lay in the fact that
machinery for making cigars had not been developed to such an extent
as to disqualify the small manufacturer from successful competition.
It is worth noting that the “ Trust” succeeded in obtaining a strong
foothold 1 approximating a position near to monopoly, in the manu­
facture of “ little cigars” where machinery was more successfully used.

Twelfth Census of the United States, vol. 9, pp. 671 et seq.
221 U. S. 157 (1911).
i* Statistics are from United States Commissioner of Corporations, Report on the Tobacco Industry,
Washington, 1909.
ifi United States Commissioner of Corporations. Report on the Tobacco Industry, Washington, 1915,
pt. Ill, p. 195.




The obvious way to establish supremacy in cigar production was
to develop machinery for making cigars. This the company endeav­
ored to do. It organized the American Machine & Foundry Co. in
1900 and later acquired the International Cigar Machine Co. The
executive in charge was given the specific problem of developing
automatic cigar-making machinery.1 However, in 1911 the tobacco
combination was declared to be in restraint of trade and was ordered
dissolved by the Supreme Court of the United States,1 and the
shrewdly conceived plan was interrupted.
It was not until 1917 that the long period of research bore fruit and
the idea of cigar-making machinery became a reality. And now
there was no “ Tobacco Trust'' to use the machines. Their intro­
duction depended on the antipathies and convictions of a large group
of independent manufacturers.
It immediately became apparent that use of cigar machines was
not suited to small-scale manufacture. Prerequisites to use of
machines were:
1. A considerably larger investment in equipment than was re­
quired for hand manufacture.
2. An assured and uniform demand for a large volume of product
to permit maximum efficiency.1
3. A stable location.


20. —

D i s t r i b u t i o n o f c ig a r f a c t o r i e s a c c o r d in g to a n n u a l o u t p u t i n s p e c i f ie d
years 1

Annual output

Number of factories with
classified output in—


All factories............... .......... .................. 14, 578 10,247
Under 500,000 cigars...... ....................... 13,149 9,281
500,000 to 5,000,000—............................. 1,130
5,000,000 to 40,000,000........ ...................
Over 40,000,000......................................

Percentage of total production










8. 0



1 Data are from annual reports of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue.
Practically all small concerns and a number of larger establishments,
unable to meet these conditions, therefore found installation of
machines impractical or impossible. To this group was added a
number of producers who felt that consumers would not knowingly
accept machine-made cigars, and who therefore hesitated to jeopard­
ize their established brand names in a new field. Consequently,

16 Fortune (Jersey City, N. J.), June 1930.
” 221 U. S. 106 (1911).
18 Machines are usually installed in batteries of not less than six, each machine having a rated capacity
up to 1 million cigars per year in one shift of operation. Overhead costs on the investment required wipes
out any advantages accruing to the mechanized methods of operation if machines are permitted to remain
4dle for considerable periods.



machines first found their way into a few large factories, and later
gradually spread through the industry as other large units became
convinced that machine-made cigars could be sold in competition
with the hand-made product.
In 1921 small-scale operation remained the more common type.
For example, of a total of 14,578 cigar-manufacturing establishments
in business that year, there were only 11 manufacturing more than
40 million cigars each per year, and these together produced but 15.7
percent of the total output of the industry. Nearly as important
collectively were 13,149 small establishments each manufacturing
less than one-half million cigars per year, who together produced 13.7
percent of the industry’s total. The greater part of all production,
70.6 percent, was contributed by the 1,418 factories each manufactur­
ing more than one-half million but less than 40 million cigars per
annum (table 20).
The shrinking market following 1920 and the sharp competition it
engendered made economies in manufacturing costs most important.
In this situation, the labor-cost savings offered by use of cigar machines
proved a decisive factor. But, as has been pointed out, because of
intrinsic limitations, these machines were installed in the larger fac­
tories only.
As a result, the smaller concerns, most of which could not be
mechanized, were at a competitive disadvantage and were forced to
bear the brunt of the market decline. As the market drop continued
and mechanization of large factories increased, smaller establishments
gradually assumed a subordinate position. Mortality among them
was high. In contrast, the largest establishments actually succeeded
in improving their positions.
Thus, in a period of 15 years the number and type of cigar-manu­
facturing establishments changed radically. By 1936 there were but
5,292 concerns in business, a reduction of over 60 percent from 1921.
The smallest establishments, those manufacturing less than one-half
million cigars each per year, now numbered 4,902 and produced 4.8
percent of the total number of cigars made. Those establishments
manufacturing more than one-half million but less than 40 million
cigars each per year, which in 1921 represented 70.6 percent of the
industry’s total production, had declined in number to but 363 and
contributed collectively but 38.6 percent of the industry’s production.
In contrast, the largest factories, those producing in excess of 40
million cigars each per year, during the same period increased in
number from 11 to 27 and produced 56.6 percent of all cigars made in
1936, as compared with 15.7 percent in 1921 (table 20).
A part of the reduction in the number of establishments and the
concentration of production in the larger of those remaining may be
attributed to the market decline. However, the major factor respon-



