I’m not a smoker and I’m glad I never got started with it in any form, cigarettes, cigars, tobacco, marijuana, any of it. That’s not to say I’m not attracted to the iconography associated with the business, especially in regards to NYC signage. FNY has previously covered “privilege” signs found on newspaper and grocery stores around town. Most often sponsored by Coca Cola, signboard and lettering, most often in green and gold but sometimes in other colors, to proprietors who would also display prominent signage with the distinctive Coca Cola logo.
I haven’t touched on privilege signs sponsored by Optimo Cigars, which like the Coca Cola signs were once more numerous but have persisted in some quarters. I presume the arrangement was the same, but Optimo apparently insisted on much larger coverage on their sponsored signs, since the Optimo name, in distinctive lettering, totally dominates the ones I have seen.
Optimo dates to 1898 and was founded by Spanish immigrant Antonio Santaella (1863-1948) in Tampa, Florida; he had first moved to Havana, Cuba in the 1870s and began his cigar business there. After Optimo became the cigar of choice of Babe Ruth, Optimo’s popularity took off, and ‘privilege’ signs like this one at Court and Degraw Streets in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, sponsored by the cigar company, began to proliferate at stores selling the brand.
6 Sq Ft has much more on similar ‘privilege signs’ around town, many of which are still surviving.