Posts Tagged ‘asian antiques Moorman’

Zino Davidoff was born on March 11, 1906 in Kiev, Russian Empire, present-day Ukraine. He was the eldest of four children born to tobacco merchant, Henri Davidoff. Even in his own autobiographical writings, the facts on Zino’s youth are a bit hazy, as he was quite young during this time and could only piece together some stories of his youth. His parents were either cigar merchants or cigarette manufacturers in Kiev. Fleeing the political turmoil and anti-Semitism prevalent in Russia, his parents left some of their family behind and emigrated to Geneva, Switzerland in 1911 for a better life and opened their own Tobacconist shop in 1912. Finishing school in 1924, he went to Latin America to learn about the tobacco trade, spending time in such places as Argentina, Brazil, and finally Cuba where he spent two years working on a plantation and first encountered Cuban cigars.

Returning to Switzerland around 1930, he took over his parents’ shop. What had originally been a modest tobacco shop grew into a rich business during and after WW II. Neutral Switzerland was spared much of the havoc wreaked elsewhere in Europe and became a haven for wealthy tobacco customers. Zino was particularly successful in marketing the Hoyo de Monterrey Châteaux Series of Cuban cigars created for Zurich cigar distributor A Durr Co., in the 1940s and named after great Bordeaux wines.  Around this time, Zino is also credited by many as having invented the first desktop cigar humidor, in order to preserve cigars at the same conditions of humidity and temperature under which they were rolled in Havana. Davidoff also had success writing several books on cigar smoking and Cuban cigar brands.

In 1970, Zino sold his small but highly successful tobacco shop in Geneva to the Max Oettinger Group. Zino stayed on as Davidoff’s ambassador until his death in 1994 at the age of 87. He was survived by his wife and daughter, who remained in Switzerland and by his siblings that had since moved to other parts of the world, mainly North America. Till his last moments, Zino an avid family man, sought out to find his lost family history back in the Soviet Union and then the emerging independent states of Russia and Ukraine. Unfortunately, many historical documents had been lost and so had his search. Not much information exists on their whereabouts, but through saved notes by Zino, it has been speculated that many had defected to North America in the early to mid 70’s, some under new identities and family names.

A tobacconist is an expert dealer in tobacco in various forms and the related accoutrements. Such accoutrements include pipes, lighters, matches, pipe cleaners, pipe tampers, ashtrays, humidors and more. Books and magazines, especially ones having to do with tobacco are commonly offered. Items irrelevant to tobacco such as puzzles, games, figurines, hip flasks, and candy are sometimes sold. A tobacconist shop is traditionally represented by a wooden Indian positioned nearby.

Although I am not really a tobacconist, I have collected many tobacciana collectibles that are offered for sale at my eBay store “Kelekchens”.  You won’t see a wooden Indian but here are a few vintage and antique humidors:


Noritake and Nippon Porcelain Humidors ca. early 19oo’s.


Marzi & Remy Porcelain Humidor – Germany ca. 1940’s


Metal Humidors – Adam Verde and a Boston Rumidor ca. 1940’s to 1950’s


Glass Humidors – Heisey glass, polychrome mesh (1920’s Art Deco), EAPG  and  Victorian Humidors.

Hand thrown, stone crock humidor with pipe rest lid.

Depression glass, Moongleam, cigarette humidor.

And my favorite:


A stunning humidor with beautiful glass.  Double click on the photos to see better details.

You can see these and many more from my collection.  Place your cursor on my assistant “the Duck” and click to go to my eBay store Kelekchens. Open tobacciana and your there.

Until next time Happy Collecting and remember “the best is yet to come!”


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Dragonware and Chi, (Part 4 of 5)

CHI – Pronounced (chee) – the meaning of the word is linked to “air” and “breath”.  Chi is a form of energy which waxes and wanes in the body depending on health, and in a space depending on arrangement.  Many Asian cultures have a concept of some form of vital energy which runs through all things.  When it is in a proper state of balance, the energy moves smoothly through the space it inhabits, and supports rather than fights against space. In the case of spaces, many Asian traditions surround organizing objects within an environment to make the space harmonious. An imbalance of chi in a space is believed to lead to bad luck and ill health and there are many rules that surround how things should be arranged in the spaces we inhabit. (Feng Shui) pronounced (fing sway). The rules can be complex and many wealthy households hire professionals to organize their living spaces according to the rules of Feng Shui to bring good chi to themselves and their family.

