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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Ofty's: 1926

Ofty's: 1926

1926. Another view of the Offterdinger cigar store and soda fountain in Washington, D.C. National Photo Co. Collection glass negative. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Wax lips

Not sure what commenter Kenny meant with: "La Anita must have been the prefered cigar of the day, judging on the quantity stocked." It was, in that store, not elsewhere. In the 20s PHILLIES and WHITE OWL were the preferred (biggest selling) cigars. LA ANITA is a brand made in their factory and possibly unknown outside that store. Most cigar stores of any substance, and even many small one man ops, had one or more house brands, especially if they had a factory on premises. Ofty is another of their house brands. I don't know about the others listed.
In answer to Wax Mustache...Yes, if they had a candy counter, candy cigarettes and chocolate cigars would be there, along with wax lips. Hersheys and others were making chocolate cigars (foil wrapped) in the late 1800s. Bubble gum wasn't invented when these pictures were taken. The earliest bubble gum cigar box I've seen is from the 1950's but I "smoked" candy cigarettes in the 1940s. The United Cigar Store chain (founded 1901) carried so many sundries that other cigar stores were forced to expand to meet their overwhelming competition.

When is a gaboon not?

Since classier establishments like this seldom dealt in chew or snuff, the spittoon is most likely for those customers who preferred to bite the end off their cigars, as opposed to the fancy folks who could afford a cutter. Although some of the high class shops would have a device on the counter that combined a punch, tip cutter and a continuously burning alcohol lamp wick for the man who couldn't wait to try out his purchase.

Spit curl and a cup of Joe

I had to pan in to check out the lady's hair do and clothing and noticed the accountant (?) upstairs sitting under the naked light bulb. A charming, charming photo. Just a trip back in time. Is that a spittoon or a depository for matches on the floor? I can smell my grandfather's sweet cherry pipe tobacco as I look.

Tobacco smell

I used to work in a bookstore where both the owner and the manager smoked pipes. The manager smoked a particularly vile concoction which hung about him like.... a bad smell. Worse, after he talked on the phone we all dreaded having to answer it because the mouthpiece reeked of tobacco-mouth.

One day, I was sitting in his office and I answered the phone. Looking for a pen to write a message down for him, I opened one of the drawers and spotted a new package of his tobacco le choix. It had a very large label stating that it was "The tobacco that women will go wild over."

Obviously no one had done any market research before coming up with THAT tagline.

Peripatetic Offterdinger

The ad below gives Offterdinger's address as 508 Ninth Street in 1912. However, in 1920 the Washington Post reported the sale of their building at 504 9th Street (1/25/20, p. 32). By the time these pictures were taken, the street number seems to have been 833, based on the reflection in image 6996.

Far From Dead

The traditional brass cuspidor is far from dead. Just minutes ago I shoved mine back to its "off-duty" location beneath my computer desk.

The cigar store photo brings to mind a scene from an old "Amos & Andy" radio episode in which Andy and the Kingfish are attempting to curry favor with Calhoun the lawyer by supplying him with what they are trying to pass off as a fine cigar, saying it is a "two for fifty cents" cigar.

After a puff on the vile rope presented to him Calhoun asks, "Tell me.....who got the 48 cent one?"

Just in time for Halloween

I had no idea Gomez Addams did a stint behind the counter at Offterdinger's.

Kicking the Bucket

It cracks me up how the spittoon is placed right in the middle of the store like that. I'm such a klutz, if I worked there I'd be constantly kicking it, knocking it over, getting my foot stuck in it. Heck, I'd probably get fired on my first day.


I remember as a child in the early 1950s our local First National Bank building still having the polished brass cuspidors prominently in place, likely there since the elegant, tile-floored Spanish Colonial Revival building was constructed in 1928. Even at that age, they struck my brother and me as quite a contrast from the palatial atmosphere of the bank, likely built to inspire confidence and project solvency. Spitooey! Both the bank building and presumably the cuspidors were gone by 1970. Progress, I guess.

A Splendid Cigar

A Little Talk to Women About Christmas Cigar Buying

The Season of the Christmas Cigar joke is with us again. The woman who buys cigars according to the beauty of the label has furnished material for many a professional humorist — but there is nothing funny about it for the man who has to smoke them.
"La Anita" is a splendid cigar, made from selected leaves of the best Havana Tobacco, in nine sizes,
The "Ofty" Cigar — a remarkably good seed-and-Havana cigar [A mixture of domestic and Cuban tobacco] — made in one size only - 5 cents each, $2.00 for a box of 50.
Henry T. Offterdinger
Manufacturer of La Anita and Ofty Cigars
508 Ninth Street Northwest

1912 Advertisement

Ah, the aroma

This photo somehow reminds me of the great smell of the local drug store aisle that held the all the differt kinds of pipe tobacco. Very nice.

Offterdinger Cigar Factory

Found a reference to this shop in a 1918 edition of the Cigar Makers' Official Journal. Offterdinger had his own cigar factory in the District of Columbia:

The shop normally employs about 125 persons mostly women and girls and la the only cigar factory of any size In the District of Columbia Its output includes among its best known brands Meditation, La Anita, Deerhead, Bouquet, Ofty, After Dinner, and Army and Navy.

You can see these brands (especially La Anita) on the shelves.

The Journal records that there was a strike where 88 workers (82 women and girls, six men) walked out because of unsanitary conditions and low wages. It also seems that Mr. Offterdinger refused to recognize the right of the union to represent his workers.

Both pictures merged

Click to enlarge.

Her getup

Just a guess: maybe they rolled some of their own cigars. That could be an apron to protect clothing from the tobacco leaves.

A Lasting View

Evidently GeezerNYC has never seen aprons, or, at least smock style aprons. Just to see her with a cup of coffee from the shining coffee urn makes you want a cup. The wonderful old telephone booth with calendars on the back wall, the polished spittoon and bottle cap on the floor. The hair styles of the day, much neater looking than the frizzy unkept look seen today. The "natty" attire of the clerks and "Soda Jerk", which would be call "associates" today and not nearly as well dressed. La Anita must have been the prefered cigar of the day, judging on the quantity stocked. Whether you were a smoker or not, the scent of cured tobacco that met you when you walked into one of the old style tobacco stores was a sensory treat, not smoky at all.

Ms. Spitcurl Comes Down

She should have stayed upstairs, so that I might admire her from afar. In her case it's the best way to admire. And what is that getup she's wearing?

Soda and a smoke

I wonder if they sold candy cigarettes and bubble gum cigars for the younger consumers?

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