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A Complete Guide to Tobacco Pipe Shapes...Almost

We consider this an almost complete guide because the shapes and forms of our favorite tobacco pipes are constantly evolving.

 

Don't need any of the fluff?

 

Click these buttons to jump straight to the shape you're looking for:

 

Apple Pipe Shape Acorn Pipe Shape Author Pipe Button Billiard Shape Button
Blowfish Tobacco Pipe Brandy Shape Tobacco Pipe Button Bullcap Tobacco Pipe Bulldog Tobacco Pipe
Bull Moose Tobacco Pipe Calabash Tobacco Pipe Reverse Calabash Tobacco Pipe Canadian Tobacco Pipe Button
Cavalier Tobacco Pipe Cherrywood Tobacco Pipe Chimney Tobacco Pipe Shape Button Churchwarden Tobacco Pipe
Cutty Tobacco Pipe Devil-Anse Button Diplomat Tobacco Pipe Button Dublin Tobacco Pipe
Duke/Don Tobacco Pipe Egg Tobacco Pipe Freehand Tobacco Pipe Hawkbill Tobacco Pipe
Horn Tobacco Pipe Liverpool Tobacco Pipe Shape Button Lovat Tobacco Pipe Shape Button Lumberman Tobacco Pipe Shape Button
Nautilus Tobacco Pipe Nose Warmer Tobacco Pipe Shape Button Oom Paul Hungarian Tobacco Pipe Button Panel Shape Tobacco Pipe Button
Pot Shaped Tobacco Pipe Button Prince Tobacco Pipe Poker Tobacco Pipe Rhodesian Tobacco Pipe
Sitter Button Tankard Tobacco Pipe Tomahawk Tobacco Pipe Tomato/Ball Tobacco Pipe
Ukulele Tobacco Pipe Vest Pocket Tobacco Pipes Volcano Tobacco Pipe Zulu Tobacco Pipe

 

Stem Explanations Quick Jump

Army Stem Combination Stem Saddle Stem Screw Stem Button
Tapered Tobacco Pipe Stem      

 

This guide is the culmination of hundreds of hours of research, interviews and debate. We believe it is as complete as possible and we want you to help us keep it that way. We see this guide to pipe shapes not just as another resource on the internet, but a tool that will enable the pipe community to become more passionate about pipe smoking and pipe collecting.

 

Bookmark this page and check back often. It will evolve and grow as we receive community contributions, new styles emerge, and as our corner of the world expands.

 

Why Create this Guide?

We are sure that many of you are wondering why in the world we decided to create this resource.  The reason is simple: this is a field of pipe knowledge that is muddy and extremely full of varying opinions.

 

If you go to two different local tobacconists and ask each to define a pipe shape, i.e. a Blowfish, you are likely to receive two different definitions of what constitutes the shape.  The same is likely to happen online, you may find two completely different descriptions as to what a Blowfish pipe is.

 

In putting together this guide, we have thoroughly researched each individual pipe shape and have attempted to clear the water.  We are not here to be divisive. If you have thoughts on a particular shape, we encourage you to share them with us using the Contact Us box below.

 

How to use this Guide

 

You can reference this guide if you are looking to classify an old estate pipe. You can use it to decide what shape you would like to add to your collection. Or, if you’re an aspiring pipe make you can use this to guide your shaping. Maybe if you are writing, like we are now, you can reference this piece.

 

We say use this guide however you would like.  It is a guide we put together for you.

 

Tobacco Pipe Shape Guide

Tobacco Pipe Shape Guide 

 

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The Billiard Family

 We will explore the most recognizable shape family first, the Billiard shape family.

 Billiard


Billiard Shape Silhoutte

 

It should not come as a surprise that the Billiard is the most produced, smoked, and loved pipe in the world.

 

A Billiard-shaped pipe has a perfectly cylindrical chamber. There is a subtle bulge in the outside of the bowl, giving it slightly thicker chamber walls around the midsection. At their thinnest, a classic Billiard has chamber walls that are no less than a quarter of an inch.

 

A Billiard will often have a very slight forward cant, so slight that it is often not even recognized. The key to a classic Billiard is the cylindrical shank that is equal in length to the height of the bowl.  

 

There are many different, and sometimes contradicting specifications for a Billiard that are more detailed than what was given above.  This should come as no surprise. Every individual artist, and certainly every pipe company, has their own definition of a Billiard.  But the specifications listed above are consistent across the spectrum.

 

A plain Billiard is often equipped with a bent design, ranging anywhere between an eighth, quarter, half, to a full bend.  Likewise, a Billiard can be equipped with any number of stems, from a saddle (which sometimes causes the pipe to be called a “Saddle Billiard”), to a tapered and anywhere in between.  Because this pipe has no extra aesthetic aspects, it is usually a lightweight pipe.

 

On the surface, a Billiard shape seems simple and straight-forward.  However, this pipe is one of the hardest shapes for a carver to master.  To paraphrase Einstein, the simplest things are often the most difficult to interpret. The Billiard is a foundational shape for almost every other pipe shape. Once it has been mastered a pipe maker has a strong foundation to work from.

 

Unfortunately, there is no hard evidence to support the origin of the name “Billiard”. One can only make unsatisfying deductions.

 

An example of an affordable, yet perfect Billiard is the Savinelli Venere 128.

 

A Note on Tobacco Pairing:

 

The straightforward design is perfect for smoking any kind of tobacco.  In the end, there is usually not a better shape to pair your tobacco with than a Billiard.

 

Panel

Panel Silhouette

The Panel shape closely related to the Billiard. The proportions of the Panel are identical to the Billiard. There is a cylindrical shaped chamber, with parallel sides running down the majority of the chamber. The shank will be as long as the bowl is high. The Panel is often seen with a bent stem and is available in numerous sizes with different stem designs.

 

The difference between the Panel and Billiard shapes are the contours of the outside of the chamber and shank.  The Panel will have no less than four flat sides on the bowl, and can have up to eight, all running perfectly perpendicular to the next.  

 

To be considered a Panel, the flat edges must have the appropriate angles for a square (or hexagon or octagon), and must flow into the shank seamlessly.  A classic Panel Pipe has a cylindrical shaped shank, but in some cases the shank can have the four flat edges as well. If the pipe has the four sides on the bowl, and the four sides on the shank, it is often called a Foursquare.  

 

There is no question why this pipe is called a “Panel”. It’s shape is explanation enough.

 

A great example of a Panel pipe, or in this case, a Foursquare, is the Butz Choquin Supermate 1596.

 

Pot

Pot Shape Silhouette

While there is uncertainty as to whether or not the Pot is slowly dying out, Pot pipes are still being produced, particularly by small carvers and are continuing to grow in quality and please smokers with their adaptability.

 

The Pot is the shorter, more adaptable version of the Billiard. A Pot is born when a standard Billiard pipe loses the top portion of the bowl somewhere in the vicinity of one-third the total height of the bowl.  A Pot usually has a wider diameter bowl than the Billiard.  This often gives the Pot a relatively equal smoke time to the taller Billiard, despite the significant height difference.  The wider chamber increases the intensity of the flavor in the tobacco, making it a proper choice for tobacco connoisseurs.

 

The shank of the Pot will be cylindrical and slightly longer than the bowl is tall. While traditional Pot’s usually have a straight tapered stem, bent models and saddle bit stems can often be seen on a Pot.  In some cases, Pot shaped pipes have a conical bowl, resembling a Dublin.

 

While the tradition of the name “Pot” is undocumented, it likely stems from the fact that the pipe resembles a stockpot.

 

For a traditional example of a Pot, see the Peterson Dracula 606.

 

Ideal Tobacco Pairings:

The Pot-shaped pipe, because of its large chamber and thick walls, is a favorite of smokers who prefer to smoke flake tobacco and blends that burn hot.

