Most sought after by collectors are figural porcelain pipes. Already in the 1730, shortly after the European invention of the porcelain technique, the first designs appear. The master-modeller of the famous Meissen factory, Johann Joachim Kändler, made one of the most striking examples with three human heads. Another early pipe bowl represents a lion, his head being the lid of the pipe.
The Turkish heads, male and female, both with elaborate turbans, were particularly popular. Expensive gifts at the time, these pipes are very rare nowadays and by consequence high priced.
In course of the nineteenth century the quality of the porcelain pipe declines. Production quantities and competition are both growing. The modelling is no longer refined while the paintings become less naturalistic and subtle. A few manufacturers continue to make examples of fine portrait bowls and delicate figural pipes, but most of the pipes on the market are coarse in shape, crude in painting and vulgar in theme. Especially the animal bowls showing frogs, squirrels, foxes, elephants etc. become popular, although now regarded as super kitsch.
Circa 1900 the figural pipe disappears from the market. The final creations are meant to be smoked in the pub among soldiers or workmen. These bowls are dedicated to drinking and beer. An example shows a man under a barrel, drinking from the tap. Another depicts a low-necked dress woman serving a bunch of beer jugs.
All objects on this page are part of the Amsterdam Pipe Museum
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