THE STANLEY'S STORY
1876: The United States celebrates its Centennial year, Ulysses S. Grant is in the White House, and in St. Louis, Charles P. Stanley opens a cigar company that immediately establishes a new standard of excellence.
Stanley was born in Ireland and brought to St. Louis as a youngster. He started working in the cigar business at a downtown hotel at the age of 16 years old, where he quickly developed an eye and nose for fine tobacco. He eventually started his own tobacco store in 1876, at the age of 22, and quickly gained a reputation for selling nothing but the best. His expertise in the cigar trade attracted the most discriminating aficionados. Mayors, Governors, and Foreign Ambassadors insisted on Stanley Cigars. President Grant, a lover of great cigars of the highest order, was known to smoke the fine Stanley Blends. One of the celebrities of the era, Sir Arthur Sullivan of the stage writing team of Gilbert and Sullivan, lent his name and blessing to the Sir Arthur Sullivan cigar, blended exclusively by Stanley. Another fine Stanley Cigar, one that gained National significance, was the “Treaty Bond”, created originally for the 1904 World’s Exhibition in St. Louis. The “Treaty Bond” Wrapper featured Napoleon Bonaparte, the French Emperor that sold the vast tract of land to the United States, along with President Thomas Jefferson, the purchaser for the US. Stanley, a friend and confidant of the World’s fair chairman David R. Francis, was given exclusive rights to sell the fine line of “treaty bond” at the fair. A total of eleven kiosks were built for the fair to feature the one of a kind cigar. “Granddads customers were a virtual who’s-who list”, said Charles P. Stanley II (“Charlie”). “And unlike fancy cars or custom suits, even the working man could afford to treat himself to a luxury cigar. Although Charlie was only able to work with his father Ralph L. Stanley for a short time, he went on to make a name for himself in the St. Louis radio business; eventually being enshrined as a member of the Radio Hall of Fame. At the height of the market, The Stanley Cigar Company featured over 270 different “private label” brands, a host of retail locations throughout St. Louis, including stores at 700 Olive, 110 N. 4th Street, 201 N. 6th Street, and 310 N. 6th Street. At the turn of the 20th Century The Charles P. Stanley Cigar Company was one of the largest wholesalers of cigars in the country with plants in Havana, Cuba and Tampa, Florida.
In 1935 Charlie, began his career as a salesman going downtown to the 1st National Bank with a satchel filled with Stanley cigars. Charlie would go to the 2nd floor to all of the loan officers’ desks. They all felt sorry for the skinny, redhead, freckle-faced kid so they would buy a box of cigars. After selling 10 boxes for $2.50 each, his father Ralph would give him .25 so he could catch the Hodiamont streetcar on Broadway to get back their small apartment to collect his commission, making him the wealthiest kid in the neighborhood. The Great Depression caused Stanley Cigars to suspend operations. “People were scrambling for money just to buy food. It was a good run, one I very much enjoyed as a youngster” lament’s Charlie II.
Now, almost 60 years later, cigar lovers can rejoice once more. The fourth generation-C. Patrick Stanley, III, and Kevin O’Reilly Stanley have “FIRED” up the Charles P. Stanley Cigar Company, just around the corner from the original location. We hope you find your experience at The Charles P. Stanley Cigar Company as pleasurable as your favorite smoke.