Early wooden pipes

Using wood for a tobacco pipe seems like an unexpected choice. After all, wood is not fire resistant. Nevertheless, from the eighteenth century onwards smoking pipes have been made of wood, especially in Central Europe where there is no shortage of wood. With those products, the inside of the pipe bowl was covered with sheet iron, to prevent that fire and flame will affect the wood; not ideal for the smoker, since the metal heats up.

In southern Germany, where many wooden pipes were made, the city of Ulm developed into the most famous center with the so-called Maserholz pipe or burl wood pipe. This characteristic pipe is flattened on both sides, with a kind of keel that runs in a wide circle along the underside of the pipe bowl. Other wooden pipes followed the design of the meerschaum pipe, with the well-known bag shape and the high Hungarian bowl being the most popular.

Since any farmer can easily get hold of a piece of wood, many wooden pipes can be regarded as folk art. The pipe bowl in the shape of a dressed bear is a good example. This also applies to the many pipes in which the bark of the branch is still clearly visible. A quaint wooden pipe is the bed pipe with a long conical shape, the bowl of which is closed with a metal slide and a screwed wooden lid. Once lit and sealed, you can smoke the pipe carelessly in bed, without the risk of a spark setting the bed's straw bag on fire.

In the second half of the nineteenth century, a newly discovered type of wood came into use that is non-combustible: briar, in French bruyère. The main change is that the metal inner bowl disappears, which means that the pipe gains in flavor. Only in Central Europe the sheet metal lining remains in use until the twentieth century, of course only for softwood pipes. With such metal-lined pipes, every smoker knew that you have to be patient before the flavor settles in the pipe.

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