Tuesday, June 7, 2011

"Three Torches"... "Five Matches"... Whatever.... old Matchboxes from Belgium and UK

Some information about the history of Belgian match production from the site:


Far from being complete, this article resumes over 150 year of Belgian match production.
With only a few exceptions all match producing units were located along the 'Dender' river in the Flemish part of central Belgium.
1835: Balthazar MERTENS started a small phosphormatch producing unit in its existing shoe-polish plant at Lessen. The plant needed to be expanded and was moved to Geraardsbergen (Grammont)(G) in 1850. The acquisition of the Swedish Balköping patent in 1855 continued the expansion. (Trade Marks (TM): The Griffon, The Obelisk) (see picture on the left).
1850: Another plant opened in Geraardsbergen by M. BIDES continued after his death in 1870 by Victor DE SCHEYE (V.D.S.)(TM: The Juggler, silhouet series, The Horse)(see picture on the left).
1860: A second match producing center started about 20 km away at Ninove (N) at first by VAN DEN BOSSCHE, VIOLON & CIE (TM: Acorn, The Shamrock) later joined by COBBAERT before becoming 'Allumetière de Ninove'. (see picture below left)
Also producing were F. HOEBEKE (N) (TM: Anchor with Eagle)(see picture below middle) and C. DE LANNOIT at (G).


1870: More new plants by: L. BIJL-CAMPEN
 (G) (TM: Red Star)(picture above right) and in the Gent area: ROCHE & CIE (picture on the left), F. COBBAERT (G) renamed in 1872 to "La Suédoise"
(picture below in the center) and later COBBAERT & PROVE beforea take-over by the K.E.T. öbenhavens Export Tändstikfabrik) in 1907. (™: The Lily, The Ermine)(picture below right)
1907: Other than the plants mentioned
above: CAUSSEMILLE & CIE (Gent)
(picture on the left), "Les usines de
Denderleeuw", "La Grammontoise"
(G) and L. COBBAERT (N).
1912: Due to the pressure on the

European market by Swedish companies,
8 Belgian companies joined forces in the
 "Union Allumetière" (U.A.)
(picture below in the center).
 Usines de Denderleeuw and L. MATTHIJS (Havré).
1920: However, the remaining companies have been bought one by one by Ivar Kreuger (Gen. Manager) from S.T.A.B. (Svensk Tändsticks Aktiebolaget) and started with the Trade name F.B.A. (Fabrique Belge d' Allumettes)(picture above on the right). Among them: V. DE SCHEYE, C. DE LANNOIT, L. BIJL-CAMPEN, CAUSSEMILLE, ROCHE and Nouvelle Fabrique d' Allumettes (Godarville).
This concentration left only Geraardsbergen and Ninove as production centers.
Not satisfied by these events some businessmen created new plants.
1920: MERCKX Brothers (N) produced independently until 1970. (TM: Vervia)
1920: La Sonégienne (Soignies) until 1930. (TM: The Black Cat) to U.A. in 1929.
1921: STEVENS Brothers (N): Belga Match Works moved to U.A. in 1925. (TM: Belga Match)(picture on the left)
1921: La Coloniale Allumetière (N) ended in 1950. (TM: Radium Match, Congo Match)(picture second on the left)
1923: Nervia Match (Okegem) until 1927(picture thirth on the left).
1923: S.A. Lux (Lessen) moved to U.A. in 1929.
1925: Dendria Match (Denderleeuw) activities stopped in 1927.
1925: Sogalfor (N) after been taken over by the Swedish Trust S.T.A.B. in 1932 it remained the only plant where production continued.
1929: The already existing commercial links between U.A. and F.B.A. (STAB) came to a fusion called "Union Allumetière".
1944: A new U.A. industrial complex opened after WW II in G with 1600 employers. At the time the company owned as much as 2000 ha = 4950 acres of poplar trees used in match production.
1976: U.A. became N.V. UNAL including also the Dutch V.H.L.F plant.
1980: The newly named UNION MATCH moved its Brussels office to G as only site (picture left below).
1997: Actually the official name of the company is Swedish Match Belgium.
1998: Swedish Match Belgium has decided to stop the production in Belgium putting an end at 150 years of history.

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