Friday

The Turkish Macedonian Tobacco Company


"Constantinople" - oil painting (1927) with a view of the port of Constantinople with the Turmac company logo.
It looked almost like an episode of Scheherazade's 1001 Nights' when the Turk Kiazim Emin Bey arrived at the railway station of Zevenaar, travelling in a private train and surrounded by numerous attendants and cigarette smoking harem ladies. Bey and his Dutch business partner William Carel Buschhammer, a local tobacco merchant,
started a new tobacco factory in 1920. In those days many people grew tobacco in their gardens and farmers produced tobacco also but the Dutch product wasn't good enough for commercial use. Bey supplied tobacco from Turkey and Macedonia and that's the reason the factory was named The Turkish Macedonian Tobacco Company, locally better known as the Turmac factory.
Soon the Turmac cigarettes became quite famous. They had a gold colored mouthpiece and came in colorful packages with pictures of palaces of sultans and nonchalantly smoking women wearing a turbans.

Let's Smoke Girls

This image for Turmac cigarettes, known popularly as "Old Mac," utilizes a fancy, Eastern-looking font to provide the Turkish blend with a more exotic effect. The woman smoking her cigarette is completely white with purity, removing any associations of her smoking with having questionable morals. The package manages to make her look angelic as she smokes her cigarette.
Before the First World War, smoking was associated with the "loose morals" of prostitutes and wayward women. Clever marketers managed to turn this around in the 1920s and 1930s, latching onto women's liberation movements and transforming cigarettes into symbols of women's independence. In 1929, as part of this effort, the American Tobacco Company organized marches of women carrying "Torches of Freedom" (i.e., cigarettes) down New York's 5th Avenue to emphasize their emancipation. The tobacco industry also sponsored training sessions to teach women how to smoke, and competitions for most delicate smoker. Many of the advertisements targeting women throughout the decades have concentrated on women's empowerment. Early examples include "I wish I were a man" so I could smoke (Velvet, 1912), while later examples like "You've come a long way baby" (Virginia Slims) were more clearly exploitive of the Women's Liberation Movement. It is interesting to note that the Marlboro brand, famous for its macho "Marlboro Man," was for decades a woman's cigarette ("Mild as May" with "Ivory tips to protect the lips") before it underwent an abrupt sex change in 1954. Only 5 percent of American women smoked in 1923 versus 12 percent in 1932 and 33 percent in 1965 (the peak year).

After the second worldwar American and English cigarettes became populair in Holland and the image was changed. Old Mac became a populair brand. In 1960 the last Turmac cigarette was produced. Soon the factory restarted production for Rothman and produced cigarettes under license. In 1999 the company's name was changed into the British American Tobacco Manufacturing and produced cigarettes for the Dutch, German and French market. In 2008 the factory was closed.


(source: flickr, stanford.edu)

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