 

Stubby/Nose Warmer

Nosewarmer Silhouette 

The Nose Warmer is a very popular nickname for the Stubby shaped pipe. This pipe, which is based off a Billiard, is often seen as a very portable pipe, perfect for smoking on the go. That is because of its standard shaped bowl and relatively short stem.

 

The nickname, Nose Warmer, derives from the action of lighting a Stubby pipe. Because of its short length, the flame from the match or lighter emits enough heat to warm the tip of your nose.

 

The chamber of the Stubby is cylindrical, with parallel walls running down to the bore (where it is then curved). The bowl body bulges slightly, to give it just a hint of round effect.  The shank is significantly shorter than the height of the bowl and is often found with a saddle stem.  We don’t see bent Stubby pipes very often, but they do exist, especially in the artisan pipe carvers world.

 

The Nose Warmer name, even though it is directly connected to the Stubby, is often thrown around in situations where the term is not necessarily appropriate. Many times, a pipe is called a Nose Warmer when it is short, and can literally warm the nose.  While this is not classic, it has become a recognized trend.  However, we must separate the adjective from the title in order to keep a pure understanding of the Stubby pipe.

 

To see a good example of a Stubby pipe, check out the Chacom King Size 1201.

 

Brandy

Brandy Shape Silhouette

The Brandy shaped pipe was engineered and crafted in order to look a brandy glass.  The bulging unique shape of this pipe makes it comfortable and easy pipe to hold in the hand.

 

Making a Brandy pipe is fairly simple. Imagine a Billiard shaped bowl, but a sizeable bulge of briar is left on the front end of the pipe, giving it that rounded brandy glass look. A Brandy pipe will usually have a quarter bent stem, but can be seen in straight and deeper bent versions. To show off the shape and mimic the look of a glass of brandy, the Brandy pipe is most often found with a smooth finish.

 

A Peterson Sherlock Holmes Professor pipe is a fine example of a Brandy shaped pipe.

 

The Brandy shaped pipe is one that has historically been very popular with Danish pipe carvers. Compared to pipes originating in other companies, Danish-bred pipes typically have a larger bodied bowl. To show off the grain of these large bowls, including the Brandy, a smooth finish is preferred. The perfect way for many of us to smoke a Brandy pipe is with a gentle and glass of warming brandy.

 

Oom Paul/Hungarian

Oom Paul/Hungarian Silhouette

The Oom Paul is a famous member of the Billiard family.  

 

The Oom Paul was named after Stephanus Johannes Paulus Kruger, a general and president of the South African Republic from 1883-1900.  Oom, or “Uncle”, Paul pipes are also called Hungarian.  Kruger was a famous fighter against the English during the Second Boer War and an avid chain smoker.  South Africa, while known for their export of diamonds, was also a major player in the briar pipe market.  It was for all of these reasons that the Oom Paul was named.

 

The Chacom King Size 1206 KS is an excellent example of an Oom Paul pipe.

 

Traditionally speaking, the chamber and bowl of an Oom Paul are identical to that of a Billiard--cylindrical shaped with a very subtle rounding of the bowl.  Many times, the bowl of an Oom Paul is slightly higher than a Billiard, but this is the only difference.  However, the shank of the pipe is severely angled up, with a saddle bit stem (occasionally a tapered stem) jutting out, almost at a 90-degree angle. The angle makes this pipe a fully, deep bent shape.

 

An Oom Paul can be extremely heavy, due to the extra thick briar needed to construct the deep bend and large bowl. However, as pointed out by Pipedia, the saddle stem and deep bend actually make this one of the most comfortable pipes to clench and smoke. Because of  the deep bend, the bowl of tobacco is incredibly easy to light, making the Oom Paula smoker friendly pipe shape.

 

Chimney

Chimney Shape Silhouette

 

The name Chimney is easy to justify. If you’ve ever seen a Chimney-shaped pipe you’ve probably conjured a memory of a cheery roof top or two. The tall bowl looks like the chimney of a grand home, especially when smoke billows from the top.

 

The Chimney shape  is another close relative of the Billiard and is part of the greater Billiard family. Also called “Stack” or “Smokestack”, a Chimney is a pipe that has origins in Denmark and is not a common design.  A substantial piece of briar is needed to make the tall bowl and that often comes with a steep price tag, which probably accounts for the shape’s obscurity.  Compounded on that, a masterful carver is needed to make the chamber perfectly cylindrical all the way down the bowl, making it even more expensive.  Since the pipe shape is usually more pricey, it has struggled to stay popular over the last few decades.

 

A Peterson model 914 and Stanwell 81 model are excellent examples of Chimney shaped pipes.

 

The Chimney is identical to a Billiard in every way but one: the height of the chamber. The cylindrical chamber, with a slightly rounded body and small forward cant is the star of this pipe. The shank is equal to roughly two-thirds the height of the chamber and the stem is almost always tapered. This pipe is seldom seen in a bent model or with a different stem style.

 

Ideal Tobacco Pairings:

This pipe is perfect for smoking light tobacco, like the Peterson Sweet Killarney blend, and gives the smoker a very long burn time.

 

The Canadian Family

Closely related to the Billiard shape, the Canadian family of smoking pipes are distinguished primarily by mouthpiece and stem length.

 

Canadian

Canadian Shape Silhouette

A Canadian is no different from a Billiard.  The Canadian came to fruition when a pipe carver was handed a uniquely long chunk of briar and decided to reverse the short-stemmed pipe he had in mind, and extend the shank of the billiard bowl.

 

The Savinelli Ontario Bordeaux 802 is a perfect example of a pure Canadian pipe.

 

In order for a pipe to be considered a Canadian, the length of the shank must be at least one and a half times the height of the bowl, but cannot exceed double the length.  While there is room for artistic interpretation in the size, generally speaking, this is the specification of a Canadian.  In addition, a traditional Canadian has an oval shaped shank and a tapered stem.

 

Smokers who favor the Canadian shape choose it because the long briar shank offers more room for the oil and heat of the smoke flow to be absorbed.  Instead of having less briar and more stem, it makes sense that more briar will give the smoker a cooler ribbon.  It makes sense that this pipe was named a “Canadian” because of how cool it smokes compared to other pipes.

 

Ideal Tobacco Pairings:

Because the Canadian pipe cools down tobacco so efficiently, it is the perfect pipe for smoking heavy Virginia based blends.

 

Lovat

Lovat Shape Silhouette

The Lovat shape is another member of  the Canadian family of tobacco pipe shapes.  The bowl of a Lovat is generally identical to a Billiard. The difference between the two is the length of the shank compared the height of the bowl.  A Lovat shank is roughly one and a half times longer than the height of its bowl and is rarely longer than that.

 

The Vauen Empire ER169 is a good example of a classic Lovat pipe.

 

The Lovat origin began when a pipe carver decided to extend the shank of a Billiard (into a Canadian) and then give it a saddle bit stem.  While pipes in the same family have a variety of shank shapes and stem styles, the Lovat has a round cylindrical shank and a saddle bit stem.

 

The name “Lovat” was most likely originated as a tribute to Lord Lovat, a title given in the Peerage of Scotland.  This title originated in the early 15th century and continues with descendants of the original title holders today.

 

The Lovat pipe shape is popular for two reasons: first, the extended briar shank offers the smoker a cooler ribbon of smoke (because there is more surface area of briar for it to be absorbed), and  second, the saddle bit stem is pleasantly comfortable in the mouth.  Not to mention, it is a rather sophisticated shape.

 

Lumberman

 Lumberman Shape Silhouette

The Lumberman is an esteemed member of the Long Shank Club, also known as the Canadian family of pipe shapes. This pipe is popular not only because of how attractive its proportions are but because the long briar shank cools down the smoke fast and efficiently.

