The Wonderful and Bizarre World of Pipe Smoking – Baccyflaps

The Humble Baccyflap


BaccyflapI was intrigued when I came across an article about the baccyflap recently, and so I carried out a little of my own research.  It turns out that the rarity of the item in question is somewhat at odds with the abundance of column inches dedicated to this most unusual of pipe smoking paraphernalia.  So here’s a reproduction of one of the most concise, care of A Passion for Pipes

“Like a lot of pipe smokers, my pipe drawers are brimming with pipe-related stuff. It is amazing how much I’ve accumulated. There are tampers, pipe knives, wind screens, calipers, loupe, pipe cleaners, roll-ups, various zipped pouches, waxes, cleaners, polishes, windscreens, vintage pipe boxes, and all kinds of other things. But when it comes to the few really cool, must-have thingys, few things rival the Baccyflap.

Baccyflap. What a ridiculous name for the object to which it is attached. For one thing, there is nothing flappish whatsoever about it. The word sounds like it was invented by an archetypal geezer. Come to think of it, I wonder who coined the word? Every time I pull out one of my two baccyflaps from my pocket or bag to fill my pipe, those around me cannot help but want to take a closer look.

“Let me see that thing, Neill.” So, I find myself waiting to fill my pipe while it is passed around, fondled, scrutinized, unscrewed, sniffed, then re-screwed. It amazes me how much everyone loves the thing. “This would fit perfectly in my pocket” is a near universal proclamation uttered by anyone who encounters the baccyflap.

Indeed, one of the best things about the baccyflap is its ultimate portability. It is a perfect little tobacco-safe. I use my light one to carry rubbed-out Virginia flake and I use my dark one to carry rubbed out Stonehaven.

Both of my baccyflaps were made by Wunup. Wunup – here is another peculiar moniker. I suppose it least makes some sense, however, given that anyone who owns a baccyflap definitely is one-up on those who do not.

I understand that baccyflaps were also manufactured by Parker, but I have never seen a Parker version.

“Where do you buy one of those things?” is another question I have answered repeatedly. I am not a particularly good person to ask, however, as every time I have tried to purchase a baccyflap someone else has beat me to it or outbid me for it. I wouldn’t own a baccyflap were it not for two good friends taking pity on me.

I honestly think one of them was worried that I was going to steal one of his, so he gave me one to save us both the embarrassing scene of his having to demand its return, me lying, and his having to turn me upside down and shake me until the baccyflap rattled to the floor. His instincts were good. I had indeed begun plotting but his generosity saved me from larceny.

All my pipe friends and I have agreed that the baccyflap’s manufacture should be resumed and as soon as possible. I am convinced that one of the reasons the baccyflap is so cool is that it is made of bakelite – the first plastic.

I have occasionally pondered whether the baccyflap would be as cool as it is were it made of some accessible plastic. I’m not sure why, but there is something cool about the fact that the baccyflap is made of a type of plastic that isn’t widely available because its manufacture is very problematic due to the toxicity of the process. Oh yeah, dangerous tobacco should definitely be safeguarded in something dangerous.

If you’ve read this far, you’re probably hooked. Admit it: you WANT a baccyflap. The only thing I can tell you about buying one is that they seem to occasionally come up for auction on websites. Good luck. I’ve never won a baccyflap auction yet.”


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22 Responses to The Wonderful and Bizarre World of Pipe Smoking – Baccyflaps

  1. avatar Ian McRae says:

    I have an original pre-Parker baccyflap if someone is interested in buying. Photos can be provided.

  2. avatar Barbara willis-Clark says:

    Hi, I was claearing my late husband’s draws and came across a Wunup little container. After reading your article I feel I would like to sell it to someone who could appreciate it rather than in ebay.
    Any suggestions will be appreciated, thanks.

  3. avatar John Taylor says:

    I have a Parker Baccyflap purchased from new way back when, lost in the mists of time so do not remember from where. Bringing it back into service it slips perfectly into even a back pocket for a trip down the pub.
    Must admit I was quite surprised when I discovered a while back for much this seemingly insignificant item was selling.

  4. avatar ROBERT JARVIS says:

    could you please quote the price of the tobbaco flap as my greandfarther had one

  5. avatar Ashley Roffe says:

    It is worth noting that whilst the Wunup Baccyflap is made of Bakelite, the Parker is made of a later injection moulded plastic. The Wunup is also a slightly larger diameter by about 3 mm.
    The edges of bakelite models are slightly rounded, whilst later plastics have quite a keen edge.
    Parker introduced their model using the Parker name following the demise of their Wunup model.

  6. avatar Neil G says:

    I bought my Baccyflap in the mid 70′s from a tobacconist on Winchester High Street, can’t remember how much it was, obviously not too much as I was a 6th form student at the time, but do recall 2oz of the shop’s own blend hand rolling tobacco (which was excellent) was 23p.

