Blog by Steve Laug
I have always been an advocate of collecting Canadian pipes and have a good representation of many of the carvers in my collection. John Calich, Micheal Parks, Stephen Downie, are a few of those that are in cupboard along side of the two older Blatter and Blatter pipes. Their website http://www.blatterpipes.com/history.htm gives a detailed history of the brand. They do some beautiful work and offer some great smoking blends from their shop on 375 President Kennedy Avenue, Montreal, Quebec. They are a pleasure to do business with and well worth a visit should you find yourself in Montreal.
The first is a bent billiard with a chairleg style stem. It has one red dot on the stem and is partially rusticated. It is a sitter and balances nicely on the flat bottom of the bowl. It comes from an earlier time in the history of the company. I am not sure of the dates on it but I believe it comes from the time of the father of the present owner of the company. It is a good smoking pipe. Well made and comfortable in the hand and mouth. As can be seen in the pictures of it below it is in need of some TLC on my part. The stem shows both oxidation and tooth chatter. These need to be cleaned up. The rim and bowl are in good shape. It has a good solid cake in it and has been used to smoke only Virginias.
The second pipe is an older Lovat. I purchased this off EBay after looking at some bad photos that were out of focus. The seller had written that it was gently used and in excellent shape. The only photos of the pipe did not show the bowl at all so I trusted his description. When the pipe arrived in Vancouver it was a mess. Maybe even describing it as a mess is understatement. The bowl was a mess and had been reamed out by the seller. The shank and stem were filthy but the worst part of the sale was that the bowl was burned out. It had a huge divot in the back side of the bowl the size of my thumb and it was plain carbonized wood. There was a hole the size of a pencil through the wall of the pipe to the outside of the bowl. I immediately sent an email to the seller who was willing to refund part of my purchase price (1/3 if my memory is correct) and asked that I send the pipe back to him. I promptly refused both offers and fumed for a few days. Then my wife suggested I give a call to Blatter and Blatter and see if they would do a repair on the pipe. I was not even sure it was salvageable but it was worth a call.
I called and talked with Robert Blatter who asked about the colour of the dot on the stem and the stamping. He was pretty certain that the pipe was old and made by his grandfather. I cannot remember the dates at this time but it was at least three generations back as the shop was currently managed by him and his sons were working with him. He was keen to see the pipe as it was a piece of his family history. I packed it up and sent it off to him with little hope of a repair. The weeks went by and one day I went to the mail box for the mail and a surprise awaited me. There was a package from Blatter and Blatter. I carried it home and cut the tape to open the box. Inside was a nice note from Robert assuring me that the pipe was indeed an old one made by his grandfather. He also went on to describe the repairs that had been made on the pipe. He had cut out the burned out area of the pipe. At this time, some 15 years or more ago, I had no idea that such a thing could be done. He had then fit a briar plug into the burned out area. He matched the rustication to the rest of the pipe perfectly and restained it the original colour. From the outside of the bowl the repair was invisible. It was extremely well done. On the inside of the bowl the repair was also not visible. He had fit the plug with precision and then coated the inside of the bowl with a bowl coating. He said the repair was a pleasure for him to do as it was a piece of family history. The bill was minimal for the work that was done.
The old pipe was ready to be smoked and he suggested a break in rhythm for it. I followed his detailed plan to the letter. Today, fifteen or more years later the pipe still is going strong with no sign of the burnout returning or the patch showing up on the outside or inside of the bowl. I smoke primarily English blends in this pipe as it delivers a full flavoured smoke. It is a pleasure to smoke and enjoyable even more knowing a bit of the history of the pipe. The fact that it was carved by Grandfather Blatter and repaired by his Grandson Robert gives it quite a bit of character in my mind. It is a pipe that will inevitably outlive me and continue to serve pipemen for years to come.