 

In order to be considered a Lumberman, the pipe must have some form of a Billiard bowl, and then be given a shank that is one and a half to two times longer than the bowl is tall.  According to G.L. Pease, to separate it from other pipes in the Canadian family, the Lumberman has an oval shaped shank and a saddle bit stem. Of course nowadays, there are so many different interpretations of the Lumberman, primarily by artisan pipe carvers, that the shape cannot always be counted on to meet that criteria.

 

The Savinelli Ontario Natural 806 is a great example of a traditional Lumberman.

 

The origin of the name “Lumberman” is controversial and there are many opinions that are valid, but not necessarily truthful.  Our humble opinion is that the name is a play on the title of a woodworker. This makes sense because the shank is so long and oval shaped, which makes it look like a piece of lumber. Since this shape is  crafted for the working man, it makes sense that it is called a Lumberman.

 

Liverpool

 

Liverpool Shape Silhouette

 

The Liverpool is the least common pipe shape in the Long Shank/Canadian family.  This pipe is a deviation from the Canadian shape.  As with the other long-stemmed pipes, the Liverpool originated when a pipe carver found a lengthy chunk of briar, and decided to experiment with the length of the stem.

 

Like the Canadian, in order to be considered a Liverpool shape, the shank must be in the vicinity of one and a half to two times as long as the bowl is tall.  To separate a Liverpool from other long shanked pipes, look at the stem and shank.  Liverpool’s have a round cylindrical shank and a tapered stem.

 

We do not know the proper origin of the name.

 

A Savinelli Onda 704 is a great example of a Liverpool shape.

 

Liverpool pipes are popular because the long briar shank will absorb more heat from the smoke than a normal pipe.  Liverpool pipes are notorious for smoking cool and dry.

 

The Apple Family

Probably the second most popular shape family, the Apple shape family of pipes are some of the most beloved. Let's explore...

 

Apple

 

Apple Shape Silhouette

Ah, the Apple shape! It is probably the second most common shapes in the tobacco pipe world.  Apple shaped pipes are beloved for two reasons: First, the thick chamber walls are adept at absorbing heat and oil from the tobacco, and the large surface area gives the artist plenty of room to show off their creative skills.

 

The Butz Choquin Sweet 1789 is an example of a classic Apple shaped pipe.

 

Because the bowl of an Apple pipe can sometimes be heavy, Apple’s are usually found with a bent stem. The bend usually varies between an eighth and a half bend, but can be found in almost any variation.

 

To continue the round theme, Apples are usually found with a circular shank and tapered stem, but there are variants, especially in the artisan carver community.

 

An Apple-shaped pipe happens when a Billiard bowl has a fat body, giving it more of a spherical shape. However, it isn’t a pure sphere. The bottom and top of the bowl can widen and shrink from model to model, just like the fruit.  With this in mind, it is no surprise that this pipe was named after the pipe it looks like.

 

Prince

 

Prince Shape Silhouette

The Prince shape is closely related to the Apple.  

 

The Prince is a longer flattened version of an Apple-shaped pipe.  Compared to the Apple, the Prince shaped pipe absorbs slightly less oil in the bowl, but the more mature length cools the ribbon of smoke down much more.

 

Check out the Chacom Sandblasted 862 to see an example of a traditional Prince.

 

The difference between the Apple and Prince shaped pipes are subtle but clear.  

 

Take an Apple pipe, squash the bowl slightly, shorten the length of the shank--usually down to three-quarters of the height of the bowl--keep the cylindrical shape of the shank, and add a lengthened slightly curved stem, you get a Prince.  Typically, Prince shaped pipes are bought for their showmanship and craftsmanship.

 

The Prince originated when Loewe & Company--based in London-- created a pipe in honor of Edward Prince of Wales.  Also known as Edward VIII, the Prince was known for his cunning sense of style and presence. The bold bowl and the easy flowing shank and stem of the Prince pipe are an excellent tribute to Edward VIII.

 

Author

 

Author Shape Silhouette

 

The Author pipe is a subset of the Apple shape, or big-bowled, tobacco pipes.  Authors are known for their large bowls, in comparison to most other pipes.  This characteristic is why so many smokers love the Author. Usually made from briar, the super thick chamber walls are perfect for absorbing heat and oil from burning tobacco.

 

The Author shape happens when an Apple pipe’s already thick shape bulks up even farther, but retains the original height.  Most of the time the cylindrical shank is as long as the bowl is tall, but an Author pipe sometimes has a slightly shortened shank.  

 

The stem of an Author pipe has a thick stem which is usually a quarter bent, almost always tapered, and rounds off the business end of the pipe.  Something unique about it is that it has a wider diameter in the chamber, allowing a sizeable amount of pipe tobacco to be packed into the pipe for a long and satisfying smoke.

 

Made popular by Savinelli’s 320 model, the Author has recently become one of the most popular pipe shapes of serious smokers and beginners alike.  One would think that a shape this popular would have a clear origin but, unfortunately, it does not.  Most of the theories as to why it is called an “Author” are speculation and cannot be proven. However, our favorite speculation comes from an Ode to the Author shape written by blogger, Neil Archer Roan:

“When they are suitably loaded and lit, they step back from the front door of one’s consciousness and let the mind saunter into the wilderness of words. An author is a not just a writer’s pipe. It is a reader’s pipe.”

 

Egg

 

Egg Shape Silhouette

 

An Egg pipe is an extra-tall and elongated pipe. The Egg is a true member of the Apple family. It has the smallest circumference of all pipes in the group. With a tall bowl and relatively thin chamber walls, this is a gentle pipe meant to be held carefully and smoked in appropriate situations.

 

Speaking in terms of construction, the Egg is incredibly similar to an Apple.  Basically, an Egg is an elongated Apple. The sides of the Egg bowl are considerably thicker than a standard Billiard, but have a rounded oval nature. A vast majority of the time an Egg will have a bent stem, but can be found in other varieties.

 

A popular and accurate example of an Egg shaped pipe is the Stanwell Army Mount 407 tobacco pipe.

 

There is no doubt that this pipe was named “Egg” after the preliminary carver finished and noticed that the pipe looks strikingly similar to the standard chicken egg.

 

It is a shame that this pipe is not more widely produced than it is.  While many artisans create gorgeous Egg shaped pipes, it is not a shape that is consistently made.  This pipe, with its tall and thick chamber, is perfect for smoking large bowls of tobacco.

 

Tomato/Ball

 

Tomato/Ball Shape Silhouette

 

The Tomato shaped pipe, often referred to as a Ball, is the most beefy pipe found in the Apple family.  The Tomato, famous for its huge girth and bold size, is a favorite among artisan pipe carvers.  With a large surface area, there is plenty of room to finish and design the Tomato pipe anyway the carver wants.  This often results in many modifications of the classic shape guidelines.

 

The Brebbia Ninja Sabbiata 301 is an example of a Tomato shaped pipe that has been given a few artistic renovations; namely the squashed chamber and regular sized shank.

 

It is quite apparent why the Tomato is named such. It looks just like one.  Sometimes, when the pipe is called a Ball, it is because the spherical shape of the bowl is readily apparent, not so much that it has a different design.  It is up to the artist to decide whether or not the pipe should be called a Tomato or Ball, for there is no significant difference in design.  Sometimes, if the Tomato shape is compressed, the carver will decide to name it a Squashed Tomato.

 

Making a Tomato shaped pipe is a complicated venture, but not much more than crafting an Apple.  The easiest way to imagine the structure of a Tomato pipe is to take an Apple and continue the perfect sphere both below and above the bowl.  A Tomato pipe can have any style of stem, but generally--because of the heavy bowl--it has a bent stem.

