Abe Herbaugh: Sandblasted Sphinx with Horn Tobacco Pipe

Product Number: 002-614-0141

Born in Virginia, Abe Herbaugh spent most of his life living among the lofty heights and misty peaks of West Virginia, working for ten years as a luthier with a focus on electric guitars before, in 2009, he began his journey as a pipe maker. For these first few pipes, he availed himself to his father's fiddle workshop, slowly building his ability through diligent practice as an autodidact until receiving tutelage from Premal Chheda who furthered his learning a good deal. After finding work with Steve Norse at Vermont Freehand, Abe moved his operation to the state, benefiting from easy access to top-quality vulcanite and accent materials, something which should greatly excite enthusiasts of his work.

I myself count myself as one of these enthusiasts, as Abe Herbaugh is one of my favorite American artisans and has been even before I started at Smokingpipes. His unique mix of Danish and American revival styles of shaping gives rise to some extremely interesting pieces, one of which is this Sphinx interpretation, a profile that we've never received from him before. There's a great deal of sinuosity here, starting with the shank and stem, the latter of which reaches to the heavens as it leaps forth out of the former, taking on a demure curve at the bit which poises it for comfortable smoking. The shank proper is quite trim, though is sharply upturned, and has been fitted with a horn extension that continues the arc upward before it flares into a domed mount that has been reinforced with a ring of brass. This bend speaks to Abe's skill greatly, as bending horn is a laborious process, and, even if it came this way, shaping it so that it smoothly continues the shape of the shank (or vice versa) is no easy feat. The domed end of this fitment harmonizes with the stem's slightly stylized base as well, keeping the aft end of this pipe quite cohesive and very refined in character.

The bowl is the most recognizable aspect of the Sphinx, and it is also here that Herbaugh has stylized the shape in a striking, yet almost playful manner. While most other renditions of this Bo Nordh-created profile showcase a more low-lying, slightly plumper bowl, Abe has chosen to orient his almost upright, with a defined verticality about it that places the rim almost in line with the high-reaching horn accent. This reminds me immediately of the Elephant's foot, though the single ridgeline that wraps around the fore from the rim, coming to an iconic spur at the heel, speaks to Sphinx shape specifically. A crisp, inky sandblast dresses the stummel here, revealing a wealth of blasted birdseye at the fore of the bowl, with the flanks striated by raised cross grain, the dark hues here contrasted sharply by the colors of the horn, creating a look that is both rustic and pastoral, though refined and elevated by Herbaugh's skilled hands.

-John McElheny
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Measurements & Other Details

  • Length: 5.07 in./128.78 mm.
  • Weight: 1.41 oz./39.92 g.
  • Bowl Height: 1.98 in./50.29 mm.
  • Chamber Depth: 1.74 in./44.20 mm.
  • Chamber Diameter: 0.76 in./19.30 mm.
  • Outside Diameter: 1.66 in./42.16 mm.
  • Stem Material: Vulcanite
  • Filter: None
  • Shape: Freehand
  • Finish: Sandblast
  • Material: Briar
  • Country: United States
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