In the Spot Light! Pipes from Mary Wondrausch

The Pipe Archive is very pleased to have recently acquired a small group of pipes from the Museum of English Rural Life, that had previously been in the possession of the potter Mary Wondrausch, OBE.

 

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Selection of pipes from the Mary Wondrausch collection (LIVNP 2018.01)

 

Mary (1923-2016) was born in Chelsea.  She began life as a watercolour artist, but turned her hand to potting when she was in her 40s.  She trained as a potter at Farnham School of Art and the West Surrey College of Art and Design, opening her own pottery workshop in Godalming in 1974 and then moved it to her own home, Brickfields, near Guildford, Surrey in 1984.   Mary died, aged 93, in 2016.

The collection of pipes, which Mary used for inspiration, had originally been deposited with the Museum of English Rural Life, however, they felt that the Pipe Archive would be a more suitable home.  The Museum have retained eight pieces, but the rest – some 43 pipe bowls – are now in the Archive’s possession (LIVNP 2018.01).

The majority of the pipes appear to have been dug, probably from a bottle dump, and are mostly “as dug” and unwashed.  Most of the types are pipes that date from 1870-1930 and they are mainly types that are typical of London and the South East, which is where Mary was working.   They do not all appear to be from one source since there is one unmarked eighteenth-century fragment with glue adhering to the bowl suggesting that it may have been part of another collection at one stage.   It is quite possible that Mary may have added to the group herself since one of the fragments is a late eighteenth-century fluted bowl with the moulded initials MB on the side of the spur.  This particular fragment can be attributed to the Guildford maker Moses Baker, who took his freedom in 1762 and died in 1794.  This is the only fragmentary bowl in the group and may well be something that Mary found locally.

The group includes designs typical of the period such as fluted bowls, basket weave, thorn design, eagle claw and clasped hand; as well as some representing popular figures of the day such as John Bull and Bill Cody.  Other designs include sporting themes, such as a boot and football, Irish and Scottish designs, and one imported pipe – a socketed pipe from France made by Gambier.

 

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French socketed pipe made by Gambier and marked GAMBIER A PARIS / DEPOSE 918.

 

The group also includes some pipes that commemorate organisations such as trade unions, the Masons and the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes (RAOB) – all popular late nineteenth-century decorative motifs.  These include two interesting examples, which are worth considering in more detail.

 

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Masonic bowl with the makers initials IB on the sides of the spur.

 

The first is a very heavy Irish style bowl with moulded milling and has two figures on either side of the bowl – one sailor and one soldier.  Along the stem, which is broken, is the incuse lettering  A & N…./…C S L.  This stands for the ARMY & NAVY CO-OPERATIVE SOCIETY LIMITED, an organisation which was founded in 1871 by a group of army and navy officers. The aim was to be able to supply goods to its members at the lowest prices.  The Co-operative was originally housed in a distillery premises in Victoria Street, London, which was leased from Vickers and Co. They began by selling groceries but by 1873 had added stationery, fancy goods, a chemist, tailoring as well as a gun department.  The stores continued to grow and increasingly larger premises were being sort.  By the 1930 they had a number of store locations in London as well as Plymouth and had even ventured overseas with stores in Paris and Leipzig as well as stores in Mumbai, New Dehli, Karachi and Calcutta (now Kolkota).

 

A&N-pipe
Pipe decorated with a soldier and sailor, with a crown mark on the heel and the lettering A. & N. … / … C.S.L  along the stem.

 

The outbreak of the Great War resulted in a dramatic fall in sales, but this was slightly offset by a contract from the War Office.  The society was incorporated in to a limited company – Army and Navy Stores Limited – in 1934.

The second pipe of note is marked with the lettering AOFB in relief moulded lettering on either side of the bowl above a beer mug.  AOFB stands for the ANCIENT ORDER OF FROTH BLOWERS.  This was British charitable organisation that was in operation from 1924-1931.  It was founded by Bert Temple, an ex-soldier and silk merchant, initially with the aim of raising £100 for children’s charities.  Whilst raising funds the organisation also aimed to “foster the noble art and gentle and healthy pastime of froth blowing amongst gentlemen of leisure and ex-soldiers”.  The idea was to meet regularly in pubs and clubs to enjoy “beer, beef and baccy”.  The 5-shilling membership fee entitled members to a pair of silver enamelled cuff links and a membership booklet and card.  This membership also entitled them to blow the froth off any members’ beer, or a non-member if they weren’t looking!  The organisation’s motto was “lubrication in moderation”.

