Super Materiam Ignis Triumphans

(c) Vin Callcut 2002-2017. Small extracts can be used with acknowledgements to '' website.

Helpful comments are very welcome.


ssmit and coOne of these well-cast hexagonal brass ashtrays has a sharply-defined design that shows a blacksmith swinging his hammer towards an anvil on which is a workpiece that is shown as red hot by the radiation over it.  To right seems to be a cut-off saw.  Underneath is the legend ‘Established 1888’ and over it ‘Super Materiam Ignis Triumphans’ which can perhaps be translated as ‘Fire succeeds over material’.  The underside shows a die-cast finish with raised lettering ‘Made in England’. 


Another version is also approximately 160mm (6¼”) across flats and has a similar but less well defined design but with ‘1888-1938’ in the exergue instead.  The appearance of the underside of this one confirms that this item was cast in sand instead of die-cast and is unexpectedly marked ‘Made in Holland’ rather than England.  There is no company name evident on either item but the theme is obviously metallurgical. 

From a similar design eventually found on a ‘Zippo’ lighter it became apparent that this design of souvenir came not from a brassfoundry was made for distribution by J. K. Smit and Sons who still specialise in providing industrial diamonds and diamond tipped cutting tools.  They had and still have premises in Amsterdam, London and New York.