34cm H. Pommier stewpot, “ML”

Field guide to Pommier

H. Pommier was a coppersmith in Brussels, Belgium with a long history: it was the continuation of Van Neuss in the 19th century, itself a continuation of Vernimmen from the 18th. The pieces I see today stamped with the Pommier name were made after 1901 into the middle of the 20th century and they’re known for beautiful quality, equal to the best French craftsmen.

History

The story of Pommier in the 20th century is intertwined with Van Neuss in the 19th and the best information I have found about these two families comes from TJFRANCE. I can confirm many of the dates of his story but I cannot match his insight into the human relationships that really give it character; I suggest you read and enjoy his history of Pommier (and consider shopping for copper at TJ’s online store), but I will summarize the chronology below, supplemented by my own research.

In 1828, Hubertus Michael (Michel) Van Neuss married Maria Vernimmen, the widow of a coppersmith. Her deceased husband’s chaudronnerie Vernimmen at 1 rue de l’Impératrice in Brussels (Bruxelles in French) became Vanneuss-Vernimmen. In 1834, Michel was awarded a patent for a distillateur-rectificateur (distiller and purifier) from the royal court of Belgium — an endorsement of quality and guarantee of business to supply the royal court. The firm ever after had the right to identify itself as chaudronnier de la cour (coppersmith to the court), an honor that Pommier maintained into the 20th century.

TJ says that the business relocated in 1837 to 22 rue de l’Impératrice (my own research confirms it at that location in 1840), and then again in 1851 to 21 rue Cantersteen (I can confirm it in 1854). Michel continued to invent new products; the London Exhibition of 1862 featured two entries, a grilling oven and an “inodorous water closet,” from M. Van Neuss of Belgium.

According to TJ, Michel Van Neuss and Marie Vernimmen did not have children of their own, and in 1865, towards the end of their lives, Michel’s nephew Gérard Michel Van Neuss (1827-1907) joined the firm to provide continuity. In 1868 the firm’s named changed from Vanneuss-Vernimmen to Vanneuss, possibly corresponding with the death of Marie Vernimmen who would have been 81 years old. TJ estimates that Michel passed away just a few years later between 1873 and 1879 (at 70-76 years of age), because in 1880 Gérard assumed control of the company and its name became chaudronnerie M.-G. Van Neuss.


According to TJ, the connection between Van Neuss and Pommier came about through intermarriage. Gérard Van Neuss married Marie Catherine Jerusalem, a widow with two daughters, but she and Gérard had no children of their own. In 1865, one of Marie’s daughters married Paul Pommier, a chef in Paris. Their son Hippolyte Gérard Pommier (1866-1936) — step-grandson to the childless Gérard, and, says TJ, almost certainly also his godson — was apprenticed to the chaudronnerie Van Neuss. TJ says he joined the firm in 1880 when Gerard took it over from Michel, but the first time I see him in records is in 1892, at age 26, when  chaudronnier “H. Pommier” appears at the same address as Van Neuss.

Field guide to Pommier
Undated advertisement, but likely just after the move to rue de l’Hopital in 1899

The turn of the 20th century began a series of changes for the firm. First, the enterprise moved in 1899 from 21 rue Cantersteen to 33 rue de L’Hôpital (the present day Gasthuisstraat). Then, in 1901, 35-year-old Hippolyte took over the business from 72-year-old Gérard. But Hippolyte never forgot his grandfather: the firm was listed as “Van Neuss M. G., Pommier H. succ.,” for successeur, well after Gérard’s death in 1907. In fact, Van Neuss continued to be listed alongside Pommier until Hippolyte’s own death in 1936.

In 1910 the business moved again to 25 Place de la Vieille-Halle-aux-Blés just a block away from the rue de L’Hôpital. The street appears to have been renumbered in 1913, settling the firm at number 29, where it remained for 25 years. Hippolyte passed away in 1936, but the firm continued, but without the association with Van Neuss. It survived World War II to emerge in 1945 at number 39 Place de la Vieille-Halle-aux-Blés. The latest business record I can find is dated 1969.


Stamps

I am indebted to reader Matt M. who has graciously shared photos from his collection of Pommier-Van Neuss pieces to illustrate various versions of the stamp.

Field guide to Pommier This stamp reads “G.M. VANNEUSS BRUXELLES.” This suggests the period of 1880 to 1901 while Gérard Michel was running the company. (Image courtesy Matt M.)
Field guide to Pommier The stamp reads “MSON VAN NEUSS H. POMMIER BRUXELLES.” This suggests the period after Hippolyte took over the company in 1901. (Image courtesy Matt M.)
Field guide to Pommier The stamp reads “H. POMMIER BRUXELLES” in two lines of text of unequal width. (Image courtesy Matt M.)

Reader EJ N. has a Pommier lid stamped for the restaurant Robert’s that existed from 1920 to 1929, suggesting that this stamp came into use during the 1920s.

In my experience, this is the less common version of H. Pommier stamp, compared to the similar version below.

34cm H. Pommier stewpot, “ML” The stamp reads “H. POMMIER BRUXELLES” in two lines of text of equal width. This is the style of Pommier stamp I see most frequently, and my assumption is that it represents production after World War II.

At this time I don’t know how long the business continued. As above, the last official record I can find indicates the company existed as a chaudronnier in 1969. If I find any affimative date, I will update this post.

As always, if you have more information or examples of Pommier production that can help establish the eras of these stamps, I’d be very grateful.