A gourd pipe with a briar bowl insert

March 2009

A gourd pipe with a briar bowl insert

It is generally believed that Sherlock Holmes would have smoked from a gourd pipe. This specific type of pipe is characterized by an elegant, stongly bent funnel-shaped pipe bowl made from the calabash fruit. To obtain the perfect pipe shape, these fruits often grew in a wooden mould. A meerschaum bowl insert is later placed on the open top. The stem was originally made of amber, attached with a metal band. The pipe ran into a smooth line in the stem and it was precisely that line that made the gourd pipe so popular. The comfort of the pipe was that the meerschaum bowl insert absorbed the moisture, while in the generous space in the fruit the smoke cooled. Moisture could still be deposited there. Special about the depicted calabash pipe is that an insert of briar wood is used, which is again covered with a thin layer of meerschaum. Thanks to the silver marks on the stem ferrule, we know that the pipe was hall marked in Birmingham in 1912. With this the pipe dates from the high days of the calabash pipe. After the Second World War the calabash pipe becomes lighter and cheaper, then it is no longer common to use a real amber mouthpiece. An impoverishment in the product, which is as we know a characteristic for many objects.

Amsterdam Pipe Museum APM 19.516



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