29 October 2014
A Cigar you can Bank on
Bankable cigars. I'm not even sure what that means. But it's patented and belonged to the N. N. Smith Company out of Frankfort, Indiana. In a recent research project in Lebanon, just down the road from Frankfort, I came across a handsome building near its courthouse square that had the company name engraved high above its entry.
I had never heard of the company before, and so I went googling, as I often do just to see what's out there while researching and suddenly a number of photos of old cigar boxes popped up. Mr. Noah Smith's "bankable cigar" was patented in 1917. He built a cigar manufacturing facility in Frankfort in 1919, "the Bankable Building", and then expanded with a second building, remarkably similar to his Frankfort plant, in Lebanon in about 1926. The production capacity of the company reached 125,000 cigars daily. That just seems crazy.
Smith sold his interest to an intermediate manufacturer, until it was sold again to a firm known as the National Cigar Company in 1943. That company began production of a few cigar lines with names tied to Indiana including the "Lincoln Highway" and the "Hoosier Poet" which featured James Whitcomb Riley on the box. The company still exists in Frankfort, running production out of the old Bankable Building: http://www.broadleafcigars.com/tour.htm.
I can't help but think of my grandpa and the smell of cigar smoke writing this one.