Under the skirts
Portrait pipes are timeless, but the portrayal of a complete person is less common. Shortly after the year 1800, tobacco pipes became popular with depictions of complete persons from peddlers to a seated Turk or even an armored knight. They were carved in meerschaum and the amusing thing was that the head swung back with a hinge so that you could fill the pipe. This market vendor is the perfect example of this type: completely folk art, very appealing because of the recognizability, but also a bit mischievous. We see a merchant woman sitting with a basket with fresh rolls next to her. While waiting for her customers, she has slipped her hand under the skirts and is pleasantly occupied. You will find out when you open the flap that is hidden in the skirts. How wondrous, there are two versions of this representation, with and without tool! All in all, it's a portrayal that you wouldn't expect in that period. Such pipes were only popular for a few years, silver hallmarks indicate dates between 1805 and 1810. After that, they never appeared on the market again. Did the smoker feel embarrassed about it? As conversation piece, the invention was absolutely unusual and funny, but every smoker knows that a meerschaum pipe gradually changes color as the soft stone becomes permeated with tar and nicotine. With these pipes, the hollow space under the skirts ensured that this transport did not take place. That is why the manufacturer pre-colored the lid and the smoker had to color the pipe himself by smoking it for a long time. Only then a beautiful unity will occur. With many pipes this colouring was only moderately successful, one of the factors for their limited success.
Amsterdam Pipe Museum APM 24.533Permalink