Carved figural pipes
The hard heather root called briar, with the official name erica arborea, has been used extensively for wooden pipes from 1850 onwards. This root is almost non-combustible and after some time does not affect the taste of the tobacco. A pipe maker can transform the briar wood into figurations with razor-sharp blades and chisels. The figural pipe becomes a worthy counterpart to the smoothly finished pipe. Good carvers can be traced back to 1850, surpassing each other in unexpected designs. One of the most famous is the gifted Charles Harnisch.
Carved products from the nineteenth century have become rare, because most briar pipes are smoked and burned over the years. Those early specimens come in a range from home industry to true works of art. The figural pipe occupies an important place in Saint-Claude, the center of briar production. A certain Henri Dalloz even developed a mechanical sculpting machine that could simultaneously make a series of carved pipes. These include the portraits of Voltaire and Bacchus, but also that of King Edward VII, for example. The machine remained in use for decades and proves the industrial production of briar pipes in the Jura.
Most figural pipes are mounted in the same way as the smooth briar pipes. They are given a short stem of hard rubber or buffalo horn. For the extra luxurious qualities a stem made of amber is chosen, in most cases imitation amber.