Lee Van Cleef's Pipe in "For A Few Dollars More" & Others

I know smoking is bad but pipes have always been an interest of mine and I am intrigued by figuring out what kind of pipe Lee Van Cleef is smoking in “For A Few Dollars More”. I started collecting them for real only in the past couple years and would like to have a LVC FAFDM model on my rack. I have found a few references to it online at pipe discussion forums but no two posts seem to agree, thought I would bring the question here to the experts :wink: and my apologies if this has already been covered – Link me up! and move/delete as appropriate.

From what my eyes see and extrapolating what I have learned about pipe styles, it looks to be a 3/4 bent “billiard” or “apple” shape with what appears to be an off-colored amber or bakalite molded stem. Which by the way is specifically what got me thinking about it: Have the DVD on and to my eyes the stem appears translucent and enough of a yellow shade to suggest a molded plastic rather than carved amber (which would be more of a reddish tan) or even bone (which would be opaque). Here is an image though its a long shot view with his hand in the way:

The material the pipe bowl is carved from is very light in color and the common opinion I have found is that it’s a plain meerschaum with no decorative carvings. On one forum I found it was identified as a “3/4 bent amber stemmed WDC meer(schaum)” but I don’t know. It is certainly not a corn cob but for my money is a carved briar with either a “sandblast” or “light natural” finish to it. If you watch the DVD at the very beginning while he’s talking to the salesman on the train you can see a definite polish to the surface that is not consistent with a meerschaum. The off-white coloring looks right for that material but meerschaums tend to develop a matte patina that is more “lusterous” than polished to a reflection. That sucker is polished as they get, almost to the point where it looks plasticy.

Then again the polish is just the result of how the surface was worked and a polished meerschaum is as good an answer as any. But I am convinced that we’re seeing wood grain in the bowl that is quite distinctive. As meerschaums develop their used patina the coloring spreads in a uniform manner from the rim of the bowl out, where the “grain” on Van Cleef’s pipe appears to be more randomly shaped or mottled in appearance(look at time index 4mins 51secs on the 2005 Region 2 DVD by MGM). He may also be smoking different pipes in different scenes: On the train it appears that the rim of the bowl of his pipe has been sanded flat but in this image it appears to have a rounded or beveled lip and looks more like polished wood than a piece of stone with a patina:

I have no idea what the material is and same for the stem. When I first saw the movie my thinking was that it was all some sort of carved bone but on the DVD it is clearly seen that the stem & bowl are very different materials. One of the reasons why this intrigued me so all of a sudden is that I have wanted a nice Italian made designer pipe for a while and have been actively shopping them as of late, specifically for one with a yellow designer stem like that (brands I have been looking at are Il Ceppo, Pierluigi and Ser Jacapo, and I’ve been saving up for a while). Put on the DVD and it jumped right out at the screen at me: Lee Van Cleef is smoking a designer made Italian briar pipe with a 3/4 bent yellow stem & a sandblasted natural finish. Now I want one too!

Or at least one that looks like it ;] and conforms to the specifications seen and I’d be just as pleased to learn that it’s some sort of finish-decorated meerschaum. If anyone has specific intel on what kind of pipe and any sort of story about how his character was assigned it I’d be fascinated to know. I can say for one thing that if I had been booked to go to Italy and make a movie the first thing I would have done after cashing my paycheck at a bank in downtown Rome would be to find a high-end pipe shop and pick out something nice, preferably at the studio’s expense. Which then also got me thinking about whether maybe Leone and Van Cleef might have gone shopping for one specifically for the role.

I doubt that Leone would have let him use just any pipe too, that pipe is as important an attribute of Mortimer’s character as his gunbelt and hat are. Van Cleef also seems quite attached to it and sports it quite well which is one of the reasons I was thinking maybe he’d just gotten it after arriving in Rome. Then again its a prop in a film so who knows, maybe Carlo Simi picked it out? Was it one of Van Cleef’s that he just happened to bring along? Was it an antique or a modern creation? Tell me what you know, including anything about the other pipes he smokes in his other spaghettis, just figured I’d start with this one first.