sible for these changes was mechanization. That mechanization
operated as an important influence, independently of the market
level, may be seen from the fact that, despite an increase in total pro­
duction of from 4.3 to 5.2 billion cigars between 1933 and 1936, the
number of cigar-manufacturing establishments decreased from 6,620
to 5,292, and production in factories with capacity in excess of 40
million cigars per year increased from 50.3 to 56.6 percent of the
industry’s total.1
Effects o f Mechanisation on Labor

Total Employment
Perhaps the most direct effect of mechanization has been a reduc­
tion in the size of the labor force required by the industry. Between
1921 and 1935 the number of workers employed by the industry was
reduced by half. The fall in the total volume of cigar production
during this period was responsible for a large share of this decrease.
The number of cigars produced by the industry in 1921 was 6.73
billions; in 1935 the number was 4.69 billions— a reduction of 30.3
percent.2 This would account for a corresponding percentage reduc­
tion in the labor force, equivalent to 34,000 workers, but leaves a
further decrease of 22,000 workers to be credited to other causes.
Though no accurate records are available, hours of labor decreased
substantially over the period 1921-35.2 It follows that improve­
ments in manufacturing techniques would have caused displacement
of even more than 22,000 workers had this effect not been in part
compensated by reductions in the average hours of labor.
W a g e ea rn ­

W a g e ea rn ­

e r s i n c ig a r

e r s i n c ig a r

m a n u fa c­

m a n u fa c ­

tu r e


1919_____________________________ 114,300
1921____________________________ 112,000
1923_____________________________ 108,800
1925_____________________________ 103,000
94, 600

tu re





1 Data are from Census of Manufactures.
The question may be approached in a slightly different way. For
each long-filler cigar machine the labor of about 4.59 persons is

19 Additional information on concentration of production may be found in “The Tobacco Study," Divi­
sion of Review, National Recovery Administration, Department of Commerce, March 1936, pp. 178-180
20 Annual reports of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue.
The Census of Manufactures in these early years reports a frequency distribution of workers in the
cigar and cigarette industries combined according to prevailing hours of labor. Howfever, prevailing hours
of labor in the cigar industry may or may not be closely correlated with actual man-hours worked. Even
today working hours in hand cigar plants are relatively flexible. More satisfactory information for later
years is available, but because of the uncertainty mentioned above, it has been deemed inadvisable to
attempt estimates of average change in hours of labor over the period.



required in the fabricating department of mechanized plants.2 An
average of 3,706 long-filler cigar machines in use was reported in
1935. On this basis, it is estimated that machine factories making
long-filler cigars employed about 17,000 workers in the fabricating
departments of their plants in 1935.
The results of the field survey also indicate that about 2.64 times
as many workers are required in the fabricating departments of
factories using hand methods as in plants using cigar machines to
make the same number of 5-cent long-filler cigars in the same time.2
It follows that to manufacture the same number of long-filler cigars
by hand as were made by machine in 1935 would have required about
44,900 workers (2.64 X 17,000), or some 27,900 more than it is esti­
mated were actually employed. This figure— 27,900— approximately
represents the hypothetical net displacement of workers from the
industry in 1935 by reason of the use of long-filler cigar machines,
always assuming the market could have been maintained despite
added costs entailed in hand operation.
The long-filler cigar machine, though the largest single influence,
has not been the only improvement in manufacturing techniques
causing displacement of labor from the industry. Mechanization of
manufacture of short-filler cigars must likewise have reduced the
number of workers employed. Similarly, increased use of stripping
machinery and conveyor equipment in factories must also have
eliminated the need for some human labor. No data are available
from which to estimate even approximately the number of workers
displaced by these mechanical improvements. However, combining
their effects with the effect of the long-filler machine, it probably
understates the case to say that, in the absence of improvements in
manufacturing techniques in the preceding two decades, 30,000 more
workers would have been required to make the number of cigars
produced by the industry in 1935.
Summarizing, it is estimated that the decrease in the volume of
production of cigars between 1921 and 1935 resulted in the displace­
ment of about 34,000 workers from the industry. A further displace­
ment of about 22,000 wage earners is attributed to improvements in
manufacturing techniques during the period. It is estimated that
this latter number would have been in excess of 30,000 workers had

