Blog by Steve Laug
Jan Pietenpauw pipes are made by Jean du Toit and his son in Pretoria, South Africa. In 2009 and 2010 I was regularly online at the PipeChat forum. Jean was a regular there as well. When the 2010 Pipe of Year was being discussed Jean was asked to make the pipe for the forum. He consented and I followed the process with much interest. The shape chosen was Jean’s take on a Rhodesian. He combined both smooth and sandblasted finishes on the pipe. The stem material was Cumberland and there was a shank extension that was applied like a ring to the end of the shank. Jean used Delrin tenons inserted in the Cumberland stem. When Jean posted pictures of the shape and the finished pipes I had to have one and placed my order promptly. I am fairly certain that quite a few of you have not heard of either Jan Pietenpauw Pipes or of the carver, Jean du Toit. I have now had the pipe for over five years and have been smoking it regularly. It is a good smoking pipe. I remember that when I received it I wanted another but somehow time went by and I have only one in my collection at present. It was reasonably priced and promptly delivered. If you can get one of Jean’s his pipes I don’t think you will be disappointed. His work can be seen on his website at: http://www.pietenpauw.co.za/
When the pipe arrived in the mail from South Africa I opened the package and took out the handmade pipe glove that the pipe was placed in for protection and storage. I was amazed at its beauty. The contrasting colours, the combination of blast and smooth finish, the stepped down Cumberland stem were quite stunning. As I held it in my hand I could not believe how light it was. The length of the pipe is 5.5 inches. The chamber diameter is .75 inches the chamber depth is 1.25 inches. It is comfortable to hold in the hand and in the mouth.
The pipe has a mixed finish. The Rhodesian top cap is smooth and the bowl and shank are sandblasted. The stain on the cap and a thin ring on the end of the shank is a light/medium brown colour and the sandblasted shank and bowl are stained with a black under stain and what appears to be a oxblood top stain. There is a patch on the bottom of the shank that is smooth and bears the stamping – Pipe Chat over Pietenpauw over PoY2010. The sandblast is not deep and craggy but highlights the ring grain around the bowl and the birdseye on the top of the shank and on the underside of the shank and the bowl. The bowl is a classic Rhodesian shape with a slightly Danish flair. The shank is slightly under-slung and hangs below the bottom of the bowl. The shank extension is a smooth, dark African wood (I cannot remember what it is). It contrasts well with the sandblast and picks up the lines of the Cumberland stem. The combination of stains and finishes gives a dimensionality to the pipe that is fascinating. The unique finish and shape of the pipe is distinctive and feels great in the hand when held during a smoke. The stem is a hand cut Cumberland taper that has a nice flow back to the button. The stem blade tapers gradually back to the button where it flares to the same width as the flare at the shank. It is just the right thickness at the portion that rides in the mouth – not too thick or too thin. It is made of quality material as it has not oxidized in the years I have had it. The tenon is Delrin and threaded into the stem. The end is rounded slightly and is wide open. It is well-polished. The button is the size and shape that I really like – thin at the edges with a very slight rise to the centre top and bottom, forming an eye shaped end view. The lip on the button is just thick enough that it fits well behind the teeth for a comfortable feel. The slot in the end of the button is also funneled and flattened to deliver a mouthpiece that has the same diameter from start to finish. Jean left the slot flat and rectangular but well finished. The attention to detail shows the love of his craft that is transmitted into this pipe. It is a comfortable and well executed pipe. A pipe cleaner passes easily through the pipe with no obstruction. The internal mechanics are well-crafted with an attention given to the airflow dynamics. The draught is clean and easy with no whistling or tightness. It has an easy draw that makes smoking it a pleasure. The bowl chamber is drilled to a 3/4 of an inch diameter. The tobacco chamber was coated with a black, thin bowl coating that did not detract from the flavour of the tobacco in the initial smokes. The bowl was U-shaped and smoothly sanded on the sides and bottom. The cake built up on the bowl very easily. The draught hole is centered in the bottom of the bowl and seems to have a slight funnel leading into the shank and stem. The fit of the stem to the shank is excellent – smooth and tight with no light showing at the joint. The tenon fits well in the mortise and sits deep in the mortise against the bottom. The airway is in the centre of the mortise and aligns with the airway in the tenon. The edges of the tenon have been polished and rounded and the airhole countersunk so that it meets the airway in the mortise. Looking at the airways with a flashlight it is clear to see that they are smooth and polished with no rough edges. The interior of the pipe is smooth and polished from the button to the bottom of the bowl.
Like most of my pipes I broke this one in with some aged McClellands 5100. The bowl now has a thin cake from the heel to the rim. It is still a dedicated Virginia pipe and always delivers a good tasting smoke. It smokes cool and dry and delivers good flavor with the Virginias that I choose to smoke in it.