Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Adolph Frankau and Co

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of 119/121 Queen Victoria Street, London, EC4

In 1847, Adolph Frankau arrived in London and saw opportunities in the tabacco market. He created the company Adolph Frankau and Co and became an importer of meerschaum pipes and other supplies. He also took on a 14 year old boy, Louis Blumfeld. [1]

The business thrived until the death of Adolph Frankau in 1856. His widow prepared to sell the company, but Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881), author of "Hero and worship of the heroes" advised her not to sell, but to entrust the future of the company to the the young Louis Blumfeld, then 18 years old. Carlyle had a very high opinion of Louis for his sense of responsibility for the business, his enthusiasm and his inexhaustible energy.

Louis Blumfeld quickly developed an important international trade, with particular success in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India and Europe, particularly in Switzerland and Denmark. A branch also opened in New York but the marketing strategy focused mainly on the countries of the British Empire.

Shortly before 1914, the need for manufacturing in London became pressing, and by the turn of the century A. Frankau and Co had a warehouse and offices in Queen Victoria Street and an export department in Upper Thames Street. A factory opened in 1898.

At the time, A. Frankau and Co also produced Calabashs. The gourd water-bottles originated in South Africa but supply became difficult. BBB set up a special department to manufacture the calabashs and this survived the Great War of 1914-1918. However, after the war demand declined.

During the 1920s the company fell on hard times and were taken over by A. Oppenheimer and Co.

  • 1899 The company was registered on 8 February, to acquire the business of manufacturers of, and dealers in, tobacco pipes, of the firm of the same name. [2]
  • 1922 Advert for a Full Range of "BBB" Briar Pipes. (Stand No. K.50) Also Manufacturers of Wooden Fire Screens, Wooden Trays, Wooden Inkstands, Wooden Work Stands, Office Call Bells. (Stand No. K.96) [3]
  • Note: "BBB" were the first pipes ever to have a registered trade mark. The initials once stood for Blumfeld’s Best Briars after Louis Blumfeld, who took over the management of the Adolph Frankau Company in 1856. After his death, the BBB gradually became known as Britain’s Best Briars. [4]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. [1] Pipa Club Romania
  2. The Stock Exchange Year Book 1908
  3. 1922 British Industries Fair Advert lxxx and p.28
  4. [2] Pipe Smokers' Brands