Friday, February 8, 2013

Report of the International Jury on the Pipe Industry at the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1900

At the Exposition Universelle Internationale of 1900 in Paris,

Dining Room , “L'Art Nouveau Bing”, by Eugène Gaillard, Exposition Universelle, Paris, 1900

Fireplace and overmantel designed by M. Hector Guimard, Exposition Universelle, 1900

René Lalique, élément de la vitrine du stand Lalique à l’Exposition universelle de 1900, bronze ciselé et patiné, 99 x 101 x 35 cm, on loan to the Lalique Museum Hakone, Japan

A panel from Tiffany’s The Four Seasons composition, which won him a gold medal at the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris. Image courtesy of the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, Winter Park, Florida.

Salvaged from the Laurelton Hall living room, this is one of the Four Seasons window panels produced by Louis Comfort Tiffany c. 1899–1900. The four panels were exhibited at Exposition Universelle, Paris in 1900 and Prima Exposizione d’Arte Decoration Moderna in Turin, Italy in 1902 before being installed in Louis Comfort Tiffany's home. Collection: The Morse Museum of American Art.

Alphonse Mucha, Austrian Pavilion, Paris, 1900

a jury of international experts evaluated the quality of products presented by all manufacturers from participating countries. Evaluations and awards were published in the "Rapports du Jury International".

The section dedicated to pipes (in Class 98) provides us with a fascinating perspective on the international pipe industry at the turn of the XIXth century:
"The first pipes appeared in Europe in the XVIth century at the same time as tobacco, brought back to Lisbon from the Americas by Portuguese and Spanish navigators."

"Nicot, the French embassador in Lisbon, sent some samples back to Paris."

Jean Nicot presenting the tobacco plant to Queen Catherine de Medicis and the Grand Prior of the House of Lorraine in 1561

"These pipes were very rudimentary in their appearance; they originated with Indian tribes, where they were heavily utilized.

Whoever has read the books by Gustave Aynard or Fenimore Cooper remembers the important part played by the calumet, the pipe reserved for Indian chiefs, in all key activities of their life: no counsel, no political or religious ceremony would take place without the pipe circulating from mouth to mouth, to affirm old friendships or to seal new alliances. Those were the same calumets that arrived from the West Indies.

The use of tobacco very rapidly generalized, especially among sailors and soldiers, the pipe spread out to all countries where the hired mercenaries of the XVIth century travelled. The Dutch were the first ones to manufacture pipes, which were solely made from clay."

"Shortly thereafter, soldiers and sailors were not the only ones to smoke tobacco in their pipes; bourgeois and merchants in sea ports adopted in turn the same habit, and their example soon found numerous imitators. Snuff, which had been prevalent until then, was replaced by the pipe. Under Napoleon Ist, the French marshals smoked habitually, and the Emperor, on many occasions, and in order to convey his appreciation, chose to dote them with some magnificent pipes.

Although our review could only cover the following three categories: 1 clay pipes; 2 wood pipes and 3 meerschaum pipes - the only ones to be produced in quantity in Europe - we will mention for the record, and information purposes, the different kinds of pipes currently in use in various regions of the world.

We find in Germany, the smokers country par excellence, the porcelain pipe, with a wild cherry stem, the length of which sometimes reaches phenomenal lengths.

The bowls are adorned with oil painting, representing subjects that vary depending on the consumer's taste; hunters prefer the canine themes such as the head of a hunting dog, stags, deers, and others; students favor cabaret scenes in particular.

Orientals, while using the diminutive pipe with a red bowl, with a jonc stem, have a preference for the water pipe, named narghile among Greeks and Turks, houka among Hindus and kalioun among Persans. One smokes in those
water pipes a special tobacco, very flavored, that originates exclusively from Persia.

The Chinese, the Japanese, the Annamites and other ethnic groups of the Far East usually smoke opium in pipes with very small bowls.

Nowadays, the largest consumers of pipes are the British, who have a strong preference for the briar pipe; clay pipes are nevertheless quite popular in Great-Britain, where taverns frequently offer them for free to their patrons."

The clay pipe

"The first clay pipes were manufactured in Holland, towards the first half of the XVIth century. Workers from this country, eager to improve their living conditions, rather precarious, came and settled in Northern and Western France. 

It is to their presence that we owe the introduction of the new industry in Givet, Saint-Omer, Arras and Lille, where decently sized manufacturing facilities were founded. Later on, other production centers of lesser importance, developed in Southern France, as well as in Montereau.

Currently, only three large clay pipe manufacturers survive, namely the Gambier manufacturer (widow Hasslauer, de Champeaux et Quentin succession), in Givet; Fiolet in Saint-Omer, and Souffaire, in Onnaing (Northern France).

These operations employ, together with smaller manufacturers, between 700 and 800 workers, producing around 1,200,000 francs worth of pipes per year, a third of which is exported.

