A ring of paper wrapped around the top third of most cigars that contains information about the cigar, typically the name of the brand, country of origin, and indication that the cigar is hand-rolled. While legend says that Catherine the Great or Spanish nobles created the cigar band, seeking a way to keep their gloves from being stained, many credit Gustave Bock with pioneering the practice, creating the first cigar band in the 1830s. Others say Ramon Allones was the first brand to use cigar bands. Cigar bands were widespread in Cuba by 1855.
Many cigars today also have a secondary band (see photo) beneath the main band (typically denoting some type of special edition) and some have bands on the bottom, or foot, of the cigar. Very few are sold without bands today.
Many cigar bands have quite colorful graphics and often stunning lithography, which have made them popular collectors' items. In many folk tales, a cigar band served as a wedding band in impromptu ceremonies. For the record, it is equally appropriate to leave the band on while smoking a cigar or to remove it, as long as the cigar's wrapper leaf is not torn when the band is removed.