22 An average of 9.55 hours of labor, including 8.32 hours of labor by machine operators, was found to be
required to produce 1,000 cigars by means of the 4-operator machine. Since 4 operators are required to
tend each machine, this represents 2.08 hours of machine operation. Therefore, the labor of 4.59 persons
is required to each cigar machine (9.55/2.08) (table 15).
23 It was found by the survey that to make 1,000 5-cent long-filler cigars required an average of 25.19 hours
of labor in the fabricating departments of a hand factory as compared with 9.55 hours in a plant using cigar
machines. Put in a slightly different way, this indicates that it would require the labor of 25.19 persons in
the fabricating department of a hand plant to make 1,000 5-cent long-filler cigars in 1 hour as compared with
the labor of 9.55 persons in a mechanized factory, or 2.64 times as many persons (table 15).



not reductions in the average hours of labor per wage earner in part
compensated for the effect of mechanization.
The actual character of displacement of men by cigar machines is
more complex than would be indicated by the totals given above.
Hand cigar makers have in general not been employed as cigarmachine operators. Machine operators have most commonly been
recruited directly from the ranks of unskilled labor, and many, if not
most, have had no previous experience in the cigar industry. Instal­
lation of each machine then has usually caused the induction into the
industry of a few new unskilled workers and the complete displace­
ment of a greater number of skilled hand cigar makers. It is esti­
mated that by 1935 about 44,000 such hand workers had been severed
from the industry because of use of long-filler cigar machines alone,
and, concurrently, that jobs had been provided for about 17,000 new
workers who were brought in to run the machines.2 The amounts
which would have to be added to these figures to account for the
effects of short-filler cigar machines cannot be calculated.
While the newly introduced workers have been in the main unskilled
young women, those displaced have been of both sexes and principally
in upper age groups. With a continuous diminution in the hand
branch of the industry, these displaced workers have seldom been able
to find other outlets for their skill within the industry. Moreover,
being accustomed to indoor work of a highly specialized nature, they
have had great difficulty in locating or in adapting themselves to
employment in other industries. Employment dislocations caused by
mechanization have therefore frequently caused great hardship and
distress among displaced workers.2

Type of Labor Employed by the Industry
In addition to reducing the number of workers employed by the
industry, mechanization has markedly changed the type of the labor
force. About three-quarters of all employees in a hand cigar factory
are cigar makers. These workers are skilled craftsmen who have
gone through an apprenticeship period, usually of several years’ dura­
tion, to acquire their skill. When a hand factory is mechanized, or is
forced out of business by concerns using cigar machines, these skilled
workers are replaced by machine operators classed as unskilled or
semiskilled labor, usually recruited directly from the ranks of unskilled
labor. As the industry has become mechanized, therefore, the labor

24 The records of the field survey show an average of 4.6 persons per machine required in the making de­
partments of plants using long-filler cigar machines. Multiplying by the number of machines in use in
1935 indicates about 17,000 workers in the fabricating departments of such plants in 1935. About 2.64 work­
ers are required in the making department of a hand plant to equal in output each person in the making
department of a plant using long-filler machines. It is therefore estimated that the 17,000 workers in ma­
chine plants replaced the labor of about 44,000 workers who would have been required in the making depart­
ments of hand plants to produce an equivalent output.
2fi For summary of a case study of this subject see Monthly Labor Review, May 1938 (p. 1120).