I’d say since Lee was quite a smoker the pipe was one of his own. It’s a Peterson Meerschaum but I don’t know what the material is that it was made of.

Thanks Tom! I just pulled this off IMDb’s goofs sections, should have looked there first:

Anachronisms: Mortimer smokes a meerschaum pipe throughout the movie, which is historically accurate; however, the pipe stem is obviously Lucite, a late 20th century plastic. An 1860’s pipe stem would be carved of ivory, antler, or bone.

It still looks shinier than I’d expect the surface of a meerschaum to look so maybe they put a polish on it or something. In some shots it also looks like the rim of the bowl is sanded perfectly flat, in others it has a beveled or curved lip, so he may also be using more than one pipe from scene to scene.

And I found this one on eBay (am not bidding on it, be my guest!) which is looking pretty good except there is no silver metal band on Mortimer’s, plus the stem isn’t quite “modern” yellow enough and there’s no patterning to the surface. But it’s close!

http://cgi.ebay.com/Pre-1915-Peterson-Pipe-/120707523158?pt=LH_Default Domain_0&hash=item1c1abaa256

It also has a shiny polished glossy surface like we are seeing in the film. Also this info taken from the listing:

[i]In 1865 Charles Peterson opened a small tobacco shop in Dublin.

In 1875 Peterson went into partnership with two pipe making brothers, Friedrich and Heinrich Kapp, bringing with him the design for the new Peterson’s Patent pipe. And so the company of Kapp & Peterson was formed, soon to become the most respected pipe manufacturers in Ireland with clients spread throughout England and America.

This example is a previously smoked meershaum bowl with amber stem, silver mounted with K&P Peterson’s Patent engraved on the band and the hall mark letter for 1912. [/i]

SO, if FAFDM is set contexturally after TGTB&TU, Mortimer could indeed be smoking a Peterson meerschaum and not have it necessarily be an anachronism. Mortimer certainly would have been wealthy enough to have obtained a Peterson from Ireland if his taste had dictated it. The only problem would be the stem, which is definitely looking like a molded acrylic plastic vs the carved amber from the eBay pipe.

As an example of the stem material here is another eBay listing, its not a meerschaum or a bent but it’s a Peterson and looks like a similar material as the stem on Mortimer’s pipe, which the seller identifies as acrylic:


And another, shape of the bowl is about right and it’s a bent but has more of an ornate stem piece & is a wood briar:


Here’s another good looking match. The amber stem piece is broken and the Mortimer pipe does not have the silver band, but it’s pretty darn close and apparently made in the same century as the film is supposed to be set:

http://cgi.ebay.com/LUDWIG-HARTMAN-MEERSCHAUM-PIPE-Silver-1899-Cased-/ 170629400231?pt=UK_Collectables_Tobacciana_Smoking_LE&hash=item27b a4e06a7[/url]

And this one is amazing, the seller is a legend too:

[url=http://cgi.ebay.com/BLOCK-MEERSCHAUM-CASE-BENT-BILLIARD-PIPESTUD-/3903 06662882?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item5ae01709e2]http://cgi.ebay.com/BLOCK-MEERSCHAUM-CASE-BENT-BILLIARD-PIPESTUD-/3903 06662882?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item5ae01709e2http://cgi.ebay.com/LUDWIG-HARTMAN-MEERSCHAUM-PIPE-Silver-1899-Cased-/ 170629400231?pt=UK_Collectables_Tobacciana_Smoking_LE&hash=item27b a4e06a7

That may also be the correct shape for the Mortimer pipe: A bent billiard. The stem looks about right but the finish on the bowl is more of a matte. I am not involved in either auction in any way so go nuts!

Read these posts yesterday with no previous interest in or knowledge of pipes. Found them quite interesting. Never heard of Meerscham before.

