9 Feb 2024
Cigarettes Marouf, Ghent, Belgium
Many years ago I was on a train from Amsterdam to Bruges and, while passing through Ghent, I saw an incredible pictorial ghost sign advertising the Cigarettes Marouf. I was unable to jump off the train to take a closer look, but always thought that one day I’d return, which, as yet, I haven’t.
Fortunately, the ghost sign was photographed by Edwin Deschepper. In spite of being listed, it has decayed substantially since it was revealed in 2006, and a newer (supposedly temporary) building also obscures what remains.
The citation for the sign’s listing gives some historical notes, and dates the sign to the 1920s. The following is an extract from this via a basic online translation.
Cigarettes Marouf were the product of cigarette manufacturer Matossian. Matossian was a household name in the cigarette industry from the late nineteenth century until the 1920s. The company was founded in Egypt by two Armenian immigrants: Hovhannes Matossian founded a small workshop in Alexandria in 1882, and his brother Garabed did the same in Cairo in 1886.
In 1896 the brothers merged their firms. The company eventually grew into the largest Egyptian producer, with a factory in Cairo. In 1927 it merged with British American Tobacco under the umbrella organization Eastern Tobacco Company.
The first evidence of Matossian activity in Belgium dates to 1920, and the Marouf brand was marketed here from that date.Vlaanderen
205 Prinses Clementinalaan, Ghent, Belgium [Streetview, 2009]