Monday 1 January 2018

A Champagne Toast to Ring in the New Year?

The New Year has arrived and a few of us may now be enjoying our first hangover of 2018 thanks to the after effects of over-indulging in the "bubbly"...

Champagne, in all of its various forms, has been around for several centuries. However, what has become today's champagne industry really got its footing in the mid-1800's following a few major technological advances... they finally figured out how to attain just the right sugar content so that the desired level of bubbles could be attained, and more importantly controlled, which greatly reduced the risk of exploding bottles, and new methods in bottle production provided the industry with consistently stronger bottles, able to withstand the higher pressure of champagne. Lastly, when the French rail system linked Reims to the rest of the country in 1854, the world's markets were immediately opened up to the champagne industry and they were soon producing 20 million bottles a year.

The 20th century brought a number of major setbacks to the champagne industry, including the Russian revolution, American prohibition, two world wars, and a major blight infestation. Despite all of this, the champagne industry has survived quite well. It continues to grow, and today's production exceeds 200 million bottles a year.*

As many other businesses had begun to do in the late 1800's, champagne producers branded a variety of promotional items that were given to their suppliers, distributors, and customers. Among these items were novelty pencils...

Louis Roederer, Reims - A sterling silver magic pencil made by Sampson Mordan in the late 1800's for Louis Roederer Champagne... "One of the last great independent and family-run champagne houses". Reims is located in the northern half of the "Champagne Region", to the east of Paris.

The pencil is 1 7/8" closed, and with its double inner barrel it is able to double its length when fully extended, to 3 3/4".

Veuve A. Devaux, Epernay - This is a simple twist extension pencil made for Veuve A. Devaux Champagne, Epernay. The company was named for the first of 3 Devaux widows that managed the business following the demise of their spouses. The pencil dates to the early 20th century, and at that time Veuve A. Devaux was located in Epernay (they are now located in Bar-sur-Seine, in the south-east corner of the Champagne Region).

The pencil is 2 3/4" closed and 3 1/2" when extended.

G.H. Mumm & Co., Reims - A magic pencil made for G.H. Mumm around 1900. G.H. Mumm is one of the oldest champagne producers, established in 1827, and located in the Reims area.

The pencil is 2" closed and 3 1/2" when fully extended.

Champagne Dry Monopole, Reims - Heidsieck Monopole was a major champagne producer around the time that this magic pencil was made (approx. 1900). In 1884 they sold nearly 1 million bottles of Monopole just to Great Britain.

This is the largest of the champagne bottle pencils; 2 1/2" when closed, and 4 1/2" when fully extended.

Happy New Year!

* Champagne industry info from Wikipedia - History of Champagne

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