Pipe cleaner in a carved case
Characteristic for the Dutch northern provinces is this bone pipe cleaner. A typical piece of homework, made during the evening hours at the farm or by people in the city. The heyday of such cleaners is in the second half of the nineteenth century, although pipe cleaners in bone must have been used much earlier. The cleaner shown here is the most elaborate of its kind. The standard pin to clean the pipe is not different from the normal. However, the work that the maker has put in sculpting the top is special. On the top a toolbox is carved, with initials on the front. In that rectangular box, ten pieces of traditional Dutch carpenter's tools rotate around three axes. In this way the cleaner almost functions as a rattle when moving. What makes this item, rather a showpiece than a tool for use, truly unique is the accompanying wooden case. This is obviously a nice piece of homework as well. The case is decorated with carvings on all sides, even on the back. Two semi-circular pieces of brass have been fitted as suspension eyes for hanging this little show case. At the front you can see a hinged glass window that beautifully exhibits the pipe cleaner. After carving the entire wooden surface was covered with black lacquer, partially accentuated with gold. This created an unexpected showpiece. We can only guess about the background of this remarkable object. Was it a piece of work by a skilled carpenter who killed his evening hours? Or is it a gift from the family to a craftsman for some anniversary ? In any case, the initials indicate a specific person, that unfortunately we will never know by name.
Amsterdam Pipe Museum APM 22.078Permalink