Production is quite substantial, if one takes into account how little an individual pipe costs.

Clay pipes are still manufactured using old methods. The raw material is, as has always been, clay, that was used in the old days in a quasi as-is form and is today refined, in order to manufacture smoother and more elegant end product.

Progress achieved in this manufacturing process consists in artistic moldings of the bowl and the production of polychrome pipes, an innovation attributed to the Widow Hasslauer, de Champeaux et Quentin manufacture.

The Rhine provinces have clay pipe manufacturers as well; their products are plain, sold very cheap and targeted for exports.

In England and Scotland, this industry has also taken hold."

The wood pipe

"The pipes in this category are carved out of wood, of different species, principally wild cherry and briar burl; for quite some time, some were made from iris wood, imported from Australia. But there is no doubt that the briar pipe
is the focus of a widely developed industry in France, very prosperous today, and growing steadily. 

This industry is less than fifty years old.

It is by chance that the manufacturing of briar pipes occurred.

There was in Saint-Claude, in the Jura region of France, an agricultural population that dedicated the long winter nights to the carving of turned wood items, principally religious items, imitating their neighbors of the Bern Jura. Burl was the wood of choice for the manufacturing of such objects." [see Saint Claude before the Briar Era]

"One day, among the burl roots delivered to a craftsman, a fibrous block of a very special species, unknown to the mountaineer, nothing other than a briar root."

"After running out of stock of burl wood, the thought crossed his mind to carve a pipe out of this block, During the carving process, he found out that the unknown raw material was admirably suited for turning and polishing. This first observation led him to carved additional pieces , and experience proved later that those pipes had unique hardness and longevity, while they flavored the tobacco smoke with a fragrance highly appreciated by smokers.

The manufacturing of briar pipes was originally small; the new pipes started getting some visibility after the Exposition Universelle of 1855."

Exposition Universelle, Paris, 1855

"The first orders came from England, followed by its colonies. The success of the briar pipe spread to various countries in the Americas and Europe, and the orders poured into Saint-Claude, where this industry gained the significance we witness today.

The briar root is produced by a small bush, that reaches an average height of 9 feet with a 3 to 5 inches of trunk diameter at the base, that grows in Mediterranean regions, mainly in the Pyrenees, Corsica, Italy, especially in Calabra and Sardinia, in Algeria and in Spain. The briar grows in the wild amongst green oak trees, cork oaks,
myrtles and laurels, representing a constant danger for planted fields, due to the high flammability of its pin shaped leaves.

The manufacturing of briar pipes is concentrated in Saint-Claude, where the whole population is dedicated to this industry. It has made significant progress since 1889. All the potter wheels that used to be operated manually are currently powered by steam or hydraulic force, and the large manufactures that were installed in this small Jura town, are now equipped with the most advanced set of tools."

"The number of sole proprietorships is around sixty, including the manufacturers of bands, stems and other pipe accessories. The employed workers, male and female, total 6,000 to 7,000.

Production is estimated at more than 12 million francs, of which 8 million for exports.

Germany started, in Nuremberg, the manufacturing of briar pipes; it was imported there from France in 1867. A number of manufacturers were founded at the time; however, since this industry did not grow sufficiently, they merged and today there are only two manufacturers left, employing around 200 workers.

The products from these two manufacturers are of good quality, with real amber or ambroid stems/mouthpieces.

There are as well, in some towns of Thuringe and the Rhine region, a few manufacturers of wood pipes, specializing in briar pipe with horn or hardened rubber mouthpieces. Their importance is secondary.

England does not produce briar pipes; for the common and cheap items, she imports the quasi totality from Saint-Claude. For the luxury items, England buys the first class bowls, which are fitted with silver or gold viroles made in London.

The United States started this activity twenty years ago, and currently produce all the raw materials necessary for its consumption; the import duties on pipes are rather prohibitive: 80 percent tax.

Over the last ten years, Austria has started the fabrication of briar pipes, in Vienna; this industry is gaining some importance for the mid-range offerings.

Despite the effort from our competitors to imitate our products, the briar pipe industry has remained primarily a French endeavor."

The meerschaum pipe

"The manufacturing of meerschaum pipes dates back to slightly over 100 years. It started in Vienna, and for a long period of time production remained exclusively Austrian.

However, over the past 50 years, manufacturers were created in other countries, especially in Paris.

The raw materials in this specialized branch of the industry are meerschaum and amber; they also are used in the manufacturing of cheroot holders and cigarette holders.

Meerschaum (or sea foam) does not, and contrary to what its name would indicate, come form Ocean waves; the raw material is extracted from quarries in Eskechir, in Asian Turkey; it is a compound of silicate and magnesium.

In the past, the primary marketplace was in Constantinople; today it is in Vienna that the import of meerschaum is concentrated, the majority of the supply being handled by Armenians.

