elcome to another episode of All Pipes Considered, where myself and Sykes Wilford will discuss the latest addition to Ropp's portfolio: Mid-Century pipes, featuring bowls turned in the mid-20th century, likely in the '50s, '60s, and '70s. Watch as we discuss these Danish-inspired pipes, which veer from the classic French stylings Ropp is revered for, in favor of more Scandinavian designs and shapes.
Note: The following transcription has been edited for clarity and brevity.
[Shane Ireland]: Hey everybody, I'm Shane Ireland.
[Sykes Wilford]: And I'm Sykes Wilford.
[SI]: Welcome to another episode of All Pipes Considered. Today, we are talking about a really interesting new addition to the Ropp line of pipes: Ropp's Mid-Century. So, a little bit of backstory here. I think anybody that's followed us for any period of time knows that you like playing in attics in Saint-Claude, France —
[SI]: And finding pipe bowls.
[SW]: It's my favorite thing to do.
[SI]: Your favorite thing to do. I was fortunate enough earlier this year, a couple months ago, to visit the Chapuis-Comoy factory with Sykes for the first time and I got a little bit of a taste of what it's like to go through a really fun assortment of old pipe stuff. So, the Mid-Century line: a bit of a departure for Ropp — you want to take us through how that came together?
[SW]: Yeah, so the Mid-Century line utilizes bowls not turned in the twenties and thirties, rather these are bowls turned probably between the late '50s and sometime in the '70s.
[SW]: They're mostly Danish-inspired shapes, hence the Mid-Century moniker we put on 'em.
[SI]: Both the time period that they're from and the design.
[SW]: Yeah, the design philosophy and the design school. I had been seeing some of these bowls — but not all of them — on numerous visits to Saint-Claude to see Antoine Grenard. And nothing really fit in the Ropp line and we never did anything with them, but I thought they were cool, 'cause —
[SI]: 'Cause they're cool.
[SW]: 'Cause they're cool. And then we found some more shapes when it was all of us together in Saint-Claude a couple of months ago. And it started to gel into an idea that sort of made sense. So it's a bit of a departure for the Ropp line, which is sort of classic French designs, early 20th Century, with bowls turned in that era, stems that were made in that era, to pipes that are less ...
[SI]: Iconically French?
[SW]: ... Yes, less iconically French and more Scandinavian, but were being turned in Saint-Claude in that time, in the '50s, '60s, and '70s. But they're just super cool shapes. They're really interesting. You can see the influence from people like Sixten Ivarsson in these French-turned bowls. And it was impossible not to do something cool with them.
[SI]: Yeah, and just to touch on the influence piece, what I think is really interesting about this, from my perspective, is that we talk about this a lot and everybody sort of acknowledges that the birthplace of the briar pipe was Saint-Claude, France, and the influence of early French manufacturing of briar pipes on what everybody else in the world did after that point. You also have some of the Scandinavian influence through the Mid-Century coming back into France, even at that time.
[SI]: The pipe world is, even when it was massive in terms of overall production, so tightly knit in terms of the people that were in it and involved in it that it's inevitable that that influence kind of flowed in all directions.
[SW]: These people did business with each other; they knew each other.
[SI]: Yeah, yeah.
[SW]: You know, the importer in Denmark would be the same guy who also has a factory in Denmark. So they were all talking and working together in various ways.
[SI]: It's interesting to see how that ended up where you have some of these designs like this being made in France at that time. I also really like that a lot of these feel, not only super indicative of that time period, which again, you have sort of the functionalism and minimalism coming out of Scandinavia, but it's a lot of novel designs as well. I mean, we have a lot, there's a number of Stacks, for example, in the line, this one being my personal favorite, but that is ...
[SW]: This is really cool.
[SI]: ... That is super cool. And a lot of chamber. A lot of bang for your buck there if you're looking for a nice long smoke. Even stuff like this is sort of iconically Scandinavian of that time period, this particular example also having quite a capacious chamber. But there's a couple different skater pickax sort of shapes here, this being the M-307 in the Mid-Century line.
[SW]: There were a lot of Danish factories doing and playing with these ideas all about the same time.
[SW]: And there was this emphasis on these very fairly narrow, not truly narrow, but fairly narrow, tall chambers. And we see that manifesting in a variety of shapes.
[SI]: Yeah. This too is one of my favorites of the entire line.
[SI]: What's the shape number on that one again?
[SI]: Beautiful. Beautiful. And there's also a line, within the Mid-Century line, of a handful of different Sitters and variations of Sitters. So there's a lot to offer here, a lot to bite into, and all of them, like I said, are really novel and really unique. And the interesting thing is not typically the factory-production shapes that you see anymore today either. I think widely and largely speaking, whether you're talking about Italy or Ireland or England, the sort of stuff that stood the test of time are the Anglo-French classic shape-chart pipes.
[SW]: That and the stuff being done in Italy; you've got a lot of Italian neoclassicism that developed around the same time this movement was happening in Denmark. It's still being made by people like Savinelli. But it's not this kind of stuff because there are no factories left in Scandinavia. So the people that pioneered this aesthetic are no longer —
[SI]: Aren't doing it anymore.
[SW]: Aren't doing it anymore.
[SI]: So slight departure for the Ropp brand, but Ropp Mid-Century does still feature bowls that are 50-ish years old. It's kind of funny that you were talking about the Ropp brand in the context of the 50-year-old stuff being young.
[SI]: But I also think that, not only are these really interesting models on their own, I think for those guys out there that maybe have been chasing certain estates from older Scandinavian brands, like Pibe-Dan, Georg Jensen —
[SW]: Stanwell, Kriswill.
[SI]: Yeah, the early Stanwell stuff. You're going to find maybe some forms here that are evocative of those and that you'll be interested in for sure.
[SW]: Well, there are 10 shapes in all. All cool Scandinavian-influenced designs from bowls that were probably turned about 50 years ago.
[SI]: Available in two finishes.
[SW]: Yes, we've got sandblasted and smooth, as you can see in front of us.
[SI]: And they're available on Smokingpipes now. Ropp Mid-Century, check 'em out. Thanks, everybody.
[SW]: Thanks so much.
[SI]: See you next time.