A lightweight emperor
This briar pipe with a stem of caoutchouc or vulcanised rubber is a remarkable object. It is the ultimate lightweight pipe because the bowl wall is extremely thin. In addition, the pipe with its sleek straight stem and elegant, somewhat rounded bowl gives the smoker a joyous, no-obligation look. Represented is the German Emperor Wilhelm I, recognisable by the German helmet in combination with his characteristic moustache and whiskers. Particularly strinking is that the image is upside down. Surely, that is not quite worthy for an imperial portrait, so the question arises whether such a pipe might have been smoked specifically by anti-monarchists. Its origin is yet unclear. Briar is mainly seen as a French product, although this type of wood is also used a lot in Germany. There, production started well in the nineteenth century. Nevertheless, the briar industry did not continue in Germany and was gradually lost since the material is always imported. All in all we are still in the dark about the origin of this pipe, and so we are about the dating. The lightweight version certainly gives the impression of being twentieth century, but the emperor himself died as early as 1888. It is therefore unclear whether we should regard this pipe as a posthumous homage from the time of the First World War or alternatively as a contemporary expression of anti-imperial feelings from before 1888.
Amsterdam Pipe Museum APM 16.215Permalink