Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Battle of Sadowa (Königgrätz)

This streamlined, 14" long, intricately detailed, cheroot holder exhibits the deft hand of a true craftsman!

The frenetic battle scene depicts the Battle of Sadowa between Prussian and Austrian forces in northern Bohemia during the "Seven Years" War.

The Battle of Sadowa/Königgrätz, July 3, 1866, lithograph by Christian Sell (1831–1883)

On the side of Austria and Emperor Franz Joseph,

stood the southern German states (including Bavaria and Württemberg), some central German states (including Saxony), and Hanover in the north.

On the side of Prussia and Kaizer Wilhelm I,


were Italy, most northern German states, and some smaller central German states.

Prussian Cavalry charging against Austrian Cavalrymen,1866, by Alexander Ritter von Bensa (1820-1902), Heeresgeschichtliches Museum Wien

Eventually, the better-armed Prussian troops won the crucial victory at the battle of Königgrätz under Helmuth von Moltke the Elder, now regarded as one of the great strategists of the latter 19th century.

Generalfeldmarschall Helmuth Karl Bernhard von Moltke, Albumin,
Kunstverlag der Photographischen Gesellschaft Berlin

Thus Austria lost the decades-long struggle with Prussia for dominance of Germany. 

The pipe depicts the Austrian cavalry standard by a Prussian officer and three dragoons. It has been preserved with loving care and has survived the ravages of time. According to company records, Alfred Dunhill purchased this pipe in 1920, 

A partial view of the Dunhill pipe collection, 2 Davies Street, Mayfair

and it was sold by Christie's, South Kensington, London, in 2006, when the Dunhill Museum antique pipe collection was dispersed. This is, unquestionably, a prized centerpiece in a very lucky private owner's collection!

This holder is prominently illustrated on the dust jacket of the book, "Collecting Antique Meerschaums. Miniature to Majestic Sculpture: 1850-1925."

Ivan Mazeppa

According to Herbert Rupp and Sabine Fellner, "Austria Tabak. Die Sammlung des Oesterreichischen Tabaksmuseum" (1991), this carving recounts the tale of Mazeppa, the romantic narrative poem by Lord Byron in 1819, based on a popular legend about the early life of Ivan Mazeppa (1639-1709), a Ukrainian gentleman who later became Hetman of the Ukrainian Cossacks. 

According to the poem, the young Mazeppa, while serving as a page at the Court of King John II Casimir Vasa, has a love affair with a Countess named Theresa, who was married to a much older man. The Count, on discovering the affair, punishes Mazeppa by tying him naked to a wild horse and setting the horse loose. 

French artist, painter and lithographer Jean-Louis André Théodore Géricault (1791 –1824) and one of the pioneers of the Romantic movement, best known for "The Raft of Medusa" (1819),

(left side detail)

 immortalized Ivan Mazeppa in his 1823 painting:

so did French painter Horace Vernet (1789-1863),

Self portrait, Horace Vernet, 1835, Hermitage Museum, Saint-Petersburg
 in an oil canvas called "Mazeppa and the wolves",

Mazeppa and the wolves, Horace Vernet, Musée Calvet, Avignon, France

The authors believe that this pipe was carved in 1845 by the Austrian, Johann Nepomuk Geiger (1805-1880).

Monday, February 27, 2012

Brünnhilde (Brynhild)

The arts--literature and music in particular--are standard subjects for the meerschaum carver to adapt in his medium. 
Brünnhilde (Brynhild), a shieldmaiden and a valkyrie in Norse mythology, in Richard Wagner's opera cycle, "Der Ring des Nibelungen."inspired many painters and sculptors.

(The Ride of the Valkyries" by German painter William T. Maud.,oil on canvas, 1890)

Here is a finely crafted cheroot holder with the high-relief-carved of buxom  
Brünnhilde. Did Maud inspire our meerschaum master carver?


(From the collection of Bruce Benjamin.)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Rupprecht Pipe

Pipe, originally owned by Rupprecht, Crown Prince of Bavaria, 

member of the Royal House of Wittelsbach, born in Munich in 1869.

Nacre inlaid ebony matching stem.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Japanese Silver Kiseru

Heavy silver kiseru, deeply incised pattern of dragons on both mouthpiece and bowl, black-lacquer rao, 12” l.


Courtesy of a private collection

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Elégante Bruyère de Saint-Claude (early XXth)

A graceful and unusual early Twentieth Century briar from France.

Courtesy Museum Chacom, St. CLaude, France.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Pipes from around the world in the 1880s

Albert Charles Auguste Racinet (1825-1893), lithographer and draftsman, compiled 500 plates into a multi-album book set titled "le Costume Historique" (1877 and 1888). 

Six of the 500 plates in the book set (five in vibrant polychrome colors and one in ecru) illustrate tobacco pipes: Europe (1); Asia (3); and Africa (2). The legend accompanying these six plates indicates that these pipes once belonged to a certain Baron de Watteville (1824-1901), Chief of France’s Depôt des Livres and the Director of Sciences and Letters in the French Ministry of Public Instruction. 

Later research has revealed that his pipes -- some, not all -- were donated to the Chateau Oberhofen, the Historic Museum of Berne, Switzerland, and can be seen by appointment. 

These six prints are considered the best of breed in authentic and original pipe art, if for no other reason, in imagery, collectively, they represent the world of smoking utensils.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Art of Clay Pipe Manufacturing

Clay is found in pockets created by the decomposition of primary limestones. Depending on the conditions, clay will be extracted in open air quarries or mined through wells and galleries. The clay is carried away in baskets (Fig 2).