force has gradually changed from a group consisting largely of skilled
workers to one in which these workers form only a minority.
At the same time the distribution of employment between the sexes
has changed. Among hand cigar makers, prior to the introduction of
machines, both sexes were represented. A report to the convention
of the Cigar Makers’ International Union in 1920 indicated that, of
111,400 hand cigar makers, 50,375 or 45.2 percent were males. Cigarmachine operators on the other hand have always been almost exclu­
sively women.2 Therefore, as mechanization has spread the propor­
tion of males employed by the industry has steadily decreased.
A secondary effect applying to the hand branch of the industry may
also be traced to mechanization. A special Census of Manufactures
survey in 1933 indicated that of a total of 26,940 hand piece workers
(predominantly hand cigar makers) only 31 percent were males.
Comparison with the estimate of 45 percent in 1920 as given by the
Cigar Makers’ International Union indicates that there has been a
substantial decrease in the proportion of males employed by the
hand branch of the industry. This may be attributed to the diffi­
culties of this branch in competing with mechanized factories. As
hand production decreased and the amount of labor required was
reduced, manufacturers tended to retain the female cigar makers, who
in general were available at smaller rates of pay.

Organization o f Labor
Labor organization has had a long history in the cigar-manufacturing
industry. Local unions were reported as early as 1845. In 1886 the
Cigar Makers’ International Union played an important part in the
formation of the American Federation of Labor, and for many years
was one of the strongest bulwarks of that organization. Samuel
Gompers, long the president of the Federation, came from this union
and remained its vice president throughout his career.
The union was a craft organization of skilled hand cigar makers.
It laid great emphasis on sickness, unemployment, and death benefits
and on the value of the union label. It used the strike as an industrial
weapon very sparingly.
Mechanization has strongly affected the fortunes of this organiza­
tion. Since unskilled workers form the majority of all those employed
in mechanized factories, the union in general has not spread into such
concerns. As machines have been introduced into more and more
factories and the hand branch of the industry has become smaller,
the membership of the union and its influence have declined. In
1910 the union had in excess of 50,000 members. From 1920 to 1930—

26 A special study of the cigar-manufacturing industry made for the National Recovery Administration
by the Census of Manufactures of 1933 covered 12,001 machine piece workers, predominantly cigar-machine
operators. Of these all but 23 were women.



a decade of mechanization— the union membership dropped from
41,000 to about 15,000. The depression years following 1930 made
still further inroads into its membership, but an organization drive
during the National Recovery Administration brought it back to
about 15,000. Recently a number of local branches have been
abandoned in places where machine introduction has made the posi­
tion of the union untenable and the payment of unemployment benefits

Average annual earnings of workers in the cigar industry averaged
about $800 between 1921 and 1929. After 1929 they declined,
reaching a low of $551 in 1933. A slightly improved average of $598
recorded in 1935 was still below that for any other census year exclud­
ing 1933. The decline in the volume of production after 1920 and
especially after 1929 probably accounts for a large part of the decreases
shown (table 21).
Mechanization has acted as a mixed influence. Factories using
cigar machines, operating more economically than concerns using
hand methods, have not been under such pressure to reduce costs.
From a superficial examination it appears that wage and hour schedules
in most mechanized plants are relatively stable, and wages are not
markedly out of line with those paid by other industries in similar
localities for comparable types of labor.

T a b l e 21. —

A n n u a l p a y ro ll a n d a vera g e a n n u a l e a r n i n g s
m a n u fa c t u r i n g i n d u s t r y 1 9 2 1 - 3 5



p e r w o r k e r i n the

ciga r'


Annual pay Average annual
earnings per
worker 2
67, 220,000
46, 070, 000
30,060, 000
33, 503,000


1D a from C su o M
ata re
en s f anufactures.
*I. e., an u pay roll divided by num of w ers.
n al

