PLAINS CATLINITE PIPE – LEAD INLAYED WITH
DECORATED PIPE STEM: An old matched set, this
Catlinite Pipe and Stem are typical of the pipes used by
many of the tribes inhabiting the Plains.
The pipe measures 6 ¼” long and the bowl measures 3”
tall from the bottom of the pipe body. The top of the
pipe bowl is inlayed with three bands of lead, with the
upper band completely covering the top surface around
the hole where the tobacco would be placed. The swell
at the rear of the bowl is generally squared in profile
and all four sides are inlayed with lead in a series of
intersecting angles, and the base around the hole for
the stem is also covered with the lead inlay. The pipe
appears to have been smoked based on the discoloration
in the bowl. The lead inlay is intact with a couple of
small points where the lead flaked away through the
years as can be seen in the photos. The Catlinite stone
has a pleasant aged polish from years of being handled.
There are some age cracks on the right side of the
inlayed portion of the base, but there is no evidence
that they are loosening up or have caused any weakness
in the stone.
The stem measures 18” long and is ¾” by ½” in the cross
section. The stem is bored all the way through and is
decorated with very small brass nails which are polished
off almost flush with the surface of the stem. The stem
is carved down on one end to fit into the hole in the
pipe and the fit is snug without having to be forced.
There is a slight crack in this carved area, but the
crack does not weaken the carved section nor does it
carry up into the body of the stem. At the opposite
end, the stem is carved down to form a mouth piece for
At the midpoint of the stem there is a shallow inletted
section into which is sewn a piece of old ribbon
measuring 1 ¼” wide and is doubled over the stem to a
length of 9 ½”. The ribbon was originally a pale red as
can be seen on the protected underside, but that color
has aged on the exposed areas to a tan to light pink.
The ribbon shows wear and the effect of age, but it is
still solid and not decayed.
This is a nice matched set that shows enough use and
handling to suggest that it is not a tourist market
piece, but rather was made to be used in daily life on
the plains. (0447) $750