Since August, Denmark’s Montergarden Museum, part of Odense’s City Museum complex, has featured an exhibit that honors the city’s historic ties with tobacco and commemorates one of its historic leading tobacco companies, Erik Stokkebye A/S.
The Montergarden Museum specializes in teaching visitors about Odense’s past from the Viking Age of the 8th-11th centuries to today. A leading Danish port city on the island of Fyn, Odense also became an important industrial center in the 19th century and was home to five different tobacco and cigar companies, including Erik Stokkebye A/S, which would eventually become Peter Stokkebye, famously known for producing pipe and roll-your-own tobaccos.
The exhibit, entitled “Farvel & Tobak,” is composed entirely of artifacts in the collection of Erik Poul Stokkebye, the son of Erik Peter Stokkebye, who established the family’s tobacco shop and tobacco manufacturing center in Odense in 1882. The current exhibit is a revival of an older exhibit of the same name that was on constant display at the Montergarden Museum since its founding in 1948 to some time in the early 1960s. Since then, the old exhibit’s artifacts had been held in storage by the Stokkebye family. While going through boxes containing some of his family’s tobacco-related paraphernalia, Erik Michael Stokkebye, who now produces 4th Generation by Erik Stokkebye pipe tobaccos, thought that the museum might want to put all of the artifacts back on display. After seeing the items and looking back on details and records of the old exhibit, the Montergarden Museum agreed to return it to its public space through December 2019.
Farvel & Tobak—a Danish expression that translates into “Goodbye and Tobacco,” offers museum visitors a chance to study dioramas and models of what an old tobacco factory and the machines that made cigars, pipe tobacco and chewing tobacco bits looked like. It also features a plethora of the tools used by tobacco company workers, different smoking pipes and displays of brands that originated in Odense. Central to the exhibit, of course, is information about the Stokkebye family and their company, their place in tobacco lore and their contributions to the city. Indeed, the original Erik Peter Stokkebye tobacco shop is located just two doors away from the Montergarden Museum and is now a protected historic site in its own right. Curious visitors to the Montergarden Museum will surely enjoy learning about Odense’s historic connection to the golden age of tobacco but most likely not quite as much as Erik Stokkebye enjoyed revisiting his family’s past and getting those artifacts back on display again.
“The museum staff thought it would be fun too and they have put on display the items that they found most interesting,” Erik Stokkebye says. “It’s been quite fun to get those artifacts out of boxes and revive the exhibit after 60-something years.”
– Story by Stephen A. Ross, editor-in-chief of Tobacco Business Magazine.