Category Archives: Publicity

Dutch Cigarettes, Part 1: Caravellis

‘Caravellis Foxtrot’ by Han Beuker & A. De Kloek-Beuker. Publisher not mentioned, but likely the Mignot & De Block company from Eindhoven, The Netherlands (s.d., illustrator unknown).

The Caravellis Foxtrot was meant to promote cigarettes with that brand name. The expensive sheet music edition and the drawing of the elegant dancing couple strongly suggests that the publicity targeted a sophisticated (rich) public.

Even if the name suggests otherwise, Caravellis Frères was the trade name of a Dutch company that manufactured Egyptian-style cigarettes. At the turn of the century real Egyptian cigarettes, manufactured with Turkish tobacco in Egypt, were very popular with the richer part of the population. The production was predominantly done by Greek manufacturers who imported the tobacco from ‘Ottoman countries’ and created blends with ‘exquisite taste’. These Egyptian cigarettes were promoted as handmade, exclusive luxury items. And they were expensive. Accordingly the cigarettes were packed in colourful eye-catching boxes or tins. They were easily recognisable by their Egyptian iconography. This tin of Dimitrino cigarettes for example presents us an exotic scene of a lush woman lazily enjoying her smoke with a view on the Nile.

Other visuals for Egyptian cigarettes used architectural elements, sculptures or drawings from the land of the Pharaohs. The same iconography was being used on the covers of ‘oriental’ sheet music of the same period.

Egyptian Dream‘ by Font Palmarola (publisher unknown, Barcelona, s.d.)

The development of the tourist industry in Egypt promoted the Egyptian cigarettes. The well-to-do tourists brought the blended tobacco sticks home and thus introduced this novelty to the Western world.

Sur la route de Karnak‘ by Harry Sing, published by Gallet & Fils (Paris, 1930) and illustrated by Clérice frères.

The success of the Egyptian cigarettes prompted imitations all over the world. In the US these Egyptian-style copy-cats were mostly manufactured by (again) Greek entrepreneurs. No doubt, the most successful brand of these imitations was Camel. Not owned by a Greek, Camel cigarettes were no longer handmade and sold at an unbeatable price. Thanks to a teasing ad-campaign they stopped all competitors dead in their tracks.

In Holland a Dutch tobacco company, Mignot & De Block, produced Egyptian-style cigarettes using the name of a Greek-sounding manufacturer ‘Caravellis‘. The French ‘Frères‘ (Brothers) added some finesse to the lended trade name. This shrewd company surely must have sponsored or published the ‘Caravellis foxtrot‘ sheet music that appears at the start of this post. Caravellis sold their cigarettes in tin boxes, with the typical ‘Egyptian look’. It gave an exotic and luxurious atmosphere to the smoking of Caravellis cigarettes.

Tin of Caravellis Egyptian cigarettes.

The refined packaging came hand in hand with clever advertising, such as this from a 1925 newspaper.

Advert in a Dutch newspaper for Caravellis cigarettes
Caravellis Advert in a Dutch newspaper: With the 5 O’clock Tea (Source: ‘Nieuwe Leidsche Courant’, nov. 16, 1925)

To encourage customer loyalty Caravellis offered cigarette silks as a promotional gift. At that time it was common for tobacco companies to offer these ‘tobacco silks’ (or zijdjes in Dutch). They were small pieces of printed or woven satin, almost never silk, given away for free inside each packet or box. Sometimes the cigarette pack included only a coupon that one could trade for a silk. Mostly these silks were published as sets: images of beautiful women, flowers, birds, butterflies or sports. With the outbreak of the First World War military themes became all the rage. Inevitably, customers were urged to acquire albums in order to loyally collect the sets (and continue to buy Caravellis).

Tobacco silks from Kiazim Emin, another brand of Egyptian cigarettes during the Twenties.

But the Caravellis tobacco silks were rather unique in that they were miniature woven Persian rugs, nowadays collected as doll house carpets.

Tobacco silks from Caravellis: miniature Persian rugs. Source: Europeana collections.

The silks were popular during the Twenties amongst housewives who used to sew together the small silks into larger textiles such as tablecloths. Or one could get creative, and use the silks to decorate whatever came to mind.  If a house lady should ran out of ideas, she then could get inspired from the back cover of the sheet music, and start to decorate lampshades, hand bags or slippers… Exciting!

Back cover illustration of ‘Caravellis Foxtrot’.

Kina for your health, hic!