In the hand branch of the industry, on the other hand, the con­
stantly increasing number of hand cigar makers displaced from the
industry and thrown on the labor market has created an oversupply
of such labor. No longer in a position to bargain through their union
for relatively high wages, many of these workers have been forced to
accept whatever wages were offered. With hand manufacturers in a
losing competitive struggle against mechanized concerns, these offers
have frequently been meager. Mechanization has thus exerted a con­
stantly depressing influence on wage rates in the hand branch of the



industry. For the industry as a whole, the probable net effect of
mechanization has been to force wage levels downward.
The influences cited above have resulted in an anomalous situation
in which hand cigar makers— skilled craftsmen— frequently receive
smaller rates of pay for their labor than machine operators— unskilled
or semiskilled workers—making the same class of cigars. This was
indicated to be true in 1933 by a special survey of the cigar-manu­
facturing industry made for the National Recovery Administration
by the Census of Manufactures, which showed that in different plants
the weekly earnings of female hand cigar makers making class A
cigars ranged from an average low of $8.90 to an average high of
$11.60, while those of female cigar-machine operators making class A
cigars ranged from $10.71 to $13.62.2 Again, a survey in March
1936 showed that in the industry as a whole female long-filler and
short-filler cigar-machine operators averaged 37 cents per hour, while
female “ out-and-out” hand cigar makers received 36 cents per hour,
female hand bunch makers 35 cents per hour, and female hand rollers
32 cents per hour.2
That the same influence operated in the plants covered by the pres­
ent survey may be seen from the following tabulation of average hourly
returns to hand cigar makers and cigar-machine operators found in
the different factories:

Average rates

Hand-made cigars, selling for—
Less than 5 cents each________________________________________________
5 cents each___________________________________________________________
Over 8 to 15 cents each_______________________________________ 36, 41,
Over 15 to 20 cents each_____________________________________________
Cigars bunched by machine and rolled by hand, selling for 5 cents each
Cigars made on 4-operator machines, selling for—
Less than 5 cents each___ ____________________________________________
5 cents each____________________________________________________ 36, 38,
Over 8 to 15 cents each____ __________________________________________
Cigars made on 2-operator short-filler machines, selling for less than
5 cents each__________________________________________________________ 30,

25, 26, 34
28, 33, 35
41, 43, 46
46, 52
32, 35
36, 39
38, 43, 43
35, 42, 48

Hours o f Labor
What effect, if any, mechanization has had on the general level of
hours of labor in the cigar-manufacturing industry is not clear. The
average length of the workweek appears to have decreased, but how
much of this may be attributed to increased use of machines is

27 Each manufacturer was asked to report the highest and lowest weekly wages paid in a scheduled week.
All high rates and all low rates were then combined separately into an average high and an average low for
the industry as a whole.
28 Monthly Labor Review, April 1937 (p. 957).



However, mechanization has had the unmistakable effect of tending
to stabilize work schedules. Hours of labor in factories making cigars
by hand, especially before the introduction of machines, were in
general somewhat informal. In a study of the industry in 1911 and
1912, conditions of work were described as follows:2
Many cigar-factory employees do not work all the hours the factory is open and
work afforded. The work is so largely individual in many factories that the
coming and going of employees does not interfere materially with the work of
others and expensive machinery does not stand idle when he is absent * * *
No cigar factory visited keeps regularly a record of the time worked by its piece

The situation described above does not obtain in mechanized units.
There definite plant hours are established and employees are required
to observe precise time schedules.
Mechanisation and the Future

As a prelude to the consideration of mechanization in the future,
the various types of concerns operating in the industry today should
be appraised.
In the hand branch, a number of small shops remain— concerns of
one or two workers depending on local demand or neighborhood trade
to dispose of their product. Such shops (called “ buckeyes” ), though a
common sight in our larger cities, are collectively of minor importance
compared with the industry as a whole. A few large and a number of
middle-sized concerns using hand methods remain. These factories
depend upon the quality appeal of the term “ hand-made” to counter­
balance the cost advantage possessed by mechanized producers. In
many cases, these* concerns specialize in the production of higherquality and higher-priced cigars. A third class of hand manufacturers,
small in number, specializes in the production of special orders, small
lots, and odd sizes or types of cigars. Because of the number of
mechanical adjustments required, the use of machines is naturally
not economical in this field.3
The fact that only 12 percent of all cigar production in 1936 con­
sisted of cigars selling at more than 5 cents apiece, while an estimated
15 percent of all production were long-filler hand-made cigars, indi­
cates that some of the lower-priced grades are still made by hand. It
is probable that any further displacement of hand by mechanized
methods will take place first in this field, perhaps later extending into
higher-priced classes.
The question as to the rate at which mechanization will spread
through the remainder of the hand branch of the industry— even

