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Collectible Tobacco Pipes

Eastern Native Americans are credited with creating the tobacco pipe; however, the practice of smoking a pipe spread throughout the world. As the habit spread, different parts of the world would make pipes out of materials that they had available. Therefore, if you are going to secure a collectible smoking pipe, you need to consider the parts of the vintage pipe, its construction materials, and its design.

What are some of the parts of an antique pipe?

Regardless of its construction, almost all smoking pipes contain the same basic parts even if they are antique. They are the following:

  • Bowl: The exterior part holding the tobacco to be smoked.
  • Chamber: The interior part holding the tobacco.
  • Draught hole: The hollow tunnel connecting the chamber to the shank.
  • Shank: The narrow chamber through which the smoke travels before being inhaled.
  • Mortise: The interior tunnel connecting the mouthpiece and the chamber.
  • Tenon: The notched part fitting inside the mortise.
  • Stem: The long piece of the pipe through which smoke travels when the pipe is smoked.
  • Bit: The end of the pipe where the lips are placed when smoking.
  • Bore: The inside portion of the bit.
What materials are vintage pipes made of?

A variety of materials were used to make smoking pipes around the world by hand and by machine, including the following:

  • Kaolin: This clay material for pipe tobacco that was also used to make fine china was favored in England, the Netherlands, and the United States.
  • Wood: Walnut, cherry, rosewood, and maple trees were carefully drained of their saps and allowed to dry before being carved into tobacco pipes mainly in Germany, Austria, and Hungary. Sometimes, pieces of antler or gold chain were added to these pipes.
  • Porcelain: Often made in three pieces, these smoking pipes were especially popular in Germany where many artists painted scenes on them.
  • Meerschaum: This soft, white stone is from Turkey, but most meerschaum pipes were carved in Austria.
  • Briarwood: This root of the heath bush was often used to make pipes for tobacco in France.
  • Corncob: The corncob pipe is an American invention made famous by General MacArthur.
  • Calabash: This South African gourd was often used to make pipes that were imported into the United States.

What are some common shapes of tobacco pipes?

While there are many different styles of tobacco pipes, including those made of glass, silver metal, and silicone, many follow the same basic designs, which are the following:

  • Billard: The straight bowl on these tobacco pipes are set at a 90-degree angle to the straight shaft. The bowl height and the shank length are usually equal.
  • Bulldog: A square shank tapering into a round bowl creates this cool pipe.
  • Prince: A short, squatting bowl and a long, slender mouthpiece are found on this pipe that was preferred by King Edward VIII.
  • Rhodesian: A bent, round shank and a half-bent mouthpiece are found on these tobacco pipes.
  • Canadian: A long, oval stem ending in a short-tapered mouthpiece are found on these tobacco pipes that are normally over 6 inches long.
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