Vauen history goes back over a century. The oldest German tobacco pipe company, Vauen is actually a combination of the “V” for “United pipe factories” and N for “Nuremberg”. Still housed in that famous German city today, the company remains one of the most beloved manufactures of briar pipes in Europe.
A German giant is born
Vauen was founded in 1848 by Karl Ellenberger and Carl August Ziener. The original Vauen pipes were made from a variety of woods, not only briar. The company did well, but it was not until 1901 that Vauen really began to make a splash in the smoking world.
The Eckert influence
1901 was the year The Gebhard Pipe Factory came together, under the management of Ernst Eckert, a family member of the original founding family.
Ernest Eckert’s son Adolf would join the company shortly after, beginning a long line of Eckerts at the helm of Vauen. In fact, the family still leads the company today.
The name “Vauen”
In 1909 Adolf Ekert coined the name for the German brand. Vauen is a combination of the letter “V” and the letter “N”. The V stands for Vereingigte and the N for the city of Nuremberg. With the pronunciation of “V” as “VAU” and “N” as “EN” combined to make the famous name.
Medals of influence
The years surrounding the turn of the 20th century brought an increased interest in The World’s Fair (also known as the World Exhibition). Many innovations in manufacturing and commerce were happening all over the world. Vauen was not to be left behind. The company won medals of honor in six separate exhibitions. These were:
The Medal for Progress at the 1876 World Exhibition in Vienna,
Gold Medals in 1876, 1882, 1883, 1904 and 1906.
Vauen continues to be acknowledge for their innovative approach to smoking pipes. Over the years they have won piles of trophies and awards for their work. Ever on the cusp of progress, the company’s most recent award, in 2014, was awarded for creating The Diamond Pipe. The pipe utilizes a 3D printer to make the special plastic skin in the shape of a diamond.
The Dunhill Conflict
During the 1920s Vauen became embroiled in a conflict with Dunhill over the use of a white dot on the mouthpiece as a sort of trademark. Both companies began using the mark at nearly the exact same time and both wanted to keep it. A court battle ensued and ended in a somewhat contentious compromise that has confused estate collectors many times over the years. The agreement between Vauen and Dunhill allowed Vauen to use the mark within Germany and Austria. Dunhill retained the rights to it internationally.
Vauen used grey or light blue dots to mark their highest quality pipes after this settlement. The similarly-colored dots floating around on European-made briar pipes causes no small amount of confusion for the unschooled estate collector. Of course, for the educated collector, the two companies have many other variants.
Recovering from the war
At the end of World War II Adolf Eckert took the helm of the Vauen brand and began to put the company back together after the devastating destruction of the war years. It was Adolf who would bring the brand into world-wide notoriety.
Introduction of Dr. Perl
The folks at Vauen were setting precedence even before World War II would force the company to be innovative and flexible to survive. In 1921 Vauen was the first tobacco pipe manufacturer to introduce a paper filter. Over the next dozen years the German brand would continue to research ways to give the smoker a cleaner, cooler and drier experience. In 1934 they would reach that goal with the introduction of the Dr. Perl Junior filter.
Dr. Perl filters are 9mm and made with activated carbon. The addition of this little white tube into the pipe stem results in a slower draw and cleaner smoke. The combination was so successful that over 90% of pipes sold in Germany today can accommodate a charcoal filter.
Perhaps as a knockoff on the more famous Peterson Pipes slogan, the company used the slogan,“A clever chap only smokes the original Dr. Perl!” throughout the 1930s and 40s.
Today Vauen sells over 150 million Dr. Perl filters all over the world.
The Vauen aesthetic
Vauen has a particularly unique aesthetic. The German brand makes a number of interesting and inventive tobacco pipes. Some of the most popular are:
Modern smoking pipes
A number of the Vauen series are innovative for the pipe community, but perfectly indicative of German style and sensibility in a post-Berlin Wall world. With sleek lines, bright colors and unexpected elements, these lines are all thoroughly modern and unlike anything else you’ll find from a major brand. Current modern series are:
The O! Series - An acrylic, metal and briar hybrid in an unusual bulbous shape.
The Palma Series - A long thin shank and a tall, oval-shaped bowl combine with short mouthpiece and dramatic accents to make the Palmas a briar pipe that has distinctly cob-like sensibilities.
Pipe of the Year - Vauen releases an expertly crafted limited edition pipe each year. Each year’s design is unique and features modern elements to distinguish it from pipes of the past.
Speed Pipes - Dedicated to all things fast! The Speed Series features high-gloss lacquer and a special version of racing stripes.
The Stripe Pipes- These special pipes are wrapped with acrylic bands over the briar, giving them a very Mod-like appearance.
The Wood Series - Rosewood and Maple are wrapped around the briar.
Lord of the Rings pipes
The Vauen Auenland Series is a striking homage to J.R.R. Tolkien's timeless tale of the triumph of a tiny band of misfits over Middle Earth’s greatest evil. Each one is meant to honor a different character from the story. These Churchwarden pipes are some of the most beloved modern Churchwardens.
Of course, beyond the modern shapes and new designs, Vauen also makes a number of classics with distinctly German sensibilities. These include, among others:
The Basics - As the name implies, these are affordable briars in classic shapes.
The Classic Series - These are simple and timeless pieces that stick to time-honored shapes and finishes.
Cumberland Pipes - Although these pipes stick to classic Vauen shapes they feature unique amber-colored stems and high-gloss finishes that add a little pizzaz to the classics.
The Duke Series - These faux-army mount pipes are traditional Vauen shapes with unique stems and dramatic finishes.
160 years of innovation
Vauen is a German brand with a long and colorful history. That history, after 160 years, is as innovative as ever. Still lead by the Eckert family, we expect to see new and imaginative smoking pipes from them for years to come!