Blog by Alan Chestnutt
I often spend a bit of time several days a week reading some of my favourite blogs during my lunch break at work. I regularly check Alan Chestnutt’s Reborn Briar Estate Pipe website and read some of his articles. I always find some food for thought and often come across kindred ideas that have been rattling around in my head. This was the case yesterday when I went through older articles that Alan had posted. It captured very clearly something I was thinking about as I worked on a particular pipe that I had bought from a pipeman who was a stroke survivor. It obviously had been his favourite pipe and I wanted to bring it back to life. The phrase that Alan used that caught my attention as I read was a simple phrase he used to describe the work he does as a pipe restorer – “Saving the pipes”. I am reblogging this here on rebornpipes as for me it captures the heart of why I work on old briar. Without further introduction here is Alan’s article. Thanks Alan.
The first time I heard the phrase “Saving The Pipes” was on a YouTube video made by TPC (Tobacco Pipe Collectors). This phrase has stuck in my mind ever since. As a pipe restorer, I feel that I am doing exactly that “Saving The Pipes” – but why is this such a vital role in the pipe smoking hobby?
An estate pipe is one that has been used and cherished by a previous pipe smoker. They may not always have been maintained to a standard that we come to expect today, but a little love and TLC can restore it to its former glory. Many estate pipes did not receive a high level of care and attention because in the heyday of pipe smoking, the pipe collection of a smoker may have been limited to one!
I remember my father with his one Falcon pipe. When the smoke was finished, the ash was knocked out and the pipe was refilled an hour later for the next smoke. Sometimes the ash wasn’t even emptied out and fresh tobacco was just loaded on top of it.
Anyone today who is a non-smoker finding a pipe like that may well throw it in the trash can and that would be a crying shame. These old pipes have a history, a story to tell. I have a pipe I am about to restore at the minute. It is a 1st World War officer’s pipe which has had the walls carved by the soldier during the war.Some might say these carvings have ruined a good Barling’s Make pipe, but I disagree. From the carvings, I have been able to establish the regiment of the soldier, where he was trained and where he fought. I am sure that pipe could tell some tales if it could talk. And despite the carvings, the bowl of the pipe is in solid condition – so now we have a smokeable Barling’s Make pipe which were considered at that time to be the best smoking pipes in the world, with a tremendous history attached to boot. There is no question that the craftsmanship, and the quality of the briar, is celebrated as superior in the first half of the twentieth century. Many people will look at these old pipes and consider them junk. It is my role to take someone else’s junk and restore it to as like new condition as possible. This creates a pipe that can be passed on to a new smoker. A pipe with a history, a pipe with many stories to tell, a pipe with well dried out and cured briar that will smoke dry and a pipe from the heyday of manufacture for this great hobby.
When you buy an estate pipe, you will probably spend less than on a new pipe, so there are savings to be made. Take this pipe and have a quiet conversation with yourself. Imagine the hand of the owner that held it before you. Where did he live, what did he do for a living, what stories could he tell you? Fill the pipe with tobacco, light it, sit back and think of former owners. Raise a bowl in their honour and savour the smoke. An old estate pipe will have outlived its previous owner, and when well restored and looked after, may well outlive you also, to be passed into someone else’s hands who will be thinking about your life.
So for a value for money, good quality pipe with a story to tell, why not consider adding a few estate pipes to your collection. You will be glad you did, and I can continue to “Save The Pipes”.
Here is the link for the article above article. Be sure to wander around the site as Alan and his son Adam do stellar work. http://estatepipes.co.uk/shop/saving-the-pipes