The scope of Pipedia will ultimately be defined by its contributors. Our hope in setting it up is that it will become an extensive repository of information on tobacco pipes and their makers. Knowledgeable enthusiasts, collectors, pipe makers, and tobacconists are welcome and encouraged to contribute to Pipedia. Please click the "discussion" tab above if you'd like to dialog with the contributors about the project. Main subsections are now linked in the navigation bar on the left. Pipe smoking is allowed, encouraged, and facilitated on this site.
Materials and Construction
The material and shape of a pipe has a profound influence upon the aesthetics and smoking qualities. Tobacco pipes come in many shapes and styles. For an excellent chart showing classic pipe shapes, see the chart by Bill Burney: Pipe Shapes. To see an excellent chart showing pipe parts along with their names, also by Bill Burney, see Pipe Parts.
The basis for this section is from the Wikipedia entry Smoking Pipe (tobacco).
A Comprehensive list of Pipemaker materials suppliers can be found here: Materials and Supplies
The majority of pipes sold today, whether hand made or machine made, are fashioned from briar. Briar is a particularly good wood for pipe making for a number of reasons. The first and most important is its natural resistance to fire. The second is its inherent ability to absorb moisture. The burl absorbs water in nature to supply the tree in the dry times and likewise will absorb the moisture that is a byproduct of combustion. Briar is cut from the root burl of the heath tree (Erica arborea), which is native to the rocky and sandy soils of the Mediterranean region. Briar burls are cut into two types of blocks; ebauchon and plateaux. Ebauchon is taken from the heart of the burl while plateaux is taken from the outer part of the burl. While both types of blocks can produce pipes of the highest quality, most artisan pipe makers prefer to use plateaux because of its superior graining.
- Characteristics Of Briar is a very thorough and interesting research paper in .pdf format by G. Tsoumis, N. Kezos, I Fanariotou, E. Voulgaridis, and C. Passialis documenting the various characteristics of briar.
- See, My Visit to A Briar Sawmill, What Makes a Good Briar Pipe, The Art of Sandblasting, and Curing all excellent articles by R.D. Field. Also see 100 Year Old Briar?
- So you think you're a "Briar Afficionado"? I suggest you read this short, but extremely informative article by Rainer Barbi here: The Briar Saga Page 1 & The Briar Saga Page 2.
Alternative Woods Used For Pipemaking
Although briar pipes are by far the most popular, various other woods are also used by pipe makers. See Alternative Woods Used For Pipemaking for a list of the many wood types and examples of pipes made with these woods. Many thanks to pipemaker Elie for suggesting this section. Also see Pipes in Other Woods an article written for The Collector by Tim Fuller
Meerschaum (hydrated magnesium silicate), a mineral found in small shallow deposits mainly around the city of Eskişehir in central Turkey, is prized for its plasticity which allows it to be carved into many decorative and figural shapes. It has been used since the 17th century and, with clay pipes, represented the most common medium for pipes before the introduction of briar as the material of choice in the 19th century.
The word "meerschaum" means "sea foam" in German, alluding to its natural white color and its surprisingly low weight. Meerschaum is a very porous mineral that absorbs elements of the tobacco during the smoking process, and gradually changes color to a golden brown. Old, well-smoked meerschaum pipes are prized for their distinctive coloring.
In selecting a meerschaum pipe it is advisable to determine if the pipe is indeed carved from a block of meerschaum, and is not made from meerschaum dust collected after carving and mixed with an emulsifier then pressed into a pipe shape. These products are not absorbent, do not color, and lack the smoking quality of the block carved pipe. It is not always obvious. Some collectors believe that some pipes marked "solid block meerschaum" may not be genuine. With no uniform grading authority, it is difficult to be sure in the case of an unknown maker, unless you are purchasing it from a trusted, well informed tobacconist. Be wary of inexpensive pipes from untrusted sources. Also look for the quality of the carving. Better carvers are unlikely to waste time carving composite meerschaum.