Went in a second hand shop today and blow me down if there weren’t a very interesting pipe in a case on the shelf. No price tag though so left it. Everything else in shop was dirt cheap.

Oh my God! Just found the exact same MEERSCHAM pipe on t’internet for just under £60.

Know what I’m doing first thing tomorrow.
Hope no bugger has got there before me.

LOL awesome man!! Please post some pictures of it if you can, I want to see as many as possible! I am also now firmly convinced that it is a Meerschaum which has a shiny finish applied to it, have encountered a few examples that have similar appearances to how the surface was worked.

I’m also wondering if maybe the digital transfer from negative along with remastering might be making the mouthpiece look more yelllowish than natural. I have noticed that not all colors translate precisely when being transferred to digital from negatives, the easiest to spot being reds. That’s why sometimes people look kind of pink and blood unnaturally bright, the same thing may be happening with that stem. I would say that until specific info on the pipe’s history surfaces all bets are off on whether the mouthpiece is period amber, contemporary plastic or whatever. Its also quite possible that he’s using more than one pipe in the film, I will fire up VLC and make some fair use screenshots of the pipe over the course of the movie when I have a chance. I’m still pretty sure the rim of the bowl looked sanded flat in one part then rounded in another.

I also messaged a pipe seller on eBay who’s a legend and his sentiment is that any pipe which more or less resembles what Van Cleef is using could be someone’s Mortimer Pipe. No real need to bother trying to find an exact replica, since it was likely a unique hand-made piece to begin with. It’s not just an off the rack model especially if made by a Peterson employed or Turkish artisan. Mortimer wouldn’t have been using anything mass produced and Sergio Leone would have made sure Van Cleef was smoking a pipe worthy of Mortimer’s stature even if they had to go out and buy one or three just for the movie. Which is interesting on a stylistic level when considering Van Cleef’s presence onscreen: In all of his other films I can recall Lee Van Cleef is smoking a wood briar of one sort or another, making Mortimer’s use of a Meerschaum unique in his portfolio. Can anyone direct me to a Lee Van Cleef fan site that might have more pictures of him with the pipes he used?

I wish there was some documentation somewhere, will check more pipe forums as well to see if this has ever been pursued. Here’s the English wiki page on Meerschaum:

Hey wow! Cruising the day’s pipe listings on eBay and here’s a good match for the colored stem/mouthpiece of Mortimer’s Pipe. The shape of the bend is more angular and the bowl itself is carved rather than finished but yo:


that yellow for the bit looks like a perfect match! I asked the seller what the material is & waiting reply. Looks like a great Mortimer Pipe even with the bowl carved instead of burnished. Sexy case too.

Here’s another beauty, in this case the shape is too curvy and it has a metal band, also the mouthpiece is the wrong color but helpfully identified as bagalite aka bakalite (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bakelite), which is widely used as a pipe material but wasn’t available until after 1909. The real interest is in the finish to the bowl, which while a bit too dark is very very close to the kind of patterning also seen on Mortimer’s Pipe:


Gorgeous! but not spot on and at $125 out of my range for something other than a perfect match. Like from the same shop they bought Mortimer’s in. Gotta pass!

Sorry Squonk…someone got it just before i got back. :frowning: Sold for £1.75. :’( :’(

Was in a similar case to the first one in your previous post. Same clasp etc. Slightly more curved stem but orangey red. Made of some sort of plastic or translucent bakalite. Bowl was off white and carved. Funny thing was that stem seemed well used but bowl appeared pristine.

On the Meerscham site the exact same one is listed as a current model so perhaps not all that interesting.

Unlike this thread which is interesting. Been checking out all your links so perhaps better get me a pipe ;D ;D

Darn! Well keep trying bro. Pipes are hot right now for some reason, I have been trying to win one on eBay since February and always get zapped. And they always seem to get away for like a dollar more than what I was bidding up to. Or end up selling for $250+. Most pipes are a dime a dozen but nice ones are quite rare & get snapped up by people for whom money is apparently no object. $50 for a pipe is a joke to some people but for me that’s a lot.