 

Diplomat

 

Diplomat Shape Silhouette

 

The Diplomat pipe shape is not to be confused with the popular Missouri Meerschaum Diplomat pipe.  This shape is a true member of the Apple family but is most closely related to the Prince.  While the name cannot be traced back to an exact origin, there is no doubt that its title is a riff on a European royal title.

 

The larger size of the Diplomat bowl is what makes is a treasured pipe for smokers.  The major difference between the Diplomat and other Apple clan pipes is that the Diplomat does not have as perfect of a sphere. For example, a Tomato shape has a very spherical body, whereas the Diplomat can have bulging sides.  In essence, it is still considered spherical compared to all pipe shapes.

 

To make a Diplomat, an Apple bowl is slightly squashed, by as little as an eighth of an inch. Then an oval-shaped shank, roughly as long as the bowl is tall, is added. The Diplomat is finished with a long slightly bent stem.  

 

The easiest way to differentiate between a Diplomat and a Prince is to look at the shank: the former has an oval shaped shank while the latter is cylindrical.

 

The Stanwell Boa 198 pipe is a short example of a Diplomat shaped pipe.

 

Hawkbill

Hawkbill Shape Silhouette

 

The exact origin of the Hawkbill pipe is unknown. The shape originated somewhere in the Castello pipe company in Cantu, Italy.  

 

Sometimes called a Donkeynut, a more profane title, the Castello 84 model is the original and most perfect example of a pure Hawkbill shaped pipe.

 

The Hawkbill is the largest and least common pipe in the Apple shaped family. Commonly found in the workshop of up and coming carvers, the Hawkbill shape now has many different variations and continues to evolve. Because of the large body, gorgeous grain, and relative rarity, the Hawkbill is a favorite of collectors.  An incredibly thick set of chamber walls and dramatic bent stem, which keeps moisture away from the smoker’s mouth, attracts serious smokers to the unique shape.

 

The dimensions of a Hawkbill are slightly more specific than other Apple family pipes.  The bowl is very spherical with slightly more rounded proportions than the Tomato or Ball shape.  The rounded shank begins even at the bottom of the bowl and has a smooth curve that rounds out and ends even with the top of the bowl.  From there, the stem continues the curvature set by the shank and bends down slightly (usually not much longer than the shank).  A traditional Hawkbill maintains a smooth and even taper from the base of the shank all the way to the bite of the stem.

 

The Dublin Shape Family

Dublin’s can be straight, slightly bent, fully bent, or have a deep bend, depending on the carvers preference.  While many believe the name was inspired by Dublin, Ireland, there is not much bona fide evidence to support this claim. 

 

Dublin

 

Dublin Shape Silhouette

 

The Dublin is one of, if not the oldest, pipe shapes we know of.  The Dublin and its variations date all the way back to some of the first European pipe smokers who smoked out of clay pipes in a shape very similar to a Dublin.  

 

Because of their conical shape and easy to hold design, the Dublin is likely to always be a widely produced shape. It is a pipe that smokers will continue to love as long as the art of pipe smoking endures.

 

The Peterson Killarney 120 is a classic example of a Dublin-shaped pipe.

 

The dimensional standards for a Dublin pipe are more open to interpretation than other shapes, making it a shape we see with seemingly endless variations.  The only diehard qualification a Dublin must meet is the conical shaped bowl. The chamber must taper to a smaller diameter down the bore. The chamber walls are always the same thickness down the pipe; it is the chamber that decreases in size.  

 

Typically, a Dublin bowl has a slightly forward cant in its directional shape, but this can be hard to see at times and is not always the case.  The advantages of this shape become apparent as you smoke down a bowl of tobacco. As the chamber decreases in size the flavors slowly become more concentrated. The strengthening of intensity allows the smoker to experience nuances in the blend not necessarily apparent at the top of the bowl.

 

Dublin pipes are typically found with cylindrical shanks and tapered stems, but are found with both oval shanks and saddle bit stems as well. Pipes that have the saddle bit stem are sometimes called “Bells”, but this is just another way of saying Dublin.  

 

Zulu

 

Zulu Shape Silhouette

 

The Zulu pipe is a common, popular, and easy to smoke shape. It’s easy to see why it belongs in the Dublin family.  

 

Zulu’s are often called a Woodstock or Yachtsman, but for our purposes all three are the same. Typically, a smoker chooses this shape for its lightweight design and gentle bend, both contribute to the pipe’s easy smoking characteristics.

 

Zulu pipes are popular with both artisans and premium manufacturers.

 

The Zulu has a very consistent make across the board; unlike the Dublin, which is often altered in size, bend and stem.  Typically, in order to make a Zulu unique, carvers will experiment with the finish, stain, and material of this pipe, not the shape itself.

 

A great example of this is the Chacom Maya 88 Zulu.

 

Just like its predecessor, the Dublin, a Zulu bowl has a conical shape that tapers down to a smaller chamber diameter toward the bore. However, the Zulu often has slightly thinner chamber walls, giving the pipe its light design. Usually, the bowl has a forward cant, but not always.  

 

The bend of the pipe is what defines a Zulu. Unlike most bent pipes, the Zulu has a straight shank, jutting out of the bowl at a ninety-degree angle; it is only the stem that is bent. This results in an outward facing bowl, giving the illusion of an extreme cant. The bend is typically no more than an eighth bend, but it can be more in artisan pipes.

 

Cutty

 

Cutty Shape Silhouette

 

As far as we can tell, the Cutty is the oldest pipe shape that is still available today.  

 

As early as the 16th century, pipe smokers would settle in at their favorite tavern and--if they had a high enough social status--would pull out a long clay pipe, almost always a Cutty shape.  This shape was common because it was easy to craft in the molds used for clay pipes (William Goldring, The Pipe Book: A History and How to:1973).  

 

Clay Cutty pipes, up until about a century ago, always included a “spur” or “boot” of extra material at the bottom of the bowl.  When smoking the same clay pipe all day long, the bowl tends to get pretty hot.  The spur allowed the smoker to grasp the base of the pipe without burning his hand.  Today, some Cutty’s keep the spur attachment, but not many.

 

A modern example of a Cutty pipe is the Savinelli Petite 402 model.

 

Like the Dublin family this pipe falls in, the Cutty has a conical shaped chamber, which means the diameter of the chamber tapers down the closer you move to the bowl.  The largest difference between a Dublin and a Cutty is that while a Dublin has evenly thick chamber walls that move down the bowl, the Cutty has more of a rounded shape, in some ways resembling an Egg.  As pointed out by G.L. Pease, the Cutty has an exaggerated forward cant, originally purposed to keep the heat and smoke away from the smoker’s face.  

 

Typically, Cutty pipes have a very slight bent stem, but this is not a strict qualification. In many instances, we see modern Cutty with straight stems and deep bent stems.

 

Devil Anse 

 

Devil Anse Shape Silhouette

 

The Devil Anse shape has been around for well over a century but has only recently adapted the name. The shape is popular, in recent years, with men who like to smoke their pipes while working.  This is due to many innovations with the pipe, making it lighter, shorter, cheaper, and more easily smokable throughout the day.

 

The Devil Anse pipe began as a Cutty.  As it evolved adaptations changed the shape to a shorter and lighter model, and eventually dropped the spur on the base. Now the Devil Anse is a straight-stemmed pipe with a forward canting bowl. The bowl is more spherical in nature than the Cutty pipe, which is quite tall and elongated.

 

Peterson of Dublin is one of the companies that produced a Devil Anse pipe in a bulk fashion, but recently companies such as Dagner Pipes produce a hardy model.