Clay in this case is almost always a very fine white clay. Low-quality "clay" pipes are actually made from porcelain forming techniques known as slip, and poured into a mold. These are porous, of very low quality, and impart unwanted flavors to a smoke. Top-notch clays, on the other hand are made in a labor-intensive process that requires beating all air out of the clay, hand-rolling each pipe before molding it, piercing with a fine wire, and careful firing. Traditionally, clay pipes are un-glazed. Clays burn "hot" in comparison to other types of pipes, so they are often difficult for most pipe-smokers to use. Their proponents claim that, unlike other materials, a well-made clay pipe gives a "pure" smoke, with no flavor addition from the pipe bowl. In addition to aficionados, reproductions of historical clay styles are used by some Historical re-enactors. Clay pipes were once considered disposable items and the large quantities discarded in the past are often used as an aid in dating by industrial archaeologists.
For additional information see, A Short History Of Clay Pipes, by Heather Coleman
Calabash gourds (usually with meerschaum or porcelain bowls set inside them) have long made prized pipes, but they are labour-intensive and nowadays quite expensive. Because of this expense, pipes with bodies made of wood (usually mahogany) instead of gourd, but the same classic shape are sold as calabashes. Both wood and gourd pipes are functionally the same. They both have an air chamber beneath the bowl which serves to cool, dry, and mellow the smoke. There are also briar pipes being sold as calabashes. These typically do not have an air chamber and are named only because of their external shape.
The construction of a calabash pipe generally consists of a downward curve that ends with an upcurve where the bowl sits. This low center of gravity allows for the user to easily hold the pipe by the mouth alone, leaving his hands free. This advantage was often used by actors who wanted to depict their character smoking while permitting them to do other business simultaneously. That is why the character Sherlock Holmes, who never used this kind of pipe in the stories, is stereotypically depicted as favoring it because early dramatic productions, especially those starring William Gillette and Basil Rathbone, made this artistic decision. In fact, Holmes, who preferred very harsh tobacco, would probably have disliked the calabash because of the above-mentioned mellowing effect.
Gourds specifically intended for pipemaking are usually "hand trained" while they are still green & growing. Every few days, after the fruit has begun to develop, the grower will bend the "neck" of the gourd, until it has formed into a near semi-circle. These are mainly grown in South Africa.
Family: Cucurbitaceae (koo-ker-bih-TAY-see-ay); Genus: Lagenaria (lag-en-AR-ee-uh); Species: Siceraria (sy-ker-AR-ee-uh); Cultivar: Dipper(?)
Calabash Interpretations: Also popular with some collectors are Calabash shaped briar pipes, or Calabash interpretations. Fred Heim has written an interesting article on collecting these called Calabash, Calabash, Wherefore Art Thou Calabash?, The Genesis of a Collecting Motif By Fred Heim, with photography by Joe Harb.
On the other end of the scale, "corncob" pipes made from maize cobs are cheap and effective, even if some regard them as inelegant. The cobs are first dried for two years. Then they are hollowed out to make a bowl shape. The bowls are dipped in a plaster-based mixture and varnished or lacquered on the outside. Shanks made from pine wood are then inserted into the bowls. The first and largest manufacturer of corncob pipes is Missouri Meerschaum, located in Washington, Missouri in the United States.. Missouri Meerschaum has produced the pipes since 1869. General Douglas MacArthur and George Lincoln Rockwell were perhaps the most famous smokers of this type of pipe, along with the cartoon characters Popeye and Frosty the Snowman.
Corncob pipes remain popular today because they are inexpensive and require no "break-in" period like briar pipes. For these two reasons, corncob pipes are often recommended as a "Beginners pipe." But, their enjoyment is by no means limited to beginners. Corncob pipes are equally valued by both learners, and experienced smokers who simply desire a cool, clean smoke. Pipesmokers who wish to sample a wide variety of different tobaccos and blends also might keep a stock of corncobs on hand to permit them to try new flavors without "carryover" from an already-used pipe, or to keep a potentially bad tasting tobacco from adding its flavor to a more expensive or favored pipe.
