The Globalization of Tobacco Pipe Literature

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The Globalization of Tobacco Pipe Literature

Ben Rapaport, October 2022
Exclusive to

This is a globalized world. There are no borders, so commerce transits from one country to another without prohibition or legal constraints; countries are economically interdependent. Languages are not barriers to communications, so books get translated with regularity. The debut of Cigar Aficionado in 1992 stimulated writers and cigar experts of every stripe to publish English-language cigar books that resulted in a concomitant flood of translations in at least three other languages, French, German, and Italian; often, many also included Spanish. I estimate that the number of cigar books published since 1992 is at least tenfold the quantity of pipe books in any language published during the same timeframe.

Is it possible that cigar smokers are more avid writers and readers — compared to pipe smokers — who believe that the more cigar books the better? It appears so by the extraordinary quantity of titles in so many languages. I have kept score through the years, and there are far too many books to list, but such a list would be of little interest to pipe smokers and pipe collectors. (BTW: there are at least five different English-language cigar magazines in circulation and just one for pipe smokers and collectors. Hint: It’s not The Pipe Smokers Journal offered on Amazon.)

In recent history, a few foreign-language pipe books have been released in English, and a couple English-language books have been published in foreign languages. This table lists only the authors, titles and the languages into which these books have been translated. Also included are titles penned by exophonic authors — writers of one nationality whose books have been published in a different language — which is an uncommon formula. Some books will be unfamiliar to those who do not read foreign languages, but their subject matter should be of interest to most pipe smokers. They are either (a) a history of tobacco pipes; (b) an illustrated survey of briar pipes and briar pipe makers; or (c) treatises on pipe smoking. No book on this list is solely about clay, meerschaum, porcelain, oriental, or ethnographic pipes. Hopefully, readers will find this article — exclusive to — elucidating and revelatory.

Author(s) Original Title(s) Translation or Bilingual
Jan Andersson (1) Bo Nordh, Pipemaker (2008)
Scandinavian Pipemakers (2012)
Tom Eltang, “It’s Good to be a Pipemaker” (2019)
Carlos Armero Pipas Antiguas (Un viaje alrededor de un mundo) (1989) Antique Pipes. A Journey Around A World (1989)
A. P. Bastien La Pipe (1973) Von der Schönheit der Pfeife (1976)
Heiko Behrens u. Holger Frickert Mit Vollem Genuss Pfeife Rauchen (1985) Il piacere della Pipa (1987)
Gustav Casparek, Stan Hill, Walter Hufnagel and Otto Pollner Von der Leidenschaft des Pfeifenrauchens (1984) La Passion de la Pipe. Fumée et Fumeurs (1984)
Franco Coppo Le Pipe, mie Figlie (2020)
Robin Crole Pipe. The Art and Lore of a Great Tradition (1999) Pfeifen. Magie und Flair eines Genusses (1999)
Alfred Dunhill The Pipe Book (1924) Japanese edition (1971)
Das Pfeifenbuch. Eine Kulturgeschichte des Pfeifenrauchens (1982)
Alfred Dunhill The Gentle Art of Smoking (1954) El Noble Arte de Fumar (1955)
Rygingens Ædle Kunst (1955)
Die edle Kunst des Rauchens (1971)
Joachim A. Frank Pfeifen-Brevier oder von der Kunst genüsslich zu rauchen (1969) Le Livre du Fumeur de Pipe (1971)
Pijpenbrevier (1973)
Richard Carlton Hacker The Ultimate Pipe Book (1984)
Rare Smoke. The Ultimate Guide to Pipe Collecting (1999)
Die Kunst Pfeife zu rauchen (1991)
Das Handbuch des Pfeifenrauchers (2000)
Xu Hai (2) Chinese edition (date unknown) An Ivarsson Product: Three Generations of Ivarsson (2015)
Georges Herment Traité de la Pipe (1952) The Pipe (1954)
Štefan Holčík Fajky (1984) Tabak-pfeifen (1984)
Justin Hummerston and Morten Ehrhorn (3) The Pipe. A Functional Work of Art (2018)
Ferenc Levárdy Pipázó eleink (no publication date) Our Pipe Smoking Forebears (1994)
Chinese version (2020)
Lutz Libert Von Tabak Dosen und Pfeifen (1984) Tobacco, Snuff Boxes, and Pipes (1986)
Alexis Liebaert and Alain Maya La Grande Histoire de la Pipe (1993) Die Welt der Pfeife (1994)
The Illustrated History of the Pipe (1994)
Il grande Libro della Pipa (1994)
José Manuel Lopes Cachimbos. Marcas, Fabricantes e Artesaos (2004) Pipes. Artisans and Trademarks (2004)
Diego Morlin La Pipa. I migliori marchi italiani/The Pipe. The Best Italian Brands (2020)
Pierre-G. Müller My Handcrafted Pipes/Meine Handgefertigen Pfeifen (2015)
Steffen Müller (4) Pipe Portraits (2015)
Rick Newcombe In Search of Pipe Dreams (2003) Der Traum vom Pfeifenrauchen (2007)
Newcombe and Leslie Ng, Chinese version (2008)
Mette Oestergaard (5) Briar for Beginners (2017)
Alice Orhant Fumer… Objets de désir (2000) Up in Smoke. The Art of Collectibles (2000)
S. Pallo and E. Russow Piiburaamat/Book of Pipes (2008)
Aldo Pellissone & Valentina Emanual Le Pipe I Tabacchi. Le Tabacchiere I Fiammiferi (1985) Die Pfeife. Kulturgeschichte und Typologie für Pfeifenraucher und Pfeifensammler (1988)
Peter H. Postler Smoking Pipe. Indulgence, Passion and Saving Money (2012) Fumar Pipa. Placer, pasión y ahorrar dinero (2012)
Eppe Ramazzotti & Bernard Mamy Pipes et Fumeurs des Pipes. Un Art, des Collections (1981) Pfeifen und Pfeifenraucher. Pfeifendunst und Pfeifenkunst (1982)
Jean Rebeyrolles La Folie des Pipes (2001) Collectible Pipes (2002)
Anna Ridovics Történelem Pipafüstben. History in Pipe Smoke (2019)
Rolf Joachim Rutzen Pfeifen. Die Pfeifenmacher der Welt. Marken & Modelle (1999) Guida ai migliori marchi e modelli di pipe nel mondo (2000)
Pierre Sabbagh Guide de la pipe (1973) Cuando Fumar es Un Arte (1973)
Giorgio Savinelli La pipa ed I suoi cocktail (1974) El Arte y el Placer de Fumar en Pipa (1974)
Jacek Schmidt Turniej fajkowy. o czym fajczarz wiedzieć powinien (2004)
Fajka powtórne narodziny. produkcja, konserwacja i renowacja (2005)
Pipe-Smoking Contest. What a Pipe-Smoker Should Know (2004)
The Pipe’s Rebirth. Production, Maintenance and Restoration (2005)
Antoinette Schmied-Duperrex & Attillio Bocazzi-Varotto Pipes au Coeur (1989) Il Museo Della Pipa Di Losanna e Degli Oggetti Da Tabacco/The Lausanne Pipe Museum (1989)
Turmac Tabakmaatschappij, N.V., Amsterdam Tobacco, Pipes and the Pleasures of Pipe Smoking (1945)
Joaquín Verdaguer El Arte de Fumar en Pipa (1931) Die Kunst. Pfeife zu Rauchen (1952)
Ars Fumandi eller Konsten att röka pipa (1957)
The art of pipe smoking (1958)

