Tao: Smooth Natural Bulldog Tobacco Pipe

Product Number: 002-748-0035

As a young man, Jens "Tao" Nielsen was a sailor, traveling the world on the high seas and experiencing the diversity of his destinations at port, where he would observe not only the local people and their customs, but other sailors as they embarked, unloaded, or perused the locales. Once he stopped his adventures as a seaman, he began work for Wilhelm Jørgensen, for whom he sold pipes, many of which were from the factory of Erik Nørding who Tao met one day when he was offered an apprenticeship by the prolific maker. He accepted and began work for Nørding, working there for two years before meeting Poul Ilsted, a man that Nielsen would leave Nørding for to start the Svendborg pipe factory with another partner: Henrik Jørgensen, the factory focusing on pieces of a more traditional leaning, finding success in doing so. Ilsted left after two years, and eventually Tao embarked on his own as well. In doing so, however, he was able to focus on making his own pipes, pipes which, though at first were fairly large, are now quite compact, as he was inspired by those smoked by sailors which had to be small enough to slip into a pocket and comfortably clenched when below decks, both of which are true of this straight Bulldog, a shape that has become a signature for Nielsen.

Throughout the shank and stem we see the crisp diamond orientation that's iconic to the profile, the ridgelines, something which Tao is extremely adept at rendering, splitting at the top and bottom of the swirling amberoid stem and leading to the bit. The shank is straight and stolid with only the slightest hint of a taper as it pushes out of the transition, the pair of ridgelines at the flanks curving up as they reach the bowl, wrapping around and framing the flanks, then dipping into the heel, creating the underside's ridge as they meet and firmly framing the profile's aft section. In addition, this merging of ridges serves to put emphasis on the heel itself which pushes out and away from this underside and lifts as it does, staying smooth while it travels upward and magnifying the presence of the bowl. The bowl is affably plump and flares from the heel to the inflated rim, the start of which is marked by twin beadlines, in a gentle manner, though its build is undeniably muscular, something which is true of the build of this entire piece despite its total length of under five inches, as the briar here is thick no matter where you look, reflective still of those pipes Tao saw as a sailor. Dressing the stummel here is a natural finish, unveiling a wonderful grain pattern beneath, with straight and flame grain wrapping the bowl, while the underside of the burl displays a sunburst array of grain that is equal parts peppered birdseye and flame, with visual growth rings rippling out from the central ridge.

-John McElheny
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Measurements & Other Details

  • Length: 4.75 in./120.65 mm.
  • Weight: 1.40 oz./39.69 g.
  • Bowl Height: 1.53 in./38.86 mm.
  • Chamber Depth: 1.15 in./29.21 mm.
  • Chamber Diameter: 0.70 in./17.78 mm.
  • Outside Diameter: 1.58 in./40.13 mm.
  • Stem Material: Acrylic
  • Filter: None
  • Shape: Bulldog
  • Finish: Smooth
  • Material: Briar
  • Country: Denmark
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