But it is fun and I’m enjoying this mission here quite a bit. I heard back from the seller who’s stem color I like and they felt it is either acrylic or bakalite. And I also checked some pipe guides and have been mistaken: Mortimer is using a half bent pipe shape and not a full bent. Full bents are shaped like those Bavarian tankard pipes with the little metal flip lid chimneys on them like old Fritz smokes in THE HORROR OF DRACULA. Mortimer’s pipe has a more lyrical shape to its bend which is not as severe. Here’s a random unchosen just came up by chance screenshot from the UK R2 DVD I have from the scene just before the bank heist when he’s watching from his hotel room with the telescope. Sorry it doesn’t show more of the pipe bowl:

So yellow stem, half bent, plain stem with no adornments, no metal band or connection device on neck, glossy finished surface to the neck & bowl, and the lip of the bowl appears to be sanded into a rounded bevel in this shot. Should have time to put a screenshot gallery of the pipe together over the next couple days and will ask pipestud if he can help specify shape details and speculate on the way the surfacing was worked. Guy is a pro. Just for comparison here’s the other closeup from above showing Mortimer encountering Indio’s wanted poster;

Almost surely the same pipe, there’s a dark speck on the left side of the stem visible in both images & both have the same rounded and nicely toasted lip to the bowl. So there are two attributes to look for when comparing screenshots from the film to determine if its the same pipe in every shot. Likely is but w/e, it’ll be fun finding out for sure.

And just on a sort of side note, I watched THE BIG GUNDOWN today and in the opening sequences Lee Van Cleef appears to be smoking a rusticated briar poker or tankard, black stem with a quarter bent. Watched THE GOOD THE BAD & THE UGLY last week as well and in the scene where they beat the goulash out of Eli Wallach it looked to me to be a half bent briar with a smooth dark shiny finish in either the billiard or apple shape, similar to the Mortimer Pipe. Will check out THE GRAND DUEL next and take notes. And DAY OF ANGER.

Wow! This one was easy thanks to the Christian Pipe Smoker’s Forum, takes all types & god bless them. This was like shooting fish in a barrel and exactly the kind of info I’m craving. Forum thread referenced:


One of the members helpfully provided a picture of Van Cleef from the scene where he gets the tip from the half a soldier:

And another forum member apparently hits a home run by identifying it as a “WDC” for pipe makers William Demuth & Company, who went into business in 1862 (http://pipedia.org/index.php?title=William_Demuth_Company) with Angel Eyes’ pipe in the Wellington shape, shown on this vintage WDC advertisement:

Very distinctive shaping to their stems, Van Cleef’s hand is in the way again in the screenshot but I think the guy nailed it: WDC Wellington. The brand and shape may turn out to be technically in period for TGTBTU but that looks like a plastic stem, implying its a modern model of a WDC Wellington used for the film. But now its just a matter of amassing enough screenshots to specify which model from that ad it resembles closest & track one down. Score!

It also could be the source of confusion in identifying the Mortimer Pipe as a WDC meerschaum. In the context of the film it might supposed to be a WDC Meerschaum circa 1870, but bakalite was not available as a material to make the distinctive yellow stem in the actual pipe used until at least after 1909 nor lucite until after 1933. The Mortimer Pipe does not resemble the Wellington shape by WDC, though they surely had other shapes. But I am thinking that his use of a WDC in TGTBTU may be why some have identified the Mortimer Pipe as a WDC as well. Will dig deeper.

Glad you nailed down some more information as been reading this thread with avid interest.

Yes. I’ve found this thread rather interesting and somewhat refreshing. I had one of these meerschaum pipes as a youth - it had an amber(ish) stem and the tobacco receptacle was shaped like an eagle’s claw holding the bowl. Nice leather and velvet case as well I think I remember. No idea what happened to it since though.

