Back in August 2016 we told you all about the Atkinson notebooks (LIVNP 2012.06.216-232) – 17 small hard backed books containing drawings and information on pipes from various parts of the country, produced by one of the leading lights in clay pipe research, David Atkinson .
Over the next few days, we hope to be uploading the last of these notebooks as PDFs so that they will be available to researchers. These really are a mine of information with details of bowl forms and marks as well as possible attributions for the pipes themselves.
What wasn’t apparent to us at the Archive, when we first started scanning these notebooks, was how close the collaboration had been between David Atkinson and the other leading light in pipe research, Adrian Oswald . We were aware that these two titans of the clay pipe world had regularly collaborated with each other but we had not appreciated that these notebooks had clearly been passed between them.
On some of the pages, particularly in the London books, there are annotations in the unmistakable hand writing of Adrian Oswald. Adrian adds comments about the attribution of some of the marks and notes where other examples are known.
We now have instant access to documents and can send and receive messages from the comfort of our own home with just the push of a button, but in the days before the internet the only way information could be exchanged was via the post. It is clear that David sent at least some of his notebooks to Adrian for comment in the same way as he did to one of our Trustees, David Higgins, when he was compiling his PhD thesis on the Broseley pipe industry in Shropshire.
Both David Atkinson and Adrian Oswald were excellent record keepers and both men kept all the letters they were sent. We are lucky enough to now have these letters in our collection, preserving both sides of the conversation. They make for fascinating reading giving us insights into the lives and interests of these two great researchers outside of the world of pipes as well as providing a mine of valuable unpublished information.
It is possible that more connections will come to light as we continue to process the Atkinson Archive, as there are also clear references to the Elkins Collection, another substantial and important group of pipes from London that we now hold. What else will we discover?
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.
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.
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.
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).
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”.
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.
This is certainly a very interesting group of pipes and one that makes a very welcome addition to the Pipe Archive’s collections.
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.
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.
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?
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).
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.
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.
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.
Hot off the Press! Today we are at the CIfA conference in Newcastle to officially launch the HOW TO… pages of our website
Our new HOW TO… pages take you through all the steps of what to do when you’ve found a pipe and want to know all about it. Our pages tell you how to … get help with excavation, illustration and reporting, as well as how to…. identify the likely maker and place of production.
In addition to the HOW TO… pages there is also a useful glossary of pipe terms, which we will update from time to time
All our guidelines are also available to download as a PDF.
We hope that these pages will be helpful but if you can’t find what you are looking for, then don’t forget that you can always email us a question or query on NCTPA@talktalk.net
You can also use our site to check out what digital resources we have from your area either through a Find by Location page or on our Resources page. Keep an eye on these pages because we are adding to them all the time.
Now back to it – people to see, pipe queries to answer!
Sudbury Hall in Derbyshire is a 17th century house built by George Vernon, which is now in the safe keeping of the National Trust. Anyone who has watch the BBC’s Price and Prejudice may recognise it, as it was used for the filming of the interior shots.
Next to Sudbury Hall is the Museum of Childhood with its reconstructed Victorian schoolroom and nursery filled with old toys and games. The museum is currently rationalising their collection and came across a small number of smoking related items. These didn’t really fit in with the childhood theme of the museum so they were looking for someone to give their waifs and strays a new home. That’s where the National Pipe Archive stepped in.
In early February the Archive’s curator visited Sudbury and met Sue Fraser and Helen Subden, Collections Assistants, to pick-up seven objects for re-homing. It was a fun visit – it’s not every day you get to have a cup of tea in the butler’s pantry! The Hall was undergoing some work in preparation for opening to the public over the half-term holiday, but it was still a beautiful building – if you’ve not visited before, you should!
As well as being able to help by offering the surplus objects a good home, what has made the objects even more special from the Archive’s point of view is that many of them fill gaps that are poorly represented in our collection of pipes and other smoking related items. So, the objects – what where they?
LIVNP 2017.01.01 – A giant ‘cadger’ pipe, with the bowl depicting a large glass building, probably the Great Exhibition building of 1851. Pipes with this design were first produced for sale at the exhibition itself, but remained popular for years afterwards and were produced into the early twentieth century. We have a number of cadger pipes in our collection but this one is unusual in that it has been decorated with coloured paint, although not amazingly well, it has to be said. These large pipes were most likely to have been novelties rather than produced with the intention of being smoked, although it is evident from the staining in some examples that people have clearly tried!
LIVNP 2017.01.02 – A short-stemmed “cutty” pipe with the lettering MINERS PIPE moulded along the sides of the stem, which was the pattern name for this particular style of pipe. This example hasn’t been smoked. This is a common style of pipe that would have been produced by a number of the larger pipe making firms during the later 19th and early 20th centuries.
LIVNP 2017.01.03 – A Bryant and May match box containing seven incredibly large matches. These were called a Motor Match and were for “motor-car, cycle and launch lamps” and were first advertised in 1904. It states on the box that these will “flame for 20 seconds and keep alight in the strongest wind”. With heads this size, we are not at all surprised by that statement!
LIVNP 2017.01.04 – This item comprises a group of 11 very long “safety” matches.
LIVNP 2017.01.05 – A late Victorian or Edwardian novelty brass vesta case with a striker on one side. It is a rather unusual shape – almost “tooth” or “tusk-like” – with a rather charming pig on the top.
LIVNP 2017.01.06 – A silver vesta case marked with a Birmingham hallmark for 1912 and the maker’s initials JR. This case has a panel ready for the addition of a monogram but it remains blank, so the original owner remains a mystery.
Finally, LIVNP 2017.01.07 – A heavy non-ferrous metal cover for a large match box with silver coloured inlaid decoration in the form of a bird in a tree surrounded with other foliage.
All of these items make a most welcome addition to our collections and we are very grateful to the National Trust Museum of Childhood at Sudbury Hall for passing them on to us.
Since the Queen has been celebrating her 65 years of reign this week, we thought that a Royal Spotlight item would be appropriate.
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.
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”.
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.