A European immigrant to Cuba named Gustave Bock is credited with the invention of the cigar band in the 1830s. Within two decades, banding of cigars exported from Havana became almost universal. (source Wikipedia) He ordered paper rings with his signature on them. He placed the cigar bands on every cigar intended for export to Europe. In this way, an indication of quality and prestige would be lent to Bock’s products.
This is the modern formation of the cigar band. There are historical references to it ranging from Russian Tsaritsa Catherine the Great took cigars wrapped in silk so as not to stain her fingers, with members of her court beginning to wrap cigars in fabric bands in emulation of the queen to British exported cigars having somewhat of a band to keep their white gloves clean.
However in all other references, only Gustave Bock created a cigar band with the modern intention of helping to promote a cigar brand.
Cigar bands collectors value their cigar bands, in fact there is a small industry of collecting them then selling the bands on the cigars, with some people reporting that out of each box they buy, they get a free cigar in terms of recouped revenue from the sale of the bands. Though the amount varies based on demand and overall quality of the bands. With historical bands of course having a higher carrying value.
The bands themselves allow for some innovation almost on par with the cigar itself. Today cigar bands have traditional look and feel to ones that come with QR codes that allow you to read up on more information regarding the cigar brand or even to automatically tweet a quick review. They allow for the creator of the cigar to put the “final touch” on their cigar brand.
This allows for a ton of potential uses, from a humidor that automatically tracks inventory based on reading the band on a cigar to the above listed automatic scan to review on twitter or facebook. However the best use of a cigar band is still the same reason Gustave Bock created it, it’s to make sure that everyone knows their cigar product is of the highest quality.