 

“Devil Anse” is the name coined in respect to Devil Anse Hatfield. Devil Anse was the West Virginia Confederate veteran accused of murdering Asa McCoy, starting the world famous feud. Recently a short series was released reenacting the events of the feud and Devil Anse was shown smoking a fat Cutty pipe, which made the name even more popular.

 

Acorn/Pear

 

Acorn/Pear Shape Silhouette

 

It is generally accepted that the Acorn and Pear shaped pipes are synonymous with one another. In fact, most carvers considered them alternate names for the same shape.

 

As a foreword, we must be careful to distinguish a Pear shaped pipe from a Pearwood pipe.  A Pearwood pipe is a smoking pipe made from pear wood and is not defined by any particular shape. For practical reasons, we will refer to this shape as an Acorn.  

 

This relatively gentle pipe shape is part of the Dublin family, thanks to the conical shaped chamber. The outside of the bowl is also conical shaped, tapering towards the base. The defining feature of the Acorn is its rounded edges, there are no hard lines or angles around the chamber of the pipe.  For comfort reasons, this pipe is generally seen with a bent stem.

 

The Vauen Smoking 3508N is a great example of an Acorn/Pear shaped pipe.

 

The shapes names stems from its extreme resemblance to the nut and fruit it is named after.  In fact, there are many Acorn shaped pipes that have a smooth lower bowl and a rusticated chamber rim, making it look exactly like an acorn.

 

The Bulldog Family

The bulldog family represents many of the "workhorse" shapes and it is the family where much of the hot debate surrounding categorizing shapes lives. 

 

Bulldog 

 

Bulldog Shape Silhouette

 

The Bulldog is an easy to recognize shape that will always be a favorite choice for serious smokers around the world.  

 

Whether or not an English Bulldog was the inspiration for the pipe, no one knows.  However, there are some striking similarities--the most prominent of which is the short frame and bulky body, which is built to be powerful.  No matter the origin of the name, we can all thank the English for bringing this pipe into the world. The French should be thanked as well. They  brought the shape into prominence around the beginning of the 20th century.

 

There are not many creative riffs of Bulldog’s shape. Probably because the Bulldog has been popular for so long, and because the specifications do not leave much room for interpretation. Generally, an artist will experiment with the finish, stain, stem, and material instead of the shape.  

 

A Bulldog is an excellent choice for smoking flake tobacco or Balkan blends.  This is due to its short bulky design, and thick briar walls in both the chamber and shank.

 

An excellent example of a pure Bulldog is the Vauen Natura NA159 pipe.

 

To create a Bulldog pipe, imagine that for the bowl, you are placing the larger ends of two cones on top of one another.  The twin bead lines running parallel across the bowl are a staple and help us visualize the two cones meeting. Then, the small half of the top cone is cut off.  

 

The chamber is usually slightly tapered down to the bowl, but not always.  

 

For a Bulldog pipe, the smooth bottom of the bowl always transitions to a diamond-shaped shank with corners points up and down. This diamond detail is hard to master without programmed machinery, making it a very difficult shape for carvers to master.  

 

There is some debate as to whether or not a Bulldog can have a bent stem.  The answer is “yes”. While some may consider any bent Bulldog a Rhodesian, as long as the pipe has the diamond-shaped shank, no matter how bent it is, it will still be considered a Bulldog.

 

Rhodesian 

 

Bulldog Shape Silhouette

 

There is a heated controversy over the specific characteristics of a Rhodesian shape pipe.  One party states that any bent Bulldog is a Rhodesian and the other claims that the difference between the two is the shank--with the Rhodesian adapting a cylindrical shaped shank. The latter opinion is the more popular and modern standard and the one which we agree with.

 

The name “Rhodesian” is most often connected to Cecil John Rhodes, a South African politician.  He was also an avid pipe smoker and founder of the Republic of Rhodesia, which was named after Prime Minister Rhodes in 1895.  The country is now known as Zimbabwe. While this connection is common “pipe lore”, it is, by far, the most likely origin of the name.

 

The Savinelli Spring 673 KS is our favorite example of the common Rhodesian.

 

The double conical shape and twin bead lines are the same on a Rhodesian as they are on a Bulldog.  The difference between the two is that a Rhodesian will have a cylindrical shaped shank, not a diamond shank.  A vast majority of the time the Rhodesian will have an eighth to a quarter bent shank and stem, but can occasionally be found in a straight design.  Likewise, the Rhodesian is typically paired with a simple tapered stem, but artisans occasionally attach a saddle bit stem for some added dynamic.  

 

The thick chamber and shank walls equip this pipe to smoke flake tobacco with ease, but the shape can handle any cut of tobacco well.

 

Bull Moose 

 

Bull Moose Shape Silhouette

 

The Bull Moose is a member of the Bulldog family.  

 

Even the name “Bull Moose” is a play on words in response to its paterfamilias. With a squatted Bulldog body, the Bull Moose is a very thick and masculine style of pipe. The separation lines between a Bull Moose and a Rhodesian are slightly blurred, the former has massive chamber walls compared to its contemporaries.

 

The Butz Choquin Sweet 1025 is a pipe that tiptoes the line dividing Rhodesian and a Bull Moose, and could easily be classified in either category. But, it is easy to see the difference between this pipe and other pure Rhodesian pipes.

 

Just like other pipes in its family, the Bull Moose adapts the unique bowl texture to fit its shape.  The easiest way to picture a Bull Moose is to take a Rhodesian and compress it from the top.  The chamber walls are much larger and the chamber itself is shortened by as much as twenty-five percent.  In addition, the shank is beefed up considerably.  To finish the alterations, the length of the tapered stem is trimmed down, making this pipe short and fat in every aspect.  

 

The Bull Moose will always have a bent stem.

 

Bullcap

 

Bullcap Shape Silhouette

 

The Bullcap shape is not very common in the pipe production field but is growing in popularity among individual artisans across the globe.  Since artists so often take liberty in changing traditional shapes, it can be hard to find, or even define a pure Bullcap pipe. But, there are certain dimensional aspects that define the shape.

 

The largest difference between a Bullcap pipe and other pipes in the Bulldog family is the saddle bit stem.  A pure and correct Bullcap will always have the saddle stem.  

 

Whereas as a Bulldog or a Rhodesian have a defined shank shape, Bullcap can have either a diamond-shaped shank or a cylindrical shank.  

 

The Bullcap will always have the twin bead lines running parallel across the widest circumference of the bowl.  The chamber will be significantly shorter than that of a Bulldog or a Rhodesian, but the chamber walls will be much thicker.  Because the bowl seems to be so squashed, a Bullcap loses the sphere-like shape of this family, and looks more like a spun saucer.

 

The name “Bullcap” is a play on words in reference to its father--the Bulldog. The conical shape of the upper half of the bowl can look like a lid, or cap in many instances.  Hence, the pipe is called a Bullcap.  

 

Smokers tend to love smoking flake tobacco out of a Bullcap. The thick chamber walls and short stem equip it well to handle the heat and low moisture content of most flakes.

 

Ukulele

 

Ukulele Shape Silhouette

 

The origin of the Ukulele pipe is highly controversial.  There are two characters who both came up with the pipe shape, but of course only one truly did.  Many purists believe that Danish artist, Sixten Ivarsson (1910-2001), perhaps the “top dog” of English artisan pipes crafted the first Ukulele and came up with the name in the 1960s.  Others claim that American the artist from New York, Edward Burak,(born in 1943), made the first true Ukulele pipe around the turn of the millennium, and was assisted in naming the shape by Tom Eltang at the 2000 Chicago Pipe Show.  

 

What isn’t debatable is that it took both Ivarsson and Burak to craft the unique shape we love today, and we needed Eltang to clarify the classification of the pipe publicly.

 

Sixten Ivarsson’s Ukulele shape is the best place to kick-off your understanding of the contours of this unique pipe.

