the early part of the 19th century the principal business was in the
supply of the requirements of sailing vessels trading to and from Jersey.
Vessels plied between Jersey and France, the other Channel Islands
and the British Isles, bringing coal and iron for the ship-building
industries and all supplies in which the Island was not self-sufficient.
They took away local produce to the markets and often young Islanders
setting off to make their fortunes: Channel Islands names feature strongly
in parts of Australia, South Africa and particularly Canada.
The Canadian connection came about in the pursuit of `King Cod' on
the great fishing grounds.
Fleets of Jersey vessels fished out on those grounds and had to be
supplied: also their catch needed to find a market. When the ships
which Thomas Aubin provisioned returned to the island, sometimes they
brought back tobacco which they had collected when trading down the
western seaboard before making the long haul back across the Atlantic.
Soon the manufacturing of this raw leaf tobacco became the mainstay
of the business - appropriately enough since Sir Walter Raleigh himself
had once been Governor of Jersey: the very man who introduced tobacco
to Europe (on the first occasion when his servant saw him smoking,
the servant threw a basin of water over him, thinking him to be on
For the rest of the 19th and the early part of the 20th centuries the
business continued along the same lines, seeing the introduction of
Revenue Duties on tobacco (the business pre-dates the Bureau des Impôts
- the island's Customs authority)and a new type of customer in the
form of retired Officers from the Indian Service who found the weather
more congenial than in England.
Second World War saw the island forced onto its own resources and enterprising
local farmers grew their own tobacco leaf (with varying degrees of
success) which they would bring to the factory on the harbour to be
made up into something smokeable
a customer could provide enough leaf, he could have it made especially
for him, otherwise it all went in together and he took `pot-luck' on
the outcome! Even German troops would occasionally appear, much to
the alarm of the proprietors and staff, for whom any visit from the
Occupying Forces was not generally a good omen!
late Arthur Germain recalled the occasion when an irate Military Policeman
appeared - although everyone feared the worst
it transpired that his crop of tobacco
leaf had mysteriously vanished and he was hoping to identify it and
Arthur never forgot the expression on the soldier's face when shown
the factory floor spread with leaves of every shade and shape....
The years after the war saw the gradual lessening of the austerity
of rationing and people began to once again take holidays: many of
those with young families wanted a half-way place both `at home' and
at the same time `abroad' and the islands began their boom years of
tourism. The concept of `Duty Free' goods no longer simply meant `smuggled'
and as almost every adult smoked, both manufacture and imports of cigars
and cigarettes rose to meet demand.
Nowadays it is recognised that many people do not wish to smoke and
those who do are more discerning in their tastes. This change in emphasis
has had little effect for the Company as it has always prided itself
on following the principle of "quality before quantity".
Today J.F. Germain & Son Limited has three main areas of operation:
The Company manufactures its blends for distribution in the Channel
Islands, the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy.
The Company also undertakes bespoke `own-label' manufacture for specialist
For your interest we have compiled a short slide-show of the basic
steps involved in manufacturing our tobaccos:
Importing and Distributing
The Company imports cigars and tobaccos direct from Britain, Germany,
Holland and the United States of America:
The Company imports from suppliers world-wide all smoker's requisites
and sundries, together with an extensive range of other goods for distribution
with the Channel Islands.