RARE 19C porcelain bisque smoking stand and match strike by GH Gebruder Heubach (Heubach Brothers) of Germany. This beautifully handpainted figure portrays a soldier in the full military regalia of the elite Zouave battalion of the French Army in the 1830s. Famed for their fearless tactics and dashing appearance, their uniform was adopted by the 5th New York Volunteer Infantry in 1861 and was worn by volunteers on both sides of the American Civil War 1861–1865. It consisted of a distinctive blue jacket trimmed with red grosgrain, matching vest and sash, baggy red pantaloons and a red fez with blue tassel. The Zouave has entered popular culture and is is featured on the packet of Zig Zag cigarette papers, in many movies and is used indiscriminately as an insult by Captain Haddock, a character in The Adventures of Tintin!
This smoking stand has a large lidded compartment for pipes, cigars or cigarettes and a smaller container for matches. There is a well-used match strike on the right side (picture #3). The material appears to be opaque porcelain bisque, as it is light, pale in colour and finely executed. Alternatively it is very high quality majolica. Base is marked with impressed model number 5553 and 8-spoked wheel, a 19C mark of Gebruder Heubach, Lichte, Thuringia. The words "exe une" are also handwritten on the base, suggesting this was a one-off prototype. Condition is excellent; surface is worn on the base in the area of the match strike. Enamels and glazing are clear and bright. Measures 7" high.
It is unusual for tobacco compartment lids to survive over 100 years in good condition. In fact, everything about this piece is unusual - the subject, the maker's mark and the lack of comparable pieces from the same manufacturer. I have only been able to find one other similar mould, acting as support to a figural Russian Cossack. This is a prized piece from the collection of Robert & Jeanne Ferst, Atlanta, Georgia and it is very well preserved.
Smithsonian Institution, Behring Centre and Wikipedia.
I also appreciate the input I received from shop owners in the 'What's This?' section of Ruby Lane.
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HEUBACH c1880s antique smoking stand Zouave soldier