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  #1  
Old 06-23-2010, 02:12 PM
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Jon Canfield
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Default Mono Cigarettes - An Intrispective Look at the Brand and its' History

I've recently written an article on Mono Cigarettes for the Cigarette Pack Collector's Association's quarterly publication - Brandstand. The article is focused on the brand, itself, as opposed to T217s. Since I would venture to say many board member's are not members of the association and will not read the publication, I wanted to post a draft of the article here for everyone's enjoyment (and corrections or additions). I also want to thank Joe Parker, Jim Shaw, Harvey Golstein, and Mark Macrae for all of their help in completing the article.


*The box belongs to a private collector

Mono “Turkish Blend” Cigarettes is a brand of cigarettes that many readers of the Brandstand have likely never seen or even heard of – and for good reason. It is not every day that you come across a product that, even with the collective knowledge, research material, and reference libraries of some of the most advance and experienced collectors in field, so little is known or has been documented about the brand. But this is exactly the case with Mono Cigarettes. In fact, had it not been for the issuance of “200 Portraits Selected from Leading Actresses and Base Ball Players” in 1910-11, later given the designation T217 by Jefferson Burdick in the American Card Catalog, Mono Cigarettes may have become another brand name that, as Carl Clawson so eloquently describes in his “Comprehensive Listing of United States Cigarette Merchants, Brand Names and Factory Numbers,” disappeared without a trace into the mists of time.

Prior to beginning my research on this product, virtually nothing was known about the brand, its manufacturer, where it was produced, or for how long. It had been believed Mono Cigarettes was a regional brand, issued on the pacific coast (since all 25 baseball players represented in the T217 set were from teams in the Pacific Coast League in 1911) in at least the 1910-11 era (the date of the T217 set issuance.) The card backs do not identify any factory numbers, district codes, or state of manufacture. Even after tracking down a surviving box of Mono Cigarettes, the packaging, itself, did not want to give up its secrets easily. Printed on the side of the box is only “Factory 296, District 1.” No manufacturer or other information is given. Using this scintilla of evidence as a starting point in my research, I began searching for a Factory 296, 1st District.

Although unclear when production may have began, by 1905 Charles Voigt (or Voight) of Philadelphia was manufacturing cigars (and possibly cigarettes) out of Factory 296, 1st District of Pennsylvania. The operation ran until at least 1919. While Voight’s operation was the correct period for the manufacturing of Mono Cigarettes, Pennsylvania struck me as an unlikely state for the facility to be located. In addition to Voight, Herman Stein of Lancaster, Pennsylvania was operating out of Factory 296, 1st District of Pennsylvania in 1924, 1926, and 1927. Stein’s operation was clearly the incorrect time period (although there are records of Stein operating as early as 1913, but the factory number would have been different as Lancaster would still have been the 9th District of Pennsylvania in 1913), and again, Pennsylvania seemed an unlikely location. Also, Eeiny Mitchell was operating out of Factory 296, 1st District of Massachusetts in Cambridge in 1930, but as with Voight and Stein, Mitchell’s operation did not fit the bill. The only other record of a Factory 296, 1st District that could be located was Factory 296, 1st District of California, but no manufacturer was listed - only that they manufactured Turkish Rose Cigarettes, circa 1910. This was encouraging – a Factory 296, 1st District of California that was producing cigarettes circa 1910. I was cautiously optimistic the mystery of Mono Cigarettes was one step closer to being solved. And, while Joe Giesenhagen had identified E.S. Goulston & Co. as the manufacturer of Mono Cigarettes in his book “The Collector's Guide to Vintage Cigarette Packs,” I was not entirely convinced this information was correct since Goulston was based in Boston, Massachusetts.

