One of my John Calich Pipes – A Calich EE Billiard

Blog by Steve Laug

I have liked John Calich’s pipes for a long time now. I have hunted for them and am lucky enough to have found three of them. I have done quite a bit of reading on the web and even had conversations with John before he died. From my research and conversations I learned that John’s pipes were graded 3E – 8E. The retail prices for them ranged from $145.00 to $500.00. Each pipe was stamped “CALICH” and given an E grade. His earlier pipes were graded from 3-14 and had a single, tiny silver dot applied to the top of the stem. More information can be found at the Pipedia website by clicking on this link.

I found this particular Calich pipe on Ebay. I bought it in the fall of 2005. It was still a time when you could pick up good deals on relatively unknown pipe makers on Ebay. This pipe was a nice billiard that obviously had seen some use and had a replacement stem. The fit of the stem was poor and the gap and space between stem and shank was large. The scratches in the vulcanite made the stem a real mess. I wanted the pipe but also wanted to be rid of the stem. The pipe had beautiful grain under the grime and was stamped CALICH EE over Hand Made. I bid on it and won. The EE stamping did not fit the grading information that I had found on the internet.

I wondered if John would be willing to restem the bowl for me. I figured the easiest way to work this was to have the Ebay seller send the pipe directly to John for a new stem. This added a bit of hurry into the equation if it was to happen. I hunted down John’s phone number so I could call him and ask if he would be willing to make a replacement stem for this pipe. I called and we had a great conversation on the phone. We talked about all things pipe and pipe making. It was delightful to talk together and we did so for quite a while before I got around to asking him if he would make a stem for the old billiard. He was willing and would let me know when the pipe arrived and what he would charge for it. He said to go ahead and have the pipe sent to him and he would make a new stem for it. I emailed the Ebay seller and asked him to send it directly to John Calich in Mississauga, Ontario. He gladly did so and the pipe was on its way to John.

I figured I might get a phone call letting me know. But no call came instead I received the letter that I have attached below. The letter was quite straight forward and let me know tha the had already fitted the pipe with a new stem with “better lines and slightly longer”. He states that he believes that it “might be the same as the original stem, because it is the longest stem I have in this diameter”. He goes on to say he hopes that I am pleased with his work. For a hand made stem, custom fitted to the old bowl and shipped to me across Canada John charged me only $25. I immediately sent him a cheque for the cost. I kept this letter and found it the other day as I was going through my files. I thought I would post it here with a picture of the doc 4_1 I still remember the conversation. He asked about the stamping on the pipe and within a short few moments he told me when he had carved the pipe. For the life of me I wish I had written it down because today I cannot remember what he said. It was not too long before John called me and told me the pipe was finished. He packed it up and sent it to me. I was excited because I had not even seen the pipe in person yet. I had no idea about the real size of the pipe or the actual condition though it looked a bit rough in the photos. I couldn’t wait to see it. When it arrived in the mail I opened the package and unwrapped the pipe. John had not only restemmed the billiard but he had cleaned it up and polished it so that it shone like new. It did not even look like the same pipe. It was a cross cut piece of briar with stunning birdseye on the sides of the bowl and shank with cross grain on the front and the back of the bowl.Calich1 I did a bit more digging on the internet to find out some information on the dating of Calich pipes as the information on Pipedia was not complete. What I found was very helpful. His early pipes were graded with numbers from 3 – 14. By the late 1980’s Calich introduced 15, 16, and even one 17. In the mid-90’s the grade system changed employing a number of E’s. The more EE’s the higher the grade. This helped me understand the stamping on the billiard. Thus the pipe was a double EE grade and was made in the mid-90’s.

The last gradings that were used on the pipes were a number and an E. For example the stamping went 3E – 7E (10E was the top level but levels exceeding 7E or 8E seemed never to have been used). This information came from and has been edited for my use.

8 thoughts on “One of my John Calich Pipes – A Calich EE Billiard

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  6. Paul Dionne

    I have always loved Calich pipes and I have few of them. purchased new at Winston And Holmes then Sleuth and Statesman.

  7. Pingback: Restoring a Lovely Rhodesian by John Calich | rebornpipes

  8. Troy

    Very nice pipe .
    One of my favorite shapes to smoke is a large billiard . I just love the classic lines of them .
    That Calich has classic written all over it . From the grain to the shape and black stem ,
    Its about as perfect as a pipe can get in my opinion .
    Nice history and stamping information on the Calich as well . If i ever run across one ill know what im looking at . Thank you Steve.


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