Ganneval probably came from the area of Saint-Claude where he had learned making wooden pipes.Bondier's family obviously came from Paris and had emigrated in 1789 to Geneva. He himself had worked as a wood turner in the clay and china pipe industry in and around Saint-Claude making stem extensions etc. Donninger was an Austrian or Swiss and had worked in Vienna, the world's center of the Meerschaum pipe. They agreed on the acronym GBD selecting the initials of their surnames. Bondier survived his partners for nearly 30 years. Their places were taken by others. Hence the property of GBD and therewith the company's official name changed several times.
- Ganneval, Bondier & Donninger
- Bondier, Ulrich & Cie.
- Bine, Marechal & Cie. and finally
- A. Marechal, Ruchon & Cie.
Meanwhile the GBD name was well established and thus retained. August Marechal and Ferdinand Ruchon led the firm into the 20th century. They were in charge of the company for more than 50 years.
Few details are known about the early fabrication of Meerschaum pipes. But as elsewhere too, the bulk was made as figural carvings. However at a remarkable early time GBD also offered standard models such as Bents, derivations of clay pipes reminding of current Dublins or Belges and early Bulldog variations.
At that time the prices for pipes were primarily diversified by the materials used for the stems and their extansions and the number and the styling of silver or gold bandages. Amber, horn, ivory and quill were used widely before around the end of the 1870's Vulcanite was used more frequently. The better clientele appreciated costly manufactured tailor-made cases. A survey dating from 1886 shows basic program of 125 shapes, including 12 Billiard, 36 Bent and 46 Dublin (or similar) shapes. Many of them displayed a "hoof" to allow the pipe to sit on plain surfaces. These program formed the kernel of GBD's splendid presentation at the Amsterdam World's Fair 1888. A distinguishing mark of the GBDs were the slim shanks.
At the end of the 19th century GBD offered 1,500 models(!). (Please note however, that the same shape offered with three different materials for the stems was counted thrice!) In the first decade of the 20th century stems made of amber and synthetic amber were still widely used, but Vulcanite and horn had become the most popular materials. A further sign of the times were army mount pipes which were available meanwhile in 30 different shapes of inceasing popularity. The winner of the day was the Billiard (36 shapes now), along with 36 Bents and 32 Dublins / Zulus. Best newcomer was the Bulldog (15). The hoofs were almost out of fashion.
There is a very simple explanation for GBD's program to turn more "British": GBD became a British company soon after the turn of the century! In 1902 Marechal and Ruchon sold GBD to A. Oppenheimer & Co. in London. Charles Oppenheimer had founded this successful trade business in 1860 as an import-/export house. His brothers David and Adolphe and brother-in-law Louis Adler soon joined him. Adolphe took over when Charles went to Germany as British ambassador. Briar pipes were among the first products traded. The business relation to GBD in Paris began as early as 1870. Being the most important customer in the English speaking world, Oppenheimer & Co. were designated as sole distributor for Great Britain, the USA and Canada in 1897. Especially Adolphe Oppenheimer had a burning interest in the pipe business, and Louis' son James Adler shared that. He should play the most important role in the amicable merger of GBD. A. Marechal, Ruchon and Cie. in Paris was now Marechal, Ruchon & Co. Ltd. - a British firm with four directors: Adolphe Oppenheimer and James Adler had their seat in the head office in London while Auguste Marechal and Ferdinand Ruchon went on leading the GBD factory in the Rue des Balkan in Paris, which was considerably extended and modernised. Ruchon acted as CEO.
Simultaneously Oppenheimer started to build a pipe factory in London. It was opened in 1903, but the forecasts had been over-optimistic for it's capacity could not be utilized to the full until World War I. Things changed as the French pipe factories lacked more and more workers who were called to the front. In 1916 the ledgers registered that 18,000 of 27,000 dozens bowls manufactured in Saint-Claude were determined via GBD Paris for GBD London. Wherewith London had become the more important location.
After the war, GBD continued production both in London and in Paris. London GBDs mainly went into the national trade and as well into the British Empire and the USA. Paris on the other hand served the French and the other European markets. The location of the factories influenced the GBD history furthermore in the future although later on the products of both countries occasionally were marketed side to side to match special market requests.
The claims after the 1st World War demanded further distinctions. First of all was the London Made, which became the Standard London Made, followed by the New Era-- in 1931 the top model asking 12½ Shilling. The Pedigree, although sketched around 1926, was not produced until the later 1930s. The New Standard was introduced in order to give the popular Standard of the 20s a higher rank in value. The Prehistoric, a deeply sandblasted black pipe, that still carried the small GBD Xtra stamp, was entirely new and unusual.
The French GBDs more or less followed the same developments, although Xtra and Speciale very longly used there. In the late 1920s a GBD with a metal filter system was introduced under the name Extra Dry. Also from Paris came another important new feature: the introduction of the inserted metal plate with the GBD initials on the stems. That insert added a further "touch of class" to the pipes and in London it was attached immediately.
The solid demand for GBD pipes also encouraged the management to introduce a number of sub brands designed to win new buyers. We can list such sub brands as follows:
- The City de Luxe (1921) had an inserted star on the stem as trademark and were marketed in England and in France. These pipes were the bestseller of the 5½ Shilling class in the 1930s in Great Britain.
- Reserved for the French market remained the even more favorable GBD brand Marcee, a derivative of Marechal Ruchon & Co. Ltd. that was offered until the 2nd World War and for another one or two years afterwards.
- The Camelia - made in London as a 2½ Shilling line - was only around for a few years.
- Important to mention is also the Riseagle—completely produced in Paris before the wartime for England’s smokers who wanted “a cheap but dependable British made pipe”… one of the most successful 1 Shilling pipes until 1939! The introduction of the luxury impact on the excise tax for pipes after the war put an end to this cheap brand.
Other brands of this time were marketed with even larger independence. The Dr. Plumb’s had been developed by the Parisian sales manager J.B. Rubinovich in 1925 when GBD France needed “a cheap line of pipes" especially for the Canadian market. In fact, the new brand was nicknamed for Mr. Rubinovich’s secretary Leslie W. Plumb, whose most important business was "to doctor figure" the ledgers. Dr. Plumb’s made their way not only in Canada. - The Peter Piper, as well as the Dr. Plumb’s produced in Saint-Claude, is another great example that stampings like "London made" or "London England" are not always totally trustworthy also on older pipes! Not only today numberless brands are made in Saint Claude and stamped with whatever the buyer wants to be stamped...
- Size LARGE
- Color NATURAL
- Finishes Flame Grain
- Ring No
- Mouthpiece Ebonite
- Mount Normal
- Curvature Half Bent
- Tipo de filtro No
- Condition Perfect 10/10
- Maintenance & Conservation status Restored
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