Tube Maker Souvenirs

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

Helpful comments are very welcome.


muntz6562   This stylish late Victorian inkstand was obviously intended for use on the desk of senior management.  It was commissioned by Muntz’s Metal Companyfrom a manufacturing jeweller who was required to celebrate the long life of the boiler tubes made by the Company.  The centrepiece is an engraved copper tube into which are fitted three copper inkwells with decorated caps.  Endplates are used to mount it to the rear of a richly engraved baseplate to which is also fitted a pair of pen rests.  The whole is mounted on four feet also made from copper tube.  The inscription reads: ‘This ink-stand is entirely made from a specially hardened copper locomotive tube, one of a set which ran 480,000 miles between the years 1879 and 1898.  Muntz's Metal Company Limited, French Walls Works, Birmingham England’. 

The main tube and four supporting feet are made of copper tube 78mm (1?") dia.  The copper base is a 190 x 140mm (7½ x 5½") copper plate with chamfered edges and art nouveau decoration.   Apparently there is a silvered version of this piece in Greenwich Museum.  A maker’s note on the base reads: ‘Makers E. Camelinat & Co., amalgamated with Thos & J S Turner Ltd, Fisher Street, Birmingham,England’.

The original patent for 60/40 brass in the form of Muntz Metal had been taken out in 1832 and it had proved very cost-effective for the sheathing of ships.  Each sheet had to have the Muntz stamp for gauge and manufacturer.  Stocks of sheet bearing the Muntz stamp were exported and held in ports round the world.  Some domestic items of Indian design and manufacture and bearing their stamp have appeared.  By the end of the century when the inkstand was made the Muntz family was heavily involved in public work.  George Muntz was the first MP for Birmingham in 1840. 

ashtray5315, 6237, 8013, 8222 (x2)  A more common promotional item is their ashtray which can be found made of copper sheet or a 70/30 brass that Muntz knew as ‘Nergandin’.  These are marked with an interesting mixture of English and other characters.  These promotional dishes made by Muntz’s Metal Company, French Walls, Birmingham.  The centre shows Neptune with a stylised trident admiring a three masted ship that presumably has a hull clad with Muntz Metal. All this surrounded by ‘Muntz's Patent’ and an outer ring of Asian hyroglyphics and the word "Soft". Size 108mm (4.25”) maximum diameter. 

Outside the central design is the legend ‘MUNTZ’S METAL Co. Ltd. FRENCH WALLS NEAR BIRMINGHAM’.  The centre shows Neptune with a stylised trident admiring a three masted ship that presumably has a hull protectively clad with copper or Muntz’s Metal (60/40 brass). 

muntz All this is surrounded by ‘MUNTZ’S PATENT’ and an outer ring of Asian hieroglyphics and the word ‘SOFT’.  Diameter 108mm max.

The Muntz Metal Company was bought by IMI (Imperial Metal Industries, later IMI Metals Division) and the records of their works in Walsall and plate mill in South Wales are in Birmingham Reference Library.

flatback3304   Fireside flatback or mantleback ornaments in the form of a pair of shoes cut from copper plate and mounted on half section of 2" diameter copper tube. They have whitemetal buttons.  Both the tube and plate are thicker than usual for flatbacks with the unseen sides showing obvious signs of prior use and pitting corrosion.  The copper tube is heavily blackened as is typical of old locomotive boiler tubes.  These items were favourite topics amongst the 'foreigners' made from scrap metal during workshop lunchbreaks.   They show much more ingenuity than the cribbage boards more often made during spare time.  This type of item was made secretly at work and then presented as a love token.  No doubt the wife or girlfriend was very impressed!  Length 157mm (6?").  Height 90mm (3½").

broughton5140   A trinket dish by The Broughton Copper Co. Ltd. Salford, Manchesterthat shows the tremendous ductility of their product.  It has been made from copper condenser tube approximately 50mm (2") diameter by folding the lower part in a concertina shape and flanging out the top section.  The base is carefully closed by folding in the tube side.  The maker’s name is stamped under examples seen but could not be stamped in hard enough when made show clearly for fear of the impact collapsing the tube still further.  The Company was taken over by ICI Metals sometime before 1937 and then formed part of Yorkshire Imperial Metals.  Records for the Company between 1881-1944 are at Birmingham City Archives Works. Scovill made a similar item, see 4192.









4192   Brass Candleholder made from cup drawn admiralty condenser tubing byScovill, Waterbury, CT USA.  Height 55mm (2¼”). The Scovill Manufacturing. Co. was founded in 1802 in Waterbury, Connecticut and in 1850 was incorporated as Scovill Manufacturing Company.  In the early years they produced brass buttons, sewing hardware, cameras, printing plates, oil and electric lamps, fasteners and other brass and copper items.  At its peak during the 1940s, 10,000 people worked at the factory, later sold to Century Brass.  Also in Waterbury were the main works of Anaconda American Brass and Chase Brass & Copper Co.





Compressed copper tube marked 'A.T. W. Boston' candle holder compressed to make a great design in the bottom. It measures 2 7/8" tall and 1 1/2" in diameter. (courtesy starfish1881, USA)









748        Good quality stamped copper promotional ash tray - The Builders Copper Tube Co, Temple Bar, London, Centre logo of feather encircled by copper tube. 125mm dia.  110g.



birm batt


Brass spill vase made as a promotional item by Birmingham Battery Co. It is made from their brass condenser tube of 45mm (1 3/4") outside diameter flared at the top and soldered at an angle into a base turned from their condenser plate. Height approx 133mm (5 1/4").

birmbatt mark









boulder1258      Boulder Copper paperweight showing copper segments formed to make a spiral tube that was used for the sheathing of power cables carrying current from the Boulder Dam hydro-electric power station.  It was distributed by the Boulder Dam Visitors' Bureau and was manufactured by General Cable Corporation.  The copper was originally supplied by Anaconda Copper but this may be made from a leftover section of copper high voltage transmission cable that was used in building the dam. The city of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power oversaw the operation which was built during the late 1920s depression years and has been officially called the ‘Hoover Dam’ since 1947.  This section measures approx. 1.5" in diameter and stands about 2" tall.


3717      Anaconda triple message promotional paperweight showing early vertical integration with ‘Anaconda Roofing Copper’ and ‘Anaconda Copper Pipe’ engraved on a base plate either side of a copper pipe bearing its own, slightly battered message: ‘Anaconda from Mine to Consumer’  Length 110mm (4½"). 

anacondaThe development and growth of Anaconda American has been the subject of several good books.  It involves ‘Copper Kings’ of the industry including the prospectors and miners in Montana and the financiers of Wall Street in a story that is as interesting as many works of fiction.



4731      An elegant copper promotional paperweight by Revere Copper and Brass Products, a penholder or candleholder made by deep drawing with four diameters with conical transitions and a rolled edge to the top.  The base is rolled in place and clearly marked 'Revere'.  Height 90mm (3½").