A pipe stopper with a shoe
Pipe smoker's tools can be found in a wide variety of shapes, such as this original pipe stopper. Made of wood, it shows a stylized shoe with a conical stopper section on the heel side for pressing the tobacco into the pipe bowl. Pipe stoppers and pipe cleaners, the first to press the tobacco, the second to empty the pipe bowl, are often objects of popular art. Many examples were made as amateur handicraft in the evenings. Yet we we can easily be carried away in a too romantic feel about it. Looking more closely, we notice that, in addition to the genuine homework, many of those popular objects are in fact professional serial products, even if it remains 100% manual labor. The sophistication with which this shoe has been carved, with its special stylization and accents of stitching, certainly indicates that it is the work of a professional, who made use of his experience and repetition. He sold his craft through tobacconists or itinerant traders. Unfortunately, the origin remains unknown. Such stoppers with a conical stopper section are usually of English origin, but there is no certainty about that. The date must be somewhere before the middle of the nineteenth century.
Amsterdam Pipe Museum APM 22.052
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