Is this the Golden Age of Smoking Pipe Design?
How would you describe the Golden Age of anything? How would you describe it with pipes?
Was the golden age of pipes at the beginning of English/French standard shape design in the early 1900’s? Is it defined as simpler times? Maybe you see the Danish design explosion of the 50’s & 60’s as the golden age? Those were pioneering times with so many new ideas? Or something else perhaps…maybe today is the Golden Age of Pipes?
The Beginning of Modern Pipe Design
Late 1800’s, early 1900’s – The entire shape chart begins to be defined.
Pretty big moment there!
Since then, 90% of what collectors buy & artisans make is from that moment in history. That’s a pretty powerful moment back then still having an immense effect today.
The Danish/Swedish revolution of the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s is a pretty big time. Its interesting how few carvers there were back then compared to today.
Danish design and what came out of those pipe makers work shops has had a pretty big impact on pipes today.
The pipe world today has all of that & more to use in it’s arsenal of presentation. So many new people have come to the hobby. The more new people = the more talented bright stars we get to be exposed to….and encourage!
Pipe Shapes Today
Pipe design covers a wide array of options.
We have classical pipes shown in a neo-classical style. An expanded form of the classics.
Talented artisans that let the classic shape lover feel right at home with a pipe born today.
The Diversity in pipes has never been greater than today.
Abstract shaping is getting recognition.
The masters at showing us curved lines with mesmerizing precision are treating us with something that can only be described as pure art.
More pipe makers are taking greater artistic risk. Some do it more successfully than others.
Briar plateau placement has become an art all it’s own.
Alternative exterior applications are now seen everywhere.
Other materials are becoming more diverse.
Bamboo in general and Buddha Bamboo as one example specifically.
Several artisans truly understand the potential of the unique lines in this material.
Color throughout the smoking pipe is becoming more normalized.
Contrast staining of the briar has been brought to a whole new level creating some mesmerizing visual displays.
Color in stem material.
Notice how Ray Kurusu used ebonite with white streaks inside to match the bamboo shank. A smart & beautiful continuation of color in one area to another without it being visually overwhelming.
Today, we have many new materials being used.
Strawberry wood & Morta. Two big new materials for collectors and pipe makers to enjoy experimenting with.
Neither of these materials has been fully explored yet. Olive wood is another although it is not being taken as seriously as the other two.
Cultural Expressions is the highest it has ever been.
You see Danish, Japanese, Russian, American and so many more new styles of influence coming into the picture.
And we obviously also have all the rich history of true estate pipes still being enjoyed by countless collectors around the world & obviously still impacting all of the new designs that we see today.
When I think of the Golden Age of Pipe Design…I think of what we see happening right now & today. Today we have pipe makers covering all of the above areas. Many areas are being created brand new today. We have several pioneers pushing the idea of pipe design forward.
To me, this time right now feels like The Golden Age just because of the sheer quantity of both new ideas and most important, very well executed new ideas. Is that not how a Golden Age is defined? Not just the existence of masters and new ideas but the quantity of them?
I haven’t been around that long though so maybe others have a different opinion and can share their stories. Do we consider this the renaissance or did it already happen?
No matter where you fall in the debate, it is a Great Time to be a Pipe Collector.
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