Rare Punch Cigar Store Advertising Figure Cast in Zinc, Ci...Click the image to load the highest resolution version.
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Highly Sought William Demuth's Smoking Punch Tobacconist Figure
Rare Punch Cigar Store Advertising Figure Cast in Zinc, Circa
1885. Over time many other figures were made by Demuth, but the
Punch figure remains the most difficult example to acquire and
rarely comes in this spectacular condition. An identical example
can be seen in Frederick Fried's 1970 book Artists in Wood
included with this lot.
Standing 18.5" tall, this figure depicts the Lord of Misrule, Punchinello. With cigars in one hand, the figure seemingly beckons the shopper into the tobacconist's store to buy a cigar. Cast into the base is the following: " Wm. Demuth & Co. Manufacturers New York". Demuth, well known as a distributor of carved pipes and cigar store trade figures, formed a partnership in 1863 with a Brooklyn foundry operator, Moritz Seelig, to produce cast metal trade figures to sell through Demuth's catalog alongside the standard wooden figures that had been so popular. The metal figures, although more expensive, were described in the catalog as being made of zinc so as they were not subject to "cracking from exposure to climatic changes." This example retains an extraordinary amount of the original paint with much of its patina still present, especially on the gold-colored decoration. It's an honest and clean example with no retouching or repair. Punch still has his original cigar hanging, clinched between his teeth. His back is fitted with a metal tube for making puffs of smoke flow through his cigar.
Over time many other figures were made by Demuth, but the Punch figure remains the most difficult example to acquire. The last recorded sale was a very fine example that realized $180,000 in 2008.
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