History

Winkelpand Grasmarkt Brussel

The company of Vinche & Koopmans has its origin in two family businesses who, after working some time together, joined forces. It is in 1864 that Jean-Baptiste opened a small store in the Trapstraat in Brussels, It was specialised in selling imported luxurious pipes. The store grows fast and his son Victor moves the store to the Grasmarkt nr. 85, on the corner with the Heuvelstraat, in front of the Koningsgalerij, just a few steps from the Grote Markt of Brussels. It receives the significant name " AU NABAB " . This neighbourhood was in the Belle Epoque one of the most frequented in Brussels, and the shop was one of the most renowned stores of the city.

In 1895, business took a new direction when Victor Vinche started producing Meerschaum pipes, particularly calcinated meerschaum pipes. To do this Victor had to buy the secret for the fabrication from an Austrian company, the house Kaufthal from Vienna who at that time was specialised in these activities.
The artisan manufacture of the Meerschaum pipe, white or calcinated, from the ebauchon is a very delicat work. And the pipemanufacturors needed several years to learn the necessary craftsmanship. It was a huge succes and the name Vinche became a synonym for quality. The real pipe lover at that time was proud to have a Vinche signed pipe in his possession. The Vinche company received the highest awards on many exhibitions at that time.

Pijpattelier in Brussel

De wereld tentoonstelling in 1927

In 1910, when a big fire destroyed the exhibition of Brussels, the only thing that was left were the ebauchons of meerschaum, because meerschaum resists a temperature of 4000 degrees and the fire only reached 2800 degrees.
With the name M. et R. Vinche & Cie. the third generation started in 1927. Marcel en René Vinche, sons of Victor, opened a new store on the number 4 of the Grasmarkt, with an even more attractive location …..this had its consequences.

Simultaneously the Vinche brothers bought a factory area at number 14, Nieuwland to concentrate on the fabrication of pipes in Bruyère and meerschaum. This factory employed 40 workers and had a high flight, production reached in 1938 to 5,000 pipes per week. The Second World War caused a drop in the pipe smoking for the benefit of cigarette smoking under the influence of the Anglo-American armies. From then the company Vinche increased the choice of products and focused on the import and distribution of smoking articles, especially lighters. In 1940 the offices and studios moved to the Kopstraat nr.63 and remained there until 1972, then they moved to the Paleizenstraat nr.301. In 1965 Vinche Jacques, son of Rene Vinche, representing the fourth generation, came in the business. Although the market for pipes has changed, the company Vinche and Koopmans bvba still makes calcined meerschaum pipes according to the old secret recipe.
The second part of the company name, Koopmans, is much younger. In 1977 Jef and Mia Koopmans decided after a long career with the company Hillen in Bree, manufacturer of the famous brand Hilson, to start a wholesale company of smoking accessories and gifts, and with succes, especially in the north of the country, while Vinche remained mainly in Wallonia. Currently the second generation of the Koopmans family is ready to continue the rich tradition of both families in the trade of smoking supplies further into the 21st century. With a very wide range in both pipes, lighters, Humidors, accessories for the smoker and gifts.

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