Maspero Frères Egyptian Cigarette Box


Maspero Frères Egyptian Cigarette Box


Cigarette Box


Small cigarette box made of stiff cardboard. The affixed label on the top is inscribed: “Maspero Frères Ltd, Cairo – Egypt, Cigarettes Egyptiennes” this is framed by lotus plants and a red and green Art Deco pattern. A broken paper seal inscribed with “22 Emir” and an Arabic inscription is on the side of the box. The inside surface of the box is also inscribed with the Maspero brothers logo and the word “Emir.” On the bottom of the box, inscribed in pencil, is the following: “Jebusite skull pieces (Pole [Pale?] excavated at foot of wall of David). Pottery from [Tell?] Jericho. Glass from Sebastia, E. Fuller 1903.”


From Stone to Screen


Cairo, Egypt


From Stone to Screen


Modern - acquired early 20th century.


James Mark Penney (Research and Content)
David Assaf (Web Design)
Jessica Matteazzi (Photography)
Chelsea Gardner (Collection Curator)
Leslie Field (Scanning/Imaging)
Lisa Tweten (Scanning/Imaging)





Cox, Howard. The Global Cigarette: Origins and Evolution of British American Tobacco, 1880-1945. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.
For Maspero Frères, see pages 113-114, 284, and 285.
For Egypt generally, see pages 283-5, 286-8, and 309.
For exports, see page 47n.
For Egyptian made cigarettes in the UK, see page 47.

Mullen, Chris. Cigarette Pack Art. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1979.
Page 78 discusses Egyptian cigarette boxes, although these are “Egyptian style” boxes for the American and British export market, not for domestic Egyptian consumption. Some colour illustrations, some black & white.

Shechter, Relli. Smoking, Culture and Economy in the Middle East: The Egyptian Tobacco Market 1850-2000. London: I.B. Tauris, 2006.
The most comprehensive and reader-friendly title available on the subject of Egyptian cigarettes. Relevant topics include:
Packaging – Information discussed includes the history of package production in Egypt (pages 39-40); the evolution of cigarette retail from bazaars to dedicated stores (page 49); the creation and content of cigarette cards (page 52); lithography and Egyptian vs. Ottoman production values (page 53); the distinctiveness of Egyptian packaging that began to be copied in the UK and USA (page 53); and the creation of the “idea” of Egypt in the west via cigarettes (pages 54, 62, 80, 83, and 86).
Maspero Frères – Most of the information on Maspero in this book is ultimately drawn from Cox’s book on British American Tobacco.
For some history of Maspero and its acquisition by British American Tobacco (BAT), see page 84.
For information on the state of mechanization in the cigarette industry in the late 19th and early 20th century, see pages 87-88.
For a table showing the number of hand-rollers employed by Maspero from Jan. 1920-June 1921, see page 91.


Shechter, Relli. "Selling Luxury: The Rise Of The Egyptian Cigarette And The Transformation Of The Egyptian Tobacco Market, 1850–1914." International Journal of Middle East Studies 35, no. 1 (2003): 51-75. Accessed April 11, 2015.
This article covers much the same ground as Shechter’s book, but it does include some useful background information on the 1884 end of the Ottoman sales monopoly on tobacco in Egypt that allowed the entrance of Greek merchants into this market.

Primary Sources

"Advertisement for Maspero Frères Cigarettes." Ottawa Citizen, July 14, 1913.,5689408&hl=en.
An advertisement for Maspero Frères Cigarettes in the Ottawa Citizen, July 14th 1913.

"Egyptian Cigarettes." The Lancet 2, no. 3396 (1888): 638–639.
A contemporary article from the Lancet about the Egyptian Cigarette industry.


Cardboard box


French, English, Arabic


Cigarette Box


Late 19th/early 20th century Cigarette Box; Art Deco; Egypt.

Original Format

Cardboard Box

Physical Dimensions

9.7 cm x 7.4 cm x 1.9 cm




From Stone to Screen, “Maspero Frères Egyptian Cigarette Box,” UBC CNERS Artifact Collections, accessed July 16, 2018,