Superior high quality cigarettes made from expensive imported Turkish tobacco were the dream of the two Schinasi brothers when in 1893 they opened a small factory at 48 Broad Street, New York City. Solomon and Morris (who had changed his name from Mustafa) were immigrants from Turkey who had learned to make a good cigarette in Alexandra, Egypt. The brothers arrived in America with a single secret cigarette blend of rich Turkish tobaccos that they had developed after years of experimentation. By 1904 the success of their Natural, Prettiest, and Royal brands necessitated a move to a new and much larger six story building located on West 120th Street. The second floor of this modern factory was used to blend or mix the different Oriental tobaccos needed to make the popular Schinasi brands. The different cigarette blends called for the tobaccos to be mixed in blocks of 20,000 pounds at a time. Junior partner Morris made a yearly trip to the Schinasi purchasing house in Cavalla (now in Greece), Turkey where he supervised the selection of the many varieties of Turkish tobaccos needed. The Egyptian style cigarettes were rolled on the fourth floor using ten Ludington machines. As many as three hundred girls packed the finished cigarettes into the colorful Schinasi boxes on the third floor. In a March 1904 interview, Solomon Schinasi stated that as long as he and his brother controlled their business, smokers could continual to expect the same high quality smoke first produced in 1893. The brothers helped create a demand for Egyptian style cigarettes in the United States, and managed to sell enough of their Egyptian Prettiest and Natural boxes for both to own homes in the expensive Morning Side Heights section of New York City. In 1907 Morris began building his family mansion at 107th Street and Riverside Drive, while Solomon bought Isaac Rice's mansion at 89th Street and Riverside Drive.
Schinasi Factory in New York City
A Testamonial For Schinasi Bros. From the Great Caruso
According to historians, world famous tenor Enrico Caruso was a life-long smoker and preferred Egyptian cigarettes, particularly those made by Schinasi Bros., which he felt were the mildest. He said smoking made his voice what it was, adding to the rich texture. In fact, Caruso would not sign a contract with any opera house that didn't allow him to smoke when he performed, At one fire-prone German house, there was a rule: the swarthy Neapolitan tenor could light up his usual "Egyptian Prettiest" brand cigarettes but only next to a firefighter with a bucket of water. In most photographs of Caruso, tall stacks of cigarette smoke rise from the cigarette in his hand.
Enrico Caruso sits at a desk
behind a ubiquitous cloud of
cigarette smoke in this undated
photo released by Aldo Mancusi,
who has turned his Brooklyn, N.Y.,
home into a shrine to the great
Italian tenor. AP Photo
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