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Cigars: Don Francisco E. Fonseca Created His Brand in 1905

Don Francisco E. Fonseca was born in 1869 in Manzanillo, Cuba, and established a factory and his own cigar brand in Havana in 1892, registering the brand bearing his name in 1907. Fonseca and his wife Teresa Boetticher de Fonseca immigrated to New York and by 1903, Fonseca was operating a factory at 169 Front Street.

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He became an American citizen in 1895 and by 1905 the registry of cigar factories lists F.E. Fonseca & Co. in a new location: 129 Duane Street. In New York, at his home at 48 West 73rd St., he and Teresa raised four children-—three of whom he named Francisco! Fonseca made frequent trips to Cuba, where he supervised “F.E. Fonseca. Fábrica de Tabacos y Cigarros”. His business stationary reflects his double loyalty, depicting both the Statue of Liberty and the Morro, Havana.

Fonseca cigars quickly became a success and Don Francisco was responsible for innovative practices such as wrapping his cigars in fine Japanese tissue paper (as they still are today) and packaging cigars in tin tubes (today’s tubes are usually made with aluminum). His wife Doña Teresa continued the business after Don Francisco’s premature death in Havana of a heart attack in 1929, and merged the brand with T. Castañeda and G. Montero to form the firm of Castañeda, Montero, Fonseca SA.

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Production continued uninterrupted after the revolution and the cigars are still produced at the Lázaro Pena Factory in Havana. As a cigar brand, Fonseca is relatively mild by most aficionados’ standards, sells for cheaper than most other Cuban cigar brands, and is marketed mostly in Spain and Canada, where the brand is particularly popular.

Cosaco – 53⁄8″ × 42  Cosaco, a corona
Delicia – 47⁄8″ × 40  Standard, a petit corona
No. 1 – 63⁄8″ × 44 Cazador, a lonsdale
KDT Cadete – 41⁄2″ × 36  Cadete, a short panetela

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