(1) Author lives in Sweden
(2) Author lives in China
(3) Authors live in Denmark
(4) Author lives in Germany
(5) Author live in Denmark

Although intimately familiar with this field of literature, I am ill-equipped to answer why some books on this list were published in other languages, and others were not. It seems arbitrary ... no rhyme or reason. The fact that several English-language pipe books, e.g., Ehwa, Pimo, Schrier, Weber, and Wright, as examples, were not translated into other languages is a mystery to me. Admittedly, there are risks, such as cost and marketing concerns, but it’s probably the reputation of the author, or the scope of the book, or a combination of both that determines whether an English-language book gets published in a foreign language. To date, Hacker and Newcombe are the only exceptions. Both have name recognition beyond the United States, and both found willing German publishers, so there was, for a while, a welcoming market. As this list indicates, U.S. commercial publishing houses have not been actively seeking works in translation as part of their publishing mission, at least as of this writing.

Today, if an American author has a print-ready manuscript, his challenge is to find an established publisher who would consider printing it. Getting a U.S. editor to stake his reputation on publishing a pipe (or tobacco) book in any language is notoriously difficult; getting it published in two languages is a double whammy. Self-publishing is also a challenge, and if the author wants his book to be bilingual, translation is much more than a word-swapping exercise between two languages. Translating a book from one language to another gives it visibility to an expanded audience. Nevertheless, pipe books are a tough sell in the United States nowadays — anti-tobacco books are not — and this may also be true in Europe where there is a very active anti-smoking battle and strict anti-smoking laws have been enacted. As an aside, the Hamburg, Germany, publisher Automatenverlag has refurbished and repurposed old cigarette automats to sell books in the belief that buyers will not “kick the habit” of buying them.

Now to my own view on the book biz. The American pipe-smoking and -collecting community is substantial, yet there aren’t many folks authoring books on pipes lately and, coincidentally, there aren’t many pipers who are purchasing pipe books, whether in English or in a foreign language. What I do know with certainty is that the price of any pipe book in any language is a very small fraction of the cost of any pipe, so it can’t be the price that prevents a pipe smoker or collector from buying the occasional book. The internet is most likely the reason why pipe books no longer sell well.

I am convinced that there is still much more to investigate and publish about our 500-year history of the pipe. Might we soon see the next good book about pipes in any language? Might it also be published in more than one language? A more appropriate question is whether any new pipe book will sell in this worldwide Web-centric, Web-dependent world that has become a fundamental shift in how people seek and obtain information? There’s satisfaction in having an infinite supply of information at your fingertips, just a click away, and ready to download instantly. This technology makes it easier to search for free information and books cost, but I am keenly aware that the Web is chock-full of misinformation, misunderstanding, and myths regarding pipe history. Sam Blumenfeld “Why the Internet Will Never Replace Books” (home-school-com) views the Internet as the place to sell more books, not replace them, but he wrote that in 1999. Since then, there have been myriad internet changes in how we discover and share information, news, ideas, and how we entertain ourselves. Today, there is a compromise: e-books, and time will tell if there is a future for printed pipe books in the USA in a post-Briar Books Press era and in a nonpartisan European publishing industry.

Whatever your takeaway, for me, it was an interesting bibliographical exercise to identify so many books on pipes and their variant editions.

Postscript: After more than a century, James Barrie’s My Lady Nicotine (1890) was translated into Spanish, Lady Nicotina (2003), Italian, Storie di un fumatore incallito che ha smesso (2009), French, Une Etude Fumeuse (2011), and German, Dame Nicotine. Vergleich von Ehe und Rauchen (2020).