An excellent website devoted to metal pipes: Smoking Metal
An interesting book on the subject: Back From The Ashes, Uncovering the Lost History Of G. L. Hunt and the Falcon Pipe, by Kathy Worth, available from the author: Worthy Works Press.
Build your own custom Kirsten Metal Pipe at Kirsten Pipe Company
Pipe makers by location
It would be great to see an overview and history of pipe making heading up each region. Please feel free to contribute information to the individual sections. Pipe makers in red still need bios (just click on them and add any information you have), and the others linked in blue could be expanded on. Feel free to add other pipe makers you've a particular interest in or knowledge of. Please let me know if you need any help managing the wiki: mailto:email@example.com
We respectfully use the term coined by Jan Andersson, Broken Pipe, to denote deceased Pipemakers.
Canadian pipe making is very individual. Some styles are very traditional, showing definite Old World roots, while others are heavily influenced by the Danish freehand movement.
Danish pipe makers (alphabetical by last name)
H: Per Hansen (see S. Bang) | Poul Hansen | Hans Hartmann | Peter Hedegaard (Broken Pipe) | Peter Heding | Peter Heeschen | Gert Holbek | Preben Holm (Broken Pipe) (needs more editing) | Jens Holmgaard (Broken Pipe)
N: Neerup | Bjarne Nielsen | Erik Nielsen | Hans Nielsen (see Former) | Ivan Holst Nielsen | Jørgen Nielsen | Kai Nielsen | Tonni Nielsen (Denmark/United States) | Viggo Nielsen | Ulf Noltensmeier (see S. Bang) | Erik Nørding
We highly recommend the following article on the history of Danish pipe making by Jakob Groth. More Pipe maker articles coming soon to this section. Those in red still need articles. Please dive in if you'd like to help. Very thankfully there exists an excellent site dedicated to Scandinavian pipe makers. We highly recommend danishpipemakers.com
Alain Albuisson | Chacom (Bayard) | Butz Choquin (Claude Romain) | Charles Courrieu | David Enrique (needs more editing) | EWA | Jeantet | Paul Lanier | Pascal Piazzolla | Trever Talbert (France/United States) | Roger Vincent | Vuillard
R-Z: Axel Reichert | Pit Rohrbach | Bertram Safferling | Jürgen Schmitt | Roland Schwarz | Manuel Shaabi (Ex Lebanon) | Syring | Nils Thomsen | Reinhardt Volz | René Wähner | Roger Wallenstein | Gerhard Wilhelm | Hans Wormit
More pipe maker articles coming soon. There exists an excellent site dedicated to German pipe makers. We highly recommend German Pipemakers
- Berlin Tobacco College: The Berlin Tobacco College is open to the public and meets Thursday evenings at 8:00 in a local Berlin cafe. Sharing ideas, experiences, and good tobacco, the Berlin Tobacco College members welcome anyone interested in pipe smoking. In addition to pipe club evenings, the Berlin Tobacco College organizes the Berlin Pipe show and participates in the annual Berlin Christmas Charity event organized by Frank Zander. Website
- East German Pipe Smokers Association: Under the Direction of the German Pipe Smokers Association, we are working in conjunction with other pipe clubs to build the East German Pipe Smokers Association. Website
- Support of d.a.f.t home page: Nils Thomsen Pipes is an active member and supporter of the d.a.f.t home page and forum. Website
- Pipe Making Workshop: On Saturdays it is possible to spend the day making your own pipe form start to finish. The day begins at 10:00 a.m. with a coffee and a Briar block and ends in the evening in a cafe and your finished self-made pipe. These appointments are typically one to one and do not require previous wood-working experience. Participants pay approximately 200.00 € which includes the material. Website
- Pipe smoking class for beginners: Every second Thursday evening of each month at 7:00 in the store, you are invited to join a beginners class in pipe smoking. Website
Ashton | Astley's | Barling | Blakemar Briars (Michael Billington) | Castleford | Charatan | Comoy's | Dunhill | Ferndown (L. & J.S. Briars)(Ellwood) | GBD | Hardcastle (became Parker-Hardcastle) (needs more editing) | London Castle Pipes (G. Huybrecht) | Millville (Dennis and John Marshall) | Parker | Sasieni | Upshall (also makes Tilshead)| Ben Wade | Ian Walker (Northern Briar Pipes) |
More pipe maker articles coming soon. Very thankfully there exists an excellent site dedicated to Italian pipe makers. We highly recommend italianpipemakers.com
- See A Short History of The Italian Handmade Pipe, by R.D.Field for an interesting article on the Castello, Caminetto, and Ascorti connection.
