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When Drug Paraphernalia Had Class

Allow us for a moment to set aside the horrors of drug addiction and bask in the illusory splendor of 19th-century opium pipes. We were first turned on to the nice side of heroin by Alessandro, Principe Ruspoli, Ninth Prince of Cerveteri, last summer while researching our series on the 12 original playboys of the jetset sixties. If you missed Dado the first time around, you’ll want to take a few minutes to watch his delightfully infectious endorsement of the practice.

Today, though, we’re only concerning ourselves with the pipes. As historian Stephen Martin explains, “In no other addictive substance did man’s quest for mood-enhancement reach such artistic heights.” The pipe pictured here is of the ceramic/red-copper variety, made in Southern China in the early 1800s. While it is technically a water pipe, it is decidedly not the bong you bought from your friend’s older brother in 10th grade. In fact, it’s technically not even an opium pipe.

Here’s why...»