The baccyflap (pronounced /ˈbækēflăp/) is an elusive creature. 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) through no later than the 1960s. I don't know where it was sold, although I suspect it was only in Britain; every one I've ever seen for sale has been from England (and I bought mine in Jersey).
The aforementioned company, Wunup, is as mysterious as its greatest creation. All that I know is that besides baccyflaps, Wunup produced bakelite cigarette cases and a few other smoking-related products, pictures of which you can 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 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.
For pictures of my Wunup baccyflap, scroll down this page.
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!
For a pipe has not been truly packed unless it was packed from the confines of the enigmatic baccyflap.
The baccyflap has an inexplicable quality to it that makes it an enticingly fondlable object. Perhaps because it's made of bakelite, the very first plastic, an exotic material now; there is no plastic that feels or looks quite like it. The baccyflap 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 fear that a baccyflap not made of this rigid, smooth, brittle plastic could never quite be a baccyflap, never be quite so holdable and strokable. Or perhaps I take heart in that.
It 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; its organic shape inspires a hope that somewhere in a wonderful Eden there stands a tree that sprouts amidst its leaves brand new baccyflaps, each yielding a different tobacco.
For now, a quarter turn of the lid will immerse the holder in the 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, and 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 with joy, so moisturising itself. The only problem I've ever had with the baccyflap has been having to wait for enchanted people to give it back to me so I can fill my pipe.
And of course: please share your baccyflap stories or information there, and I'll link or include it here.
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.
Pictures of the box the Parker Baccyflap originally came in. Again, no indication of age.
A collection of other Wunup products, including a bakelite tobacco pipe which apparently came with a briar inlay bowl.