Ivarsson's Legendary Influence

Sixten Ivarsson Tobacco Pipe History at Smokingpipes.com

You have probably never heard of Bjørn Hoffmann, and there are a number of reasons this could be. Personally, I was entirely unaware of this pipemaker until Sykes turned up at the office with a plastic bag full of letters and sketches. In his recent blog, Sykes explained that these documents once belonged to the great Sixten Ivarsson, but they had long been sitting, unread for ages, in his granddaughter's attic in Denmark. Since they arrived here in South Carolina, it's been my pleasure to scan these frail, faded pieces of paper, to record their dates if there were any, and to organize them into a kind of catalog. It's exciting to see the transformation; papers, perishable and seemingly close to the end of their days, have been immortalized in crisp, digital copies.

The letter from Bjørn Hoffmann to Sixten was intriguing, at first, simply because it was in Norwegian. Unable to read the language, my imagination created preposterous narratives between the words I thought I recognized and those which I most definitely did not. Curiosity peaked, I employed a number of text translators to learn the truth.

As it turns out, in 1967, at the beginning of his career as a pipemaker, Hoffmann wrote this letter to Sixten; he humbly wanted to know what kind of equipment he might need to do the job and sought to acquire some "briar bricks." Of course, we have no proof that Sixten even replied; however, the fact that he kept the letter might imply that he did or, at least, that he had intended to.

Sixten Ivarsson Tobacco Pipe History at Smokingpipes.comSo, you may not have heard of Hoffmann because he was making pipes almost fifty years ago, for most of us, thousands of miles away. Maybe he was unsuccessful, or perhaps he just never even got started. However it happened for Hoffmann, after I read this letter, I was left to consider how many people Sixten inspired. Indeed, this blog could be filled with a list of prominent pipemakers who Sixten has helped to meet their potential. There would be an even longer list for those who have claimed influence or derivation from Sixten's work. In fact, Sykes recently gave a two-hour lecture on those very same topics. But, of course, there is probably an absurd number of people, like Bjørn Hoffmann, who we simply may never get to know about. To me, these artisans are just like the correspondence that waited in the attic; some papers may fail and turn to dust before they're found. Like each folio that survives, however, like each of the hundreds that have already been scanned into new life, there are pipemakers and brands that continue to immortalize the great work Sixten started. Now that's a thing of beauty.


    • Mike on December 27, 2014
    • I love that you have turned the site into a repository of knowledge about the pipe world along with your retail. But I fail to see the rationale for the huge font. Do you think your readers' eyes, on the whole, are poor? Do you feel that those who read your content will be enticed to pay more attention to your words? I don't get it. Thanks! Mike

    • Sykes on December 27, 2014
    • Could you explain where you're seeing the huge font? We're not seeing it huge. What sort of device are you using? OS? Browser? Sorry for the questions, but we're not intending for the font to be huge and we'd appreciate your help diagnosing the issue.

    • Frank on December 29, 2014
    • The fonts look fine to me.

    • Jim on December 29, 2014
    • Sykes, The blog fonts look just fine on my screen, but when I try to print out a blog page the default size of the printout font is HUGE (e.g., if I hit print for this blog, the first page only contains up to the word Legandary in the title, and the whole printout would be 15 pages long!), so I have to reduce the font size by as much as 50-60% to get a decently readable hard copy. I have an iMac 11,3 with an IntelCore i3 3 GHz processor running OS 10.6.8. My browser is Safari Version 5.1.10.

    • Phil on December 29, 2014
    • It's not huge,. In fact it's very readable, like a good quality book or newspaper. But you can set it yourself with View/ Zoom/ from the Firefox navigation bar.

    • Sykes on December 29, 2014
    • Hmm. I was just looking at it on the screen. We never styled it for print--being web guys we tend to not think in those terms--and this is the first time I've looked at the print output for it. You're right. It's unprintable (quite literally). I'll poke at it and see if we can make that work better. I've never seen anything quite like that.

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