 

As with most things, the Ukulele is the product of cooperation and collaboration within the pipe smoking community.  Today, the Ukulele is a popular shape among artisan pipe collectors.  

 

Since the pipe has such a unique design, and can sometimes have a bowl diameter as much as four inches, it is almost solely made by independent carvers.

 

The Ukulele--sometimes called an “Eskimo” or “Snow Cone”--is not known for being a member of the Bulldog family.  But, the contours of the bowl demand this pipe be classified in the Bulldog family.  The Ukulele has the same cone shaped bowl, length, and squashed design of other members in its family, with the exception of the twin bead lines.  

 

The Ukulele is nearly always seen with a straight design and tapered stem. As with all pipes, the emergence of postmodern input will without a doubt soon create bent versions with unique stem mounts.

 

Sitter Pipes Family

 

Sitter

 

Sitter Shape Silhouette

 

The Sitter is not so much an individual pipe shape as it is a classification for pipes. A pipe that is referred to as a Sitter is a pipe that stands upright on its own due to a flat foot or shank.

  

Sitters, with their recent growth in popularity, have quickly become a favored shape by smokers who work with their hands, but who also like to smoke while they work. It is a practical pipe.

 

Technically, any pipe shape can be modified to become a sitter, like the Peterson Standard 304 which is an Oom Paul.  Even though this pipe no longer meets the original specifications of an Oom Paul, it is easiest to classify this pipe as an Oom Paul Sitter.  The same is true for many other common pipe shapes.

 

The Sitter is also the name of a family of pipes that include the Poker, Cherrywood, and Tankard.

 

Poker

 

Poker Shape Silhouette

 

The Poker pipe is the most famous and beloved Sitting pipe in the world.  

 

Pokers are designed to be light, easy to clench, and can sit on their own without tipping over. For those reasons, the Poker is one of the most practical shapes available.  

 

This easy to smoke pipe is popular amongst the working class, especially those who work with their hands.  On top of the practicality, Pokers are usually slightly cheaper than other pipes, because they require a smaller piece of material to carve out of.

 

For a classic example of a Poker pipe, see the Chacom Sandblast 155 tobacco pipe.

 

The outside appearance of a Poker is a perfect cylinder with a slight forward cant.  The chamber will be cylindrical, with parallel walls on every side.  A Poker almost always has a flat chamber rim, which transitions to the wall and chamber at a ninety-degree angle.  The shank is typically the same length as the height of the bowl, but can sometimes be shorter in order to decrease the overall weight.  

 

The stem of a Poker is short compared to a shape such as a billiard and is traditionally a saddle, but currently there are plenty tapered stem models being produced.

 

A Poker has a flat foot, allowing it to stand upright. The name “Poker” originates from a time when poker plays would sit the pipe on top of a deck of cards to keep them from flying away or from others taking a glance at their hand.  

 

We see that, even in the origins of the Poker name, the pipe has always been a practical and smoker-friendly pipe.

 

Cherrywood

 

Cherrywood Shape Silhouette

 

Don’t be fooled by its name, a Cherrywood pipe is not necessarily made from cherry wood. The name “Cherrywood” most likely originated because the branches of the cherry tree used to make many basket pipes fit together naturally in this shape.  

 

The Cherrywood shape is now usually made from briar, like most other pipes. A proud member of the Sitter family, the Cherrywood is a very practical and easy to smoke pipe. The Cylindrical bowl foot has been cut off at an angle, allowing this bent pipe to effortlessly sit up on its own.

 

A proper example of a Cherrywood bowl can be seen in the Chacom Army 154 pipe.

 

From a design standpoint, the Cherrywood and the Poker pipe are identical except for the bent balanced style of the Cherrywood.  A cylindrical chamber and bowl with thick briar walls make this pipe a very cool smoker. The shank of the Cherrywood is typically slightly shorter than the bowl is high.  

 

A saddle stem is a common addition to the Cherrywood, because it is more comfortable to smoke, but the shape can be seen with numerous stem adaptations. The contrast between the two shapes is the angle the Cherrywood pipe sits, which makes it a much more balanced and sturdy Sitter than the Poker. The only other difference between the two shapes is the bent design of the Cherrywood.

 

Tankard

 

Tankard Shape Silhouette

 

The Tankard pipe derives its name from the fact that the bowl looks like a tankard. While it is a part of the Sitter family, the long stem and lightweight body of the Tankard can occasionally mess with the balance of the pipe and it will not sit on its base. However, this is rarely an issue. With the combination of its light weight, ability to sit, and easy smoking style, the Tankard is a very popular and well smoking instrument.

 

The most popular and well-known Tankard pipes are the Peterson Tankard series.

 

While all other pipes in the Sitter family have perfectly cylindrical bowls, the Tankard bowl has a slightly larger diameter at the foot than at the chamber rim.  However, the chamber remains perfectly cylindrical.  The foot of the pipe is cut off, which assists it in standing on its own when filled with tobacco. The added weight helps balance out the distribution of mass. The shank of the Tankard is often very short, usually only half of the height of the bowl Tankard pipes are generally small and very light. However, the long stem gives the pipe the illusion that it is full sized.

 

Duke/Don

 

Duke/Don Shape Silhouette

 

The Duke pipe is a very specific shape and model.

 

Many up and coming pipe smokers are beginning to confuse the Dr. Grabow Grand Duke as a true Duke, and this is a great tragedy.  The original and proper Duke pipe is a Dunhill model 519, 4144, or 41441 pipes. As with all Dunhill pipes, the Duke is a sought after and highly collectible pipe. The Duke pipe was favored by Edward Prince of Wales, and this is most likely where the name originates.

 

Technically the Duke is a member of the Sitter family, though it was not originally made to be classified this way.  The Duke has a perfectly cylindrical bowl and chamber with lines all parallel to one another. The foot of the bowl has been cut flat at a slight angle, which redistributes the weight, allowing it to sit upright effortlessly.  

 

What separates the Duke from every other tobacco pipe is that there is no briar shank. Either a vulcanite or bone two-piece stem is attached to the mortice by an inserted aluminum band.

 

The Don is a slight deviation of a Duke pipe. While the Duke has a vulcanite or bone stem attachment between the bit and bore, the Don has a rudimentary shank and a vulcanite stem.  

 

Each pipe, as originally crafted by Dunhill, has a very subtle and even bend. The recent popularity in collecting classic pipes has caused many modern versions of a Duke to be crafted.

 

The Calabash Family

Made famous by old Sherlock Holmes movies, there's more to this pipe shape family than just the famous gourd pipes.

 

Calabash

 

Calabash Shape Silhouette

 

There are two categories of Calabash pipes: a Gourd Calabash and the general Calabash shape.  Even though the material of the two is different, and the Gourd has an exaggerated shape and size, the principles of the two shapes are the same.

 

The Butz Choquin 2000 is a perfect example of a briar Calabash shaped pipe.

 

The solid wood version of a Calabash has a large, usually briar bowl that has a tapered rim and flares before transitioning down the chamber walls.  The chamber is typically conical shape, which concentrates the flavor of the tobacco as you smoke it.  This chamber is often quite deep, generally at least an inch and a half.  There is a thin shank that leads to a stem of three-quarters bend or greater.

 

As mentioned, the Gourd Calabash will have the same dimensions as a regular shaped Calabash, but will be more exaggerated. The Gourd will have a deeper chamber, more tapered bowl, thinner shank, and a longer more severely bent stem. The gourd bowl is often meerschaum lined, causing the pipe to transition from a white to a darkened brown color over time.

 

Without a doubt, the Calabash is known as the favorite pipe of Sherlock Holmes, every pipe smokers favorite fictitious character.  Mr. Holmes was a prolific pipe smoker, and a majority of the time we see him smoking a Calabash pipe.