Clay is mixed with water in large vats (Fig 3, Fig 6, Fig 8) for 15 days before it is left out to dry for another 15 days to obtain a more homogeneous compound.

At that time and appropriately hydrated the clay is loaded in large mixers (Fig 17) operated by horses (Fig 16).

The prepared clay is spread on boards and well beaten to mix and temper it and make it more plastic.

The clay is ready for use and is divided into small pieces of sufficient size to make a pipe. These pieces are rolled by hand into the rough shape of a pipe (the blanks) of appropriate length and thickness (Fig 19). The blanks are laid aside for one day or two till sufficiently dry for molding. The molder takes the roll of clay and forms the bore by inserting a long needle (iron wire Fig 18, Fig 20, Fig 21) through the center of the stem guiding it with the fingers of the left hand to insure its being exactly in the center.

The blank still containing the needle is then placed inside the brass mold (Fig 23) which consists of two pieces, each piece being impressed with the shape of half of the pipe,

The mold is next placed in a vice fixed to the bench and the two pieces are firmly pressed together (Fig 24, Fig 25, Fig 26).

By pressing the iron stopper (Fig 27), a piece of metal formed in the shape of the inside of the bowl, inside the opening of the mold and tapping it up and down, the inside of the bowl is shaped.

When the stopper is removed, the piercing rod is pushed inward to connect the bowl with the stem hole. Then the mold is opened, the pipe is removed and excess clay (mold lines) is trimmed.

The pipe are next taken to the drying room till perfectly dry and hard, the needle being left in the stem to prevent bending or warping during drying.

The pipe (Fig 28) is now ready to be placed in a sagger, a cylindrical container of refractory clay (Fig 30, Fig 31, Fig 34).

The saggers are arranged in the kiln in such a manner that the flames may not come in contact with the pipes. (Fig 35, Fig 36, Fig 37, Fig 38). The wood fire is lit that generates temperatures from 400 F to 600 F for about 15 hours.

This plate offers a closer view of the saggers and a section showing the spacial organization of the clay pipes to be fired.

Before the saggers are removed and the pipes taken out, the kiln is allowed to cool for about twenty four hours.

Each firing typically produced a few thousand pipes.

Here is a two-part metal mould (most often of cast iron) used in the process of making a clay pipe bowl. Note the finished bowl and two tools used in the procedure.

This clay pipe mold and stopper were used in the manufacture of a football (American soccer) pipe. It is marked "115" on the stem. It was used by John Pollock & Co., Manchester, England (Photo provided by Paul Jung).

Smooth English clay pipe and fluted clay pipe most probably from Scotland.

Found at the Maison Perthuis, 1682-1759, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada

Starting in the XVIth century, after the discovery of the New World, pipe smoking and snuff spread throughout Europe. In the Americas, the large number of pipes discovered as well as the inventory records of merchants of that time, bear witness to the importance of the practice of smoking at the Place Royale. A small point of land wedged between Cap Diamant and the St. Lawrence River, Place-Royale is the well-protected, strategic natural haven where Samuel de Champlain chose to build his habitation upon his arrival in the new land on July 3, 1608. This dwelling place constitutes the first permanent French settlement in America.

 Over time the smooth finish of the earlier pipes (as seen in the center of the display) evolved into a wide range of models. A French catalog in 1894 refers to 1,600 different models. Pipes found in collections today confirm such an extreme diversity:

Clay pipes read like an encyclopedia of popular political caricatures ( Robespierre, a controversial French figure in the years following the fall of the French monarchy who was accused of plotting a coup d'état in 1794; Thiers, a French literary statesman whose bloody repression of the Parisian uprisal of March 18, 1871 cost thousands of parisians their lives), illustrates legends shared around the fireplace (Jacob, Robin Hood, Noe) and even mythological gods (Jupiter, Saturn). A number of pipes were decorated with flowers, leaves, fruits, insects, fish, frogs, skeletons and skulls, caryatids and chimeras.

Painted clay pipe of Polichinelle by Gambier, France (4" h).

Dantan was a famous French sculptor working for the firm of Gambier in Paris in the mid 19th century. He created a pipe with his own head on it, thus preserving his reputation for posterity. Dantan, a master pipe designer, created many of the humorous designs that made Gambier famous.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Peyrau Terracotta Pipe Bowl

A. Peyrau was a French immigrant living in New York City in the late 1800s, who made a series of terracotta pipe bowls, bizarre, yet comedic, caricature heads of period personages as Phineas Taylor “P.T.” Barnum, Joseph Pulitzer, and William March “Boss” Tweed. The quality and character of Peyrau’s clays are reminiscent of some of the finest produced on the Continent. 

Brooklyn (New York) Museum Collection

This terracotta pipe head, 2- 3/4 x 2- 3/4 in. (7.0 x 7.0 cm), is of some important French military personage. 

For more information on the clay pipe industry in the U.S. read the "Clay Pipe Manufacturing in the United States" article on this blog.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Haida Pipe

Long-beaked bird with crouching figure and masks; Haida people, Canada, mid-19th century; 10.5 x 4.1 x 9.7 cm; Walrus ivory and shell inlay.

Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, Texas; The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Silver Repoussée & Engraved Pipe

A tall silver pipe made of two types of silver: one is decorated repoussée and the other is engraved. The stem is made of engraved and cold- pressed silver. The core of the pipe bowl is meerschaum. XIXth century