Tao: Smooth Natural Billiard with Antique Whale Tooth Stem Tobacco Pipe

Product Number: 002-748-0024

Jens "Tao" Nielsen began his pipemaking career as an apprentice in Erik Nording's workshop, during which he overlapped with Poul Ilsted. The pair of Ilsted and Nielsen, then, ventured out together to form the Svendborg brand with Henrik Jørgensen in 1970. Gaining experience as a pipemaker, Nielsen eventually left Svendborg to open his own workshop in 1981 and focus on artisan pipes under the name Tao. Since then, Tao has become one of the most respected names in hand-carved Danish pipes, the artisan known for his quality craftsmanship, simple finishes, and personal style of compact forms and classic Danish shaping cues.

This Billiard here is an exemplary shape from Tao and one we've seen the carver render before in both size and general style. Fitting into nosewarmer proportions, it's abbreviated of length yet still boasts a standard-sized bowl and chamber. The shaping is classically Danish — the lines soft and the curves supple, with the bowl tapering elegantly toward the rim from the defined transition, which accentuates the lower bowl's rotundness. Tao opted to keep this piece unstained, allowing the virgin briar to shine in its natural hue and enabling it to darken with use over time as it develops a patina. Matching the pale aesthetic, it's fitted with a stem of antique whale tooth*, the material having been used before by Tao and calling to mind his time spent at sea as a sailor before becoming a pipemaker.

-Truett Smith

*While the harvesting of whales is most often thought of in terms of the once widespread whaling industry, small-scale, localized whale hunts have been central to Faroese life since the North Atlantic islands were settled by the Norse, circa 800 A.D. With a climate and soil wholly unsuited to supporting life by farming crops, those who lived on the Faroe Islands learned to subsist upon pilot whale, sheep, seabirds, and fish. The rich meat and blubber of the pilot whale was (and still is) the most important, the annual catch to this day being divided communally then stored, prepared or preserved in Faorese households (in other words, you won't find it in a Faroe Islands supermarket, nor do they export any of it).

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Measurements & Other Details

  • Length: 4.24 in./107.70 mm.
  • Weight: 1.34 oz./38.10 g.
  • Bowl Height: 1.73 in./43.94 mm.
  • Chamber Depth: 1.44 in./36.58 mm.
  • Chamber Diameter: 0.75 in./19.05 mm.
  • Outside Diameter: 1.50 in./38.10 mm.
  • Stem Material: Other
  • Filter: None
  • Shape: Billiard
  • Finish: Smooth
  • Material: Briar
  • Country: Denmark
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