Alcoy, Spain is a city and municipality located in the province of Alicante, Spain. The Serpis river crosses the municipal boundary of Alcoi.
For more information about Alcoy and the Christian and Moors Festival please visit this link: ALCOY - Christians & Moors Festival
THE HISTORY OF RAW
This may seem long, but there is no other way to tell this story. After reading it, you'll know a lot about rolling papers. My hope is the next time you light one up, you'll think of the history and enjoy each puff a little bit more than before.
The Birth of Cigarettes
My history with RAW cannot be told without first telling a little of the history of the creation of the first cigarette paper long ago, at the time of the voyages of Christopher Columbus
It all began when Columbus returned from one of his voyages to the “new world” (Cuba), with something new - cigars. These cigars, however, weren’t like the cigars we have today. They were loosely rolled in multiple layers of either palm or tobacco leaves and tied with an adjustable string. Since the Spanish aristocrats were always especially interested in anything exotic and foreign, they immediately took to smoking these coveted cigars. However, because they had to be transported across the Atlantic in ancient wooden ships, these cigars were incredibly expensive and difficult to get which made them available only to the rich. The only way the Spanish peasants could manage to get their hands on some of this rare and valuable tobacco was to collect the leftover butts discarded to the ground by the aristocrats. They would untie the cigar butt, re-roll it in used newspaper, and smoke it. Even these paper cigars were very valuable. The Spanish peasants would inhale the smoke and hold it in their lungs as long as possible in order to get the most out of every puff. And that is how cigarettes were born.
The Need for Rolling Paper
Smoking out of rolled used newspaper was very toxic as newspaper inks, at that time, contained lead and lots of heavy metals. A healthier alternative was needed which created the making of a specialized paper just for smoking. Since Alcoy was the paper making capital of Spain at the time, it was only natural that the Alcoy factories began producing this specialized cigarette paper for the market. The paper was supplied in large sheets known as “rolling paper” where smokers would have to hand-cut sections from this paper in order to use it. This all changed, however, when Father Jaime Villanueva Estingo invented the first rolling paper booklet circa 1800 in Jativa Spain (just outside of Alcoy). In 1815 in Alcoy Spain, the world’s first company to produce and sell rolling paper booklets opened its doors. Alcoy quickly became the world’s capital of rolling paper production. Interestingly enough, in 1866 the government of Spain began issuing numbered trademarks and the first 10 trademarks issued were all for rolling papers!
Ever wonder why rolling papers are bright white? The early rolling papers marketed themselves as HIGIENICO (Sanitary, for good hygiene). They needed to be pure white to give the impression the paper was clean. This would set themselves apart from the papers full of toxic chemicals or heavy metals obtained from the use of old newspapers and discarded junk paper of the past.
View from our Factory in Alcoy.
Alcoy vs. Barcelona – the Competition begins
The factories in Alcoy were all small family owned artisan shops. There was heavy competition and tremendous differentiation between each little factory. They all used varying production methods and made their own version of rolling paper, each one thinking theirs was the best.
In Barcelona the factories took a different approach. Since rolling paper production developed much later in Barcelona, during the dawn of the industrial age, it was natural for a giant factory to open. This factory is known today as Miguel Y Costas. They homogenized their production and produced rolling paper on a much larger scale than the Alcoy artisans’ shops could. As a result, they were able to drive down production costs and therefore, retail prices and over the next 50 years they took away much of the market from Alcoy. It’s akin to having a big box store open in a neighborhood and the effect it would have on small business there.