The History of the Rolling Paper

The History of The Rolling Paper

There is nothing quite like kicking back after a long day with your favorite brand of papers and rolling up a fresh one. If you vape and smoke, just smoke, and regardless of the content you roll up, everyone has a favorite brand of papers, wraps, cones, cigars, or cigarillos they prefer.

Rolling papers are the oldest form of smoking tobacco, hemp, and cannabis; some form is believed to have been around since at least the 1500s after Christopher Columbus brought the first bushel of tobacco back from the new world.

The history gets a little murky at this point, but is absolutely fascinating with the claim that the first commercially sold brand of cigarette paper originated in Alcoy, Spain, in 1764 by a company called Pay-Pay, yet that company was formed in 1703. 

Then, things started to catch fire, and The Lacroix family had a little competition roll up in France. Over the next 125 years, the history of rolling papers was written and became an interesting part of human and French history

Rizla+ Papers

Napolean and Lacroix. Yes, that Napolean and no, not that La Croix.

The company, now known as Rizla, claims its roots from 1532. When Pierre Lacroix traded rolling papers for champagne. Supposedly, the receipt for this transaction still exists. In 1660, the claim is that Pierre perfected the rolling paper.

In 1736, officially known as the Lacroix Rolling Paper Company, at the time, the head of the company François Lacroix purchased their first paper mill. In 1796 Napoleon “issued” the Lacroix family a license to produce papers for his military troops. Although, those events have been questioned, and a museum in Angoulème calls this claim a historical fantasy and says that the Lacroix family produced paper but not cigarette papers until 1860.

In 1886, however, with the introduction of rice paper and its overwhelming and immediate success, the Lacroix company name was changed to RizLa+. (“Riz” the French word for rice, and “La+” is an abbreviation of Lacroix).

In 1942 Rizla acquired a patent for applying gum along the edge of rolling papers. 1977 rolls around and Rizla releases the first version of their King Size rolling papers. A year later the Lacroix family run end when Fernand Painblanc took over the company.

In 1997, Rizla was sold to Imperial Tobacco, with a fury of expansion under the new ownership, Rizla became very popular in the early 2000’S with sponsorships of Suzuki’s motor bike racing, in MotoGP and releasing several new products, including expansion of their cafes, starting a clothing line and multiple new line ups of papers. 

In 2002, the historic Rizla factories in France were closed and moved to Belgium, where the papers are made today. 

JOB Papers

The Bardou family is arguably one of the most committed families and creators in the rolling paper industry and had an early and lasting effect on popular culture and the history of rolling papers.

In 1838, possibly the earliest documented history of the origins of commercial rolling papers, Jean Bardou formed J♦B Papers. JB for his initials and the diamond representing Perpignan, France, the base of operations. The diamond, often mistaken for the letter “O,” Jean rolled with it, and in 1849 received a 15-year patent for “Papier JOB,” hence the now iconic brand JOB. All 3 of his children and four other employees ran the manufacturing facility from the upper level of a house in France.

Interestingly enough, the creator’s son Pierre might have been more influential in the brand’s history and rise to the status of an icon than the founder himself. 

His father and founder, Jean, died in 1852, and the brand went up for auction, and Pierre snagged it for 16,000 French francs, about $270,000 in today’s money. Shortly after, his older brother Joseph, who helped their father start JOB, started his own papier manufacturing business called le Nil, adorned with the logo of a laughing elephant cloaked in a fringed and embroidered Orient styled blanket or rug. 

Pierre wasted no time getting to work and creating the next big thing in rolling papers; less than four months after assuming the helm, JOB released a line of luxury-flavored papers explicitly designed for the ladies. Flavors included anise, licorice, juniper, camphor, and vanilla. 

At the end of 1858, Pierre purchased a large house, converted from an apartment building at 18 Rue Saint-Sauveur for 40,000 francs, or roughly $675,000.

Dividing the building into his primary residence and manufacturing facility, installing a skylight, and calling his new digs “Hôtel de l’Industrie du Papier a Cigarette.”

Proliferating from 1 building and 80 employees in 1861 to over 300 employees, owning the entire block and implementing steam power to automate the manufacturing process. Whether Bardou knew it or not, he had cemented his name, his father’s creation, and rolling papers into human history.

Interestingly, by presidential decree in 1878, Bardou changed his name to Pierre Bardou-Job.  Naming himself after the company and not the other way around. 

Pierre had amassed quite a fortune and a collection of art, furniture, properties, and mansions by this time. An 1871 inventory of his collection showed he had listed 669 exotic and unusual objects, furniture and decorations, all on display in the Rue Saint-Sauveur mansion.

Pierre had chateaus designed in 1890 for each of his three children but died before their completion.

After his death, his children ran the company in honor of their father, forming the Pierre Bardou-Job company, and his eldest son Justin Bardou-Job adopted the helm and continued the legacy.

In the 1890s, Alphonse Mucha, as well as other artists, were commissioned to create advertising posters for the brand, basically creating a whole new genre of advertising art, nearly 100 years later being named Stuckism.

In 2008, JOB commissioned Paul Harvey to create a new version of these posters to promote the slogan “The Original Double” to promote the “double wide” size rolling papers. Aptly so, Harvey designed and painted Famous Doubles of the time, also the name of the exhibit displaying the art, including Gilbert & George, who gave their endorsement, as well as The Mighty Boosh and The White Strips, who were not too happy about this promotion. 

Now wholly and privately owned by Republic Tobacco and still produced in France, along with OCB and other brands.  

Zig-Zag Papers

Two brothers, Maurice and Jacques Braunstein, from France, created Le Zouave Braunstein Frerés Papier in 1879. Papeterie de Gassicourt.

Fifteen years later, in 1894, they invented the process in which the papers were interleaved together, creating a process that would allow the papers to be auto dispensed, which is now the standard for all papers. In 1906, the company became known as Zig-Zag as a way to honor its invention and cement the legacy that had been started.

The mascot emblazoned on the front of each Zig-Zag booklet, known as the Zig-Zag man and The Captian, is the depiction of a Zouave, an elite French soldier. The rumor is that after a Zouave soldier’s clay pipe was destroyed in a battle during the Crimean War. He used a paper wrapper from a gunpowder bag; the Braunstein brothers were inspired to create a paper brand worthy of comparison to the famed elite Zouave unit.

By the early 1900s, the history of rolling papers and paper manufacturing, in general, was woven into the fabric of French history and the future of human culture.

This would continue through the next century, The Big Brother and the Holding Company, Janis Joplin’s band used famed Zig-Zag artwork on posters to promote concerts in the 1960’s.

Released in 1992 the triple-platinum album, “The Chronic” by Dr. Dre, features the iconic Zig-Zag artwork with Dre’s face in place of the Zig-Zag man. 

The Good Ol' Days

Fast forward to the present day, and there are a few more rolling paper brands, but nothing could compare to the golden era of rolling papers. Every brand has added its own twist to the original, with different materials and sizes. In addition, some have added flavors and other features to make rolling more enjoyable.

Roll up to Vape Militia, we are here to help. You can window shop our product inventory or place an order for delivery. If you have any questions, you can call (346)387-6462 or text (346)779-9559. We’re ready and waiting to answer all your questions!