When it comes to cigar habits of the most famous cigar aficionados in American history, John Pierpont Morgan is among the best. Known as the ‘Zeus of Wall Street’ due to his considerable wealth and power, J.P. Morgan also had a rabid appetite for cigars. More specifically, it was the 8” Maduro Meridiana Kohinoor that most often hung from his lips. The Meridiana Kohinoor was a brooding bat of a cigar. It was also likely the basis for the ‘cigar-smoking billionaire’ trope in popular culture.
A millionaire from birth, it was no doubt Morgan’s considerable wealth stoked his love for tobacco leaf. As a young man in Germany, Morgan spent countless hours at the beer halls. It was also no secret that dancing, smoking, and drinking were becoming his favorite activities.
The Zeus of Wall Street’s Silver Humidors
If being born rich wasn’t enough, Morgan went on to increase his wealth exponentially. He founded General Electric. Then, he purchased the New York Times. After that, he bailed out the U.S. treasury — all without breaking a sweat. Not surprisingly, this was the same guy who had custom humidors built for every one of his many yachts. Some now grace the offices of America’s most influential businessmen.
He was a man who traded and banked largely in silver. So, that same metal became his material of choice for his seaworthy humidors. Each yacht was reportedly fitted with a massive silver-encased humidor capable of holding hundreds of his favorite sticks.
Since Morgan’s cigar habits included taking down 20 and 30 cigars per day. That was about enough to cover a long weekend in the Bahamas. Turns out, when you’re making as much money as the original J.P. Morgan, every cigar is a victory cigar.
A Thoughtful Man and A Thoughtful Smoker
The image of a hard-lined businessman puffing on a thick cigar is one fixed into our imaginations. That’s particularly true if your calling card is the ‘Zeus of Wall Street.’ But that same image is not quite accurate for J.P. Morgan. Despite his wealth, Morgan enjoyed cigars far more than being at the center of the world’s finances.
His thoughtful and religious nature took him by sea to distant lands. it’s easy to imagine his commanding figure standing at the ship’s helm, cigar in hand, and thick smoke curling into the salty air. According to his closest associates, it was during these quiet times that Morgan contemplated leaving the business world altogether.
Today, Morgan’s personal cutters and humidors fetch a high price on the ultra-rich auction circuit. For him, they were just comforting in an otherwise taxing life.
Morgan’s Favorite Sticks
The Meridiana Kohinoor shared part of its name with the world’s largest diamond. It was an absolute beast of a Cuban cigar. Most smokers today would have a hard time putting it back, much less smoking anywhere near as many as ‘Zeus of Wall Street’ himself. Morgan’s associates called them ‘Hercules sticks’. But, Morgan was less intimidated by their stature. At $1.25 each, Morgan would order them in batches of 9,000. The cost comparison of $1.25 in 1890 would be about $35 today.
Like any cigar smoker worth his wrapper, Morgan had a few other brands he liked to alternate with. The Regalia de Morgans was a five-inch Havana-made substitute for when he was in a hurry. The Meridiana Selectos was an easy-smoking mid-sized cigar when a bit more leisure in his cigar habits was in order.
Unfortunately, none of the cigars that Morgan enjoyed are still available today. That is unless you happen to have a few hundred grand to spend at a gold-encrusted auction house. Even the 8” stogies are harder to come by. But, if you really want one, you are most likely going to find it on a yacht, attached to the lips of a man pretending to be the most powerful banker in the world.