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    George Arents, "Early Literature of Tobacco," privately printed for distribution at The Library

of Congress, 1938. In April 1938 the Books, Manuscripts and Drawings Relating to Tobacco from the collection of Arents were on exhibition at the Library of Congress.

1607: Jamestown

Though fitful attempts had been made before, the lasting "plantation" of English culture in the Americas starts here. The first permanent English colony was established in 1607, when the Virginia Company landed another ill-prepared group of adventurers in Jamestown. This sad colony--wracked by malaria epidemics, Indian attacks, intrique, laziness, torture, starvation and goulish cannibalism--could well have failed also, but was arguably saved not just by Pocahontas, but by her husband John Rolfe's cultivation of the desperate colony's only substantial resource: tobacco.

Without the success of Jamestown, the dominant culture south and west of New England could well be Spanish.

For more details, read the History of Jamestown

1847: LONDON: Philip Morris Opens Shop; sells hand-rolled Turkish cigarettes.

1880: Bonsack Machine is awarded patent

1880: 21-year-old Virginian James Albert Bonsack is granted a patent for his cigarette-rolling machine.

The cigarette market was small then; cigarettes were expensive and hand-rolled by the cigarette girls. Most manufacturers didn't see a use for that many cigarettes.

The Bonsack machine had been seen and discarded by the established cigarette manufacturers. In 1883, 27-year-old Buck Duke leased the Bonsack machine on a favored contract. By 1887, once Duke and Bonsack's mechanics had finished tinkering with it, it was capable of reliably rolling 120,000 cigarettes in 10 hours.

This not only takes the cigarette business out of the hands of the cigarette girls, it means that cigarettes can be made cheaply enough to satisfy a mass market.


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