Antique Eskimo Wood and Ivory Pipe with Brass Bowl and Fittings Circa 1900 (#18-057)


An elegant antique Eskimo tobacco pipe from Alaska, of sloping classical form, and circa 1900.  This wonderful old pipe is carved from an unidentified hardwood (perhaps maple), which given the dearth of wood in the far North, likely arrived as driftwood, or by trade from the interior.  Both the bowl and three collars near the mouthpiece of the pipe are of scrap brass, and would certainly have been acquired through trade.  One of the most interesting details of this fine pipe is that the end cap piece is a repurposed Winchester Rival 12 gauge shotgun shell, which was produced from 1884-1929.  The pipe bowl is lashed to the body with vegetable material, perhaps spruce root, and the mouthpiece is carved from walrus ivory.  the long slit opening on the underside of the pipe stem would once have held a plug, of wood or ivory most likely, and served as a sort of tobacco trap.  Because tobacco was such a rare and valued commodity among the Eskimo, the plug would be removed so that the nicotine-rich resin could be scraped more easily from the interior of the pipe, and mixed further times into the fresh tobacco mixture in the interests of economy.  In wonderful condition for its age, there are several small holes and cracks in the pipe stem, mostly concealed by the three brass collars.  The wood has also contracted somewhat with age, making the brass collars fit less snugly than they once would have.  All told a beautiful ethnographic example of Eskimo technological design and ingenuity.

Circa 1900.  11 5/8″ L

1 in stock