Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Battle of Bunkerhill by Boston's Gustav Fischer

Boston's Gustav Fischer Sr.’s rendition of the “Battle of Bunker Hill,” after John Trumbull’s famous oil on canvas, “The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker Hill, June 17, 1775” (1786). It stands out as one very remarkable sculpture, a monumental two-pound, 34-inch-long meerschaum work of art with 31 high-relief-carved figures, three American flags, and one British flag, a pipe that he carved over a period of four years.

According to The American Magazine, Volume 122, 1936, 36: “GUSTAV FISCHER, 90, Jamaica Plain, Mass. has carved on the largest carved Meerschaum pipe in the world, a picture of the Battle of Bunker Hill, including 25 miniature soldiers.” It was finished sometime in 1905, and although The American Magazine went public about it in 1936, an announcement appeared in The Boston Journal, December 24, 1906, “Battle of Bunker Hill is Carved on Wonderful Meerschaum,” claiming it as “...probably the most valuable meerschaum pipe in America...,” and “Remarkable Skill Shown in Meerschaum Carving,” The Boston Traveler, December 22, 1906, placed a value of $40,000 on it. 
It has remained in the family through three generations, and came out of hiding once, a century later, in 2003, where it was the center of attraction -- and awe -- at the Brandywine River Museum, Chadds Ford, PA, antiques show in May.

There is only one other American-made meerschaum pipe worthy of similar praise, and that was the Christopher Columbus pipe that debuted at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, in 1893, carved just a few years previous to this pipe.

You will find more photos of this remarkable pipe in the Tobacco Pipe Artistory Princely Pipes Album on Facebook.
(Photo courtesy of Dr. Sarunas Peckus.)

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