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Cigars/Fabrica de Tabocos H Upmann Humidor

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Question
Hello

We have come across my grandfather's, possibly great grandfather's H Upmann cigar barrel, which I assume is an humidor, with 50 habana coronas in it. It is a glass barrel, approx 8 inches high with a leather strap over the lid (marked H.Upmann), which is kept in place by a 3-armed metal clasp.  There is a red label on the lid 'nature seasoned cigars' and 'please close . . . . after extraction . . . . and cigars will taste exactly as in havana'.  There is also a red label on the side with gold detail and black type saying 'coronas claro hand made 50'  The lid has a cork 'seal' and the barrel itself is lined with wood, printed with 'H Upmann Habana Coronas Made in Havana Cuba'.   The 'barrel' has a green seal, 'warranty for cigars exported from havana' on it, with a date 'Ley De Julio 16/1912'.  Unfortunately the seal is broken but the cigars are still inside - they appear quite dry.

What is this, can you give me an idea of date and what we should do with them - ie try and revive them (if so how) and would they be of interest to a collector?

Answer
Hi Charles,

The H. Upmann Corona glass jar was originally produced in the early 1960's and sold all the way up to the early 1980's before the jar was discontinued.  Unfortunately, because the cigars were produced before the mid 1980's, there is no way to identify the production date.  Cubatabaco/Habanos did not mark their cigars with a date/factory code until the mid 1980's.  It's possible the retailer marked the jar with a receiving date but this doesn't always happen.

This glass jar originally came in a plain cardboard box with an Upmann label on the side.  If you still have the box, it may give you an idea of when the cigars were produced.  If the cardboard box or jar has an oval stamp that reads "MADE IN HAVANA-CUBA", it would indicate that the cigars were made before 1960. If the box/jar is stamped with "HECHO EN CUBA", it would mean the box was produced after 1962.  The original retailer may also have marked the box with a receiving date when he received the cigars.

This is an incredible find so I would recommend that you try to restore them.  Before rehydrating your cigars, the first thing you should do is visually inspect the cigars for signs of mold or small holes (caused by tobacco beetles).  Any cigars with mold or tobacco beetle holes must be discarded as they can make you sick if you smoke them.  Also, because the cigars are extremely dry, it's best that you handle them as delicately as possible.  The slightest pressure from your fingertips can actually crack/split the cigars so be very gentle with them until they are fully restored.

To restore your cigars, the cigars should be placed in a humidor, humi-pouch (available at most cigar stores) or closeable container (but not airtight) at the ideal humidor conditions (65-70% humidity, 70 degrees Fahrenheit).  You can leave the cigars in the jar but it's best to delicately remove them and lay them flat inside a humidor or cigar box during this revival process.  Let the cigars sit in this humidor environment for at least 4-6 weeks but be sure to monitor the cigars closely every 2-3 days to make sure that there is no mold appearing.  If the cigars begin to crack or split from swelling, immediately reduce the humidity level.  The humidification device (available at most cigar stores/tobacconists) should only use distilled water and you must add more water whenever the humidification device begins to dry out.  To monitor the humidity level, use either a digital or analog hygrometer (also available at most cigar stores). A digital hygrometer is recommended because it is more accurate and user-friendly than an analog hygrometer.  It is important that you do not let the humidity in your humidor/container exceed 75% as this could cause cigar mold to appear.  The humidor temperature must also not exceed 75 degrees Fahrenheit as it could incubate any unhatched tobacco beetle eggs potential embedded inside your cigars (this is a common occurence).

After 4 weeks of humidification, all your cigars should be fully hydrated and you will be able to safely handle them.  If you are not in a rush to smoke these cigars, continue to let them sit at 70/70 (70% humidity, 70 degrees Fahrenheit).  At this point, you can keep the cigars in a humidor or return them to the jar.  Your local cigar store will have a variety of storage and humidification options for your cigars so how you store them is entirely up to you.

I hope this helps! If you have any more questions, please feel free to just ask and I will be happy to help.

Regards,
James

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James Yee

Expertise

My main area of expertise is Cuban cigars and I can assist you if you have questions pertaining to Cuban cigars. I can also assist you with the following:

- General cigar-related questions and advice
- Humidor maintenance and troubleshooting (How to treat humidor mold, correct high/low humidity, humidor seasoning, etc.)
- Accessory maintenance and troubleshooting (Cigar cutters, hygrometers, humidifiers, etc.)
- Cigar restoration, preservation and troubleshooting (How to treat cigar mold/tobacco beetles, restoring vintage/dry cigars, etc.)
- Cigar/Brand identification
- Cigar etiquette

Unsure of a certain cigar brand? Wondering what a certain cigar tastes like? Have a question about Cuban cigars? Having problems with a humidor or Just let me know! I have smoked every brand of Cuban cigars and most reputable non-Cuban cigar brands on a regular basis so I know a fair bit about taste profiles, cigar etiquette and other fine nuances to cigar smoking. (NOTE: My main focus is on premium, hand-rolled cigars and not cheap, machine made, convenience store cigars.) IMPORTANT: PLEASE NOTE THAT I DO NOT PROVIDE CIGAR OR CIGAR-RELATED APPRAISALS. If you have a vintage cigar item and you want to know if it's worth something, please contact an antique dealer that specializes in "TOBACCIANA".

Experience

I currently have 19 dedicated years of cigar smoking and counting. I have smoked every brand of Cuban cigars and most reputable non-Cuban cigar brands on a regular basis so I know a fair bit about taste profiles, cigar etiquette and other fine nuances to cigar smoking. For 5 years, I studied with Cuban torcedores (rollers), catadores (taste testers) and revisadores (inspectors) on every aspect involving the production of the Cuban cigar and I am currently writing a book that will help beginners understand everything they need to know about cigars and cigar smoking.

Publications
Maple Leaf Gardens: Memories & Dreams 1931-1999 (1999; ISBN: 0920445616)
50 Things Every Guy Should Know How To Do (2006; ISBN: 0452286654)
The [London] Times (October 8, 2009)


Education/Credentials
B.A. University of Toronto

Awards and Honors
Allexperts Top 25 Shortest Average Response Time: 2008-2009
Highest Rank:
- 2008 - 6th Overall, July
- 2009 - 10th Overall, February

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