Big Ben traces its roots back to the opening of a retail pipe and tobacco shop by the Gubbles family way back in 1870. Business grew, and as there were no factories producing briar pipes in the Netherlands at the time, Elbert Gubbles Sr. saw, circa 1924, an opportunity in transforming the business into an import wholesaler of said smoking instruments, primarily brought in from France and England. Though that endeavor did bear considerable success, the Gubbles family fell upon hard times during WWII, with foreign supplies cut off. It was during this period that Elbert Sr. began drawing up plans for that distant day the war would end, with an eye towards reducing the family business's dependence on imported goods. They would make their own pipes. And as soon as the war in Europe was over, he put those plans to action, founding their first factory. With ambitions to become part of the international market, a name that would appeal across the world was needed, however, and Scandinavian pipemaking was still in its infancy. Like his contemporary Poul Nielsen, of Stanwell fame, Elbert decided on an English name for his family's marque, and acquired the rights to the Big Ben brand from a small trading company, it being both very English-sounding and already pretty well-established in foreign markets in association with a variety of goods, amongst which pipes were included.
While the unmistakably English name survives to this day, there's no doubt about the unabashedly Scandinavian style found throughout Big Ben’s modern offerings; smooth contours and great contrast finishes are abundant, whether in the form of a shapely bent Apple or a diminutive "Pipo" Nosewarmer, or tall and trim Dublin and Acorn shapes that call to mind certain Kriswills and Stanwells of the 1960s, for that matter.