After tracking down a Turkish Rose Cigarettes box, my hopes of discovering the “likely” manufacturer of Mono Cigarettes hit a roadblock, as, like Mono, the Turkish Rose box listed no manufacturer. However the box, complete with a 1910 tax stamp, was produced at Factory 296, 1st District of California, and given the similarity to Mono Cigarettes in that the manufacturer was absent from the packaging, lent more credence to my belief that Monos were indeed produced in California. But indeed, I was no closer to discovering the manufacturer. While leads were running slim, the March 1909 issue of “The Trow Copartnership and Corporation Directory of the Borough of Manhattan and the Bronx” does list a trade name of “Mono Cigarette Co.” registered to a Douglas Burrelle and Robert Paris. Could these be the owners of Mono Cigarettes – a brand being produced in California? Could The Mono Cigarette Co. be a distribution company or the corporate headquarters of the manufacturer that produced Mono Cigarettes? Here is where the leads run dry and alas, I am left without finality. I have been unable to discover more about Mono Cigarettes, Factory 296, 1st District of California, Turkish Rose Cigarettes, The Mono Cigarette Co., or Burrelle and Paris. My hope is that this article may help spur some additional information coming to light.

Turning now to the packaging, itself, Mono cigarette boxes are burnt red in color and depict a Turkish-style militiaman on the front, likely keeping with the “Turkish Blend” theme advertised on the card backs. The boxes are a slide and shell configuration of normal size, with 10 cigarettes to the pack, and were sold for 5¢ a box (as also evidenced by the back of the cards).

The cards (identified in the American Card Catalog as T217s), issued on the pacific coast between 1910 and 1911, are one of the rarest sets of tobacco cards produced. A total of 200 subjects are identified as being in the set, 25 of which are baseball players, and the balance being actresses. Of the 25 baseball players, there are only 23 different subjects represented (as two subjects are duplicated) from each of the six Pacific Coast League teams. However, 12 of the 23 subjects depicted are from the Los Angeles team, possibly indicating that Los Angeles was the centralized distribution area of the brand. This is purely conjecture, however, as there could be other reasons for such a disproportionate amount of Los Angeles players depicted.

Although T217’s share a modicum of size (1 7/16 x 2 9/16), geography of distribution, and time period of distribution with Obaks, a series of Pacific Coast League “sets” issued between 1909 and 1911, T217’s are vastly different from Obaks in both rarity and appearance. The cards feature black and white photos on the front surrounded by a white frame. Also, there is possibly as little as 400 total T217 cards still in existence, in contrast to the thousands of Obak cards that survive to present day. From the discovery of a complete Mono cigarette box with an original T217 still inside, we know that the cards were inserted into the front of the slide and shell box, with the back of the card in direct contact with the cigarettes. Accordingly, T217s can be found with tobacco staining and cigarette imprints on their reverse.

So, where does that leave us today? There is no question that Mono Cigarettes is an exceedingly rare brand, which is only further highlighted by the rarity of T217s. It was most likely produced at Factory 296, 1st District of California and distributed (probably exclusively) on the pacific coast for a few short years – with distribution likely centered around Los Angeles. Beyond these hypotheses, not much more is known about this still reclusive brand.
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Last edited by canjond; 06-23-2010 at 02:16 PM.
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  #2  
Old 06-23-2010, 02:23 PM
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Default great write up

Jon- Great write up. Thanks for sharing....Joe P would have been proud too!!
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  #3  
Old 06-23-2010, 02:30 PM
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Leon - thanks for the kind words and I agree completely. I wish Joe would have been around to read it.
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Old 06-23-2010, 02:56 PM
FrankWakefield FrankWakefield is offline
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Great, Jon. Thanks for posting it here.
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  #5  
Old 06-23-2010, 02:57 PM
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Default Jon

I love the article!
the way you encase the piece in the mystery of Mono is a great literary device: beginning with Clawson's 'disappeared into the mists of time' and
ending with Mono's being called 'the reclusive brand'.
And between these two great images is the actual detective work with your important departure from the Giesenhagen contention and your discovery of the groundbreaking 'Burrelle and Paris as owners' piece of the puzzle.
congratulations, a job well done.
best,
barry
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  #6  
Old 06-23-2010, 04:16 PM
ptowncoug3012 ptowncoug3012 is offline
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Default Good article!

I was hoping the rarity and the condition of my Mono in Goodwin's auction would bring a higher return. GW devoted an entire page to it, which I thought was outstanding. Maybe it was just timing, particularly after REA's auction after everyone had blown the collection wad
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Old 06-23-2010, 06:54 PM
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Default Mono

Hi Jon,
Nice article - best anyone's done yet. I have a question. In a T206 thread I believe you stated that in 1908 or so it became a requirement for all cigarette pack inserts to be identified by the brand and by the factory number. If this is correct, any thoughts as to why there is no factory number on the T217's?
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Old 06-23-2010, 08:33 PM
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Great work, Jon.