Here we go, starting with some screenshots of the sequence in the train car just before they get to Tucumcari:

This likely puts the idea of “more than one pipe” to rest as the stem clearly has the same dark flaw seen on the pictures posted above. And the bowl has the same beveled lip too, not sanded flat. My bad!

A good view of the patterning on the bowl which is polished smooth to the point of reflection. Anyone know what that’s called? Almost looks like a linoleum pattern and I love that toasted edge around the rim. I want that pipe!!

A good view of the stem’s shape from the other side. Very subtle bit on the mouth end just visible.

Sheriff’s office after bagging the first guy.

Couldn’t pass this one up – Look at the shadow on the door. This almost seals it for me that Leone’s choice of having Mortimer smoke that pipe out of all pipes was intentional. The shot was planned and executed with precision like every other shot in the film and with every detail taken into consideration before they went on set. This also demonstrates that if the pipe had been a standard dark colored briar it would have disappeared against that suit, so the choice may have come down to what would photograph well with the costume. And still have a sort of aristocratic blue blood air to it fitting of Mortimer’s stature. No corn cobs for this guy, while the bent shape conjures up the aura of Sherlock Holmes, suggesting culturing & intellect. The pipe isn’t just a prop it is a component of his character.

Wanted poster scene with the dark spot on the stem clearly visible, nicely toasted rounded lip on the bowl. It looks very well used rather than something they walked out of a pipe shop with 2 weeks before the shoot. Perhaps Van Cleef had the meerschaum and Leone requested he bring it along for the role? Where is Sir Christopher Frayling when I need him.

Errp! now how did that get in here …

Bank in Tucumcari scene with a superb image of the pipe’s shape dead on from the side. I’m of the opinion it’s a billiard, anyone else?

A view of the underside of the neck/stem … “He likes the finer things in life.”

There we go! can maybe bag all the other images except the one from the profile. Anybody know what that kind of surface working is called?

Bank of El Paso scene and another view of the profile. I think maybe we have enough.

OK, made that one just because it looks cool; Pipe, drink, gun, black hat, suit. Come to think of it wouldn’t one want to disarm unknown customers before inviting them back into the vault area of a bank?

Trying to enjoy a nice pipe in the saloon.

Decent view of the patterning on the side of the bowl. You can also see the dark spot on the neck from the other pix.

Interesting angle showing the back of the pipe and one pissed off looking Klaus.

My favorite shot from the whole movie. Have always wanted to see if you could really light up like that.

One more from the saloon with the pipe’s stem shape nicely shown.

Watching Indio’s gang count out the guard’s paces, showing that amazing coloring on the bowl and the dark spot on the stem. What could have accounted for a spot like that? Could it be evidence that the stem is actually a natural material with flaws? Two more from the window:

And a couple from the summit meeting where Manco & Mortimer join forces and then that’s it for me for tonight:

Almost looks carved with a relief pattern in that one.

Damn! Cropped down:

And there’s that dark spot again – interesting how the stem looks more of a dull natural color in that shot.

I also found this Lee Van Cleef public service spot on how to properly light your pipe, something I’m still trying to master (2 minutes): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8pmwE9SDBMw

If anyone has any other screenshots or images of Mr. Van Cleef holding/smoking one of his pipes from any film or publicity still post em up!! Would like to try to at least document the shapes & styles he’s using in as many movies as possible.

These shots are superb. Great stuff Squonk. Great idea for a thread.

Remembered I had the Macaroni Collection Japan DVD of GRAND DUEL and fired it right up. Not as much pipe smoking in this one but here we go, starting with the scene in the stagecoach right after they meet up with Philip Vermeer on the road:

Distinctive Wellington stem.

Thought this might be helpful for a closeup view of the band on the neck from more or less the front.

