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sherlock holmes smoke pipe

The Calabash

“Pipes are occasionally of extraordinary interest,” said he. “Nothing has more individuality, save perhaps watches and bootlaces.” – The Adventure of the Yellow Face, Arthur Conan Doyle

Few pipe smokers are as famous for their habit as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective Sherlock Holmes. The character has greatly outlived his author, spanning over 120 years of novels, short stories, radio plays, films, and television shows; his face has changed many times, but his genius and nicotine addiction have not diminished. Almost all interpretations of Sherlock Holmes include his tobacco use and yet his most iconic prop, the enormous pipe, the Calabash gourd with meerschaum bowl, never appeared in any of Doyle’s original writings.

Tobacco was featured heavily throughout Doyle’s mysteries. The great detective often considers the specifics of the habit in his forensic analysis of crime scenes and character profiling of suspects. Holmes even penned a monograph entitled “Upon the Distinction Between the Ashes of the Various Tobaccos” in which he differentiates a hundred and forty forms of cigar, cigarettes, and pipe tobacco based on the ash they produce. Holmes was of course, a great smoker himself, turning to his pipe at moments of intense introspection. He kept his tobacco in the toe of a Persian slipper by the fireplace and he smoked three small pipes: a churchwarden style clay, a briar, and a cherry wood.

The great Calabash, along with the seminal deer hunter hat, did not appear until a stage portrayal of Holmes’ by English actor William Gillette in 1899. Gillette wanted a pipe that was large enough for audiences to see, and swung low, as not to obstruct his face or blow smoke in his eyes. The Calabash stuck with the character and has appeared in the hands of many actors since: Peter Cushing, Roger Moore, John Barrymore, and Michael Caine to name a few.

The size of the Calabash is indicative of Holmes’ massive intellect and ego, but it also demonstrates the depths of his contemplative nature. The pipe is the record player of tobacco intake; there are faster, easier ways to get a nicotine fix, but the packing and smoking of a pipe is a ritual of discipline and tranquility. The Calabash is a pipe only for people who have the time to smoke it.

The Calabash also makes an appearance in the opening scene of Quentin Tarantino’s World War Two fairytale Inglorious Basterds. Colonel Hans Landa, “The Jew Hunter”, played by Christoph Waltz interrogates a French farmer and brandishes the enormous pipe to exhibit his detective prowess.

In the most recent adaptation of Doyle’s work, the BBC series Sherlock, the Calabash does not appear, no pipe does, for that matter. Instead, Benedict Cumberbatch’s Holmes uses nicotine patches in his moments of meditation.

Regardless of the means, nicotine addiction is an essential element of Sherlock Holmes. His overwhelming genius and abrasive manner are dehumanizing qualities, but a habit as trivial as tobacco helps ground him. Despite his remarkable brain, Holmes is still at the mercy of his body’s chemical needs and that makes him believable and relatable.

The official blog of the Geist Tobacco Lit Contest investigatges Sherlock Holmes and his iconic Calabash pipe.

Sherlock Holmes Tobacco Pipe Style

Sherlock Holmes is legend fictional detective figure from England that very popular create by a Novel writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Sherlock Holmes character first appeared in 1887 in the Strand Magazine. Sherlock has a close friend, Dr. Watson, that he often helping Sherlock in some adventure of investigating some cases through the Victorian age.

English actor Roger Moore smoking a meerschaum pipe in the role of Sherlock Holmes in ‘Sherlock Holmes In New York’, directed by Boris Sagal, 1976. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)

Sherlock Holmes Tobacco Pipe

If we hear about Sherlock Holmes it will seems to be remember about Sherlock Holmes tobacco pipe. According to the story, the pipe used by Sherlock Holmes is a Calabash pipe.

Calabash pipe got the name from the gourds that create a famous shape and become popular in England post-Boer war.

Calabash pipe made with meerschaum, a soft white mineral, the shape is bent downward curve to an upward bowl pipe.

Because the pipe often in the hand of the actor during a theatrical Sherlock performances, later on the shape of pipe like that is referred to as a “Sherlock pipe

What kind of pipe did Sherlock Holmes smoke?

According to Sherlock Holmes novel writer, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock smoked used three kind pipes. Briar wood pipe, Clay pipe, and Cherry-wood pipe.

And among the three, clay pipe perhaps his favorite because of its ability to provide a pure smoke and these type this time relatively rare in used of pipe-smoking.

This time the most popular is a Briar wood pipe. Anyway, here is the three Sherlock Holmes tobacco pipe that write by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle;

Sherlock Holmes Tobacco Pipe Type

1. A Briar pipe:

Take a peek at Watson’s references to a briar pipe in the original stories here:

In the dim light of the lamp I saw him sitting there, an old briar pipe between his lips, his eyes fixed vacantly upon the corner of the ceiling, the blue smoke curling up from him, silent, motionless, with the light shining upon his strong-set aquiline features.– (The Man With the Twisted Lip)

“My practice has extended recently to the Continent,” said Holmes, after a while, filling up his old brier-root pipe (sic). “I was consulted last week by Francois Le Villard, who, as you probably know, has come rather to the front lately in the French detective service.”

2. A Clay pipe:

This pipe is mentioned the most in the Sherlock Holmes stories.

Sherlock Holmes is mentioned smoking a clay pipe specifically ‘6’ times. Sometimes, it’s referred to as a “black” clay pipe. Then, it’s called an “oily” clay pipe. According to pipes magazine.com, this pipe turned black because of over-use.

3. A Cherry-wood pipe:

A cherry-wood pipe is mentioned exactly once in all the Sherlock Holmes stories and novels.

Today many of tobacco pipe producer and artisan still produce a Sherlock Holmes style tobacco pipe. Among others are:

Sherlock Holmes Tobacco Pipe – Calabash – Meerschaum Pipe

This pipe is a handcrafted use an African mahogany wood. The shape is copying an original Sherlock Holmes curved pipe with a smooth finishing of light woody bowl.

The stem also very nice bent with an accent in the tenon area. There is no band between the bowl/stummel and the stem.

The bowl elegantly carves by using special hand tools, after the carving process the sanding and following by waxing. The block meerschaum bowl pipe looks very nice and it is special. After the smoke leaves the bowl it rests at the bottom of the pipe.

There is a room in between the meerschaum bowl and the wood called as Meerschaum insert bowl.

This empty space is a rest room for smoke, that the smoke rest there until the smoker next inhale also during the resting period it leaves the moisture, unwanted taste and material in the tobacco there at the rest room.

Sherlock Holmes Tobacco Pipe Description:

  • Length: 140 mm
  • Height: 65 mm
  • Width: 45 mm
  • Bowl diameter: 19 mm
  • Bowl Material: African Mahogany wood
  • Stem Material: Acrylic

Sherlock Holmes Tobacco Pipe Style Sherlock Holmes is legend fictional detective figure from England that very popular create by a Novel writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Sherlock Holmes