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Q: Thomas Riley Marshall was vice president of the United States from 1913 to 1921. He said, "What this country needs is a really good five-cent cigar." What did a cigar cost at the time? Or, what would one have had to pay for a really good cigar? I gather you couldn't get a good one for five cents. I'm asking these questions to use in a tour I give through the cemetery in Indianapolis where Marshall is buried. Thank you very much for your help and input.
A: We called up one of the oldest men in the tobacco industry, Stanford Newman, chairman of J.C. Newman Cigar Co., to answer this one.
Newman said that probably around the time Marshall proclaimed those words, most cigars sold in the United States cost 10 cents and that was pretty much the universal price as prices were more standardized back then.
. . .
Stanford Newman said that cigars actually did retail for around five cents in the 1930s during the Great Depression; they were back up to 10 cents apiece again following the Second World War where we started to see brand names like Philly's, White Owls and Dutch Masters.
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