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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 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 by 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 the pipe.  

At the midpoint of the stem there is a shallow inletted section into which is sewn a piece of old ribbon measuring 1 wide and is doubled over the stem to a length of 9 .  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


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