This lovely French “service fumeur en faïence”, or earthenware smoking service, has five pieces: a tray, and four pots of various sizes. Although every smoking set is unique, we presume theses pots are a tobacco pot to store the dried leaves, an ash receptacle, a pot for holding papers to hand roll cigarettes and/or cigars and a pot for keeping matches.
Our set was produced in Nevers, France in the 19th century by Montagnon, the oldest earthenware factory in France. Originally called manufacture du Bout du monde (“End of the World factory”), the factory was founded in 1648. By 1875, the factory had fallen on hard times and was bought by Antoine Montagnon. Within the five years, it was the only faïencerie left in Nevers. Montagnon was successful for over a century but eventually ceased operations in 2015. The production date of our smoking service set is from the late 1800’s.
Glazed earthenware was introduced from Italy to Nevers in the mid 16th century. The town already had existing porcelain factories and the area was flush with clay deposits that could be used in pottery. This allowed the influx of Italian potters in Nevers to begin producing faience pieces. For the next 300 years, Nevers was the center for French faience manufacturing.
This smoking set has been decorated with painted birds, rinceaux of flowers and ornamental motifs. The blue background color is called Persian blue, and was extensively used as a ground color on Nevers faience for many years. The bottom of all five pieces are marked with the Montagnon faience mark, which is a sideways “A” (for Antoine) superimposed on an upright “M”. The letters are to the left of a green bow, which was used by many Nevers factories. Because the mark only includes Antoine’s name, we can assume this was produced during his active years of 1875-1899. Subsequent masters would use Antoine’s mark but also add their own unique “signature”.
While this French smoking service from the 1800’s can still be used functionally, there are other ways to utilize the faience set, such as an office set or as a decorative accessory.
Dimensions are as follows
Tray: H – 1 3/8, W – 13 1/2, D – 10
Pot #1: H – 5, Diameter – 5 1/4
Pot #2: H – 4, Diameter – 4
Pot #3: H – 3, Diameter – 2 1/2
Pot #4: H – 2 1/2, Diameter – 2
CONDITION: Fleabites and minor losses to paint. Very good antique condition.