29 U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Bulletin No. 135.
30 The dies in a cigar machine must be changed and the machine readjusted whenever the size or shape of
cigar to be manufactured is changed.



whether there will be further significant mechanization— cannot be
definitely settled. Physically, there appears to be no bar to further
mechanization. Cigars made by machines are successfully marketed
today in all but the highest price classes, but this higher-quality group
constitutes but a minor fraction of total production. The total
volume of the “ special order” type of business, in which use of ma­
chines is not economical, must also be small. Thus these two fields
combined constitute but a small part of total cigar production.
Practically, the persistence of hand methods of manufacture on a
significant scale seems to rest on two factors. The first depends on the
selling appeal of the term “ hand-made.” As long as a group of con­
sumers prefer cigars of this type, concerns will use hand methods to
supply the demand. As has been suggested, this appeal is strongest
in the case of higher-priced cigars. However, the net effect must
depend in large part on the efforts, principally in the advertising field,
of manufacturers themselves— efforts which naturally cannot be
The second factor deals with the question of wages. The original
force impelling the industry toward mechanization was especially great
because relatively unskilled workers using machines could produce
more per hour than skilled and relatively well-paid hand cigar makers.
This wage relationship has changed. The oversupply of skilled hand
cigar makers on the labor market and the necessity on the part of many
to obtain work on any terms have permitted some hand manufacturers
to hire adequate numbers of these craftsmen at extremely low wage
rates—in many cases at levels below those prevailing for machine
operators in mechanized plants. Some hand manufacturers have thus
been able to reduce labor costs so far that the difference in cost result­
ing from differences in productivity has been offset in part or perhaps
in some cases completely by the extra costs entailed in using m a­
chines.3 However, this is a precarious position, and any influence
tending to reestablish wage differentials between hand cigar makers
and cigar-machine operators, or tending to raise wages in the indus­
try as a whole, would renew the drive to mechanization, though
probably not with its original force.
In summary, the rate at which further mechanization may be ex­
pected to take place will probably be slower than in the past,3 and will
depend on factors which may not readily be evaluated with accuracy.
In any case, mechanization of the cigar-manufacturing industry
has not much farther to go. Manufacture of long-filler cigars is about
three-quarters mechanized, and that of short-filler cigars perhaps to
8 F in ce, in
1 or stan
terest o ad ed investm pow lu
n d
er, brication rep irs an rep ir parts, d reciation
, a
d a
an royalties.

32 Since 1932 the number of long-filler cigar machines in place in the industry has been practically con­
stant. However, more efficient utilization of equipment or changes to multiple-shift operation still may
have resulted in increases in the proportion of machine-made to total production.



a greater degree. It does not seem, however, that a stable point has
yet been reached, and some further mechanization will probably take
place. The effects will probably be, in general, a continuation of
those previously noted.
There is also a change taking place in the very character of the
industry itself, a change which, though perhaps not directly caused
by mechanization, would be impossible without it.
Formerly the cigar-manufacturing industry was a relatively loose,
disorganized body. The typical establishment w'as small and sold its
product in a localized market. The keystone of the industry was a
group of craftsmen— skilled workers who made up the majority of all
wage earners employed.
Today, the most important units in the industry are large factories,
mechanized in every possible detail. These factories represent large
investments and are run on a mass-production basis with efficiency as
the watchword. The output of each of these units is huge, is dis­
tributed throughout the country, and is sold with the assistance of
modern Nation-wide advertising.3 Most of the workers in these
factories are relatively unskilled.
At the beginning of the century the “ Tobacco Trust” made deter­
mined attempts to obtain control of the cigar industry, without
success. Today, with mechanization, concentration of production in
the hands of fewer and larger concerns is taking place rapidly. Thus,
through mechanization, the cigar-manufacturing industry is being
transmuted from a small, localized form of enterprise to the status
of a modern, mass-production industry.

83 In 1934 the four largest cigar-manufacturing companies made 31.0 percent of all cigars produced, and
less than 30 companies made 53.6 percent. (See The Tobacco Study, Division of Review, National
Recovery Administration, Department of Commerce, March 1936, p. 180.)