In the Spotlight! A Royal Souvenir

Since the Queen has been celebrating her 65 years of reign this week, we thought that a Royal Spotlight item would be appropriate.

pipe_royal_tobacco
Pipe and Royal Tobacco Packets in “home-made” presentation box (LIVNP 2012.04).

This pipe and its associated packet of tobacco is part of the Elkin Collection (LIVNP 2012.04).  The original box, if it had one, has not survived, but a “home-made” presentation box has been created from an old cigar box.  The pipe itself is a standard early 20th-century design and the packet of tobacco is now empty,  but printed in gold with the Royal Coat of Arms and the lettering FROM H.M. THE KING 31ST OCTOBER 1913, which confirms the Royal connection.

The label in the lid of the box reads:

This pipe & Tobacco was given to all the workmen who was employed on the refronting of Buckingham Palace which was completed in 6 weeks. When a dinner was given to all the workmen employed on the job & each one was presented with pipe & tobacco from his Majesty King George 5th.                                               31st of October 1913

It has been signed by S.C. Kesby.

label
Typed label from the lid of the box explaining the contents (LIVNP 2012.04).

In 1913 a decision was made to re-face the front of Buckingham Palace and Sir Aston Webb was commissioned to create a new design for the façade in Portland stone.  The stone was prepared in advance and numbered prior to delivery to Buckingham Palace.  The actual re-facing work was carried out by Messrs Leslie and Co, under the direction of Mr Shingleton, the managing director.  The work was reported in the press and an article in the New Zealand Herald, on 28 October 1913 noted that there were over 1,000 workmen employed and that they were working by day and night.  It was also reports that the “old dirty facing of French stone was being hacked away till the workmen came to the red brick, and then the find new Portland stone will be put in place”.

When the work was complete a special meal was given for all those involved at the King’s Hall at the Holborn Restaurant.  This too was reported on in The Times (1 November 1913), which tells us that men “came in their best clothes” and that a “substantial British dinner” was served.    It also noted that there was an “abundant supply of good ale”.  After the meal “pipes and tobacco were then passed round.  The packets containing the tobacco were ornamented with the Royal Arms in gilt, below which was printed “From H. M. the King, 31st October 1913; and the pipes were clays of special pattern.  Both packets and pipes were greatly appreciated as mementoes of the occasion”.

special_pattern_clay
The clay pipe of “special pattern” and the Royal tobacco packet (LIVNP 2012.04).

But who was S. C. Kesby, who signed the note in the box lid and, presumably, a recipient of this gift?  The only S.C. Kesby that can be found in the 1911 census is Sidney Charles Kesby, who was a 31 year old restaurant waiter living near the King’s Hall.  Given the unusual name, his occupation and where he lived, it seems likely that Sidney was one of the waiting staff at the king’s meal, who also received a pipe and tobacco as a souvenir of the occasion.

 

In the Spotlight! By-Laws of the Worshipful Company of Tobacco Pipe Makers

 

This week’s Spotlight object is a copy of the By-Laws of the London Company of Tobacco Pipe Makers, which is dated 1800.

bylaws
Bye-Laws of the Worshipful Company or Society of Tobacco Pipe-Makers, dated 1800 (LIVNP 2011.14.01)

For many years the organisation of the pipe making industry in and around London was in the hands of an incorporated company of tobacco pipe makers.  The company came under the jurisdiction of the City of London authorities and was able to present its freemen to the City Chamberlain for admission to the freedom of the city.  This basically meant that they were entitled to trade within the city.  Unfortunately, very little is known about the company or its origins as few records survive but what is clear is that there were in fact three distinct companies of tobacco pipe makers, with their roots going back to the early days of the pipemaking at the start of the seventeenth century.

The first company came in to being in 1619 under James I, who granted a charter of incorporation to the “Master Wardens and Society of Tobacco Pipe makers of Westmynster”.  This was a short-lived organisation, their Patent being officially surrendered in 1621, although they appear to have continued functioning in some form until the mid-1620s.  The second company was formed in 1634 when a charter was granted to the “tobacco pipe makers in the Cities of London and Westminster”.  This was, once again, revoked a few years later in 1639, although the company appears to have lingered on until about 1642.  The third company came into existence in 1663 when Charles II extended the charter to pipe makers in the cities of London and Westminster as well as the Kingdom of England and the dominion of Wales.  It is the third company that regulated pipemaking in and around the capital for the next two centuries and this is the one that the document in the Archive collections relates to.

The document is entitled Extracts of the Bye-Laws of the Worshipful Company or Society of Tobacco-Pipe-Makers of the Cities of London and Westminster, Kingdom of England and Dominion of Wales, made on the 23 March 1738, and approved, allowed, and confirmed by the then Lord Chancellor and Two Chief Justices.  This particular copy, however, was clearly printed in or after 1800 (the date is at the foot of the document) and it is signed by Thomas Phipps, Clerk.  These extracts deal with the rules relating to apprenticeships.

These regulations limited the number of apprentices that a master pipemaker could take and state that any new apprentice within 20 miles of London had to be presented to the Master and Wardens of the Company before being taken on, or within a month of starting.  They also stipulated that any children of a pipemaker must be formally bound as an apprentice from the age of 14 and that pipemakers were prohibited from hawking their wares about the streets for sale.  An apprenticeship was normally for 7 years, with the apprentice being eligible to set up his own business and trade independently when it was completed at about the age of 21.

These regulations shed a fascinating light on the way the trade was run and the restrictions that applied to pipemaking families in terms of employing their children or selling their wares.  They show how regulated commercial life was during the eighteenth century and provide insights into the ways in which pipes were manufactured and distributed from the workshops.

In the Spotlight! Lead Tobacco Jar

We decided that in addition to our updates on the Historic England project, we’d like to use the blog to highlight some of the objects in our collection – to throw a “spotlight” on them.

Today the “spotlight” falls on an object that the NPA acquired in 1998. This tobacco box (Acc. No. LIVNP 1998.34.18) had originally been donated to Darlington Museum by Dr Kirk in May 1925, but was formally transferred to the Archive’s collection in 1998 when the collections in Darlington were, sadly, dispersed.

livnp_1998_34_18-1
Lead tobacco box commemorating battles in the Crimean War (LIVNP 1998.34.18).

The box is rectangular and measures c13.5 x 14 x 10.5cm, and is made of lead.  There is also an inner lead lid to help press down on the tobacco that it would have held.  The box was produced by Stock and Son.  The registration mark on the base dates to 14 March 1856.  On the interior lid someone has scratched what appears to read “J Christie” – could this have been a former owner?

The box has suffered a little over the years and is slightly bent and battered, but most of the battle scenes on the sides of the box are well preserved.

livnp_1998_34_18-3
Detail of one of the battle scenes (LIVNP 1998.34.18).

The lid has a lion finial and the names of four Crimean battles –Alma, fought on 20 September 1854, considered the first battle of the Crimean War;  Sebastopol, known as the Siege of Sebastopol between September 1854 until September 1855;  Balaklava, fought on 25 October 1854,  and Inkerman, fought on 5 November 1854.

livnp_1998_34_18-2
Detail of the lid with lion finial (LIVNP 1998.34.18)

We are very pleased to have such an interesting item in our collection.  This object is currently on display at the Victoria Gallery and Museum in Liverpool.