Ulmer Maserholzpfeifen

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top: Ulmer Kloben, bottom: Ungarnkopf.
The bowls of the two pipes are made of curled wood. The stems and shanks are turned from wood. The lids and decorative fittings are made of brass. Courtesy Heimatmuseum Waldstetten

The term Ulmer Maserholzpfeifen (Ulmer burl wood pipes)[1] covers the production of pipes from the root wood of different tree species (elm, ash, alder, birch, maple, etc.) in Ulm[2] as well as in the extensive area around the city. The oldest archival document from 1695 does not come from Ulm itself, but from Geislingen.

A distinction is made between two basic forms, the so-called "Ulmer Kloben"[3] (Wooden Block from Ulm) with a ridge that widens on the underside of the pipe head, and the Ungarnform (Hungarian Form) or Ungarnkopf (Hungarian Head) with a narrow, high pipe head that is always higher than the pipe neck. The pipe bowls were particularly enhanced by elaborate fittings, lids and chains made of silver. The extent of production is almost impossible to grasp, as the trade was not organized in a guild and was often only practiced as a sideline.[4]

These pipes were made since the end of the 17th century[5] or from 1733 on[6].

Further Reading

  • Anton Manger: Die berühmten Ulmer Maserholz Pfeifen: Geschichtliches und Kulturgeschichtliches über die Pfeifenherstellung in Ulm (Druckerei R. Mack GmbH; ISBN-13: 9783980243643)
  • Adolf Häberle: Die berühmten Ulmer Maserholzpfeifenköpfe in ihrer kultur- und wirtschaftsgeschichtlichen Bedeutung. Amberg 1950. This book can be purchased from Rainer Immensack on eBay for about 10€.
  • Rainer Immensack was so kind to give permission to publish his article "Ulmer Maserholzpfeifen von Rainer Immensack". "Ulmer Maserholzpfeifen by Rainer Immensack" is the english translation.



  1. I'm not sure how to translate the term "Maserholz" exactly. I found burl wood and curled wood as well. Maybe some native speaker can sed some light into this.
  2. Ulm is a city in the south of Germany.
  3. These translations are quite rough! Although being german I never heard the word "Kloben" before but have found that it's a middlehigh-german word for "Holzklotz" which can be translated as wooden block.
  4. From the summary of Rainer Immensacks article "Ulmer Maserholzpfeifen", http://helene-bonn.info/AK/h17.htm#imm
  5. https://www.sammeln-sammler.de/tabakpfeifen/
  6. http://www.woffenbach.de/pfeifenclub/pfeifentabak.html This source states the end of the 17th century as being the time when building of composite (right word?) pipes began.