How Do I Get Started Collecting Vintage Cigars?

How Do I Get Started Collecting Vintage Cigars?
A cabinet of 500 Punch Coronas pre-dating the Cuban embargo.

A reader asks: "A person I know claims to have four pre-Revolution Cuban Davidoff Tubos and is trying to sell them to me. What are they worth, assuming they are still smokeable?"

We say you should put away your wallet, because those are counterfeit Cuban cigars he’s trying to sell. While Zino Davidoff was working with the Cuban cigar industry to make exclusive cigars before the Cuban Revolution, it was not until 1967 that he got permission to create a brand of cigars carrying the Davidoff name. The first Davidoff cigars were rolled in the famed El Laguito Factory and did not hit store shelves until 1969.

For those wishing to delve into the world of vintage Cuban cigars, this question brings up a great point: Do your research before you buy.

“If you’re going to buy cigars off somebody, you need to do your research,” says Ajay Patel, the proprietor of the Casa del Habano, Habanos S.A.’s official franchise for Cuban cigars, in Teddington, England and a leading expert on old cigars.

A good place to start boning up on Cuban cigars is Min Ron Nee’s book An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Post-Revolution Havana Cigars, a.k.a. The White Bible (the book is entirely white, save for the title.) This book is perhaps the most comprehensive guide on Cuban cigars, referencing everything from brands to packaging and tasting notes, all with stunning photography.

After doing your research, Patel says it’s important that you ask the seller as many questions as possible about the cigars.

“Ask questions like ‘How did they store cigars? How long have they had it? What temperature did they store the cigars?’” says Patel. He’s says to ask in a way that does not give the seller the answers, but rather forces them to prove their knowledge. “Let the seller give you the answer,” Patel said. “An ideal thing would be to see the picture of the cigar.” Or better yet, meet with the seller in person.

For more on vintage cigars, check out our Connoisseur’s Corner.