Atkinson and Oswald – Titans of the Clay Pipe world!

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.

Page 4 from Atkinson notebook “London II” showing Adrian Oswald’s comments regarding other examples of this AS marked pipe (LIVNP 2012.06.230)
Facing page 29 from Atkinson notebook “London III” showing Adrian Oswald’s comments regarding not only another George Andrew mark but also a Joseph Andrew (LIVNP 2012.06.228)
Page 37 from Atkinson notebook “London I” showing Adrian Oswald’s comments regarding the location of similar examples of this three-letter mark (LIVNP 2012.06.225).

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?

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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.

 

Gambier-A
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.

 

Masonic-pipe
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”.

 

AOFB-pipe
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.

Have you missed us?

If it is not too late – Happy New Year!  We’ve been a bit quiet on here lately and you may have thought we were not up to much, but things have been very busy.  Back in November the Archive was invited by the Académie Internationale de la Pipe to give a paper at their conference, which was being held in Japan at the Tobacco and Salt Museum in Tokyo. This was the perfect opportunity, and setting, for us to present a report on how  the Historic England project that we have been working on has been progressing, and to highlight some of the Archive’s collections.

japan-conference
Members of the Archive giving an update on the Historic England Project (Photo. B. van der Lingen).

The whole smoking culture in Japan is very different from here.  The pipes look completely different – called Kiseru – and the tobacco is also very different, being incredibly finely shredded.

As part of the conference we were very lucky to have been given the opportunity to visit a traditional kiseru maker in Tsubame.

kiseru-maker-with-show-pipe
Last traditional Kiseru maker with a show pipe outside his workshop in Tsubame, Japan (Photo D. Higgins).

He makes his pipes out of metal.  The basic pattern is cut out of metal and then the maker painstakingly hammers them into shape.  In order to help us understand the process he had a series of different stages of the process laid out for us.  Gradually the pipe emerges from a flat piece of metal into a full formed pipe.

kiseru-stages
Different stages of making a metal kiseru – from a flat cut out to a finished pipe. (Photo S. White).

The whole process is far too time consuming for him to show us the production of a pipe from start to finish during the short time we had with him, but he did allow us to film him at work (see the video below).  This gave a chance to get a feel for how it was done.

Video of a Tsubame kiseru maker.

Some Kiseru are made completely out of metal, but others have a metal bowl and metal mouthpiece section, with a simple bamboo stem in between.  We have two such examples in the Archive’s collection.

The first example is from the Cole Collection (LIVNP 2014.03.099).  This pipe has not been hand crafted as the examples we saw in Tsubame, but has been cast.  Both the bowl and the mouthpiece have intertwined animals.  The stem is made of bamboo.

livnp_2014_03_099livnp_2014_03_099-detail-1

The second example is from the Orlik Collection (LIVNP 2016.13.01). This pipe also has a bamboo stem and but this time the bowl and mouthpiece are made of silver, which has been engraved with flowers.

livnp-2016-13-01

Since we have been back we have been working hard on the Archive website; putting up lots more pages with even more pipe information.  There is still more to come and now we are back, regular posts will resume.