On this stand, you can see the model of a cigarette-making machine from 1990. Machines of this type were used at the Roth-Händle firm in Lahr to make twelve thousand cigarettes a minute.
But it’s not just about what’s inside a cigarette – the packaging is also important. The display cases on the wall show cigarette packets from various countries. Brand names like West, Peter Stuyvesant, Lasso and Bali suggest a yearning for the exotic and for faraway lands. Packaging that conveys the romance of the Wild West, or shows palm trees and plenty of gold, bolsters this dream of adventure. It’s hard to think of another product into which advertising experts have put as much effort as they’ve invested into cigarette marketing. Nor was it just about selling the cigarettes themselves. As promotional gifts, they were even meant to encourage people to consume other products. Take a look at the second glass case from the right. The packets on display in the bottom row were handed out as free gifts by various firms. These days, we simply can’t imagine a company that makes washing powder handing out packs of cigarettes as promotional gifts.
In the free-standing display cases, you’ll find probably the best known products of Baden’s local cigarette industry: the Reval and Roth-Händle brands. The most striking feature of the Roth Händle brand is the Black Hand on the packaging.
Originally, the Black Hand was the trademark of the government-owned Kaiserliche Tabakmanufaktur – the Imperial Tobacco Manufactory in Strasbourg. It was already established as a signature feature of cigarettes made from dark tobacco in France. When the Imperial Tobacco Manufactory missed the deadline to renew its trademark at the commercial registry, Jules Schaller took advantage of the opportunity. In those days, Schaller was a rival cigarette manufacturer in Strasbourg, and later in Lahr. He secured the famous trademark for his own brand, Roth-Händle. From then on, the Black Hand adorned the packaging of the cigarette from Baden. Despite going to court over the matter, the Imperial Tobacco Manufactory never regained its trademark.
Have you noticed the large glass tube just before you reach the exit? You’re looking at a world record right there. Martin Gässler from Mahlberg took 39 kilogrammes or 86 pounds of tobacco and made this cigarette, which is 3.74 metres or almost 148 inches long. His effort made it into the Guinness Book of Records in 1986 and is still regarded as the world’s largest cigarette.
To continue our tour, please cross the outdoor area and enter the tobacco barn above where we are now. In the old days, that’s where they dried, or cured, the tobacco.
All depictions: © Oberrheinisches Tabakmuseum Mahlberg