Wednesday, December 19, 2012

WDC Carved Amber Pipe

This carved amber pipe, from the late nineteenth or early twentieth century, is in the shape of a bull, amber mouthpiece and amber horns, with a total length of 23.3 cm. 

It was commissioned by the William Demuth Company [WDC]), New York City.

Antique WDC Countertop Pipe Salesman Sample Display Case

The Demuth pipe collection remained intact, along with other fine examples of Demuth's pipe art in wood and porcelain, even after David A. Schulte of the Schulte Cigar Company of New York CIty purchased the company in 1925. When he later sold the Demuth interest to another tobacconist, the S.M. Frank & Company of New York, Schulte retained the pipe collection. In yet another business transaction, the American Tobacco Company obtained the Demuth collection in 1940, then numbering more than 150 French briar, meerschaum, and other assorted pipes.
The American Tobacco Company had its first headquarters on Fifth Avenue in New York, and production facilities in various southern states including plants in Reidsville and Durham,N.C.,

Completed in 1874, the American Tobacco Company factory was initially known as the W.T. Blackwell and Company Tobacco Factory. It was also referred to as the Bull Durham Tobacco Factory, and eventually earned the nickname "Old Bull,"  because the whistle actually sounded like a bull. The ell-shaped building of Italianate design is a brick factory trimmed with marble, and features a Bull Durham ad right on the front of the building. The Bull Durham advertising campaign even offered a cash prize for baseball players to try and hit the sign from nearby stadiums.American Tobacco Company factory, circa 1926 (Source: Durham County Library)

and Louisville, Ky. American also owned leaf storage sheds, a stemmery, and a factory in Richmond, Va; these combined facilities essentially represented a fully integrated cigarette and pipe smoking tobacco production center. On March 26, 1952, American joined the Kimball Tobacco Company of Rochester, New York,

In 1881, William S. Kimball started operating his factory in Rochester, New York. By 1887 it was among the largest producers of cigarettes in the county. Centrally located along the Genesee River at Rochester's Court Street bridge, the four story factory was built of brick with steep slate roofs, timbered gables and dormers.
The factory's most striking feature was the sculpture of the Roman god Mercury, the symbol of commerce, placed atop a 150-foot smokestack.

to participate in an exhibit entitles "The Story of Tobacco", at the Rochester Museum of Arts and Sciences, and the Demuth Collection prominent at this exhibition, was identified now as the "Half and Half Collection" (named after the American Tobacco Company's best-selling pipe mixture that was introduced to the public in 1926).

Over the years, the American Tobacco Company's plant in Richmond became closely linked to this city. Understandably, then, when the plant closed in 1957, the company donated the pipe collection to the Valentine Museum, the Museum of Life and History of Richmond.

Valentine Museum and Garden, Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries

The Half and Half Collection remained at the Valentine - occasionally in open display - for the next 35 years. In the spring of 1992, the Museum decided to deaccession the collection, and as museums are obliged to do,offered it to other museums. In June 1992, the Austrian Tobacco Museum (Osterreichisches Tabakmuseum) in Vienna was declared the successful bidder.

österreich Tabakmuseum, Mariahilfer strasse 2, Wien

When that museum was shuttered, the collection was sold at auction in Vienna in October 2002.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Saint-Claude before the Briar Era

It is on August 31,1456 that Louis XI, the crown heir of France,

visited Saint-Claude for the first time, while fleeing the wrath of his father, reigning king of France Charles VII.

He came with a light escort of fifty horses and a few officers,

The clock-tower gate, principal access to the abbey of Saint-Claude. Front-left is the Pilgrims Hospital, right below the church of Saint-Romain and its cemetery.

attending three masses that same day before fleeing to Bruxelles where he took residence in the castle of Gennape. He would stay there until his father's death on July 22, 1461.

Mass at Saint-Claude Cathedral

As King of France, he suffered an attack of apoplexy in March 1479 and his entourage fervently prayed for Saint-Claude to save the King's soul and "immediately he started to speak and went on walking around".(as reported by Philippe de Commines who was present that day)

Soon after, the King made a generous offer to acquire Saint-Claude's reliquary and followed with a number of donations to Saint-Claude over the years. (Camille Davillé, "Sur les relations de Louis XI et de l'abbaye de Saint-Claude", 1928-1929)

This was not the first miracle to be attributed to Saint-Claude. Originally called the Abbaye de Condat it was founded in the Vth century by two brothers, Romain and Lupicin

It is believed that the abbey became the destination for pilgrimages as early as the VIth century. The abbey became Abbaye of Saint-Oyend in the VIIth century and the cult of Saint-Oyend blossomed. 

Saint-Oyen's reliquary, Saint-Claude cathedral

But it is in the XIIth century that the abbey would be renamed after Saint-Claude

Saint-Claude healing a child

whose miracles became so famous across Europe that it made Saint-Claude one of Europe's most highly renowned pilgrimage destinations. As early as 1480, the pilgrims could consult the records of Saint-Claude's miracles in the Magna Volumina Stupenda Admiratione Conscripta.  

In 1499, Anne de Bretagne who had just been crowned Queen of France by marrying King Louis XII, came on a pilgrimage to pray for Saint-Claude to help her bear an heir sound of body and mind. 

Anne de bretagne priant by Jean Bourdichon, Grandes heures d'Anne de Bretagne -Latin 9474, Folio : 2v-3, ca 1503-1508

When her daughter was born on October 13,1499 the royal infant was named Claude in recognition of Saint-Claude's divine intercession.

