the baccyflap

a compendium of whispered half-truths
The baccyflap (pronounced /ˈbækēflăp/) is an elusive creature indeed. There is no history of it to be found in any book or website, no old advertisements, not even a single person who remembers owning one when they were new. By all accounts, they were popular enough for Parker to produce their own (qualitatively inferior) baccyflaps after the original company was dissolved; however, the originals turn up for sale little enough and fetch such high prices (for a lowlife such as myself) that there can't be all that many around.

The baccyflap, as it's inexplicably called, is a small, round container of brown bakelite manufactured originally by an English company called Wunup. It has a diameter of 95 mm and it is 33 mm high. Its inner volume is approximately 85 ml; it can hold anywhere between 25 (rubbed out, dry) and 60 (solid cake) grammes. Its name is derived from the words 'tobacco' (although I've heard someone suggest it could be 'bakelite') and 'flap'. I use it for the purpose for which it was originally created: holding my pipe tobacco.

The baccyflap was manufactured and sold from no earlier than 1937 (at which time they were apparently quite popular in Britain and other parts of the British Empire) through no later than the 1960s. I don't know where it was sold, although I suspect that as it was produced in Britain, it was sold mostly from there and distributed perhaps to its territories; every one I've ever seen for sale has been from England, although I've been informed that they were once sold on Cyprus.

The aforementioned company, Wunup, is as mysterious as its greatest creation. All I know is that besides baccyflaps, Wunup produced bakelite cigarette cases and a few other smoking-related products, pictures of which you'll find at the bottom of this page. I've heard it said that Parker created the Wunup company to manufacture bakelite products due to a shortage of briar during wartime. Besides at least one bakelite pipe and several cigarette cases, they produced the baccyflap. Later, it seems the Wunup company was dissolved and Parker continued to make newfangled, non-bakelite baccyflaps.

The original Wunup baccyflap is made of bakelite which I have seen in two finishes: a dark red mottle, and a brown radial streak (mine is the latter). On the top, there is a knobbly grippy texture and on the bottom it says "WUNUP BACCYFLAP" and "MADE IN ENGLAND" in relief. Based on some witness testimony and poor quality pictures, the Parker baccyflaps were made of a different, newer plastic, in several finishes, at least in one case translucent.

With this, I have exhausted my knowledge of the baccyflap. Hopefully, I'll be able to add more as information trickles in. In the meantime, I'll wax rhapsodic!

front view of a closed baccyflap

The baccyflap has an inexplicable quality to it that makes it an enticingly fondlable object. Perhaps that is something to do with its bakelite construction - the very first plastic, an exotic material now. There is no plastic that feels or looks quite like it.

It will never be made again, as the discovery of a million new kinds of plastic have made the dangerous, labour-intensive production of bakelite a thing of the past. I think that a baccyflap not made of this rigid, smooth, brittle plastic could never quite be a baccyflap, never be quite so holdable and strokable.

front view of an opened baccyflap, the lid still resting on top

The baccyflap exudes the time in which it was made. Its simple yet detailed and effective design makes it a useful object even after all these years; whilst it doubtless is not as airtight as a screwtop tobacco tin, I have always assumed that its wondrousness alone so excites the tobacco that it spontaneously begins to weep for joy, so moisturising itself.

As long as our trousers have pockets and our pipes need tobacco, the baccyflap will fit the bill to a "T" as it has for all those decades.

top view of a baccyflap

It is a joy to reach into one's pocket and have one's fingertips meet with that fabled saucer shape, so natural and organic to the touch and the eye, inspiring a hope that somewhere in some splendid Eden stands a tree that sprouts amidst its leaves brand new baccyflaps, each yielding a different tobacco.

front view of an opened baccyflap, the lid lying next to the container

For now, a quarter turn of the lid will immerse the holder in the sweet, fortifying fragrance wafting from the pipe tobacco that it safekeeps. It seems superfluous to note that it is quite perfectly made for filling one's pipe - one pinch is enough for the holder to realise that a pipe has not been truly packed unless it was packed from the confines of a baccyflap.

front view of an upside down baccyflap

Indeed, the only problem I've ever had with the baccyflap has been having to wait for fascinated friends to give it back to me so I can fill my pipe.

bottom view of a baccyflap

It is always a pleasure to receive correspondence from the visitors of this website. Paul, who lives on the sunny isle of Cyprus, left a trio of wonderful comments in the guestbook detailing his recent purchase of a baccyflap; I recommend you give it a read (scroll up from that first comment to read the other two).

And of course: please share your baccyflap stories or information there, and I'll link or include it here.

Below are some pictures I found on the Web of various flap-related things.

an old advertisement for the Parker baccyflap

An ad for the Parker Baccyflap. I'm not sure how old it is, but my guess is that it's from the fifties or sixties.

the blue cardboard box that the Parker baccyflap once came in

Pictures of the box the Parker Baccyflap originally came in. Again, no indication of age.

Wunup products: a pipe and two different cigarette cases

A collection of other Wunup products, including a bakelite tobacco pipe which apparently came with a briar inlay bowl.

Have you run across any information (or mythology) pertaining to the baccyflap that I might add to my Flaponomicon? Please email me or leave a message in the guestbook.