 

Reverse Calabash

 

Reverse Calabash Shape Silhouette

 

The Reverse Calabash shape is one of the most obscure and least defined pipe shapes. The shape is almost exclusively produced by independent carvers for their own artisan collecting clients.  As with any other pipe shape, once it is in the hands of an artist, the shape evolves in ways completely unique.

 

At the most basic level, a Reverse Calabash is just that--the opposite of a Calabash pipe. A classic Calabash will have a large conical shaped bowl that tapers down to the foot, thin shank, a long curved stem, and a very ornate stem.  A Reverse Calabash will have a much smaller bowl (usually something along the lines of a Billiard shape), fat shank, and straight stem.

Because the artist has the liberty to decide which aspect of the Calabash they would like to “Reverse”, we see many pipes in this category that have only one opposite aspect, such as just a fattened shank or just a straight stem.  In the end, it is totally up to the artist’s taste how “Reverse” the Calabash shape will be.  If they believe their pipe is indeed a Reverse Calabash, then they will call it just that.

An independent carver who is known for their Reverse Calabash pipes is Paul’s Pipes from Santa Cruz, California.

 

 

Freehand Family

 

The Freehand style/category is unlike any other pipe shape and has a very broad definition. Simply put, a Freehand pipe is birthed when an artistdecides to follow the contours of the briar. The chunk of briar determines the final shape of the pipe.

  

A majority of the time, a carver will have a shape in mind, like an Egg. As the carving takes place, the artist will feel as though the grain and texture of the pipe wants to go in a different direction than what was originally intended. Because it is often wise to listen to the medium instead of forcing a design, the artist will allow the briar to dictate the lines and angles of the pipe.

 

The most famous example of Freehand pipes are the Erik Nording Signature pipes.

  

For the most part, it is the country of Denmark that is considered the master of the Freehand pipe. A majority of the time, a Freehand pipe will have an army style stem insert, another popular Danish attribute. Because of the special stem, most Freehand pipes are bent, but that is not necessary for a pipe to be considered Freehand. In addition, any Freehand pipes have a rough plateaux top, which comes from the unfinished skin of the briar.

 

An important distinction is needed to understand this shape. There is a significant difference between a Freehand and a Freeform pipe. Where a Freehand begins as a specific shape and is transformed into something else, a Freeform is not defined by anything. A Freeform pipe is completely subjective to the creativity of the artist.

 

 

Volcano

 

Volcano Shape Silhouette

The Volcano shaped pipe is classified in the Freehand family because the carver must take great care to let the grain of the briar determine the slope of the outer chamber walls. A Volcano pipe is very difficult to carve. For it to be done properly, great attention to the briar chunk itself is necessary.

  

The general definition of a Volcano pipe is fairly simple. The shape consists of a conical shaped bowl that widens closer to the foot of the pipe.  The base is either flat or rounded. Volcano pipes have a small diameter rim. Because the chamber will typically have a perfectly cylindrical shape, the chamber walls thicken from the rim down towards the base.

  

The Volcano will nearly always have a bent stem.

  

The most common Volcano pipe is the Chacom Volcano. Usually, this shape pipe is avoided by large production facilities, but Chacom is one of the few that still creates a consistent Volcano model.

  

As mentioned, this shape is difficult to carve. The briar is in the drivers seat. A proper Volcano is made with the briar straight grain radiating from the base of the pipe, and the foot with a birdseye grain. To pull this off requires perfect planning and a steady hand.  But when done properly, the Volcano becomes one of the most gorgeous pipes in any collection.

 

It is pretty easy to see why this pipe is called  a “Volcano”. From the upward taper of the bowl to the molten hot tobacco in the chamber, this pipe closely resembles one of nature’s most powerful forces.

 

 

Horn

 

Horn Shape Silhouette

The Horn shape is a proud and relatively easy to understand member of the Freehand family.  A Horn shape is defined by the absence of hard lines and angles. The entire pipe is one large curving taper towards the stem. The only lines on a Horn pipe are the angles at the chamber rim.  

  

Horn shapes will typically have an eighth or quarter bent stem, but can be found with almost any stem design.

 

A Horn is classified in the Freehand family because there are no set rules as to how extreme, large, or canted the briar bowl has to be. This leaves the artist a massive amount of creativity to make a unique piece.

  

A mass produced example of the Horn pipe is the Nording 2014 Hunter pipe.

  

Because of their unique shape, Horn pipes need to be cradled carefully when smoked. The extreme cant and far center of gravity make this a very difficult pipe to clench.  Usually made with a high degree of care, this pipe is meant to be proudly and wisely smoked, not abused and neglected like many more utilitarian shapes.

 

A pipe that is considered a Horn but is slightly different is the Oliphant. Made to resemble the tusk of an elephant, the Oliphant shape has a more defined taper and will never have a deeply bent stem. Simply put, the Horn is more sporadic while the Oliphant is more consistent. Unless pointed out by the artist themselves, these two shapes often go by either name.

 

Blowfish

Blowfish Shape Silhouette

The Blowfish pipe is one of the most collectible and eye-popping pipes you can find.  The Blowfish is the product of the imagination of Lars Ivarsson, son of master Danish carver Sixten Ivarsson. This shape is classified in the Freehand family, because the grain of the briar determines the angels and final shape of the pipe.

  

The most important feature of the Blowfish is the grain pattern on the bowl. The sides of the bowl are large and round (resembling the sides of a Ball shape) and will always have a birdseye grain. The front and backside of the bowl will have a straight grain running perpendicular through the tobacco chamber.  Picture a bundle of pipe cleaners held out in front of you.  The birdseye grain is the end of each cleaner, creating a popcorn style pattern, while the straight grain is the length of the cleaner running left and right of your position.

 

Each Blowfish pipe has slightly different angles around the circumference of the bowl. This is because the front and backside of the bowl must be parallel to the straight grain of the briar. The grain of the briar is not always perfectly parallel to itself, which means no two Blowfish pipes are the same.

 

Achieving this perfect grain pattern is something the best carvers in the world still have trouble with.  Perfect Blowfish shaped pipes are rare, and come with a price tag worthy of their special status.

  

To see a diverse collection of Blowfish shaped pipes, see G.L. Pease’s diverse description page for the shape.

 

The shank and stem of the Blowfish are not always consistent from pipe to pipe.  This element has only one hard guideline: the bowl must smoothly and seamlessly flow into the shank.  Other than that, the shank is determined by the artist’s creative abilities.  Usually, the shank will turn into a disproportional Panel shape and the saddle stem will have a gentle bend.

 

 

Nautilus

Nautilus Shape Silhouette

While it is incredibly difficult to design and carve, the Nautilus pipe shape has a relatively simple premise. That being said, a Nautilus pipe is very hard to find, and when it is found, it can be quite pricey.  Originated by Bo Nordh, this pipe is one of the most sought after and recognizable pipe shapes in the world.

  

There are only two defining features of a Nautilus pipe.  First of all, there can be no definitive angles or hard lines in the briar of the shape-- must flow into each other.  Second, the shank must curve back and rejoin the upper half of the bowl, leaving an absent space in the middle of the pipe.

 

A Nautilus is named after the Mollusc shell it resembles. The Nautilus is classified in the Freehand family of pipes because the artist must obey the will of the briar when creating the absent cavity.

 

 

Tomahawk

Tomahawk Shape Silhouette

The Tomahawk shaped pipe is one of the most historically rich pipe shapes in the world. This shape dates back a few centuries and has its inspiration in the Native Americans who smoked out of very similar pipes. The shape was adapted by many smokers in Europe after the discovery of tobacco leaf in the Americas.