Claude de France married François Ier in 1515 and the King continued the program of donations made by his two predecessors to Saint-Claude.

The faithful from all over Europe made the pilgrimage to Saint-Claude. 

Saint-Claude's Pilgrim's coat button,weight: 20 grams, diameter: 3.70cm, XV/XVIth century

Local craftsmen turned many objects of piety out of boxwood, bone and horn. 

Saint-Oyend turns over the leadership of the School of Condat to Saint Viventiole in A.D. 514. From a stain-glass window at the Saint-Claude cathedral. This is the earliest record of a turner in Saint-Claude.

A turner's lathe operated with a perch ("tour à la perche") from the bible of Saint-Louis, France, 1250

Scraps from a turner's workshop manufacturing patenôtres found during an archeological excavation in the old cemetery of Saint-Romain de Saint-Claude (XVIth century), Courtesy of the Musée de l'Abbaye de Saint-Claude

One of their specialties were the turned boxwood chaplets called the paternosters.

patenôtre, Cl. Guy Millet – coll. Amis du Vieux Saint-Claude

In "La vie très horrifique du grand Gargantua, père de Pantagruel, jadis composée par M. Alcofribas abstracteur de quintessence. Livre plein de Pantagruélisme", also known as Gargantua, published in 1534, 

Rabelais tell us about the education of the eponymous giant, and his daily attendance to mass, after a good lunch, of course,

and "When he leaves the church, they bring to him, on an ox-driven chariot, a mountain of chaplets ("paternosters") from Saint-Claude, each as big as a head and as he deambulates through the cloisters, galeries or gardens, he says more prayers than sixteen hermits put together." ("Gargantua", Livre I, Chapter XXI). Some astute scholars have pointed out the parallels between Gargantua and François Ier and their respective fathers Grandgousier and Louis XII.

In 1599, King Henry IV of France signed a decree reaffirming the program of royal donations to Saint-Claude.

During the XVIth and XVIIth centuries, artisans from Saint-Claude continued to turn
objects of devotion,

This plate presents a turner's workshop with three different kinds of turning lathes: (A) made out of wood, (B) made out of iron and (C) operated with a perch. Note the two concentric wheels allowing for different turning speeds. Encyclopédie of Diderot and d'Alembert (1751-1772)

 that were sold to the pilgrims visiting the Abbaye.

Engraving representing Saint-Claude by J.J.Tournier in 1718, Courtesy Cl. G.GaignouArchives municipales de Saint-Claude

In every farm around Saint-Claude a turning lathe could be found by the kitchen's stove or fireplace with a few miller cutters, gouges, chisels hanging on the wall.

XVIIth century turning or treadle lathe. The turning speed was increased by using a flywheel and belt to drive a small pully on the headstock. In this model, the flywheel and the pulley are provided with a number of stepped grooves so that a variety of speed ranges could be obtained by moving the belt.

In the XVIIIth century and at the turn of the XIXth century, with machinery very similar to that of their ancestors,

Early XIXth century turning lathe, Musée de la Pipe et du Diamant, Saint-Claude

the artisans of Saint-Claude could no longer make a living solely from religious objects.

Member of the Abbey of Saint-Claude, "Histoire des Ordres Religieux et Militaires", Ed. 1792, first published in 1714-1719. Engravers include P. Giffart, Thomassin and T. Duflos.

They diversified their production towards household items such as handles, boxes, spoons, musical instruments, pen-holders, combs, necklaces, snuff boxes and ... pipes.

Turn of the XIXth century pipe. Courtesy of the Musée de la Pipe et du Diamant, Saint-Claude

Turn of the XIXth century pipe. Courtesy of the Musée de la Pipe et du Diamant, Saint-Claude

Turn of the XIXth century pipe, Saint-Claude, private collection

An excerpt from a hand drawn and painted sales catalog dated 1807 from Saint-Claude wholesaler Jeantet,

1838 engraving of Saint-Claude

shows that at the turn of the XIXth century the majority of the Saint-Claude production was in the form of turned stems which were sold all over France and neighboring countries. Pipe bowls for the most part were imported from other European countries, such as Ulmer and porcelains from Germany.

Courtesy of Dominique Jeantet

In the streets of Paris in 1835 many pipe smokers favored the turned stems from Saint-Claude,

Detail, Variété des Pipes et de leurs Fumeurs, Grandville, 1835

matching them with pipe bowls in clay, meerschaum, or exotic looking sea-shells.

Another hand drawn and colored catalog donated by Henri Aschenbrenner to the city of Saint-Claude gives us further insight into what the local pipe production was in the first half of the XIXth century.

"Objects manufactured in Saint-Claude before 1841", Illustrated Catalog offered by Mr. Henri Ashenbrenner. Courtesy Bibliothèque municipale de Saint-Claude

Of the 15 plates relating to pipes, 11 present turned pipe stems, demonstrating the remarkable versatility and tour de force achieved by san-claudian turners.

The last 4 plates present some pipes carved from indigenous boxwood, a majority of which are inspired by Ulmers from Germany.

At the beginning of the second half of the XIXth century, Saint-Claude was clearly poised to capitalize on the miraculous discovery of briar as the perfect wood for pipe smoking.

(Many thanks to Dominique Jeantet, Les Amis du Vieux Saint-Claude, les Archives municipales de Saint-Claude, la Bibliothèque municipale de Saint-Claude and the Musée de l'Abbaye de Saint-Claude for their invaluable help)