 

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Specially commissioned pipe for the Ancient Order of Froth Blowers (1924-1931).

 

The organisation folded with the death of its founder in 1931, but during the almost 7 years they had existed they had managed to raise many tens of thousands of pounds from its almost 700,000 strong membership, to fund cots for hospitals, outings for invalid children, toys and clothing and even roof garden provision in St Marylebone slum area re-generation.

There are a number of pipes in the group with moulded makers’ marks including GROUT & WILLIAMS, C CROP of London, GAMBIER PARIS and a Masonic pipe with the initials IB on the spur.  There is also one stamped pipe amongst Mary’s collection.  This is a plain spur bowl with an incuse stamp facing the smoker reading FULLER / UXBRIDGE.  This is almost certainly a product of J Fuller who is recorded as a maker in Uxbridge from 1845-1846.

 

Fuller-Uxbridge
Mid 19th century pipe produced by J Fuller of Uxbridge (fl. 1845-1846).

 

This is certainly a very interesting group of pipes and one that makes a very welcome addition to the Pipe Archive’s collections.

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In the spotlight! Skull Pipes

In the nineteenth century the French manufacturers, such as Fiolet and Gambier, were masters at creating ornate figural pipes.  Often these pipes had coloured enamels applied to the white pipe clay – a characteristic that is especially common on French clay pipes, but never found on the English ones.  Over time, and as a result of continually being smoked, the pipe clay itself discoloured, but the coloured enamels stayed as bright and as vibrant as when they were applied so that they stood out in strong contrast with the background.  Some of these French pipes were very intricate, with lots of undercutting in the designs that required the use of a more elaborate multi-part mould rather than the usual mould with two halves that was used in England.

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Enamelled Dumeril pipe produced in a multi-part mould – sadly not in the Archives Collection (Photograph by D A Higgins).

A number of these French pipes were of morbid or deathly subjects that included skulls and skeletons.  As with many of the French designs, these were copied by the English manufacturers and remained popular into the early years of the twentieth century.

This Halloween’s issue of In the Spotlight highlights just two of the many French figural pipes that the Archive has in its collection. The first was produced by Gambier and depicts a skull.  Not only has this pipe been enamelled but the eyes have been inset with spooky looking artificial gem stones.  This particular pipe has been quite heavily smoked so the white enamel detail can clearly be seen.

Skull
Skull pipe produced by Gambier with white enamel and inset eyes.

The second is the full figure of a skeleton and was produce by Dumeril of St Omer.  This is also enamelled, although it has not been as heavily smoked as the Gambier skull.  Not only do we have a full skeleton but behind his head is the figure of a bat!  He’s also smoking a pipe – I wonder if it is a skull pipe?

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Full skeleton pipe by Dumeril of St Omer, with white enamel detail.

In the Spotlight! Early Pipes

The Pipe Archive is fortunate in having examples of some very early clay pipes amongst their collections and these provided the focal point for a small group of pipe researchers who recently visited from the Netherlands.  Of the many early pipes from the very beginning of the 17th century that were available to study, two took their eye – both from London and both part of the Elkin Collection (LIVNP  2012.04).

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Chairman of the Académie Internationale de la Pipe, studying hard!
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Searching the archives for early pipes.

The first, and probably one of the earliest marked pipes in our collection, is an example with a heart-shaped heel bearing the initials RC.  It is likely that this pipe was made by Robert Cotton, one of the first pipemakers documented in Britain, who sailed to Jamestown, Virginia, in April 1608. Once he arrived in America, Cotton set up a workshop that produced a distinctive series of pipes, examples of which have been found during the recent excavations there.

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Robert Cotton pipe from the Elkin Collection (LIVNP 2012.04.30)
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Detail of the RC mark (LIVNP 2012.04.30)

The second pipe is perhaps Dutch rather than English and is decorated all around the stem with a series of small stamps and decorative bands of milling.  There is also a small symbol stamp on the base of the heel and this must have been an impressive piece when complete.

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Possible early Dutch pipe from the Elkins Collection (LIVNP 2012.04.30)

It is very difficult to differentiate between pipes produced in England and the Netherlands during the late 16th and very early 17th centuries.  This is partly due to the fact that a number of early English pipemakers fled to the Netherlands as a result of religious persecution, where they set up new pipe making workshops.  It is hoped that the on-going research into these early pipes will help to shed a little more light on what was happening during these early days of pipe production.

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.

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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.

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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”.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.