 

It is easy to see why this shape has been named “Tomahawk”. The pointed base of the bowl and the shape of the bent stem resemble the ancient weapon. Really, these are the only defining factors of the shape.

  

An interesting fact about the Tomahawk pipe is that there are antique tomahawks that have been bored out and made into pipes--a literal tomahawk that smokes tobacco. These antique pipes are incredibly valuable and incredibly rare.  This valued symbol of Native American culture is reproduced as a novelty item today and can be found in many different places.  However, they are just that, novelty items. These symbolic instruments are not equipped to smoke tobacco.

 

A closely related shape is the Pickaxe, which like the Tomahawk is named after the instrument is resembles. The difference between the two is that a Pickaxe has a shank jutting into the side of the bowl, where a Tomahawk’s stem connects at the base. A Pickaxe also has four paneled sides, an attribute absent from the Tomahawk.

 

Tobacco Pipes That Break the Mold

 

These outside-the-box shapes don't confine themselves to one of the "families".

 

Churchwarden

Churchwarden Shape Silhouette

 

To be clear, a Churchwarden pipe is not so much a pipe shape as it is a pipe stem. To be a Churchwarden pipe, the stem must be at least nine inches long, but short enough to be practically smoked.  Generally, the stem will be between nine and eighteen inches, but as long as it can still be held it will qualify as a Churchwarden.

 

Technically speaking, any shaped bowl can be applied to a Churchwarden.

However, lighter bowls are usually preferred, making the long pipe much easier to smoker. Historically the Churchwarden was made from clay.  Over the last century, briar has surpassed clay as the most common material. There also exists a reasonable number of meerschaum Churchwardens, but these are far less common than the briar and clay models.

 

For the greatest variety and selection of classic Churchwarden pipes, see the Savinelli Churchwarden collection.

 

While all pipes have a reason they are named, many of them are unknown, and those that are known are sometimes not very creative.  Luckily for us, “Churchwarden” has a great history behind it.  Around the eighteenth and nineteenth century, the European clergy began to smoke tobacco pipes. A long pipe was preferred so that the “churchwardens” could hold their pipe outside the church window and smoke during the worship service.

 

Vest/Pocket

Vest/Pocket Shape Silhouette

 

The Vest or Pocket pipe is probably one of the most unique and practical pipe shapes in the world.  Pretty much every other pipe has been crafted with some sense of aesthetic appeal, but the Vest pipe is totally geared towards functionality.

 

There are three specifically engineered aspects to this pipe that make it so easy and versatile.  First, the short stem swivels on the shank.  This allows the pipe to easily be stored in a pocket.  Second, the rounded base of the bowl is built to easily slide into a pocket for easy safekeeping.  Finally, the short bent design of this pipe makes it easy to clench and hold in your mouth.

 

It should also be noted that a majority of the time a Vest pipe has an oval shaped chamber.  In order to achieve the “puck” shape of the pipe, it must be squashed from the sides, thus an oval shaped chamber is inevitable.

 

Butz Choquin Vest Pocket pipes are some of the most popular and well-known Vest pipes in the world.

 

It is easy to see why this shape is called a Vest, Pocket, or sometimes even a Vestpocket pipe. It was designed to slip into the front shirt or vest pocket and can be easily pulled out for a quick smoke during public forums or events.

 

These pipes are made in large quantity and often in high-demand with white-collar and working-class pipe smokers. Due to their simple design and small stature, Vest pipes can often be found at a very affordable price.

 

 

Cavalier

 

Cavalier Shape Silhouette

 

A Cavalier is a pipe-shaped based off the Tyrolean pipe, an ancient pipe popular in Germany. This shape is probably the most recognizable of any pipe shape because of the extruding shank at the base of the bowl.

 

The Cavalier is unique because the air hole in the shank continues past the bowl, down into the shank extension. This feature traps the moisture of the tobacco in a cavity, which keeps it away from the tobacco and the smoker’s mouth. In essence, it is an engineering breakthrough that uses the simple law of gravity to keep the smoke cool and dry. Of course, this moisture trap is going to need cleaning after every smoke.  This is why the end of the shank has a foot cap. This cap will either pop or screw off, giving the smoker an easy access point to clean out the pipe.

 

Neill Archer Roan has a splendid collection of examples of the Cavalier on his blog.

 

Cavalier pipes typically have a stem that juts up at a high angle on the bowl, which maximizes gravity’s effect on the moisture. The bowl of the pipe can be any shape and size, but is usually fairly tame.

 

 

Types of Tobacco Pipe Stems 

In order to fully understand a pipe's shape, we have to understand the differences in stem construction, not just the bowl. Match your shapes to these stems to fully understand your favorite tobacco pipes.

Stem Guide for Tobacco Pipes

 


 

 

Tapered Stem

Tapered Stem Silhoutte

The tapered stem is the most common form a pipe stem will take.

 

This style holds a majority of the stem shape real estate. Smokers and carvers love this stem because it is traditional, easy to make, and has the option of a large bore.

 

A tapered stem has a tenon that is securely held in the mortice of the shank. The tapered stem is thickest where it meets the shank or band, and smoothly tapers down to a more compressed size as it gets closer to the bit.

 

The Stanwell De Luxe 12 is an example of a pipe with a traditional tapered stem.

 

 

Saddle Stem

Saddle Stem Silhoutte

The saddle bit-style stem is designed to make a pipe more comfortable to clench in the mouth.

 

A saddle stem has a push tenon that rides in the mortice. The stem begins like a tapered model where it meets the shank.  Then, the stem drops off where the top and bottom of the stem disappears, leaving a wide but thin band.The bore is typically much smaller than it is on other stems. This happens because the stem is usually extremely thin.

 

Many smokers prefer the saddle stem because of its looks.  It appears to carry a sleeker, more cutting edge design to it that many prefer.

 

A Lovat shape, like the Savinelli Bianca 703, is a superior example of a saddle-style stem.

 

 

 

Combination Stem

Combination Stem Silhoutte

The name of this stem style is fairly explanatory. It is a combination of the tapered and saddle style stems.  This is not a popular shape with large pipe production companies. But many independent artisans love this shape, because it gives them more room for creative interpretation.

 

For a combination stem, the tenon, mortice, and immediate stem shape are identical to that of a saddle stem.  The difference is when the stem “drops” off the shape is no longer flat. Instead, it is tapered.  Thus, the combination stem is saddle in the front, tapered in the bit.

 

There is no hard standard for how much taper should be used or how much saddle the combination stem might be. These stems are usually classified as one or the other.

 

 

Army Stem

Army Stem Silhoutte

The army stem is also known as the military style. This style can often be found on desirable collectible pipes. These pipes are often banded with a thick metal ring, usually nickel or sterling silver.

 

The biggest difference in construction between the army stem and other stem types is the tenon. The army stem will itself be a tenon and inserts directly into the shank of the pipe.  The shape and design of the stem can range from a tame tapered design to a one of a kind freeform shape.

 

A popular example of an army-style stem is the Peterson Irish Made Army 120 tobacco pipe.

 

 

Saddle Stem

Screw stem Silhoutte

The screw-style stem is not so much a style as a classification based on functionality.  A screw stem is most common on meerschaum pipes, but is present in other pipe collections as well.  Many smokers love this style, because it is easy to repair.  If the tenon breaks, it is easily replaced by another threaded tenon.

 

On a screw stem, the tenon is threaded and inserts into a matching threaded shank.  The easiest way to picture this stem is to imagine a nut and bolt.  Pipes with a screw stem can have any stem shape, tapered, saddle, or a random freeform design.  A stinger is often paired with a screw stem to assist in reducing the gargle of moisture which sometimes collects in the shank.

 

Jobey is a well-known pipe company known for using screw stems in their briar pipes, as they do in the Band 130 pipe.

 

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