Flaunting silver on a bag shaped pipe
In southwestern Germany, the Black Forest area in present-day Baden-Württemberg, the nineteenth-century smoker preferred to present himself with a tobacco pipe adorned with silver. The pipe depicted here is a typical example of this style. Although the custom of covering a tobacco pipe with silver ornaments was probably invented in Ulm, it extended over a much wider area. Thanks to the silverware, the depicted pipe certainly looks Ulm, but the shape of the bowl is not. This is between the well-known bag shape and the Hungarian, the first a low model with a strong convexity, the second a slender high cylindrical bowl. Both shapes are known from the Austro-Hungarian meerschaum pipes, we rarely see them in wood. Although it is known that the Ulmer wood turners also made other shapes that match a style that prevailed elsewhere, the appearance of a silver adorned pipe of a non-Ulmer type is rather unusual. What we often see with these silver decorated pipes is the lack of unity. All kinds of ornaments were nailed to the wood, sometimes almost haphazardly, often in a nice rhythm or evenly spread over the surface, but not always coherent in subject matter. That is different with this pipe. Around the bowl we see three larger ornaments with birds: at the front a pelican with young, on both sides a monumental swan in attack position with outstretched wings. The bowl base and stem have smaller decorative motifs: palmettes, cartouches and crowns, partly in neo-rococo style. As usual, the bowl is closed with a valve lid, here with a cleverly embossed rotating flower rosette with a beautifully hatched heart. The smooth stem plate with stem holder made of silver stands out for its simplicity, so that the attention remains focused on the other silverware. All in all, the silver fittings have ensured that a simple wooden pipe has been turned into a luxurious object. The insert stem fits in with this: artfull turning in horn with an ivory-coloured twisted piece in between. The stem end has a flexible part for comfortable handling of the pipe, provided with the usual mouth piece with knots. All in all, an impressive show pipe with an excellent utility.
Amsterdam Pipe Museum APM 24.394Permalink