The use of wood for a tobacco pipe is at first glance a quite unexpected choice, since its burns easily. Nevertheless, from the end of the eighteenth century wooden pipes have been produced in various parts of Europe. To make them stand the time, the inner bowls were generally coated with plate metal, in later times also with a lawyer of grinded meerschaum or clay, mixed with glue. The protective layer made the pipes more durable.
Especially from Germany a lot of different wooden pipes are known. Quite renowned is the production place Ulm, where the famous Maserholz Pfeife was made, showing a bowl that is flattened on both sides, giving the pipe its particular silhouette. Other wooden pipes are inspired shapewise on the early porcelains, the clays or the meerschaums. The bag-shape and the Hungarian funnel shaped pipes, both copied from meerschaum pipes, are two examples that became extremely popular.
Wooden pipes showing a figural decoration are less industrial, more folk art. The pipe in the shape of a dancing bear, for instance, is a nice example. In this case the decoration is fully freed from the shape of the pipe. With other examples the traditional pipe shape is still preserved.
An odd wooden pipe is the bed pipe, a conical tobacco pipe, the bowl having a metal interior and a metal lid, over which a wooden cover is screwed. The pipe, being lit and closed, can be smoked in bed without the risk of setting the straw bag to fire, since the burning tobacco can not get out of the pipe.
In the second half of the nineteenth century the traditional pipe in wood is replaced by the briar pipe, then already machine made. The main change is of course the disappearance of the inner metal layer that makes the pipe more tasteful and much lighter in weight. Only in Central-Europe the wooden pipe lined with metal is produced till the early twentieth century.
All objects on this page are part of the Amsterdam Pipe Museum
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