Nice side profile. Definitely looks like the same Wellington shape as Angel Eyes has in THE GOOD THE BAD & THE UGLY

Cannot tell if that’s a carved or polished surface … Here’s the WDC ad from above again, which I just noticed has an “effective price” date on it of December 18, 1964:

I made this one too because it demonstrates how the pipe disappears against his black jacket. The choice of the meerschaum for Mortimer had to be deliberate based on how it would photograph. The reason that’s of importance is that it could help place whether the pipe was given to him for the role or one that be brought along. But I think that sews it up for GRAND DUEL, it’s a Wellington of some variety, will have to compare it to Angel Eyes’ to be sure but it’s a safe bet to likely be the same pipe. Maybe.

Some Wellington’s to look at starting with another advertising image that is the 2nd page of the one shown above. Looks like he’s got one of those 1964 issue $2.95 models from the bottom right:

Now for some actual pipes. I am not participating in these listings in any way so go nuts. The first one is not identified by maker and the seller doesn’t seem very interested in it:

This one is identified as a Peterson System pipe, which has a very similar appearance to the WDC Wellington:


Another Peterson, this one with a shorter & rounder bowl than what is seen in the screenshots.


This looks about the same and note the Peterson inscription on the band:

This bowl shape looks dead on for the Grand Duel pipe but again is identified as a Peterson and also with some scripting on the band:

Last here’s a WDC Wellington though of a different bend to its stem but note the WDC symbols stamped on the collar instead of a scripting, and then the word Wellington inscribed on the bowl.

And here’s a nice blog posting explaining what a WDC Wellington was relative to the a Peterson System pipe, upon which its design was based:

This just in: Lee Van Cleef does not smoke a pipe in either BEYOND THE LAW or SABATA, making do with cigars in both. So any generalized statement that “Lee Van Cleef always smokes a pipe” is incorrect!

A few more views of the GRAND DUEL pipe from the scene in the saloon where we get the first flashback to the demise of old man Saxon:

Pretty distinctive bit piece there, can anyone identify that as the “P” bit from a Peterson System pipe or not? Here’s a couple from the side in the hopes that someone can maybe discern a maker’s mark on the neck:

One more:

That’s about the best view of the pipe from the whole film. Definitely a Wellington either by WDC or Peterson. Any ideas??

Not as much pipe smoking in this one either but it’s a very different model than as seen in GRAND DUEL. Looks like Ryan managed to find his way into a pipe shop in Rome before heading into town with those 27 bullets the warden had kept in the drawer for 15 years.

From the scene on the porch, the stem looking like a white molded plastic in this one.

Looks like another bent billiard, definitely a wood bowl and an out-of-period acrylic stem, unless the film is set after 1941 (or 1933 for lucite).

Now we’re in the hotel room after he plugs Cavanaugh’s first bad investment. Good view of the curve shape of the stem and its molded properties. That band of material connecting the stem to the neck is pretty interesting too, looks almost like leather, and its hopefully distinctive enough to be a hallmark for a particular style or even brand. Anyone?

Classic. From the neck up first there’s a yellow metal band, then the connecting bit of material before another very thin band piece & then the neck. Stem is looking more transparent from this angle.

There we go. Flattened top-on view but its definitely a smooth finish (though not quite polished) briar or other wood bowl and definitely a plastic stem with my first guess being acrylic due to the transparency. Remember that Ryan has supposedly been in prison for 15 years, the warden had his $86 and gunbelt but we don’t see him handing over a pipe. Even a cheap old beat up one that some guy breaking rocks on a chain gang might have been smoking for 15 years when not swinging his hammer, but they don’t explain the costume change from his prison stripes either. Maybe it was just in the pocket of his coat for all that time.

Random screenshot generator image from the scene where Ryan waits for Bill & gives him his first few pointers.

And one more where he gets off the train with the stem looking very whitish & plastic. So a little less care taken here in the choice of that pipe as a prop compared to the Colonel’s meerschaum & the Angel Eyes Wellington. Though I will admit that up until this evening when making the screenshots I’d never even thought about it. “He’s Lee Van Cleef, he smokes a pipe & that’s all there is to it.” Not any more!!