kampen sigarenstadKampen Cigars City
Kampen has a population of around 50,000 inhabitants and is situated at the river IJssel. Kampen is a small picturesque town with many historic sites such as warehouses, the beautiful gables of houses, imposing churches and old ships, which revive the beautiful and glorious time of the Hanze covenant.

From the year 1825 the then mayor Frans Lemker took the initiative to improve the infrastructure in and around Kampen, which resulted in new streets, roads and canals after worth the city was made easily accessible. In 1826 Johann Lehm-kuhl, a merchant from Bremen, made good use of these favorable conditions and initiated a tobacco factory - the first in Kampen. This German trader provided a cornerstone for the development, of Kampen as a Cigar City in the 19th century. More than 110 factories arose following his example. The 'Voorstraat' in Kampen was the cradle of many famous brands. These factories employed hundreds of people in Kampen who were engaged in the tabacco industrie. Today only one producing tobacco factory is still active: Olifant.

Historie van Sigarenstad Kampen en Sigarenfabriek de Olifant

History of the Cigar Industry Kampen

  • 1826 John Lehmkuhl travels due to the tight labor market in Bremen to the (Hanze)city of Kampen to start a cigar factory. Kampen struggled with high unemployment and thus there were low labor costs.
  • 1832 Widow H. Meulenkamp starts a factory on the 'oudestraat'.
  • 1844 Mr. Goosen starts with tobacco "Olifant" in Harderwijk.
  • 1891 Mr W. French start a factory on the 'Koornmarkt'.
  • 1892 There were now 35 factories in Kampen, including 4 large with over 1000 werknemers. one third of the working class were employed in this industry. The wages that were paid were up to HFL. 22, - per week.
  • 1910 Kampen counted ± 114 plants and factories most of which consisted of "homeworkers".
  • 1920 Due to high competition and significant cost increases decreased wages to HFL. 10, - per week or HFL.4,50 per 1,000 cigars.
  • 1920 Eindhoven was the "City of Light" and the Kampen "Cigar City" from the Netherlands.

The V.O.C. and Olifant
The V.O.C.(Eastern India Company) was between 1602 and 1799, the largest and most powerful trading company in the world. They transported precious goods such as herbs, spices, silk, coffee, cotton and tobacco from Asia to the Netherlands.
The V.O.C. has built many ships, including the freighter "de Olifant" in 1639. Some sources say this ship was called "The White Elephant". In September 1639 the ship left the port of Texel to pass 'Kaap de goede Hoop' to travel to its ultimate goal, Batavia, now Jakarta, where it arrived on March 16, 1640.
These trade route preserved in length of days to obtain valuable tobacco and other raw materials from the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra.
Cigars factory Olifant had the V.O.C. always on a high priority throughout it's history. That can be seen in the various cigars models with names that date from that time. For example Matelieff was a stern and fearless captain in the service of the V.O.C..

History of "tobacco factory de Olifant".

  • 1844 tobacco Elephant founded by G Goosen in Harderwijk.
  •  1883 Widow H. Meulenkamp built a new factory at the 'Voorstraat 104' and in front laying down the first stone. This is now the entrance to "De Olifant".
  • 1916 W. Fransen & Zn. factory took over Widow Meulenkamp's factory and moved his company from the Koornmarkt to  the Voostraat.
  •  1953 W. Fransen & Zn. take over "Olifant" from Harderwijk.
  • 1965 W. Fransen & Zn. take over "de Eenhoorn" located in Zaltbommel since 1815.
  • 1983 Tobacco Manufacturer Henk van der Sluis dreamed of cigar production was quantitatively small but provided great quality. Due to its large experience in the industry he had been his own idea about what the quality should be. He could start off in a number of buildings at de Voorstraat in Kampen to realize his dream. Henk van der Sluis takes over "W. Fransen & zn. "On all brands and contents. Meanwhile, the factory covered five houses Voorstraat 100 up to 108. In that time was chewing tobacco ,pipe tobacco and rolling tobacco (also called "Olifant") was still produced. The machines used for this purpose are still full of pride in our factory. In particular, the "eestmachine" or tobacco drying machine from the year 1888 already on this place since this year.
  • 1986 The factory will resume producing quality cigars under the brand "Sigarenfabriek Olifant".
  • 1987 The shop at the 'Oudestraat' which is adjacent to the tobacco factory is bought and converted into a rustic cigar shop.
  • 1988 Big party in honor of the "eest machine" that isin business for 100 years.
  • 1997 The largest painting Kenne Gregoir has ever completed, it occupies an entire room at the Elephant. (Kenne Gregoir Room).
  •  2001 The new Tobacco Act is introduced, Sigarenfabriek Olifant must perform now warning stickers on her cedar boxes. No advertising outside a tobacconist could be made.
  • 2003 Eenhoorn Coffee and tea is founded
  • 2006 Smoking banned in the workplace
  • 2008 Smoking is prohibited in bars and restaurants
  • 2009 The Elephant starts using coils
  • 2010 Heritage award of Kampen - awarded by the city of Zwolle
  • 2012 Entrepreneur of the Year.

degoudeneeuw.jpgDuring a broadcast of 'de IJzeren eeuw' (the Iron Age) of the VPRO about Dutch history in Indonesia, attention was paid to the tobacco industry. Watch the video of de IJzeren eeuw, with images and stories from Indonesia where the tobacco comes from and images from cigar factory Olifant in Kampen.

Click here to watch (Dutch)