The world of antique pipes is a fascinating place full of surprising materials, shapes, styles, sizes and configurations and, depending on where the pipes were produced, can be encountered in a broad range of embellishments and accents in precious and semi-precious stones, silver and gold filigree, amber, ivory, horn, bone, and tortoiseshell.
Baroness Alice de Rothschild (1847–1922) of the renowned financier family was famous not only for her gardens and grounds near Grasse, France—a hybrid violet bears her name—and several Cuban and Dominican cigars bear the family name, but also for her superior collection of Meissen, wood, and meerschaum pipes. Her collection of more than 450 discrete examples was bequeathed to the Bibliothèque municipale de Grasse in 1927.
It has exhibited her pipes on at least two occasions: in early 1989, and again in late 2004, on this occasion with a retrospective catalog published for the debut: La Collection de pipes de la baronne Alice de Rothschild. It represents, without doubt, an assemblage of some of the most unusual, rare, and intricately carved and molded pipes that anyone might have been able to accumulate in a lifetime. Of course, being from a wealthy banking family, money was no object, and this fact is patently evident in this collection.
Rather than attempt to describe each pipe--the right words to convey the most appropriate description truly escape us--so, enjoy the view.
Anyone who appreciates fine-quality art and artifacts (even some of the grotesquely sculptured faces) will acknowledge that this small fraction of the collection is extraordinary... par excellence! If we are able to post all of the 450 pipes, the collective will be a veritable feast for the eye, overwhelming...captivating... breathtaking.