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.