Danish Estates: Sixten Ivarsson Smooth Bent Bulldog with Horn (c.1950s) Tobacco Pipe
Product Number: 004-001-34129
Sixten Ivarsson's importance within the Danish artisan pipe movement cannot be understated, as he essentially started it, setting into motion a pipe making revolution whose echoes are felt to this day. Not only this, but his pioneering work introduced a variety of new shapes into the collective consciousness of pipe makers, the vast majority of which are still crafted today. His is a legacy born out of necessity and started in World War 2 when briar pipes were nigh unobtainable, leading him to become a repairman at Suhr's pipe shop in Copenhagen. One day, thanks to the request of a customer, Sixten produced a copy of an English pipe with briar likely sourced from France, starting his career's trajectory, as he was now a pipe maker. His vast experience in pipe repair gave him insight into the ins and outs of engineering and taught him all the wrong ways to make a pipe, utilizing this to hone his own drilling so that each piece smoked as well as possible.
Poul Rasmussen came across Sixten's work while visiting Suhr's one day, becoming enamored with the shapes he had crafted and using them as the basis for what would become the first 10 shapes on Stanwell's shape chart, with Sixten going on to collaborate with the marque for a further 40 years. This offered him independence and kickstarted his career as an independent artisan in the 1950s, the first in all of Denmark. Dissatisfied with the serial shaping style that many marques offered, Sixten began to craft all of his pipes entirely by hand at around the end of the 1950s, shaping the briar first with hand tools and a sanding wheel before drilling last: a technique that has since become the standard for artisan makers but that had never really been seen before in the pipe world. His success with this technique not only afforded him renown, but led to his acceptance of apprentices and his teaching of legendary figures that include Jess Chonowitsch, his son, Lars, Kazuhiro Fukuda, Jørn Micke, and his granddaughter Nanna. His death in 2001 marked the end of an era, but his legacy lives on through his work, the impact which it had on the pipe world serving to define the Danish aesthetic and start the revolution of the artisan pipe making movement.
This pipe in particular is one of the earliest pieces from the elder Ivarsson that we've encountered, being bereft any stamping to designate the year and showcasing a slight playfulness: a playfulness we believe was Sixten experimenting with the shape. The overall shaping here thrives on its sinuousness of line, and it's quite easy to draw a gently flowing central S-curve from stem to heel, where the bowl's forward-urging posture pulls the eye to the front. The stem here is a very gently curved taper of jet-black vulcanite whose base has been shaped to include an understated expansion ring before slimming into the bit, its posture offering comfortable smoking while keeping the overall look of the composition low-lying and gracile. Coming to the junction, a flaring accent of horn extends and accents the shank, its face inlaid with a silvery metal ring that enables the stem to push-mount and be removed at any time while maintaining enough pressure to stay fairly tight. The stem's slight and intentional angle from out of the horn shank extension displays a different kind of look compared to other pieces from Sixten, the main area of playful shaping here. A quartet of ridgelines push out of the trim, tapering shank and frame it with the Bulldog's iconic diamond panels, these ridges continuing into the horn fitment and dissipating before they reach the end of its domed flare, with the pair on the flanks splitting before they fade out. The stummel here is reminiscent of the Horn in its rather consistent flare through the shank and transition, this area acting as a microcosm of the shape's stylistic cues, though the flare intensifies as the walls reach a pair of beadlines marking the high-set waist. These beadlines surround a slightly inflated section of briar which further softens the presence of this piece, before its walls taper to the rim. Dressed in a warm, mahogany-hued stain, there's some excellent birdseye on display across the flanks of the bowl, with cross grain present throughout the midsection.-John McElheny
Measurements & Other Details
Small Ding On The Rim Minor Rim Charring Button Thinned From Buffing Light Oxidation
- Length: 5.63 in./143.00 mm.
- Weight: 1.25 oz./35.38 g.
- Bowl Height: 2.06 in./52.32 mm.
- Chamber Depth: 1.86 in./47.24 mm.
- Chamber Diameter: 0.77 in./19.56 mm.
- Outside Diameter: 1.49 in./37.85 mm.
- Stem Material: Vulcanite
- Filter: None
- Shape: Bent Bulldog
- Finish: Smooth
- Material: Briar
- Country: Denmark