‘Kina-Cadet’ by Eugene Besançon, published by Vve Jules Iochem Paris, 1896, and illustrated by Ernest Buval.

The man looking rather ominously at his bitter is popular French actor, Ernest Coquelin (1848–1909). His older brother was also an actor, and that’s why Ernest was nicknamed Coquelin Cadet. The sheet music title proves that Coquelin Cadet —probably in an effort to turn his notoriety into money— lent his name to a beverage named Kina-Cadet. These quinine-based wines, or kina’s, were very popular during the fin de siècle as aperitif or as ‘medicinal’ wines.

The source of quinine is the bark of the cinchona or fever tree, native to the Andean tropical forests. The Quechua people grounded the cinchona bark into a fine powder that they used as a remedy against fever. The Jesuits in colonial Peru, having learned of this local use, introduced cinchona bark in Europe as a powerful antimalarial around 1640. Although according to some it was the wife of a Spanish viceroy to Peru, the countess of Chinchon, who brought it back with her after being cured of a fever by her Peruvian maid. In 1820 two French pharmacists isolated the active chemical compound, an alkaloid that they called quinine. From then on pure extracted quinine was used to treat malaria instead of the bark.

Image of a French publicity for Coopquina to increase the appetite
French publicity for Coopquina, a quinine concoction that ‘increases the appetite of young and old’.

As a result of 19th century European colonialism, the demand in quinine rose for colonials and soldiers stationed in malaria-infested areas. To make the bitter quinine more palatable it was mixed into a liquid, commonly gin (for the British). Or it was blended with fortified wine, herbs and spices (pour les Français). And of course today quinine still is a flavouring of tonic water, bitter lemon, vermouth, and cocktails.

According to Dubonnet, the French government even held  a contest in the 1840s, looking for a new drink that contained quinine and also could be enjoyed by the troops.

Left: ‘L’Or-Kina’ by Léon Froment & Achille Rouquet (publisher unknown, s.d.). Right: ‘Madaskina’ by G. Frecheville & P. Guiraud, published by Auguste Bosc (Paris, sd).

At the end of the 19th century the number of different quinine wines on the market exploded. To our delight, this commercial competition gave rise to songs and sheet music to promote some of these Kina brands.

‘Je vends du Kina-Tarascon’ by L. Delormel & L. Garnier, published by Répertoire Paulus (Paris, 1887) and illustrated by Faria (Source Gallica).

These quinine wines were not only sold in liquor stores but also in pharmacies. It was recommended to take at least one glass a day, and even a spoonful for children. The Kina tonic wines supposedly had invigorating effects…

The publicity above (for Marsala Kina) was illustrated by Ballester  using an ephemeral sculpture technique which we explained in an earlier post. Vouched for by a doctor Valiès, the advertisement tried to convince the potential user that kina wines were indeed medicinal. The fortified wine was infused with iron salts, quinine, kola, coca, tannins and iodine. It could be used against all kinds of diseases and was infallible to combat chlorosis, anaemia, tuberculosis, rheumatism, pale colours, states of languor and weight loss due to undernutrition, overwork, etc.

And doctor Valiès spared no expense to sell his wine…

We have found in our collection two other Kina covers which promote an Italian amaro: Ferro-China-Bisleri.

Left: Robur, a waltz by Zeno Mattei. Right: Romance, composed by M. Federico Albini and illustrated by A. Ripalta. Both published by Felice Bisleri (Milano, sd).

Ferro-China-Bisleri was the first bitter to claim having also infused iron salts within the quinine drink. Its label shows a lion in which mouth one reads ROBUR —signifying force in Latin, and phonetically evoking the roar of a lion. Signore Bisleri himself resembles a lion. He looks very determined and ferocious indeed.

Left: Volete la salute? (Do you want health?), publicity for Ferro-China-Bisleri. Right: Felice Bisleri, painted portrait by Antonino Gandolfo. (source Wikipedia)

Felice Bisleri had been a freedom fighter under Garibaldi before becoming an inventor and pharmacist. At the tender age of 14, he fled his home to enlist in the Volunteers Corps of Garibaldi. A year later he was decorated with a medal for Military Valour for having distinguished himself in a battle where he continued to fight despite being wounded. It appears that at this young age Bisleri perhaps already drank vigorously from his own Kina wine…

In the sixties and seventies tonic wines knew a revival.  Advertisements in women’s magazines and newspapers targeted a new clientele by promising that it was beneficial for ladies.