- See Thoughts on Italian Pipes - Sykes Wilford's musings on Italian pipe design.
Shizuo Arita | Takeo Arita (needs more editing)| Tsutomu Fukashiro | Kei'Ichi Gotoh | Seiji Hachiro | Jun'ichiro Higuchi | Ichi Kitahara | saci (Yukio Okamura) | Kenichiro Sakurai | Smio Satou | Hiroyuki Tokutomi | Yuki Tokutomi | Tsuge
- See Beyond Tsuge - Martin Ferrent interviews Sykes Wilford about Japanese pipes, originally published at PFEIFENBOX
Sergey Ailarov | Sergey Dyomin | Alexey Fyodorov | Vladimir Grechukhin | Valentin Kiselyov | Alexey Kharlamov | Evgeniy Lushin (Eugeni Looshin) | Misha Revyagin (Mr. Pipes) | Alexandr Saharov | Viktor Yashtylov
Swedish pipe makers (Alphabetical by last name)
Although much deserved credit has been given to Danish pipemakers & the "Danish Freehand" style, a lot of credit has to go to a handful of brilliant and innovative Swedish pipemakers, not the least of whom were Sixten Ivarsson & Bo Nordh (may they smoke & rest in peace).
More pipe maker articles coming soon. Very thankfully there exists an excellent site dedicated to Swedish pipe makers. We highly recommend Svenska Pipklubben (Swedish Pipe Club) and extend many thanks to Jan Andersson, club secretary (and pipe smoker, of course).
We urgently need Helvetians (Swiss) to contribute info for the above pipemakers.
A-D: P. A. Anderson | Scott Anderson | Steve and Roswitha Anderson | E. Andrews (Ed Jurkiewicz) | Anima pipes | Tom Bahder (Renaissance Pipes) | Al Baier | Paul Bonaquisti | Kirk Bosi | J.M. Boswell | Bill Braddock (Art That Smokes) | Mike Brissett | Ed Burak | Mike Butera | W. Cannoy | Dominic Cazzetta | Larry Comeaux | Joe Cortigano | J.T. Cooke | John Crosby | Custom-Bilt (needs photos) | Jody Davis (J. Davis) | Rad Davis | De Jarnett | Wm. DeMuth Company (WDC) (see also S. M. Frank & Co. Inc.) | Diane Doerr
E-H: John Eells | Skip Elliott | Lee von Erck | Ron Fairchild | Michael Fauscette (Delta Pipes) | Tony Fillenwarth | Alex Florov (Ex Russia) | Wally Frank | Mike Frey | Don Fuhr | Tim Fuller | Frederick Garlinghouse (Frederick G Pipes) (Broken Pipe) | Robert Gebbie (R.G.Freehand) | Jeff Gracik (J. Alan Pipes) | Gray Mountain Pipes (Mark Gradberg) | Jake Hackert | Jack Howell | Dr. Grabow | Kurt Huhn
I-M: Todd Johnson | David Johnson (Ozark Mountain Briars) | Michael Kabik | Mitch Kaufman | Kaywoodie (KBB, Currently made by S. M. Frank & Co. Inc.) | Kim Kendall (Penguin Briar) | Bob Kiess | Kirsten Pipe Company (Metal Pipes) | Tyler Lane | Samuel Learned | LHS (L & H Stern Pipe Making Company) (needs editing & photos)| Michael Lindner | Luna Pipes (Tom Johnson) | Brian McNulty (Anima) | Marchetti Pipes | James Margroum (Mr.Groum) | Joe Mariner | Andrew Marks | Marxman | Mastercraft | Medico (S. M. Frank & Co. Inc.) | Tracy Mincer
Q-T: Tony Rodriguez | Curt Rollar | Larry Roush | Brian Ruthenberg (Briar Art) | RC Sands | Joel Shapiro (JS Pipes) | Ben Scofield | Max Schulte | Denny Souers | Vic Steinhart | Robert Story]] | Ken Sturgill | Trever Talbert (France/United States) | Tatum's Workshop (Paul Tatum) | Scott Thile | Mark Tinsky
Like the rest of modern American culture, American pipe making is heavily influenced by the European schools, although Asian aesthetics, at least as they play out in pipes, have also become a notable influence. In particular, the Italian, English, and French schools, with their traditional shapes, have formed the basis for the work of many American pipe makers who have pored over collections of old Dunhills, Barlings, GBDs, Costellos, Savinelli's, etc. Many of these shapes were well established by the 1920s. Others are heavily influenced by the makers of Danish high grade pipes, who have likewise been influenced by their mentors, the fathers of the Danish freehand movement of the 1950's and '60s.
