A Misleading Text

Don Duco

Original Title:
Een pijp met een misleidend opschrift

Publication Year:


Discussion of a stub stemmed pipe bowl from Félix Wingender Frères in Chokier with a design and an inscription referring to the famous Gambier pipes.

The stub stemmed pipe bowl illustrated (Fig. 1) was designed by the Gambier firm in Givet in the northern part of France. During their advertising campaign in magazines and newspapers, which lasted for many years, this bowl was illustrated with another one of the same type, decorated with the head of a bill goat (Fig. 2, note 1). The pipe bowl is decorated with three rats, the tails going down and meeting near the heel of the pipe. The open spaces on the bowl are filled with twigs and leaves. As a result of the advertising campaigns, this type of pipe was generally popular from the 1850s onwards.

Fig. 1a. APM 6.605
Fig. 1b. APM 6.605
Fig. 1c. APM 6.605
Fig. 1d. APM 6.605

It is not surprising that other manufacturers tried to profit from the success and popularity of the Gambier pipes. Good copies of Gambier designs were developed but there were always slight differences to avoid the risk of prosecution.

Fig. 2.  APM documentatie

The second pipe illustrated (Fig. 3) is an example of such a design which was developed by the factory of Wingender Frères in Chokier on the River Meuse near Liège, Belgium. There was a limit to the extent to which the Gambier pipe could be copied so the inscription ‘GAMBIER A PARIS’ and the mould number of that factory were not included. Instead they marked the left side of the pipe stem with their own initials ‘WF’ and the inscription ‘MEDAILLE’. On the right the text ‘A PARIS 1878’ was hammered into the mould using punches. The complete inscription ‘MEDAILLE A PARIS 1878’ related to the World Fair held in Paris in 1878. However, if it was not read carefully, the text ‘A PARIS’ could be mistaken to mean the pipe was made in Paris, and the year could be mistaken for the mould number of the Gambier firm.

Fig. 3a. APM 4.975a
Fig. 3b. APM 4.975a
Fig. 3c. APM 4.975a
Fig. 3d. APM 4.975a
Fig. 3e. APM 4.975a

In addition Wingender changed the rats for salamanders of lizards and changed the rats tails in a heel with pearl borders. These small alterations will not have been noticed by most of the customers.

03bis-04.975b  klei-wingender-salamanders-1
Fig. 3f. APM 4.975b
03bis-04.975b  klei-wingender-salamanders-2
Fig. 3g. APM 4.975b
03bis-04.975b  klei-wingender-salamanders-3
Fig. 3h. APM 4.975b
03bis-04.975b  klei-wingender-salamanders-4
Fig. 3i. APM 4.975b
03bis-04.975b  klei-wingender-salamanders-5
Fig. 3j. APM 4.975b

Certainly the success of Gambier would have been a stimulus and a source of inspiration to Wingender, and they both exhibited at the Paris Fair. However, Wingender undoubtedly deceived many of his customers with the misleading inscription.

Like that of Gambier, this bowl is made of white firing clay. The rats and leaves are enamelled in white and, because the pipe has been extensively smoked, they now glitter nicely against the dark coloured clay.


© Don Duco, Pijpenkabinet Foundation, Leiden – the Netherlands, 1987.



  1. Tobacco pipe with beaker shaped bowl, straight stem and stub. Round the bowl three rats, the tails end in the heel, the open spaces between the animals with branches with leaves. Givet, firm J. Gambier, 1860-1890.
    Leiden, Pijpenkabinet collections Pk 6.605
  2. The advertisement of the Gambier Firm in Paris showing two stub stemmed pipe bowls from their assortment.
    From: Pijpelijntjes, VII-2, April-June 1981, p. 20.
  3. Tobacco pipe with beaker shaped bowl, straight stem and stub. Round the bowl three salamanders or lizards, the tails go down, the open spaces between the animals with branches with leaves, the heel with pearls. Chokier, Firm Wingender Frères, 1878-1890.
    Leiden, Pijpenkabinet collection Pk 4.975


  1. Don Duco, ‘Materiaal, vorm en versiering van de Gambierpijp’, Pijpelijntjes, VII-2, April-June 1981, p. 20. The advertisement dates from 1854. Ditto, Jean-Leo, Les pipes en terre Françaises, Bruxelles, 1971, p. 15.