Saturday, September 26, 2009

Featured Pipe Smoker (Fictional): Bilbo Baggins

Bilbo Baggins
The Road goes ever on and on,
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.
Bilbo is such a well-known character I'm sure anyone who sees this already knows about him. If you don't, you really shouldn't waste any more time reading this blog until you've read The Hobbit.

The pipe in the top picture appears to be a version of the Tyrolean, and is a good pipe for relaxing and perhaps visiting with friends or chatting with a passing Wizard. The one just above looks like a standard briar, probably a bent apple or pot, and is handier and more appropriate for a session of memoir-writing. Both pictures are stills from the Rankin-Bass animated movie of 1977.

Although pipeweed, or westmansweed as it was known in Gondor, grew wild throughout Middle Earth, the hobbits of the Shire were primarily responsible for cultivating it for smoking, and there were at least three distinct varieties: Longbottom Leaf, Old Toby, and Southern Star. Bilbo's favorite leaf--if he had a special preference--was never mentioned.

For many more illustrations of Bilbo and a discussion of them, please click on PowerOfBabel: Bilbo Baggins.


  1. Every time I see the pics from that movie I am always hear the song "the Greatest Adventure" begin to play in my head. Glenn Yarborough (sp?) it makes me smile and long for a pipe and a book. I just came across this poem:
    With Pipe and Book at close of day,
    Oh, what is sweeter, mortal, say?

    It matters not what book on knee,

    Old Izaak or the Odyssey,

    It matters not meerschaum or clay.

    And though one's eyes will dream astray,

    And lips forget to sue or sway,

    It is "enough to merely be,"

    With Pipe and Book.

    What though our modern skies be gray,

    As bards aver, I will not pray

    For "soothing Death" to succor me,

    But ask this much, O Fate, of thee,

    A little longer yet to stay

    With Pipe and Book.

  2. Time for a bit of nitpickery: although Bilbo rushes out of the house without hat or stick or hand-kerchiefs, Gandalf rode up with a great many hand-kerchiefs and Bilbo's pipe and tobacco, and then "after that the party went along very merrily." (Note: this is one of the times in "The Hobbit" Tolkien uses the word "tobacco" instead of his later term "pipeweed."

    Without re-reading the entire book, I think the last time I remember Bilbo trying to smoke (until he returned to Hobbiton) was in the goblin tunnels, but he was out of matches.

  3. Yes, I noticed that when I was reading it just recently. Fixed.