The revenue collector's main office for California's Revenue District Number 1 was located in San Francisco. Los Angeles was home base for Revenue District Number 6. The only other active revenue district number in California at the time was District Number 4, headquartered in Sacramento. Broadly estimating, I'd guess your Mono manufacturer was located in Central California, probably San Francisco or Oakland, despite the preponderance of LA subjects in T217.
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Old 06-23-2010, 08:47 PM
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Ron,

The requirement to put factory and revenue district information on tobacco inserts was, at the latest, promulgated by August 1, 1907. The Commissioner of Internal Revenue periodically revised their published regulations on the various aspects of the tobacco trade. The first I've seen the requirement is in the regulations as of 8/1/1907, but they may actually have been promulgated earlier. The repeal of the ban on inserts (i.e. cards) in tobacco packages was passed by Congress on July 1, 1902. So sometime between those dates the regs came into effect.

You raise an excellent point about Monos not bearing the factory and district information. It's made me wonder whether they might have been point-of-sale giveaways rather than actually packaged with the product. The federal law is extremely clear on the requirement, and there were heavy penalties (fines and forfeiture of all the offending product) for violation. It doesn't mean they weren't ignoring the law anyway, but to me that would suggest they were a very small operation, because they'd be the kind to try to get away with it.

Last edited by jimonym; 06-23-2010 at 08:50 PM.
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Old 06-23-2010, 09:05 PM
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Jamie - thanks for providing the info. That being said, I can confirm with almost 100% certainty that Mono's were not a point of sale giveaway. As you may recall, Lew came across a Mono pack in the mid-1980's that had it's original T217 still stuck inside. The card was packaged in the front of the cigarette packs with the back of the card in direct contact with the cigarettes. The back of some Mono's display extensive tobacco staining as well.
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  #11  
Old 06-23-2010, 09:08 PM
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Adding to my post above, the my belief is that the manufacturer of Mono was probably a small time company that more or less skirted the law and did not comply.

I also agree with you assessment of the manufacturer being located in San Fran or Oakland. However, I still would venture to guess that the majority of Mono smokers may have been located in the L.A. area and so Mono had the greatest distribution in that area.
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Last edited by canjond; 06-23-2010 at 09:10 PM.
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Old 06-23-2010, 10:45 PM
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Default Mono

Why would a small company risk a huge fine and forfeiture of product when it would have been a simple matter to add the Factory number? Just because they are small would not be a reason to try and skirt the law.

Perhaps we can speculate that they were not aware of the law, and perhaps were caught violating it. That might explain why this brand is so rare and the cards few.
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Old 06-24-2010, 08:07 AM
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Excellent article-thanks Jon for sharing it.

Any possibility they never made it to market and were merely a "dry run" and only done in house? I could see that and then if marketed they would have added the factory information to the finished product. Whatever testing they were doing ended or failed and then whatever was left could have been sold under the table.

Interesting that Mono is not in quotes; I recall Ted Z's insight into the use of same on Coupon and another brand or two while trademark was being secured.

What a difference 100 years makes in the business world. Two clicks and you have a wealth of information about any recent company in the world these days!
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Old 06-24-2010, 04:35 PM
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Excellent article Jon!! Thank you for sharing this with us,I have learned alot from it.

Sincerely,Clayton
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  #15  
Old 06-25-2010, 10:15 AM
Troy Kirk Troy Kirk is offline
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Very nice article and great replies, too. I am interested in the actresses in this set. I have my doubts that there are 175 actress cards since these are seldom seen. It might be that there are really 25 baseball players and 25 actresses and the 200 number might not be valid at all, like T205 with 400 subjects listed. The actresses are unidentified on the cards, too, making it even more difficult to pin down a number on them. I'm going to start a picture checklist of these on my Moviecard.com website. I have 6 to start with. If anyone has any more scans, send them over and I'll post them so maybe we can see what is out there for the actresses. I'm not even sure these are really actresses since they are unidentified.
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