Former: Smooth Bent Egg Tobacco Pipe

Product Number: 002-017-0391

This lengthy bent Egg is purely Danish, and an excellent example of the type of work I expect from a leader in the industry. Hans "Former" Nielsen is a living legend — a Danish pipe maker who has honed his craft for over sixty years and earned worldwide renown for creating fine smoking instruments. He began making pipes in Poul Rasmussen's workshop at the age of 15, and quickly rose to prominence with an eye for detail and fine workmanship — later supervising the W.Ø. Larsen workshop and, then, crafting pipes under his own name. Since then, his reputation and style have become influential to newer pipe makers the world over, and with pieces like this, it's easy to see why.

I see a lot of pipes with organic fluidity or well-defined structure, but it is rare to see both in the same piece, yet Former, unsurprisingly, manages to blend both here, and to an amazing effect. The bowl is quite plump and palm-filling, with thick insulating walls, but so curvaceous as to belie its heft, a liquid presence in hand that once there, never wants to leave. (Trust me, I had a hard time putting it down.) The rim is technically flat, but drops into a chamfer at the inner edge so smoothly as to almost appear inflated — a pure invitation for your favorite blend to enter and be blessed. The transition from the voluptuous bowl to the shank's refined structure is seamless, discrete ridgelines gradually appearing and strengthening to become crisp panels gracefully arching up to meet the stem. The top and underside of the shank present gentle curves in cross-section, while the flat panels offer clear definition of the shape and make indexing for different hand positions a memorable delight. The curve from the heel to the fore, as well as that of the topside of the shank, are both an unperturbed rush toward the bowl, working in perfect unison to provide an implied momentum that is a wonder to behold in person.

The shaping is art unto itself, and this pipe would be beautiful with no grain worth talking about. Happily, the grain and, more importantly, the way Former shaped the piece according to it, bear no such ambiguity, with stunning striations of cross grain sweeping across the bowl's flanks and rising as uniform straight grain along the bespoke panels. Some of the densest birdseye I have ever borne witness to covers the top of the shank, the bowl's aft, the entire underside, and the leading edge of the bowl, demanding I turn the pipe every way possible to make sure none escapes my admiration. The base of the hand-cut vulcanite stem continues the shank's profile, flaring discretely at the top, then reducing quickly to a lithe, abbreviated saddle configuration as it bends gently down to reach a trim lip button. It's dressed in one of Former's stunning contrast stains and a much-deserved, smooth finish, bringing the resplendent grain to life in unforgettable fashion.

- Joel Balyeat
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Measurements & Other Details

  • Length: 6.02 in./152.91 mm.
  • Weight: 2.70 oz./76.54 g.
  • Bowl Height: 2.01 in./51.05 mm.
  • Chamber Depth: 1.45 in./36.83 mm.
  • Chamber Diameter: 0.80 in./20.32 mm.
  • Outside Diameter: 2.06 in./52.32 mm.
  • Stem Material: Vulcanite
  • Filter: None
  • Shape: Bent Egg
  • Finish: Smooth
  • Material: Briar
  • Country: Denmark
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