Covers on meerschaum pipes
The meerschaum pipe is the most exclusive smoking instrument. It is not surprising that it was often provided with a precious lid made of silver or even gold. Those lids were not made in the pipe factory at the time, but by a silversmith. When you study these pipe covers you discover a unity in style per period, a pattern that gradually shifts to new fashions.
The cover of the pipe is mainly of practical use: you can now smoke the pipe outside without the wind stoking the fire. In addition, sparks and ash can no longer fall from the bowl. To be able to smoke quietly, a lid is needed, with small air holes all around. It is also a chic finish for a carefully crafted product. The purely functional lids, usually flat or drum-shaped, are made in series with a punch. We sometimes recognize the origin and age by the shape. Other lids are completely handmade, true works of art that really add something to the pipe. Also note the beautiful clamp spring that keeps the cover closed.
In the first quarter of the nineteenth century, it is common for army officers to show off their pipes. That was the only personal object in their appearance, for the uniform they wore was prescribed for their rank. A beautiful example is a pipe with a lid provided with a cannon on top, the seven cannon barrels will damp all around while smoking. Another example shows an imposing army helmet adorned with a trophy of weaponry. A third is partly made of gold and shows the four horses of the San Marco in Venice as decoration.
Simple lids can also be personalized. For example by an engraved inscription, the image of a family coat of arms or a gold coin in a setting. Naturally, the design of the lid forms a unity with the stem holder, the mounting that cares for a tight connection between the pipe bowl and the separate stem.