It was Dragonware that started my 32 year quest for Asian antiques.  When I was a young man starting out on my own and traveling I visited home for a Christmas with my parents and brother and received as a gift from my parents the most beautiful Dragonware teaset you can imagine.  Very high Chi.  I was captivated by the beauty and workmanship. The story that surrounded the peice was very interesting as well. This set belonged to the founder of  “Moorman Manufacturing”  began in 1885 in Quincy Illinois. The founders, E.V. Moorman and brother C.A. Moorman. When E.V. was in his early 20s he married a young woman from Gorin, Missouri.  E.V. and his new bride, married around 1900, made a trip to Japan for a honeymoon (had to sail) and the new Mrs Moorman seen the teaset and had to have it, so E.V. bought it for her as a wedding gift. Packed it up and shipped it with their belongings back to their home in the midwest USA. Not only was the marriage successful but the Moorman Company is still in business today and is a multi-billion dollar success story.  Good chi!  My mother purchased the set from the Moorman Estate and was given the story by an ancestor.  I have owned and cared for it over the last 32 years and it is the cornerstone of my collection of Asian porcelain.  Each peice of Dragonware is painstakingly painted by hand by Japanese artisans who specialize in slipwork.


 I have never seen another Blue set over the past 32 years I have collected. From the Moorman Estate now part of my collection. Note the detail.  The last photo shows the eyes of the dragon. This Dragonware set has “Great Chi”, no matter what space it is in.  Examine the photos closely….not one dot is missing from any peice.


I actually have two complete Dargonware teasets. Both have been a part of my collection for many years. I bought the second set when my second daughter was born in 1989.  I have two daughters.

Dragonware is Japanese and was made by many different companies as was other Japanese pottery. It is a porcelain that ususally has raised moriage dragons on it, usually surrounded by wisp of smoke. The technique that was used to apply the moriage decoration is called slipwork.  Dragonware was made by Nippon in the late 1800s and is still made today.  However, there are hugh differences in the quality of the peices, so with practice the earlier peices are pretty easy to distinguish from the later peices.  The original Nippon peices have extremely ornate and very detailed large dragons, that wrap completely around each peice.  They usually have lots of enamel work around the edges of the item.  They also originally had glass beads for the dragon’s eyes.  The peices made after 1952  are easy to identify as the wormanship (slipwork) is of poor qaulity and undetailed and look as though the work was done in a hurry. Also the slipwork is not as pronounced or raised as the older work that was done. The older peices have enamel work around the edges which the newer pieces do not.


A service of 6 (from my collection) of Smoke Gray/White Dragonware with maroon enamel trim work and Gold Pagoda handles on serving peices. ca. 1920s

There are also other design techniques that are used on Dragonware instead of moriage. They include, Satsuma pieces with the moriage dragons – they look just like the moriage Dragonware but have Satsuma design with enameled handles.  There is Coralene – tiny glass beads are applied to an enamel design and then heated making the finish look like coral. There are many colors used on Dragonware items. The most common seems to be Smokey Gray/White or Black/White. Other colors are Deep Blue, Pastel Blue, Pastel Green, Orange, Red, White/Gold, Brown and Chocolate.  The newer, undetailed peices also have colors that include Pink, Bright Green, Purple and Yellow. There has been a few new peices made in the older colors. Any peice that has a souvenir scene is always new.

Normally Dragonware was made as table items, smoking sets or decorative items ie; ash trays, vases, tea sets, wall pockets, incense burners and lamps to name a few.

A hard to find Dragonware set would be one that has teacups that have a lithopane inside the bottom of the cup.  This is a design, ususally of a woman’s face or full body, known as Geisha. It can be seen clearly when held up to the light. The Geisha adds value to a teacup, with the nude Geisha being harder to find and the most valuable. Imagine that!

In my next post, the last of this series, I will discuss how to care for your collection. How to collect, catalog, photograph and document your collection.  I will also discuss evaluating what is a damaged peice (not noticable to the untrainmed eye) and values.  I will show some of the most recent additions to my collection. So… until then Happy Collecting and remember the best is yet to come.

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