Uncle Paul was often seen in public and photographs with his favorite pipe, a Hungarian, descending from his mouth. Slowly becoming synonymous with the man after which it is now named, many pipe manufacturers began applying the President’s nickname to his choice pipe shape, with many pipe makers also following suit. Over time, the name “Hungarian” faded away, and today it is widely known as the “Oom Paul”. This pipe, due to its size, seems like it was made to be smoked while relaxed and reclining, its bowl brimming with your favorite nightcap. While it certainly won’t disappoint in that capacity, the Oom Paul, because of its abruptly bent stem and low slung weight, is surprisingly quite comfortable held freely in the mouth, as Uncle Paul often demonstrated.
The Oom Paul is readily available smooth, sandblasted, or rusticated, and we can’t help but feel that it would make one heck of a grandfather to grandson heirloom. Pipes referred to as “paneled” derive their originality not from a specific shape, per se, but from a distinct aesthetic property, namely the flat panels on their bowls. Many pipes can be made with panels, including Billiards, Dublins, Brandys, Acorns, and more. Panels on the bowl must be even in number and symmetrically positioned, though paneled pipes with six or eight sides may have panels of varying widths. This helps differentiate a paneled pipe from a Freehand, which may have one or more panels placed at any desired interval. The original Panel was a Billiard with four paneled walls, but the feature has spread to other shapes as mentioned.
A paneled Billiard with a square shank is also referred to as a Foursquare. Named for its ability to sit steadily on the poker table while you shuffle up and deal, the Poker is made for play, but it’s an “all business” kind of pipe when it comes to shaping. Its walls are tall, and the cylindrical bowl is flat on both the top and the bottom. The round shank exits just below the bottom of the bowl, and is elongated with a simple saddle stem. The sturdy appearance of the Poker is complemented well by a skillfully rusticated finish. They are most often turned on a lathe as opposed to being shaped freely by hand, in order to achieve true symmetry. Whether you’re risking it all at the poker table or knitting a new pair of baby booties, the Poker is a perfect companion for those of us who can’t be constrained to one activity. If someone sawed the top of your Billiard off, two things would result. First, you’d be forced to engage the miscreant in a round of fisticuffs. Secondly, after raining blows upon him and emerging victorious, you would find yourself in possession of a new Pot from which to smoke a celebratory bowl of your favorite blend. The Pot shape is technically a variation of the classic Billiard, but is a prime example of a shape which has become its own. Unless a Pot is made to unusually grand proportions, the limited chamber depth generally lends itself to smoking strong blends or when on the go, and so it’s a good thing that the Pot makes a handsome Nosewarmer or pocket pipe. Taking the same shaping characteristics as the Billiard, then simply removing the top half of the bowl so that the walls are about half as tall and do not taper, leaves you with a Pot. The short bowl of a Pot is hard pressed to take full advantage of the straight grain in a block of briar, so it’s not uncommon for a maker to opt for sandblasting, which when executed well becomes more of a virtue than a vice. Pots are nearly always made as straight pipes, and also make good candidates for magnum pipes./p> Prince. As its name suggests, this shape has royal origins. The Prince was originally fashioned for Prince Albert who would later ascend to the British throne as King Edward VII. An English dandy if ever there was one, the prince demanded elegance not offered by any shape in existence at the time. Pipe maker Emil Loewe, founder of London’s Loewe and Co., designed the shape for Prince Albert, and in doing so created an instant classic. It is made up of a short round bowl, accompanied by a short straight round shank, and is fitted with a long tapered stem (about 3.5”) that usually has a 1/8 bend.
Loewe’s original design is rarely deviated from, but Princes can be found in a variety of finishes. Light and dark stains, smooth and sandblasted finishes, and nickel or silver banding are commonly seen on the Prince. They make excellent Churchwardens as well, on account of their pint-sized proportions, and are exceedingly comfortable to hold in the teeth.
This once kingly pipe has found a place among the paupers.