Amber, is found in the Baltic sea and on the shores and neighboring areas
of Dantzig, Koenigsberg and Memel. It can be found in Denmark as well, but in minimal quantity.
Extracted from the sea with special dredging machines, a few years ago, amber is today extracted from quarries located close to the seashore."

Until the 13th century amber was gathered on the sea coast, later on local people learned to fish it with long-crested landing-nets in the sea. Usually people worked at night time: they used to light up pitched barrel on a high hill or in the tree to brighten the coast.
ref: Amber Album
Courtesy of Kazimieras Mizgiris Amber Museum

After 1854, amber was being dug out in Lithuania.
Ref: Amber Album
Courtesy of Kazimieras Mizgiris Amber Museum

"A part of the Baltic was covered with forests, in the antideluvian period, and amber appears to be the petrified resin of a tree species that has disappeared today, the pinus succinus.

Amber is classified in multiple categories, depending on size and quality; the most saught after amber is green amber."

"Pipe stems, cheroot holders and cigarette holders are not the only objects manufactured from amber; it is used for objets de vertu and the smaller blocks are used for making beads.

Germany has a significant trade of amber pearls with the Orient and central Africa.

Austria remains the country where the production of meerschaum pipes is the most significant; objects manufactured in Vienna are of excellent condition, albeit of average quality.
To this date, Vienna retains the monopoly over exports.

In France, the raw materials used are of superior quality; production is less important, but also more artistic.

The pipes we had the opportunity to examine at the Exposition were sculpted by real artists.

In Paris, the salary of turners, carvers and sculptors of meerschaum pipes ranged from 7 to 15 francs per day."



Mme veuve Hasslauer, de Champeaux, Quentin père et fils, clay pipe manufacturer, in Givet (Ardennes)

This enterprise is over a century old, its foundation dating 1780. It is the manufacturer of the famous Gambier pipe. In 1900, it was the only one exhibiting clay pipes. Thanks to its engraving, chasing and custom order departments and their wonderful tooling, the "maison" Veeve Hasslauer, de Champeaux et Quentin, has successfully covered all the themes and created an infinity of novelties. This manufacturer can be considered as the first, as much in France as abroad, for the manufacturing of clay pipes. The products on display had the merit of presenting, in a charming way, the whole range of pipes, from the simplest to the most artistically molded.

MM, Maréchal-Rugeon et Cie, briar and meerschaum pipes, Paris

MM, Maréchal-Rugeon et Cie, new owners of Ganneval, Bondier et Donsinger, own the most renowned brand in the pipe industry, the G.B.D. brand. The products
of this maison have a well deserved reputation. From common to fine articles, MM Marechal-Ruchon et Cie have presented us with pipes of an exceptional execution.

After having introduced in France the manufacturing of meerschaum pipes, this maison has focused more specifically on briar pipes. It manufactures its own horn, amber of ivory pipe stems the finish of which is renowned.

The G.B.D. pipes a
re as appreciated abroad as in France; the annual revenues of MM. Marechal-Ruchon et Cie put the company at the top in this specialty.


M Jeantet, briar and wild cherry pipes, Saint-Claude (Jura)

M. Jeantet was almost the only one to represent at the Exposition universelle de 1900, the very important pipe industry of Saint-Claude. He is one of the top three manufacturers in this small town in Jura. Three quarters of its production is exported. Its factory employs 130 workers, men and women; its products of fine fabrication are very much appreciated.

MM. Sommer, frères, meerschaum pipes, Paris.

Courtesy Arjan de Haan collection

MM. Sommer frères are the principal manufacturers in France of meerschaum pipes and cheroot holders and amber cigarette holders; they also manufacture in briar root, with amber stems, of top quality. Their pieces have a real artistic cachet and are appreciated for their quality of finish. Among the pieces on display by MM. Sommer frères and the sculpture of which was particularly admired, we will mention the pipes with iris flowers, a tulip in art-nouveau style, a superb african head and a few others, owing to the talent of true artists.

Iris flowers by Sommer frères, Paris, 1900


MM. Verner (J.-H.), yellow amber pieces, Berlin.

A large offering of products in smooth or sculpted amber, as well as cheroot holders and cigarette Holders, of unquestionable craftsmanship.




MM. Wolf and Mathis, pipe manufacturer, Paris

Founded in 1867, by MM. Cawley and Henry, this maison has gained a reputation for the manufacturing of medium range pipes.

M. Milfort (G.), smoking objects meerschaum, amber and ambroid for export, Vienna (Austria)

M. Milfort is one of the most important manufacturers in Austria for standard quality meerschaum, under high quality conditions. He is a major exporter.

M. Vinche (J.-B.), pipes and smoking accessories

M. Vinche opened a workshop in Bruxelles for the manufacturing of meerschaum pipes; he has given a certain push to the development of this industry in Belgium. His products are of standard quality.


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