Tao: Smooth Bulldog Tobacco Pipe

Product Number: 002-748-0036

Jens "Tao" Nielsen is a recognizable name in the canon of Danish pipe making, owed to his impeccable shaping ability, signature style, and over 50 years of experience. Jens began his adult life as a sailor, an experience that later informed his pipe making, before meeting his future wife after his compulsory military service and settling down. He started his career on land by working in the Copenhagen shop of Wilhelm Jørgensen, selling pipes there for three and a half years before he accepted an apprenticeship by Erik Nørding. Nielsen worked for Nørding for two years, and then Poul Ilsted came along, the two agreeing that they wished to make their own pipes in their own factory and in their own style, something they were able to do in 1970 with the help of another carver, establishing the Svendborg pipe factory. The company grew by 17 carvers, and Ilsted stayed on for around two years before departing to truly make his own pipes, and soon later, Nielsen departed to make his own pipes as well.

The style of stout, muscular, Nosewarmer Bulldogs, such as the one seen here, is a signature of Tao's, and is inspired by the compact, utilitarian pipes that he witnessed fellow sailors smoking while onboard their vessels, the abbreviated length they possess allowing for easy pocketing and superior maneuverability in cramped quarters. Of course, both of these features carry over into Nielsen's work, though these carry the added benefit of superb internal engineering and uncompromisingly fastidious fit and finish. Despite how short this pipe is, there's a defined robustness present in every element of its composition, with the shank, stem, and bowl all proportionally balanced in their relative heartiness. As is iconic to the classic profile, the shank and stem are diamond shaped, with four firm ridgelines framing their travel out of the wide transition, though, unlike many renditions of the shape I've seen before, this piece showcases a slightly compressed diamond, thickening out the width of the outline a bit and offering some dynamic shaping.

The ridges at the flanks flow forward and into the bowl, curving up and around before plunging into the heel where the two lines meet to form the ridge at the underside, a detail present in line work that I always appreciate and that Tao is quite adept at crafting. The bowl itself flares swiftly from the heel to a mid-set waistline that would see the pair of beadlines which denote its apex sat at the transition, if it weren't for a sharp forward cant that urges the bowl onward and kicks the beadlines upward at the aft side. Not only does this imbue the pipe with a touch of momentum, but it also contributes to an aerodynamic look that enhances the slightly rounded taper to the rim. Dressing the briar here is a vibrant contrast stain of deep auburn and ruby hues which sees a band of straight grain wrapping around the bowl at the beadlines, while the panels at the flanks and the rim are awash with dense whorls of birdseye. The cumberland stem matches well with this stain, while contrast is offered by its pale white and amberoid inserts near the base, the two standing out readily against the stummel and the greater stem as well.

-John McElheny
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Measurements & Other Details

  • Length: 4.65 in./118.11 mm.
  • Weight: 1.80 oz./51.03 g.
  • Bowl Height: 1.66 in./42.16 mm.
  • Chamber Depth: 1.35 in./34.29 mm.
  • Chamber Diameter: 0.74 in./18.80 mm.
  • Outside Diameter: 1.88 in./47.75 mm.
  • Stem Material: Vulcanite
  • Filter: None
  • Shape: Bulldog
  • Finish: Smooth
  • Material: Briar
  • Country: Denmark
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