Thursday, February 22, 2018

19th Century Viennese Beauties

A large, complex pipe whose motif is believed to be a late 19th C. interpretation of The Three Graces astride the shank, rococo scroll and foliate decoration, silver wind cover with amber insert and amber mouthpiece, 11" in length, 4-1/2" in height. Late 19th C. European. 

Antonio Canova’s statue, The Three Graces, carved between 1814-1817, is a Neoclassical sculpture, in marble, of the mythological three charites, daughters of Zeus – identified on some engravings of the statue as, from left to right, Euphrosyne, Aglaea and Thalia - who were said to represent youth/beauty (Thalia), mirth (Euphrosyne), and elegance (Aglaea).

We believe that these there ladies may very well be a more contemporary expression from this unknown European pipe carver.

of those three faces, one especially captures the eye...

but it is the half human-half vegetal carving on the front of the bowl that confirms beyond any reasonable doubt that the carver of this pipe was a uniquely talented and inspired sculptor...

From the Arno Ziesnitz Meerschaum Pipe Collection/Locati LLC Auction House

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Barton's Beauty

It is not often that we collectors encounter an unusual or eye-popping, jaw-dropping meerschaum pipe, but, occasionally, we do. There are not enough descriptive adjectives in the English language to assign to this monumental meerschaum pipe. It is a carver's liberal interpretation of the mythical Poseidon (Neptune), God of the seas. This statuesque carving is 8-½" in height.


It once belonged to an exceptionally devoted antique pipe collector, J. Trevor Barton of England, who passed away in 2008. 

It was in the auction in London at Christie's in September 2010, described as "Carved with a figure of Poseidon, nereids, and sea horses, gilt silver and coral mounted, inscribed ST. FRENZEL, Wien, the finial of Poseidon at rest in a grotto, amber mouthpiece." 

In our opinion, the catalog description did not give this exquisite sculpture its due respect. It is an absolute marvel in balance, detail, and finesse, with in-the-round carving throughout. 

Not surprisingly, a successful bidder appreciated this fine specimen. The House estimate was $2,300 - $3,800. The lucky bidder purchased it for $13,606!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Fantastical Smoking Set

This is probably not a salesman’s kit, more likely a custom-configured, special order set--nested in a fitted leather case with locking mechanism--for a gentleman pipe smoker.

Accompanying the three mid-19th Century meerschaum pipe bowls are three different, interchangeable push stems and their associated mouthpieces.

A very interesting aspect is the mix of materials that comprises each stem: ivory, amber, gilt- and silver-inlay on mother-of-pearl, silver cutwork, turned buffalo horn, piqué work, niello, and silk thread tassels … quite an assortment that hints that this set was probably very pricey in its day.

Prob. German or Austrian, c. 1850-1860.

Courtesy of the João Pavão Martins Collection

Monday, October 30, 2017

Posters, Pipes and Politics

Propaganda Posters UK Elections Blowing Bubbles Lloyd George. Cartoon image of David Lloyd George (1863-1945; Liberal politician, British Prime Minister 1916-1922), dressed as a clown blowing bubbles from a bowl marked Soft Soap with a pipe, the words Promises - Bluff - More Promises - Blarny rising as reflections inside the bursting bubbles and a quote "I am perpetually blowing bubbles" below. Artwork by the English illustrator and cartoonist, Leonard Raven-Hill (1863-1945). Published by Dobson Molle & Co. Ltd, St Clair Works, Edinburgh and St Steven's House, Westminster SW1. 1920s. Author: L Ravenhill. Size (cm): 76x50.5cm

We will conquer the drought. Stalin is in his white uniform smoking a pipe held in his left hand. He appears preoccupied and his eyes are focused on a part of the USSR suffering from the drought. He is holding a green pencil in his right hand and the green lines on the map indicate that a solution is being devised as we see...

The pipe in this poster is Harold Wilson's. Such was the Labour Prime Minister’s fame as a pipe smoker that in 1966 most British voters understood that the pipe stood for him

Thursday, October 12, 2017

A Storied Bull Head

This large bull head is on the cover of the Wiener Kunst Auction as Lot 307. It is a super-sized, high-relief-carved 19th-century figural pipe with amber horns. To get a sense of its size, its height is 33 cm (almost 13 inches).  

Around the shank is a circumscribed ribbon of bas-relief-carved cowboys on horses lassoing bulls.

In The New York Times, March 9, 1889 we find a closely matching description: “Another beautiful piece of work is being completed by the same firm [William Demuth Company] for the Paris Exposition. 


"It is said to be the largest pipe in the world, the bowl having been cut from the largest piece of meerschaum ever found. It is a calf’s head, 11 inches high, 13 inches long, and 15 inches from tip to tip of the horns. The design is from a picture by Rosa Bonheur."

Photograph of Rosa Bonheur by André Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri, c. 1863

The entire pipe is 35 inches long, the stem, of 23 inches, being made of 75 pieces of amber.”

Head of a Bull by Marie-Rosalie Bonheur, (16 March 1822 – 25 May 1899), animalière and sculptor

This bowl was once a centerpiece component of the “Half-and-Half” pipe collection assembled by the American Tobacco Company in the late 1800s—early 1900s, and exhibited at its Richmond, VA  plant. 

When the plant closed in 1957, it donated the collection to the city’s Valentine Museum

The John Wickham House/Valentine Museum, Richmond, VA; from a c. 1920

Portions of the collection were on exhibit from time to time between then and early 1991 when the Valentine decided to deaccession the collection. 

The Austrian Tobacco Museum, Vienna, purchased it later that year . It left the series of Presidential pipes (see the Facebook album, “Presidential Meerschaum Pipes”) in the hope that an American collector would buy them as a group. This Austrian museum shuttered in 2002. In October of that year, a large portion of this museum’s European holdings (pipes and accessories sourced to European craftsmen) and the entire “”Half-and-Half” collection was sold (Wiener Kunst Auktionen Nr. 41, October 22-23, 2002). 

Sadly, sometime between 1991 and 2002, the extraordinary, multifaceted, long amber stem and mouthpiece that was original to this pipe bowl had been misplaced, lost, or destroyed, because the bowl was on the auction block without its stem. The hammer price was 5,000 Euros, or about $5,500. 

After a long journey, it is believed that this bowl now resides in a private European collection.