I hope you are ready because today we are going back to France. The history of these brands is long, but I will try to make it short and straightforward.
It’s the 1850s, and three gentlemen decided to establish a new business dedicated to Meerschaum Pipes. Gannieval, Bondier, and Donninger founded “GBD.” All three had experience making pipes, Ganneval with wooden pipes, Bondier clay and china pipes, and Donninger Meerschaum pipes. Even if the company owners frequently changed, the GBD name remained well-established in the market. August Marechal and Ferdinand Ruchon led the firm into the 20th century. They were in charge of the company for more than 50 years. Not much is known about their first production, but we know that GBD offered Meerschaum pipes in many different shapes that reminded of bent pipes derived from clay pipes such as Dublins and and early variations of Bulldog.
The company was founded around the same time that briarwood properties were discovered. After the briar pipe-making production started in Saint-Claude, GBD established a supply contract for Briarwood. Meerschaum quickly became outdated, and briar was the material that everyone wanted. In the following 40 years, GBD was honoured with 15 medals of achievement on international fairs worldwide, introducing the brand to the global market and establishing its name.
In the beginning, GBD offered only one grade of briar and a limited selection in finishes, but once the company approached the 20th century, its selection changed. A wide variety of finishes and briar grades were available to fit the increased demand by the market, specifically the British request. The company’s catalogue would count up to 1500 models.
The reason behind the company’s focus on the British market is quite simple: GBD became a British company in 1902 when A. Oppenheimer & Co. (London) bought it.
A. Oppenheimer & Co., founded by Charles Oppenheimer, then led by Adolphe, started trading in tobacco pipes from the beginning. In 1870 Adolphe and GBD began trading. Quickly Adolphe became the most important customer from the English market and was designed as the sole distributor for Great Britain, the USA, and Canada in 1897. When the negotiations between GBD and Oppenheimer started, Adolphe acquired two pipe factories in Saint-Claude: Sina & Cie. and C.J. Verguet Freres. This merge led to the creation of a colossal pipe-making centre in Saint Claude that Lucien Verguet managed and focused on making prefabricated bowls. In the 1910s, over 18k dozen bowls were made for GBD London out of the 27k produced. GBD London in the 1920s became the most important location for the company, especially after the construction of a new factory in London.
GBD London focused on the USA and British market, GBD Paris for France and EU. Oppenheimer continued to expand their company and purchased BBB (Blumfeld’s Best Briar, formerly A. Frankau) and later Loewe & Co. and large shares of Comoy’s of London.
As we know, in the 1920s, the economic crisis started to affect the pipe business, which led to the creation of Cadogan Investments Ltd., named after its primary quarter’s location at Cadogan Square in London. We have to keep in mind that Cadogan (Oppenheimer) was owned by business people with no direct experience in pipe making. Hence why each brand under their umbrella kept extensive independence.
The demand for GBD kept growing, which encouraged the management to introduce sub-brands. One of them was Dr. Plumb’s.
When GBD France needed an affordable line, Dr. Plumb was developed by the Parisian sales manager J.B. Rubinovich in 1925. After his secretary Leslie W. Plumb, he named it, whose most important business was “to doctor figure” of the ledgers. Dr. Plumb’s is produced in Saint-Claude.
To this day, GBD and DR plumb keep their name strong in the market by offering an incredible selection of pipes styles and finishes that are still loved worldwide. If you are looking for classic and stylish pipes made out of excellent briar, look no further because GBD will give you what you are looking for! Their pipes (and accessories) are true to what GBD stands for: top-notch briar quality and a constant look to innovate and elevate the pipe-smoking art.
Head over to our GBD and Dr. Plumb online selection and get ready to fall in love.
As you can see, each tobacco pipe brand has a long history, and most of the time, it is intertwined with other brands. Who knows what we are going to discover next time!
See you in the next post.