Materials and Construction
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 overview of these shapes see Pipe Shapes by Bill Burney.
Bill Burney and A.S.P. have kindly permitted us to use the A.S.P. Pipe Parts Charts showing the parts and nomenclature of the pipe:
The basis for this section is from the Wikipedia entry Smoking Pipe (tobacco).
A Comprehensive list of Pipe maker material and suppliers can be found here: Materials and Supplies
BriarErica 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.
- Saint Claude Briar, c.1855: A very early example from the time and place of the first briar pipes.
- 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?. Also Trever Talbert's excellent blog posts Sandblasting - Circles and Shanks and How to Read your Sandblast.
- R.C. Hamlin has also written an interesting article on this subject called The Briar Factor.
- So you think you're a "Briar Afficionado"? This is a short but extremely informative article by Rainer Barbi available here: The Briar Saga Page 1 & The Briar Saga Page 2.
Alternative Woods Used For Pipe making
Although briar pipes are by far the most popular, various other woods are also used by pipe makers (one example would be cherry wood). See Alternative Woods Used For Pipe making for a list of the many wood types and examples of pipes made with these woods. Many thanks to pipe maker Elie for suggesting this section. Also see Pipes in Other Woods an article written for The Collector by Tim Fuller. Also see Vecchie tradizioni contadine
Also see Other Materials section in, in the "Stummels" section in "Pipe Making"
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 was used as early as the 17th century in Turkey in the production of various utilitarian articles, but the first use as a pipe was not earlier than, according to translated documents, about 1725-1750. Along with clay, meerschaum represented the other common medium for pipes before the introduction of briar as the material of choice in the mid-19th century. See Antique Meerschaum Pipes and Materiali Fossili, Schiuma di mare
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.
Selmec on the front. The seal represents two salamanders which legend tells us led residences to the gold deposits. Hammer and pick are also represented. These clays represent an entirely different clay pipe tradition from the English clay pipes. These shapes are based on Turkish clay pipes which entered Europe from the East.
- See Selmec for additional information on Hungarian clays
- For additional information see, A Short History Of Clay Pipes, by Heather Coleman
- An excellent article from the Colonial Williamsburg Journal entitled "Hunting for a Little Ladle", Tobacco Pipes by Ivor NoÔl Hume
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.
CorncobMissouri 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. Pipe smokers 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.
Includes various Falcon aluminum-stem pipes, plus Kirsten, Yello Bole, Dr. Grabow (Viking) and many others.
Build your own custom Kirsten Metal Pipe at Kirsten Pipe Company
Kirsten Pipe Company - An article by Dave Whitney
Metal pipes often incorporate means of trapping moisture that can cool the smoke before it reaches the mouth. Some say this can reduce the "Bite" and make smoking more enjoyable. Kirsten and Falcon pipes are still in production and deliver an excellent smoke. Beware though, there are many different metal pipes out there, of varing styles and brands, and collecting them can be very addictive.
Eastman Pipe - By Eastman Scientific. Not sure how long these were in production, or any of the details with the exception of the flyer. If you have additional information, please click on the blue link and add the information into an article for us.
Sweetheart - Looks similar to Kirsten, but is a seperate company that was located in St.Paul Minnesota,
the pipe (pyrolytic graphite/phenolic resin)
See the excellent the pipe website by Billie W. Taylor II, Ph.D