THE "FRIDTJOFT" PIPE
|Photo: Dr. Sarunas Peckus|
The lid depicting typical Norwegian leprechauns (seldom visible, but believed to help farmers tending the animals in the barns might make trouble if they are not shown proper respect), are carved in meerschaum and superimposed on an ornamental silver band as part of the wind cover.
The right side of the pipe bowl is an almost exact duplicate of the scene from the “Ice bear” pipe with the two birch legs carrying the future king to safety.
On the same side sits a man with traits resembling Fridtjof Nansen watching another man, supposedly one of his crewmembers, skinning an ice bear. On the top is a hunter hauling a rifle with him, creeping crossways over an ice block toward two ice bears in an ice landscape.
The one depicted in the left image (on the pipe bowl it is on top) is Gjøa. It was built in 1876, and used as a freighting vessel until 1901, when Roald Amundsen bought it, the first vessel to sail through the Northwest Passage in 1903–1906, and in 1918–1920, it was the third vessel to sail through the Northeast Passage.
The one depicted in the right image (on the pipe bowl it is on the bottom) is the famous polar vessel Fram, built on the request of Fridtjof Nansen by the famous Norwegian ship builder, Collin Archer, and launched in 1892. It was used in different polar expeditions, among them, the drift through the ice covering the North Pole in 1893–1896, the exploration of unknown land east and northeast of Greenland in 1898–1902 and, finally, in 1912, to Antarctica by Roald Amundsen, when the first humans reached the South Pole.
The back of the pipe bowl illustrates a sled dog, and the right side depicts a scene, obviously a copy of a picture initiated by the verse “A Ride on the Ice,” in the epic lyric poem, Fridtjof’s Saga, by the Swedish poet Esaias Tegnér (1782–1846), based on a Icelandic saga from the 14th century. The original painting or drawing from which the scene is copied has not yet been identified.
Esaias Tegnér described in the verse “A Ride on the Ice,” how Fridtjof warned the king against making such a trip. The king rejected his advice, and the ride ended with the horse and sled breaking through the ice. Fridtjof however was near by and managed to haul the king, as well as the queen, horse and sled out of the water. Shortly after King Ring died, Fridtjof and Ingebjørg married. He became an earl and administered the Kingdom of Ringerike until the sons of King Ring became of age. He and Ingebjørg returned to West Norway and her brothers went to war against him. Fridtjof won the war in which one of the brothers was killed. The other brother was given clemency. Fridtjof then became the sole ruler of Sognefjorden. He enlarged his realm and lived happily ever after with Ingebjørg who gave him two sons.
BY WHOM AND WHEN WERE THESE PIPES CARVED?
Little is known of the miniature works of Jehans Odde, other than his knife-making. He died in 1899 and could have participated on the “Ice bear” pipe as well as on the “Fridtjof “pipe, It is known that August Larsen did miniature carvings on objects other than pipes, and he was good on portrait carvings, but very few of his works are known. In fact, the only existing report on this is the interview by Krogh. Lars Prestmoen was, perhaps, an even better carver of miniatures, especially good on faces and ice scenes, but he used to “fill out" open spaces. This is not done on the “Fridtjof” pipe that lacks carving on the underside of the pipe bowl.
Personally, I am content knowing of the existence of two of these three pipes and that, most likely, all three either as individual or collaborative works were carved by August Larsen, Lars Prestmoen, and Jehans Odde.
After the iconography on the “Fridtjof” pipe was written, a clipping from the newspaper Aftenposten, November 17, 1912, turned up, revealing that at least one of the three pipes in question, the “Fridtjof “ was carved by August Larsen. He estimated its value to be Nok.1.000; it was to be raffled for the benefit of the “Norwegian Defense League” and “The National Society for the Counteracting of Tuberculosis,” and he hoped it would bring twice as much. The only condition mandated is that the winner had to have it displayed at the coming jubilee exhibition in Oslo, 1914. August Larsen died, however, on New Year’s Eve, 1912, and it is not yet known whether or not the pipe was displayed. As well, it is not known if it might have been brought to U.S.A. by the lucky winner, or whether that person sold/gave it to another who did so.