Henry Clay (cigar)

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A 1905 advertisement.

Henry Clay is a brand of cigars named after early American politician Henry Clay (1777-1852).[1] The cigars are currently manufactured in the Dominican Republic.[2]


The Henry Clay brand was first created in the 1840s by the Cuban tobacco magnate, Spanish emigrant Julian Alvarez. The name was proposed by Alvarez when he was in the service of an employer and he maintained it once he was in business for himself.[3]

The Cuban business interest of Alvarez eventually was transferred to a British company named Henry Clay and Bock & Co. Ltd. which was founded in 1888. Henry Clay and Bock & Co. Ltd. would become a component of the Tobacco Trust that, along with other trusts, was an object of the anti-trust legislation of the United States.[4]

The brand is currently in the possession of the Spanish company Altadis, a division of Imperial Tobacco.

In popular culture[edit]

  • English writer Rudyard Kipling mused "There's calm in a Henry Clay" in his 1886 poem "The Betrothed".
  • Mentioned in English occultist Aleister Crowley's 1918 poem "Absinthe: The Green Goddess": "Here, too, sat Henry Clay, who lived and died to give his name to a cigar".
  • The brand is mentioned in Irish writer James Joyce's 1922 novel Ulysses: "Long John Fanning made no way for them. He removed his large Henry Clay decisively and his large fierce eyes scowled intelligently over all their faces".[5]
  • In Thomas Mann's Der Zauberberg (The Magic Mountain, 1924), Hofrat Behrens, the sanatorium physician, recalls how he became deathly ill after smoking two Henry Clays with his coffee and was revived with a camphor injection, ice compresses, and massage.
  • In Russian and Soviet poet, playwright, and actor Vladimir Vladimirovich Mayakovsky's 1925 poem Блек энд уайт/Black and White portraying issues of racism and capitalist exploitation, the setting is a Henry Clay and Bock Ltd. cigar factory in Havana: "В Гаване все разграничено четко: у белых доллары, у черных—нет. Поэтому Вилли стоит со щеткой у «Энри Клей энд Бок, лимитед»". . . . "И надо же случиться, чтоб как раз тогда к королю сигарному Энри Клей пришел, белей, чем облаков стада, величественнейший из сахарных королей".
  • Reference is made to Henry Clay as a London grocer's "finest cigar" in the 1929 Alfred Hitchcock film Blackmail.
  • Mentioned in "Die Matrosen" tango from German playwright Bertolt Brecht's 1929 play Happy End.
  • Belgian novelist Georges Simenon in the 1931 French-language novel Pietr-le-Letton/The Strange Case of Peter the Lett: "un Henry Clay aux lèvres".
  • The character of Claire Zachanassian in Swiss dramatist Friedrich Dürrenmatt's Der Besuch der alten Dame/The Visit (1956) smokes Henry Clays.
  • Mentioned in the poem "A Busy Man" by British-Canadian poet and writer Robert William Service: "And now I'll toddle to the garden/And light a good old Henry Clay".
  • Maurice Leblanc's gentleman thief Arsène Lupin was noted to have used a Henry Clay cigar to conceal a reply to an invented associate as a part of his escape from jail in Arsène Lupin in Prison.


External links[edit]