Havana Trip, Nov 2015: Of Chavetas And Men…

So, as per usual in Havana, I look for other goodies besides cigars.  Classic Cuban licence plates are a favourite of mine – yes, you may see me list them on eBay from time to time after a trip occasionally if I get my hands on them.  Same for the giant, heavy-as-shit Hotel Nacional marble ashtrays.

This last trip, I was able to find more of those licence plates, and even lucked out in finding one of the even-earlier 1980’s-series ones (the older style is from the 1978 to 2002 window apparently, per Wiki and WLP.Com).  However, it was no-go on the Hotel Nacional ashtrays – they’ve been sold out since about March of last year (2015), and have had a standing order in with their manufacturer since then.  Apparently, on the far end of the island where the marble quarry is, the quarry workers were on strike (yeah right! – on strike in Cuba! LOL), but they’ve recently just got back to production, so the hotel was expecting more of those ashtrays sometime early in the new year.

But, to make up for that, I found this beaut…

This item, a “chaveta” (meaning “blade” in Spanish), I picked up in the Plaza de Armas from one of the antiques vendors.  He said he believed it was from the 1910’s to 1940’s timeline, from either the La Corona or Partagas factories.  Legit story or not, I got it for a steal at $40 CUCs.

Now, luck had it that I was actually able to meet up with Hamlet a week ago (that post will be coming shortly – a cigar event he did over in Michigan for his “Tabaquero” line with Rocky Patel), and after a phone call from him confirming some details, I brought this item over with me and he was able to clarify it with me.

Yes, they refer to this tool as a chaveta too, although that’s primarily what they call the larger hand-held blade that the rollers use to cut the wrapper leaf as they’re rolling cigars.  But this chaveta is for chopping the foot of the cigar, nice and clean, once it’s fully done being rolled and has the wrapper applied – the last stage, the last tool used on a cigar before it’s ready for being packaged and/or smoked.

Hamlet also told me he thought the timeline was wrong – he figured right in the early- to mid-1960’s, right after the revolution.  He confirmed it looked like one from La Corona, with it’s smooth curved blade; he said the earlier pre-revolution ones (1920’s to 1950’s) had more of a jagged-edged blade, “they used to look like a scary star” he said (I did find one online here, about a third of the way down the page).  And he figured the timeline from the material (kind of a dirty / unpure aluminum and tin-laden white-metal version), and the small numbers and other features.

Either way, a very cool part of the post-revolution cigar world that’s gonna take pride of placement on my display humidor cabinet.


Cheers all.

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