J. Alan: Partially Sandblasted Calabash with Boxwood (1832) Tobacco Pipe

Product Number: 002-376-0364

The Calabash is among the oldest pipe shapes, predating the use of briar. Its origins can be traced back to Africa in the 1600s, and early renditions were fashioned from gourd with a meerschaum chamber cap on top. The tobacco is loaded into said chamber, and the hollow body of the Calabash below allows the smoke to cool before traveling through the airway. It's a design as practical as it is iconic, and for centuries the Calabash has personified pipe smoking, with depictions permeating film and art as well as pipe collections worldwide.

Because of its hollow design and external chamber cap, the Calabash is a complex and arduous design to make, and handmade artisan renditions are few and far between, making this J. Alan example a welcome rarity. Instead of from traditional gourd, this piece is fashioned from briar, and the chamber cap bears a boxwood exterior but with a briar chamber. Other Calabash example's we've seen from Gracik have displayed a concave curvature about the cap, but this example maintains the traditional Calabash's domed structure, adding softness and gentle plumpness to the form.

This pipe is as much a lesson in color palette as it is in form, and said color transitions in line with the composition's shaping, lightening as the profile gradual expands toward the rim: A vulcanite saddle stem initiates the form in slender, languid style, and the stem base is neatly canted off-set to the shank face to add further dynamic momentum as the piece surges forward. The shank, then, maintains a relatively consistent diameter until flaring dramatically at the transition and curling suddenly into the bowl. Here, the stummel is a stained a deep, plum hue and sandblasted at a light depth to reveal the grain structure while preserving the shape's lines. Finally, the boxwood's pale hues enliven the presentation, while also adding diverse grain patterns, and the inner rim of briar is virgin-finished for one last, light tone to the palette.

Exacting measurements and intentional construction reveal Gracik's craftsmanship prowess, elevating this pipe to beyond simply an artful presentation but an example of finely tuned engineering. The underside of the cap is slightly indented to overhang the bowl, and inside, the cap-and-stummel junction is lined with cork for a secure fit and easy removal. As an added touch, Gracik staining the top of this junction, an unnecessary addition but one that bespeaks his unmitigating standards and attention to detail.

-Truett Smith
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Measurements & Other Details

  • Length: 5.76 in./146.30 mm.
  • Weight: 2.69 oz./76.20 g.
  • Bowl Height: 2.86 in./72.64 mm.
  • Chamber Depth: 1.94 in./49.28 mm.
  • Chamber Diameter: 0.77 in./19.56 mm.
  • Outside Diameter: 2.08 in./52.83 mm.
  • Stem Material: Vulcanite
  • Filter: None
  • Shape: Calabash
  • Finish: Partial Sandblast
  • Material: Briar
  • Country: United States
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