Automobile mileage reminder advertising premium used to track oil changes.  Brass. 1930's(?)​​

Ben Bey Cigars     

Most Ben Bey fans do not realize that there is "another" Ben Bey cigar in existence.  And, at this point, this is a mystery without an explanation.  This "other" Ben Bey Cigar brand was produced by Ed Youngheart & Co in Montreal, Canada.   The label features graphics that are thematically identical to Nathan Elson's Ben Bey.  The central figure on the label is a sheik with traditional Middle Eastern headdress on horseback in stride, wearing a red robe, with a rifle raised and the Pyramids of Egypt in the background. Even more striking is the fact that both the American and Canadian versions were introduced in the year 1900--exactly the same year.  To chalk these striking similarities up to coincidence seems unreasonable.  Coincidence seems even more unlikely given the fact that Ed Youngheart's brother, Felix Youngheart, lived in Chicago at the same time the two Ben Bey's were being established. He worked as a clothing salesman. He is known to have lived in Chicago from at least 1894 to at least 1910.

So what is the relationship between the two Ben Beys?  Other than the fact that Felix Youngheart was in Chicago during both companies' formative years, there is absolutely no evidence of known family connections, business ties, or any other hints of influence one direction or another. 

Which Ben Bey was the "original" and which was the "imitator"?  There is some evidence that tends to point in one direction.  A close inspection of the American Ben Bey design reveals a clear relationship to the symbols of the Shriners (see Symbology page for further details).  All of the chief symbols of the Shriners  emblem are present in the Ben Bey label design.  However, in the Canadian version, only one element, the Pyramids, is present.  All of the other features, including the scimitar, star, golden crescent, and Sphinx  are absent.  Also, the Canadian version introduced a new element, the obelisk, that is not associated with Shriner symbolism.  Therefore, it seems reasonable to infer that the American version is a more "pure" and therefore earlier version of the intended Shriner-inspired design and that the Canadian version simply drew upon the more general Arabian Sheik theme.

If you have any information that sheds light on the mystery of the "other" Ben Bey, please complete the "Contact Us" form on the home page.  Below are various Ben Bey items that were associated with Ed Youngheart & Co.

The "Other" Ben Bey