"Go West" is a fascinating look at high grade American pipe makers from across the pond. Written By: Erwin Van Hove and originally published in the French magazine, Pipe Mag.
Among other interesting devevlopments in US pipe making has been Sandblasting. Fred Hanna wrote an interesting article for The Pipe Collector called, The Best Sandblasted Pipes are Being Made By Americans, where he writes, "Now and then, someone will point to a particular country, such as Denmark or Italy, and remark upon the quality of their pipe makers as a group. This may be in terms of design, finish, mouthpieces, engineering, or what have you. Let's add another such assessment. I have been watching the quality of sandblasting by Americans for the last couple of years, and I don't think there can be any doubt about it. The best sandblasted pipes OVERALL are now coming out of the USA."
Suffice it to say that a new generation of American pipe makers have emerged. Many have made the trek to high grade pipe mecca to study with the master carvers. They have brought back an entire school of technique and aesthetic and made it their own. Others combine the traditional and freehand styles in a unique combination. Regardless of their influences, many of these American pipe makers are pursuing pipe making with a tremendous passion and energy, and an individual spirit, not unlike the one that molded the country.
Alexander Pipes (Alexandros Zavvos) (Greece) | Amadeus Pipes (Greece) | Bertoldi (Brazil) | Elie (Belgium/Portugal) | Pedro Ferrizzo (Uruguay) | GB Pipes (Bulgaria) | Leonardo Herrera (Chili) | Gregor Lobnik (Slovenia) | Peterson (Ireland) | Joao Reis (Portugal) | Tabago (Baard Hansen) (Norway) | Georgi Todorov - Getz (Bulgaria) | Martin Vlasak (Bohemia) | Jan Zeman (New Zealand)
BPipaClub.com (La pagina del Barcelona Pipa Club sobre pipas y tabacos más activa para toda la comunidad de habla hispana )
Smokers Forums (an active international online pipe-smoking community committed to a civil tone)
Pipes.org (lots of great links and a wealth of information)
NASPC.org (North American Society of Pipe Collectors)
A.S.P (the web home of alt.smokers.pipes, a very active and interesting newsgroup)
TobaccoReviews.com (a fantastic site to research tobaccos you might enjoy)
PipeMakersForum.com (Great information on pipe making and fellowship with pipe makers)
WikiPipa. Enciclopedia Virtual de la Pipa
La Pipa. La página en castellano sobre la pipa y el tabaco
Gray Fox Online Forum (General pipe smoking forum with an emphasis on old and new Kaywoodies)
Groupe Fumeurs de Pipe (The first French group about pipes, pipe makers, and tobaccos)
Fumeurs de Pipe (A French site dedicated to pipes, pipe makers, and so on...)
Christian Pipe Smokers (An active group of pipe smokers that also discuss theology)
Club de Pipafumadores del Uruguay (2001)(El primer club de pipafumadores fundado en el Uruguay)