William Demuth Company

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William Demuth. (Wilhelm C. Demuth, 1835-1911), a native of Germany, entered the United States at the age of 16 as a penniless immigrant. After a series of odd jobs he found work as a clerk in the import business of a tobacco tradesman in New York City. In 1862 William established his own company. The William Demuth Company specialized in pipes, smoker's requisites, cigar-store figures, canes and other carved objects.

Circa 1900 WDC Meerschaum w/Amber Stem, couresty Racine & Laramie Tobacconist
Bakelite Ad, Courtesy Doug Valitchka
WDC Milano Ad in The Saturday Evening Post
1940 Hesson Guard Ad, courtesy Doug Valitchka
Hesson Guard Milano Ad, courtesy Doug Valitchka
WEDC Hesson 1932 Patent, courtesy Doug Valitchka
Catalog page, courtesy Doug Vaclitchka

The Demuth Company is probably well known for the famous trademark, WDC in an inverted equilateral triangle. William commissioned the figurative meerschaum Presidential series, 29 precision-carved likenesses of John Adams, the second president of the United States (1797-1801) to Herbert Hoover, the 30th president (1929-1933), and "Columbus Landing in America," a 32-inch-long centennial meerschaum masterpiece that took two years to complete and was exhibited at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893.

Hesson Patent granted Dec. 22, 1925, courtesy Doug Valitchka
WDC Sterling Ad, courtesy Doug Valitchka

The Presidential series was the result of Demuth's friendship with President James A. Garfield, a connoisseur of meerschaum pipes. Demuth presented two pipes to Garfield at his inauguration in 1881, one in his likeness, the other in the likeness of the President's wife. Later, Demuth arranged for another figurative matching the others to be added to the collection as each new president acceded to the White House, terminating with President Hoover.

Note: This information originally appeared on pages 22-23 of Collecting Antique Meerschaums (Schiffer Publishing Ltd.,1999), by Ben Rapaport. It was used without permission in the article written by Maureen Timm, As seen in The Antique Shoppe Newspaper, July, 2005, [1] but is used here by permission of the original author.

1943 Hessen Guard Ad, courtesy Doug Valitchka
WDC Milano14.jpg

In 1897 Ferdinand Feuerbach joined the Demuth company and by 1903 had become the production manager. Feuerbach is credited with developing Demuth's popular Royal Demuth and Hesson Guard Milano pipelines. He left in 1919, when Sam Frank Sr. needed an experienced pipe man to run his pipe factory, located at 168 Southern Blvd., in the Bronx. Feuerbach and Frank had been close friends since Frank started his own business in 1900 and was closely associated with the sales staff of WDC, selling their line of pipes.

WDC Stratford, Brighton, Wellington Ad, courtesy Doug Valitchka

In early 1937, the City of New York notified S.M. Frank & Co. of their intent to take by eminent domain, part of the land on which the companies pipe factory was located. This was being done to widen two of the adjacent streets. As a result of this, Frank entered into negotiations to purchase the Wm. Demuth Co.'s pipe factory in the Richmond Hill section of Queens. It was agreed upon that Demuth would become a subsidiary of S.M. Frank and all pipe production of the two companies would be moved to DeMuth factory. New Corporate offices were located at 133 Fifth Avenue, NYC.

Demuth pipes continued to be made at the Richmond Hill plant till December 31. 1972. Then the Wm. Demuth Company met its official end as a subsidiary company by liquidation. Demuth's mainstay pipe, the Wellington continued to be offered in the S.M. Frank catalog until 1976. In the mid-80's, the Wellington even made a brief return as a direct to the consumer offer.

  • You may also enjoying listening to Brian Levine's interview of S. M. Frank president, Bill Feuerbach, on the Pipes Magazine Radio Show