Tom Eltang: Smooth Natural Horn (Snail) Tobacco Pipe

Product Number: 002-299-1270

Every Tom Eltang pipe excels equally in its craftsmanship, engineering, and shaping, but the Danish artisan's Snail grade denotes pieces of premium grain quality and whose grain orientation aligns superlatively with the shape. With briar being a natural material, a pipe maker has only so much control regarding the grain; they can maximize a briar block's grain potential through intentionally shaping the pipe a certain way, but not all briar blocks are created equal. Tom's Snail grade awards pipes of exceptional grain quality, and it distinguishes the upper echelon of his work, second only to the extremely rare "M" stamp. This Horn is one such Snail piece, marked by near flawless grain and expert shaping that highlights that grain perfectly.

A traditional Danish shape, the Horn embodies a number of design cues that characterize classic Danish pipe making — soft, fluid lines, elegant minimalism, and a graceful sense of poise — and while all Horns display a gently curving transition and gradual expansion through the shank and bowl, there are a number of varying renditions. There are those that feature a more defined separation between the stem and stummel; there is Bo Nordh's signature Oliphant version which emulates the look of an actual horn, with a consistent arc through the stem and stummel; and then there are Horns like this Eltang example that integrate the stem into the stummel's forward flare but trade the Oliphant's consistent arcing for a more sinuous, Zulu-like S-curve.

Tom oriented this specific briar block in a cross-cut pattern, utilizing the flanking cross grain to inform the bowl's degree of cant and the transition's amount of curl. It's an excellent example of letting the natural patterns of the briar dictate the pipe's overall shape, and Tom's executed that aspect beautifully: The cross grain follows the stummel's dynamic posture, and birdseye saturates the fore and aft sections. The stem, then, continues that forward-urging momentum, only in a converse trajectory through its downward turn. When turned over, though, the stem's degree of curl aligns seamlessly with the stummel's, continuing its arc much as Nordh's Oliphant shape does. For this pipe, however, the choice to downturn the stem adds further fluidity to the composition, as if the pipe is swimming through liquid — or is composes of liquid itself. Tom's shaping of the stem and stummel merges briar and vulcanite seamlessly, and when viewed in silhouette, it's impossible to tell exactly where the stummel ends and the hand-cut stem begins.

Overall, this piece adheres closely to Tom's signature style of minimalist and functional Danish forms, and though few lines comprise the shape, those lines are perfectly congruent and offer balanced harmony as the top and bottom curves expand together while remaining complementary in their trajectories. For just an added touch of flourish, Tom has accented the stummel with a third line: a crisp ridge running through the entire left flank, including the stem, while the right side remains smooth and rounded. Such a ridgeline is often seen across definitively Danish shapes (the Fish comes especially to mind with its teardrop shank), and in this piece it serves to further emphasize the briar's grain, with the cross grain seeming to emanate from the hard line. A natural, virgin finish further reveals the briar's grain quality, and it shines unadulterated and well deserving of Tom's Snail grade.

-Truett Smith
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Measurements & Other Details

  • Length: 7.10 in./180.34 mm.
  • Weight: 2.10 oz./59.53 g.
  • Bowl Height: 2.29 in./58.17 mm.
  • Chamber Depth: 1.76 in./44.70 mm.
  • Chamber Diameter: 0.79 in./20.07 mm.
  • Outside Diameter: 1.85 in./46.99 mm.
  • Stem Material: Vulcanite
  • Filter: None
  • Shape: Horn
  • Finish: Smooth
  • Material: Briar
  • Country: Denmark
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