Bünde: Town of cigars

Schild am Bahnhof Bünde

Sign at central station Bünde

Due to the import of mass produced cotton fabric from England the manufacture of linen was at its lowest ebb in the Minden Ravensburger area during the first half of the 19th century. Many, many skilled people were out of work  and desperately looking for means to earn a living, and therefore the introduction of tobacco manufacturing saved the day.

The tobaccos used  were mainly raw tobaccos imported from overseas.  These could conveniently be shipped from Bremen down the Weser river.

Minden Ravensberg was part of Prussia and, therefore subject to the German Customs Authority.  Here the import of raw tobacco was  levelled  with a minimal amount of tax whereas the finished cigars were charged high customs duties. Therefore it was more profitable to make and sell cigars within the local customs area.

In 1842 Georg Meyer started the manufacture of cigars in Buende. In 1843 Toennis Wellensiek followed and he is generally accepted as the founder of the Buende Cigar Industry. Subsequently many more cigar firms were started quite quickly.

Besides the production in factories cigars were increasingly outsourced to homes for finishing. During its heyday in the first half of the 20th century a very high percentage of the local Bünde families were employed by the cigar industry. The recession of the cigar industry began in the early 1950th. Today the number of cigar producing firms has shrunk to just three.