The green paper sticker, known as The Seal of Warranty, was first introduced by a Royal Decree of Spain, on February 13, 1889. The Decree required the seal to be placed on all containers containing cigars, cigarettes, and pipe tobacco, manufactured by the Union de Fabricantes de Tobacos de La Habana. This was to certify the authenticity of the products, and to guard against wide-spread counterfeit tobacco products, as well as companies which were disloyal to the Crown (this was another way of stifling competition).
The first seals bore the name of "La Union de Fabricantes de Tabacos y Cigarros", on the top, the words "ISLA De CUBA" in the center, in light lettering with a black background, in a rectangle box. On the left was the Spanish coat of arms, and on the right side the Seal of the Governor General.
In a move aimed at making it much more difficult for counterfeiters to package and sell fake Cuban cigars, Habanos S.A., the company which is responsible for the export of Cuban cigars, has modified the look (both visible and invisible) of the familiar green and white "Cuban Government Warranty Seal of 1912" which adorns all legitimate boxes of Havana cigars.
The new seals incorporate finer details including micro printing, denser color, serial numbers, and even a hidden UV watermark. These new seals are much more difficult to counterfeit and are a huge improvement over the old style ones.
Typically the seal is applied to the front left edge of dress boxes wrapping top to bottom with the first fold over the top edge of the box falling within "oval coat of arms crest." On cabinets, the seal is placed over the sliding lids' edge on the upper right corner. The Miniature seals are self-stick and only applied to small 3/5 packs of cigars typically over the top flap of the cardboard box. Closely examine all seals for good registration of print.
Under normal lighting, the first thing you will notice about the new Warranty Seal is that it's printed much more clearly, and the green ink used is several shades darker than the previous version.
Although the general design and look of the Warranty Seal has not been significantly modified, the overall artwork has been improved dramatically, using much finer lines and darker solids; it appears carefully engraved.
Even though more than 95% of the Warranty Seal is essentially the same, every square millimeter of the artwork has been re-engraved and/or re-drawn much more finely and professionally, yet without altering the overall traditional look of the Seal.
The borders, background and central area of the Seal are nearly identical in detail and form, and the Cuban Republic Coat of Arms (or Shield), in the oval on the left side of the Seal, is virtually the same too.
One significant aspect of the seal has been changed, that is, the tobacco field vista, in the oval at the right side of the seal. The vista shows five field workers in the rows of tobacco, a hut, palm trees, and appears to be of the Valle de Vinales. Close inspection reveals that this has been redrawn, is clearer, and you can actually count the number of field workers and palm trees, and there appear to be more figures!
The wording on the Seal has been changed in three locations. Beginning at the top of the Seal... the previous version's English wording "CUBAN GOVERNMENT'S WARRANTY FOR CIGARS EXPORTED FROM HAVANA" has been changed to now read: "ORIGIN NATIONAL WARRANTY SEAL FOR CIGARS AND CUT TOBACCO."
The wording on the bottom left side of the certificate was in the French language, and means the same as the English statement on the top of the Seal. That wording has similarly been changed (still in French) to now read: "SCEAU DE GARANTIE D'ORIGINE NATIONALE POUR LES CIGARES ET LE SCAFERLATI."
Finally, the German wording on the bottom right of the Seal, relating the same notice, has also been modified to now say (in German): "ORIGINAL GARANTIESIEGEL FUER ZIGARREN UND GERISSENE TABAKBLAETTER."
A new anti-counterfeiting feature has been added to the Seal's design, making it difficult to reproduce, using modern scanners and color copiers. There are two lines of micro-printing on the new Seal. To the unaided eye, they appear as hair thin green lines in the border designs yet, under a jeweler's loop, these lines are actually made up of letters/words which translate to, "Seal of Guarantee of the Republic of Cuba." The micro-printing is similarly employed on US currency. However, the Seal's micro-printing is not nearly as perfectly formed as that of US currency. Its micro-printing suffers from a less exacting printing process, producing letters which are blurred, blotched and unevenly spaced.
The location of the micro-printing lines are (1) immediately above the central large words "REPUBLICA DE CUBA" across the center of the Seal, and (2) beginning immediately below the words "SERIE A NO. 1". They extend across the center of the Seal ending under the words, "LEY DE JULIO 16/1912", on the opposite side. In Spanish, as it appears on the Seal, the micro-printed words which repeat continuously and form both lines are, "SELLO DE GARANTIA REPUBLICA DE CUBA."
Another totally new feature is an eight digit serial number which is printed at the bottom center of the Seal in red ink. The first two digits are letters, such as "AR" and the last six digits are numerals, such as "072164". This red serial number is printed over a white background.
Under a Black Light, the Seal reveals two more anti-counterfeiting traps. The first relates to the serial number; under UV lighting, the numerical section of the serial number appears black, while the letters remain red. The second item is at the center of the Seal, directly above the serial number. Under UV, it glows as a faintpinkwatermark. The image density is extremely light, as you would expect with a watermark the Cuban Republic Coat of Arms.