I. Cassel Cigar Factory


Main Street
Columbia, SC


I. Cassel Cigar Factory was established by German immigrant, Isidor Cassel (1872-1954) in 1901. At age twelve, Isidor left his parents and siblings behind for a solo adventure to the United States and settled in upstate New York with his mother’s family. He stayed just long enough to learn the cigar-making trade from his uncle before setting off for Columbus, Ohio and then continuing to New York City and Boston. At age fifteen, he joined the United States Marine Corp and after two or three years of service, moved to Columbia, South Carolina and began working for local cigar manufacturer, Henry Bamberg (1857-1919). Four years later, in 1896, Isidor married Henry’s sister-in-law, Estelle “Essie” Epstin Cassel (1877-1948).


In 1901, Isidor opened his own cigar manufacturing business in his name at 1438 Main Street and then moved down the block slightly to 1423 Main Street in 1910. Two years later, he relocated once more to 1623 Main Street, also known as the Phoenix Building. There, he employed up to seventeen staff members and turned-out thousands of handmade cigars under the names I. Cassel Cigar Factory and I. Cassel Cigar Manufacturer. By 1930, he was considered one of the oldest cigar makers in the state and was regarded for his range of products and price points. In 1941, Isidor began to scale back his business, stating in an interview that he liked to keep “just enough trade” for “a pleasant occupation without the mad scramble to stay in competition with large-scale manufacturers.”1 By then I. Cassel Cigar “Factory” was a one-man business with Isidor serving as “president, treasurer, hirer, firer, laborer, and general handy man.”2 All the same, Isidor continued making 6,000 cigars a month and roughly 200 a day until he retired around age eighty in 1952.


1 Tina Cannon, “Cigar Maker, at 75, Can Turn Out 200 Stogies A Day in Columbia Plant,” Columbia Record, March 21, 1946, 23.

2 Cannon, “Cigar Maker,” 23.

Main Image: Advertisement for I. Cassel Cigar Factory. Reprinted from The State, May 5, 1925.


Above Image: Advertisement for I. Cassel Cigar Manufacturer. Reprinted from The State, January 1, 1930.

The Jewish Merchant Project is supported by the generosity of the Henry & Sylvia Yaschik Foundation and the Stanley B. Farbstein Endowment at the Coastal Community Foundation.

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