Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Santa Claus is a Pipe Smoker

Santa Claus as we know him became part of America's cultural heritage in the 1850's 
through the combined influence of Clement Clarke Moore's poem,  
Clement Clarke Moore (1779 – 1863)
 a Visit from Saint Nicholas, 


and Thomas Nast's subsequent illustrations of Santa Claus published in Harper's Magazine. 

Portrait of Thomas Nast from Harper's Weekly, 1867
 Both verses and drawings confirm that Santa Claus IS a Pipe Smoker.
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house  
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;  
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,  
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;  
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;  
And mamma in her ’kerchief, and I in my cap,  
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap,  
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,  
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
 1864 drawing, Clement Moore's poem, a Visit from St Nicholas

Away to the window I flew like a flash,  
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.  
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow  
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
1862 drawing, Clement Moore's poem, a Visit from St Nicholas, N. Orr engraver
 When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,  
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,  
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.  
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,  
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
Thomas Nast, Harper's December 1865
 “Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!  
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!  
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!  
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”  
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;  
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,  
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St. Nicholas too.  
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof  
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
Thomas Nast, Harper's December 1867
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,  
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.  
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,  
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;  
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.  
His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!  
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!  
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow  
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
1868, Santa in an ad for Sugar Plums

 The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,  
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath; 
Thomas Nast, Harper's December 1871
 He had a broad face and a little round belly,  
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly.  
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;  
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,  
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;  
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,  
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
Thomas Nast, Harper's January 1874
And laying his finger aside of his nose,  
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;  
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,  
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle,
Thomas Nast, Harper's December 1876

 But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night.”

                                               Clement Clark Moore 1823

Thomas Nast, Harper's January 1881

Monday, December 15, 2014

Meerschaum Pipe Masterpiece dated 1856

The Crimean War (October 1853 – February 1856) was a conflict in which Russia lost to an alliance of the Ottoman Empire, Egypt, Tunisia, France, Britain and Sardinia.

The Ottoman Empire, with the support of Egypt, declared war on Russia in October 1853 and within weeks suffered a major defeat that gave Russia control of the Black Sea. 

On November 18, 1853, the ‘Pervaz-i Bahri’ (a 10–gun paddle wheel steamer), was forced to strike her colors after a running battle with the Russian paddle wheel Frigate ‘Vladimir’ (painting by Alexey Bogoliubov).

12 days later the Egyptian Imperial Fleet was destroyed at Sinope along with the Ottoman fleet

The destruction of the Ottoman fleet at Sinope by Ivan Aivazovsky

Key to Russia's control of the Black Sea was its naval base at Sevastopol, on the Crimean peninsula.

Fuad Pacha, then Minister of Foreign Affairs in Constantinople,

"Fuad-Pacha, Kialib Effendi of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Ottoman Empire and Minister Plenipotentiary  at the Congress of Paris"

called upon Napoleon III of France

Portrait of Napoleon III (1808-1873)

and Queen Victoria of England 

Earliest known photograph of Victoria, here with her eldest daughter, c. 1845

to join the Ottoman Empire in an alliance signed by Sultan Abdulmecid I

The Allies: Sultan Abdulmecid I of the Ottoman Empire, Queen Victoria, and President of France Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte.

against Emperor Nicholas I of Russia.

Emperor Nicholas I. Portrait by Franz Krüger

The British and French fleets entered the Black Sea on January 3, 1854, to protect Turkish transports. On March 28 Britain and France declared war on Russia. 

British soldiers leaving for the Crimean War, February 1854

In September 1854 the allies landed troops in Russian Crimea, on the north shore of the Black Sea, 

and began a yearlong siege of the Russian fortress of Sevastopol.

Map of the French (blue) and British (red) lines during the siege. The defenders' positions are in green.

Siege of Sevastopol by Franz Roubaud

The siege of Sevastopol

 On January 26, 1855, the Kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont 

Sardinia in 1860

headed by Emperor Victor Emanuel II  

Emperor Victor Emanuel II would assume the title King of Italy on 17 March 1861 and become the first king of a united Italy. The Italians gave him the epithet Father of the Fatherland (Italian: Padre della Patria)

joined the alliance and sent 10,000 troops. Finally, on September 11, 1855, three days after a successful French assault on the Malakhov, a major strongpoint in the Russian defenses, 

Attack on the Malakoff by William Simpson, published shortly after the battle.

the Russians blew up the forts, sank the ships, and evacuated Sevastopol.

                     1911 historical war film about the Siege of Sevastopol during the Crimean War.                        
 This is Russia's first feature film.

Russia accepted preliminary peace terms on February 1, 1856. The Congress of Paris worked out the final settlement from February 25 to March 30. 

Edouard Louis Dubufe, Congrès de Paris, 1856, Palace of Versailles.

The resulting Treaty of Paris, signed on March 30, 1856, guaranteed the integrity of Ottoman Turkey and obliged Russia to surrender territories at the mouth of the Danube.

Russian battleships were banned from sailing the Black Sea, which drastically decreased their influence over the essential warm water port and the Danube River was opened to the shipping of all nations. 

Fuad Pacha represented the Ottoman Empire at the Congress of Paris. He offered this exceptional meerschaum pipe to a genovese Admiral who participated in the naval battles and siege of Sevastopol. 

The pipe stands 24 inches (60cm) tall.

From Vienna, Austria. (ex-Ramazzotti Collection)

Its silver cap is masterfully chiseled and inlaid with semi-precious stones.

Forty characters in bas-relief ornate the bowl and stem, depicting an epic battle reminiscent of the glorious feats of the legions of the Roman Empire.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Wood Masterpiece Rothschild Colllection (7)

< Previous                                                                 Next>

Thursday, December 11, 2014

William Demuth Company (WDC) catalog, New York, ca. 1895

The William Demuth Company was a retail, wholesale, and import giant for more than 100 years. Started in 1861-1862 in New York City, by 1890, it was claimed that Demuth owned the largest pipe import, wholesale, and manufacturing business in the United States. When the briar became the pipe of choice, it produced 20th-century French briars of American craftsmanship and British lines, such as Milano, Royal Demuth, Demuth Gold Dot, WDC Triangle, W.D.C.-Hand-made, Stratford, Windsor, Aristocrat, Brighton, Snap-Kleen, and its most famous, Wellington (“The Universal Pipe”), a system pipe with a flared push bit. Magazine ads of the 1930s hailed the Royal Demuth as “the greatest pipe in 74 years of pipe making.”


In these few select pages of this catalog, the viewer can get a sensing of a small segment of its product line that ranged from “segars and smokers’ articles”—but no tobaccos—to show and cigar-store figures, walking sticks, signs, and other carved objects, rather peculiar adjuncts for a tobacconist.

Catalog images courtesy of John Adler.