Key factors in determining the value of cigars
Picture this: As a claims adjuster, a new claim arrives on your desk. When you go to the well-to-do home of the insured, you quickly realize that there are going to be some valuable items that need to be valued. Indeed, the insured is an avid collector of cigars whose entire water damaged basement has been converted to contain a vast collection of cigars of over 300 cigars and various accessories. Are you familiar enough with the evaluation of cigars to complete this statement?
What’s inside and outside
A cigar is made up of dried and fermented tobacco leaves called a filler and held together by an additional tobacco leaf called a wrapper. Usually the garnish of a cigar matches the wrapper, but there are many instances where different types of tobacco leaves are used in a cigar. The packaging is distinguished by both tobacco type and color, while the filler is identifiable by the type of tobacco and, therefore, the flavor. Handcrafted cigars are formed when the wrapper leaves are shaped by crescent shaped knives called chavetas which are also used to wrap full wraps of filling. This is a slow and painstaking process throughout which the tobacco leaves are kept moist and continually inspected for quality. This process varies when a cigar is machine made. The filler tobacco is chopped more coarsely and the wrappers are usually paper made from tobacco pulp instead of pure tobacco leaf. Part of what makes hand-rolled cigars so desirable is their careful creation over machine-made cigars.
The most important distinctions to note between cigars are their shape and size. Parejo cigars, also known as crowns, are traditional: circular, straight, and open at one end. The other end of a parejo is a rounded cap made from a tobacco leaf cut so that it can be smoked. There are many types of parejo cigars, but they all look the same in general. Figurados are irregularly shaped cigars. Figurados are often considered more valuable than parejo cigars and come in countless shapes and sizes. Small cigars are usually the size of a cigarette and have filters. Little cigars are smoked like regular cigars, but can be packaged to be sold compactly.
All of these cigar traits play a role in determining a cigar’s worth, but there is a much easier way to assess it. One need only look at the cigar ring – a decorative paper or aluminum ring around almost every cigar – to see the name of the manufacturer and, if available, the specific name of the cigar and the country of manufacture. Cigar bands are very useful in determining the value of a cigar, but cigar boxes are even better. If the cigars that are the subject of a claim are in their correct cigar box, it is sufficient to refer to the name of the manufacturer, the name of the cigar and the country of manufacture in order to properly assess.
When you dive into the cigar world, there are a few other accessory items that may require appraisal besides the cigars themselves.
Cigar cutters are portable and sharp, used to cut the ends of cigars. The straight cut cigar cutter has two small handles and a circular hole with one or two blades that can simultaneously cut a cigar end. There are also cigar scissors that cut off the tip like a regular pair of scissors. Punch style cutters come punch, where a small, bullet-shaped device unscrews to show a circular blade that pierces a hole in the cigar cap, as well as the Havana punch, where the circular blade is operated by a button. -pusher. Multi-punch knives offer different blade sizes and V-cut knives look like straight knives but only score the end of the cigar.
Another valuable accessory is cigar tubes. They are used to normally carry one to five “fingers” of cigars; a “finger” being the term used to describe the space of a cigar in a tube or cigar case. These tubes are typically made of stainless steel and can keep valuable cigars at the proper temperature and humidity for an ideal storage environment for up to a few hours.
An alternative to the cigar tube is the cigar case – a carrying case, often made of leather, used to store cigars efficiently, but not at an exact temperature or humidity. Like cigar tubes, cases can also be typically found in sizes from one to five fingers.
Cigar holders are also called cigar holders and look like small vertical rods with a long, semicircular tray set horizontally on top. A cigar can be placed on the tray, while the stand is perched on an ashtray so that the cigar does not have to touch it.
Cigar boxes were traditionally, and often still are, decorated to be small works of art and can hold different amounts of cigars depending on size and style. As mentioned earlier, these boxes contain important information in determining the value of a cigar, such as the name and location of the manufacturer, as well as the specific name of the cigar.
Finally, cigar humidors store precious cigars, ensuring their freshness before the cigars are smoked. Humidifiers can vary in size from a small cigar box to an entire room in a home. Humidifiers, along with their built-in humidifiers, keep cigars at an ideal humidity of 68-74% and a temperature of 64 degrees Fahrenheit. Humidifiers typically contain a plastic or metal humidifier case that contains a sponge that regulates humidity in the box, although newer models may have acrylic polymer humidifiers instead. Humidifiers can also have hygrometers that measure humidity.
As you can see, although the evaluation of a cigar may simply require that you record the information on the cigar’s ring, there are several aspects that should be taken into account when considering their accessories. It is always helpful to have a cigar ring or box handy for specific information. However, the more information there is about cigars and their garnishes, the easier it is to evaluate them under all circumstances.
The key value factors determine the value of any cigar or cigar box:
- Cigar ring or box information, if available, including name and manufacturer.
- The place of purchase, if known.
All cigar accessories can be valued based on the following key value factors:
- The type of accessory.
- Material, such as wood or type of metal.
- Brand name and model number, if applicable.
- Accessory design, including measurements.
- Any special features, such as type of humidifier, cigar capacity, etc.
Cigars of different sizes
Parejo or Corona
Parejos are the most common form of cigar. They have cylindrical bodies with straight sides. One end is left open and the other is closed with what is called a cap. They come in different lengths and widths, with associated types such as robusto, petit panatela, petit corona, carlota, carona gorda, panatela and others. These vary in length from about four to six inches. From six inches and up you have toro, corona grande, lonsdale, Churchill, double corona, presidente, gran corona and others.
Figurados are irregularly shaped cigars and are generally a bit more expensive due to the difficult nature of rolling a figurado. Most of the time, figurados are also made with parejos in the same line of cigars, although sometimes companies produce special figurados with limited availability. Additionally, some companies create cigars that do not fit any of the descriptions below. Cigars shaped like soccer balls, baseball bats, chili peppers, and other random shapes would be considered figurados. Some of the most popular include:
- Torpedo – Similar to a parejo but has a pointed hood.
- Pyramid – Also has a pointy hood, as well as a wide foot.
- Perfecto – A bulge in the middle and a narrowing at both ends.
- Presidente / Diadema – Extremely large cigar, but often in common shape.
- Culebras – Three long cigars tied or braided together.
- Tuscany – The typical Italian cigar is also known as a cheroot. It is one of the most popular forms of cigars in the United States.
Another class of smoke is called “little” cigars and they are exactly what their name suggests. Little cigars are often called cigarillos and are about the size of a cigarette.
Due to the 1960 Cuban embargo imposed by then-President John F. Kennedy, it was illegal for Americans to buy Cuban cigars, even though they are traditionally the most sought after. In 2014, President Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro began the process of normalizing relations, and almost a year later, the two countries agreed to allow more than 100 flights a day. As of this writing, Cuban cigars are no longer illegal in the United States if purchased in Cuba and brought home for personal use. There is a purchase restriction of $ 100 of tobacco (and alcohol) which represents an average of 4 to 6 cigars.
Scott Lacourse is a Principal at Enservio, www.enservio.com, a provider of content claims software, payment solutions, inventory and valuation services for real estate insurers.