Left: ‘Kids are murder!‘, British advert for Santogen, a tonic wine that helps when kids drive you crazy. Right: Dutch advert for Pleegzuster Bloedwijn, a remedy against nervous conditions.

The publicity claimed that by consuming a few glasses a day of the ‘wonderful restorative’ one could avoid a nervous breakdown. One felt so comfortable and life became suddenly more bearable after drinking this ‘medicine’ with an alcohol percentage of 13.5%. 

Dear housewives or mothers, if you can’t cope any more with another day of drudgery, an empty house, doing the dishes and the same old dull household tasks while your husband has all the fun, don’t reach for the booze. Instead listen to Arno with his version of Mother’s Little Helpers and put your feet up.

Chocolate Soldiers

‘Der tapfere Soldat’ (El Soldado de Chocolate – Tiralala !) by Oscar Straus, published by Casa Dotesio (sd, Madrid).

Der tapfere Soldat is an operetta composed in 1908 by Oscar Straus. It was an adaptation or parody of George Bernard Shaw’s 1894 play Arms and the Man. In this anti-war comedy the hero, a soldier who mocks war, uses his ammunition pouches to carry chocolates rather than cartridges. Therefore, the heroine of the play calls him her chocolate-cream soldier. This has inspired the pejorative use of the term ‘chocolate soldier’ for someone in the military who does not (want to) fight.

The English version of the operetta, The Chocolate Soldier, went on to international success on Broadway and in London.

‘The Chocolate Soldier’ by Oscar Straus & Stanislaus Stange, published by Feldman & Co (London, sd).

The operetta was adapted for film in 1915 and in 1941. For the 1941 movie only the score by Oscar Straus was kept. The screenplay was based on another comedy because Bernard Shaw did not want to sell the rights, having disapproved of the first version of the operetta which he called “a putrid opéra bouffe in the worst taste of 1860″.

You can hear a medley from Straus’ songs in the fragment hereunder.

The cover for Kwatta soldaten suggests that the Dutch had their own term for chocolate soldiers. In the Netherlands, the first packaged chocolate bar was launched in 1891 under the brand name Kwatta. This bar was so popular among the soldiers that the army became its largest buyer.

Kwatta Soldaten‘ by Louis Noiret & Ferry, published by Hakkert (Rotterdam, sd). Source: Stadsarchief Rotterdam)

The Netherlands had declared themselves neutral during World War I. Nevertheless the Dutch army mobilised its troops. Of course, the men under arms kept in their kitbag the oh-so nutritious and long-lasting Kwatta bars. From then on the bars were also called Manoeuvre Chocolaad.

‘Kwatta’s Manoeuvre Chocolate. The best peacemaker.’ Advertisement from World War I. (source Wikimedia Commons)

The pink wrapper of the chocolate bar carried the pictures of a soldier and a sailor encouraging to collect the coupons which could be traded for a tin soldier or some other premium, like tableware. The bars were for sale in these beautiful carton boxes.

Carton box for Kwatta chocolate bars. Illustrator unknown.

The Kwatta bars were not only popular with Dutch soldiers. Also Belgian soldiers must have loved the candy, as evidenced by this Belgian military booklet from the twenties, sponsored by Kwatta.

Belgian soldier booklet, around 1924 (source: kamp-vogelsang.be)

Godfried Bomans, a popular Dutch author, remembered in the late sixties that his father, a former captain in the Dutch army, filled the case of his binoculars with Kwatta bars during the First World War before returning home for the weekend leave (just like Shaw’s character). On one of these occasions he received an unexpected visit from Queen Wilhelmina. At one point she requested his binoculars and realising that the case had been given an improper destination, she would have said: “Captain Bomans, I hope you realise that the country’s neutrality is not guaranteed by Kwatta soldiers.”

In the fifties Godfried Bomans would himself write a book commissioned by Kwatta. The illustrations with funny moving eyes were made by his friend Harry Prenen.

‘Het ogenboek’ by Godfried Bomans, illustrations by Harry Prenen, published by Kwatta (Breda, 1951).

We end this post with a few politically incorrect covers. They illustrate that the term chocolate soldiers was also regularly used to refer to the soldier’s colour of skin.

Left: March of the Chocolate Soldiers by John Ashton, published by Montgomery (London, 1929). Right: ‘Goodbye my Chocolate Soldier Boy’ by James Whyte & Roger Graham, published by Roger Graham (Chicago, 1918)
‘Choc’late Soldier from the USA’ by Elton Box, Sonny Cox & Lewis Ilda, published by Francis-Day (Paris, 1945).