The long-stemmed Jacob pipe

U 14.1055-8: The scent, the smile, but, more than these, the dark eyes and oleaginous address, brought home at duskfall many a commission to the head of the firm, seated with Jacob’s pipe after like labours in the paternal ingle…

U 15.2480-2: He carries a silverstringed inlaid dulcimer and a longstemmed bamboo Jacob’s pipe, its clay bowl fashioned as a female head.

Don Gifford identifies the “Jacob’s pipe” as:

a large Continental pipe, with an underslung porcelain bowl usually carved in the shape of a human head; here associated with the patriarch, one of the three fathers (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) of Israel.

In fact the expression “Jacob’s pipe” – or more correctly “Jacob pipe” – is uncommon in English in Joyce’s time. It is better known now through the activities of pipe collectors.

According to the Revue de Traditions Populaires (May 1893, p. 270) “la pipe Jacob” was very popular in the Latin Quarter of Paris, and in Belgium. “Le beau Jacob” was well-known in France and elsewhere on the continent of Europe in the second half of the nineteenth century and some production continued well into the twentieth century. Manufacturers included Gambier, Fiolet, and Wingender.

The pipe – at least in its later days – had a Bakelite mouthpiece, and wooden stem, and a clay bowl which was decorated with a person’s head. The head was typically that of one of the patriarchs of the Christian church, graced with a turban, though there was some variation in the designs (Joyce has “a female head” depicted on the clay bowl).

Jacob pipe: (March 2013)

The Trésor de la Langue Française (at JACOB subst. masc.) notes that the etymology of the name is unknown, but says that it may derive either from the name of the patriarch Jacob or of the Austrian doctor and pipe maker Jacob Vilarius.

John Simpson

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