Danish Estates: Sixten Ivarsson Sandblasted Billiard with Silver (1980) Tobacco Pipe

Product Number: 004-001-35251

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 it had on the pipe world serving to define the Danish aesthetic and start the revolution of the artisan pipe-making movement.

This straight Billiard from the legendary artisan comes to us from 1980, and displays Ivarsson's classically-oriented style quite well, with this rendition of the profile hewing closer to trim Anglo-French renditions of the shape rather than modern Danish interpretations. The transition here is quite wide and bereft of cheeking, lending it a smooth, ramp-like surface that mirrors the angle of the rounded heel well, its compositional melding of the bowl and the shank keeping the stummel clean and consistent. Said shank takes on an extremely slight taper as it reaches out toward a domed military mount of silver, making for a sturdy and practical pairing with the stem's tapering stretch of black vulcanite. The entirety of this pipe's build is quite svelte, with even, graceful lines throughout and a measured, even sense of proportion that results in a piece that is strikingly light and impressively compact, promising easy clenching and portability. Up front, the bowl's pert, bulb-like form offers a comfortable feel in hand thanks to its gentle curvature through the walls, with an understated taper to the rim and a dynamic forward cant that draws the eye to the bowl. Dressing the stummel here is a crisp, earthy sandblast that reveals dense stacks of growth rings flowing down the bowl, striated by streaks of visual flame grain that add further appeal to the finish.

-John McElheny
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Measurements & Other Details

Minor Rim Darkening Mild Chamber Carbonizing Stamping Worn From Buffing

(Sun Stamp)
PRODUCT (Arched)
  • Length: 5.07 in./128.78 mm.
  • Weight: 1.04 oz./29.48 g.
  • Bowl Height: 1.66 in./42.16 mm.
  • Chamber Depth: 1.49 in./37.85 mm.
  • Chamber Diameter: 0.75 in./19.05 mm.
  • Outside Diameter: 1.28 in./32.51 mm.
  • Stem Material: Vulcanite
  • Filter: None
  • Shape: Billiard
  • Finish: Sandblast
  • Material: Briar
  • Country: Denmark
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