    It was destroyed in the 80′s in the door pocket of my car, when T boned on the Avenue in Southampton in the 80′s.

    Been using tins ever since.

    Since reading this site I’ve found a couple on an (the) online auction site & have bid. Can’t wait to get my hands on one again.

    Nobody else has mentioned, or if they have I haven’t seen it, but you can also strike Swan Vestas on the case. Bonus.

  7. avatar Michael Butler says:

    Hello again Marcus,

    While on your website checking out the reason for the demise of Spritzer & Broad Cut English, which you have since explained (thanks), I came across the ‘baccyflap’.

    Mainly due to the name, I had to have one, so went to that well known auction website and there was a Parker up for bids, starting at £7.50. I have never previously ‘won’ anything so was expecting to be outbid in the last nanosecond by an automatic bid but that didn’t happen. I had bid up to £16.70 which, with delivery at £3.30, brought it to a nice round £20. At the time, there was another Parker up for bids, currently at £9.50 and a ‘buy now’ for approximately £27.

    In the end, to my surprise, I ‘won’ it for £12.50. It arrived today and the first thing I did was stuff it full of Wild Cherry. It is now a very happy baccyflap. I think it has recently been employed as a film prop and perhaps deprived of tobacco. It had clearly gone into of bit a decline but it’s alright now. So it is possible to get them at a reasonable price.


    • avatar Marcus says:

      Thanks for the heads up Mike. Shows how markets change… when I wrote my article about them a few years back they were available but for more than you paid, so I think you’ve done well there. Great little widgets.

  8. avatar Karl says:

    I bought a Parker baccyflap on eBay UK just last year. Parker and Wunup bakelite examples turn up pretty regularly, so keep your eyes peeled.

    There’s actually a modern equivalent, the Morgan Flapjack, fashioned from aluminium. At £72 (inc UK tax), it’s a bit pricey, but is well solid.

    • avatar Garrick says:

      They look great, but are pricey for what they are (and do!). Thanks for your post though Karl, and for the hints, customers may well want to look out for more in the future. I like the idea of the antique bakelite versions myself, produced at a time when the ‘flying saucer’ look was very vogue! Pipe tobacco containers come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, but one of the most popular must be the tin, older the better, and emblazoned with ones favourite brands.
      Thanks again.

  9. avatar Chris C says:

    I stumbled across this article trying to research a Wunnup Baccyflap I have recently acquired. I am a rolling tabacoo smoker (not pipe), but it seems to serve the same purpose regardless. In a strange turn of events, whilst transferring a gold leaf pouch (non -resealable) to a golden virginia pouch, my dad said he had the perfect thing for me. He told me he was given it by my late grandad, and when my dad gave up smoking, many a year ago, it was put in the depths of his wardrobe potentially never to see the light of day. I have only had use for around 3-4 weeks so far, but everyone that sees it are fascinated. Nice little container that is neither as clunky nor loud as a tin, and a little easier to transport.

    • avatar Marcus says:

      That’s great Chris, thanks for your story. There must be thousands tucked away in attics and basements across the land, waiting to be found and re-employed for the purposes they were made. I just love the way they slip into a coat pocket and, as you say, attract attention wherever they appear. Enjoy!

  10. avatar Steven H says:

    I acquired a Baccyflap in this morning’s post. Having ordered it from a certain online site, the description read ‘good’ condition. On examination, slightly less so, I feel and a repair has been at some stage applied by a good dose of superglue to an edge. Nevertheless, this is my very first Baccyflap and it is made by Parker at some point in the 1950s. So, a bit of history, an unusual object to add to the smoking paraphernalia and a useful item to boot. Just filled it with ready rubbed tobacco and, all of a sudden, I have a neat, attractive and, dare I say it, rather an enviable little thing that I will proudly show off to some of my pipe smoking buddies. And it slides effortlessly into the pocket as well. I’m a little deliriously happy at the moment, so will need a pipe to calm me down somewhat…

  11. avatar Butch says:

    Went straight to eB*y and bought the first one I saw. A Parker – Marvellous.

    • avatar Marcus says:

      Good for you Butch. I keep toying with the idea but we have a wooden one here and I figure 1 is probably sufficient!

  12. avatar Steven H says:

    This wonderful little object has such a stylish, practical and downright ‘must-have’ look to it that I fell for it instantly. To ask that ubiquitous question: “Where can I get one?” seems pretty obvious right now, but I have never seen one of these anywhere and wouldn’t even know if it is being produced by anyone at all. Have any of you an idea where they might be obtained?

    • avatar Marcus says:

      Hi Steven – they’re great aren’t they?! For fear of pricing myself out of the market, best place to look is a certain online auction site (taps nose secretively)… Good luck!

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