From Annoyance to Enjoyment – the British Buttner Pipe


At least that is the headline for an advertisement for the British Buttner Pipe. I was going through some of my files on the computer and came across this old insert for the Buttner pipes. I remember finding it but don’t remember where. It is a fascinating read and well worth a laugh. It is part of the ongoing saga of building a “better mouse trap” or pipe as the case may be. What made the ad interesting to me is that I have two of these old pipes in my collection and they are certainly a novelty. I am not sure that they fulfill the claim to remove annoyance. As you can see in the photos they are quite a complicated contraption. The outer bowl, or stem and keeper are Bakelite. The inner lining is a replaceable clay bowl that can readily be cleaned like any clay pipe by hot fire. This clay liner sits inside the Bakelite base and then there is an insert that is also clay that can be set into the clay bowl. The tobacco burns in this final bowl and the oils and tars are trapped by the clay insert and a cool clean smoke is delivered through the stem to the smoker. The airway in the final bowl is centered in the bottom.
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Here are some photos of my pair and a replacement inner bowl lining. The first photo shows a top view of the pipes and the added insert. The insert came in a metal tin with a Bakelite lid that is pressure fit. The inner clay insert is pristine white and there is a piece of clay that sits in the middle of the bowl. I have never seen these in a functioning pipe so I think that they were part of the packing of the inner lining for shipping. The pipe on the left has a vulcanite stem while the one on the right has a Bakelite stem. The left one is somewhat newer in age than the right pipe. The second photo gives a side view of the pipe.
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The next two photos show the pipe in an exploded view. The first one I have unscrewed the tobacco chamber or bowl from the Bakelite outer keeper. You can see the ring of Bakelite that encases the clay bowl of the tobacco chamber. The chamber itself is shaped like a meerschaum cup. Inside each Bakelite bowl is the clay inner liner. The one on the left is worn and has some damage though it is still smokable. The one on the right is intact. I tried to burn out the tars on this one in my barbeque and was able to remove much of the black buildup on the inside of the liner.
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The next photo shows the inner liner removed from the Bakelite keeper. All three parts of the Buttner system are clearly shown in this photo. Sadly the extra clay inner liner does not fit either of the bowls that I have. You can see the scalloped edge on the liner on the right. When it is in place smoke is drawn from the hole in the bottom of the tobacco chamber into the clay liner where it circulates and tars and oils are collected in the clay. The smoke then exits the liner through the scallops around the upper edge of the liner and is drawn into the airway in the shank and stem. Having smoked these pipe several times I can say that it delivers a dry and cool smoke. As for freeing the pipeman from annoyance – well that is certainly a matter of opinion.
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