Monday, August 13, 2012

Emperor's Pipe


"Emperor's Pipes," Pipe Lovers Magazine, March 1948, is an article written by George Leighton that exposed this pipe to the pipe-smoking public. 

monthly magazine from January 1946 through April 1950
The current owner has newspaper clippings from an earlier time illustrating the then owner, Dayton, Ohio, resident, Bob Rothaar, Jr. 

As Leighton tells the story (no doubt, having interviewed Mr. Rothaar), this pipe was carved by Carl Kiess of Vienna, Austria; our records show a Carl Hiess and a Peter Keiss of Vienna, but no Carl Kiess). 

It belonged to Duke Francis Ferdinand, heir to the Austrian throne, 

who presented it to Emperor Franz Josef, then kaiser of Austria and King of Hungary. 

Franz Josef was noted more for his enjoyment of cigars, specifically two kinds of (Imperial Royal Tobacco) monopoly cigars, Virginians and the Regalia Media.

Franz Josef working at his desk and smoking a Regalia Media, one of his favorite cigars, in a meerschaum cigar holder, ca 1915.

Over time it passed through several hands, and in 1921, it arrived in America, was taken to D. C., and shown to President Harding.

Source: Pipes of Our Presidents

Some time later, a certain Congressman Roy Fitzgerald of Ohio postured with the pipe in his mouth for the local newspapers, standing alongside its then owner, Lan O. Shank. (Fitzgerald is quoted as having said: "It is no better that the old reliable cob.") For a period, the pipe was on display at the Dayton Art Institute, but Rothaar placed it in a safe deposit box during WW II. Both the owner and the press claimed its market value as $2,000. The audit trail from then until about 1999 when the current owner purchased it is gossamer-thin.

This pipe is full of irony. Although much too large for the average smoker, it is, nonetheless, a tobacco pipe, yet the motif is the antithesis of smoking pleasure; many, including the current owner, have given it the appellation: "The First Smoke."

Seven cherubic boys and one delightful young lass, perhaps on the look-out for any sign of parental presence,

are at play, and a few are experiencing either their first smoke or its after-effects in this 18-inch-long landscape centered on a cauldron that is ablaze on its underside. 

Note also the lush red amber mouthpiece.

From the Sarunas Peckus Collection.

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