The Love of “Old Briar”

Dutch Holland

I wrote and asked Dutch for an introductory Bio to give us a feel for who he is as a pipe smoker and also as a refurbisher. I posted an earlier piece he sent me on a stem repair on a Dunhill Rhodesian and thought it would be great to know more about him. He wrote back with this marvelous piece that shows that he not only does a great job in pipe refurbishing but writes well also. I have posted it on the contributors page but also wanted to put it here as it summarizes pretty much my life as a pipe man as well. Thanks Dutch and welcome to rebornpipes. – Steve@rebornpipes

I’ve smoked pipes since I was a teen, more years ago now than I care to admit to. For most of that time my collection consisted of a set of six Peretti house brand pipes and a basket Lovat, full of fills, I just loved. I had the good fortune to know Mr. Peretti and his brand of pipes were not fancy but they were always great smokers and after all, I had a pipe for each day of the week and thought myself to be “living large”. As the father of five the budget didn’t always have a surplus of disposable income and what there was of it wasn’t seen by the bride as resources to be squandered on fancy pipes. I can’t complain, she always made the money go a lot further than I ever could have. About ten years ago we became empty nesters but old ways die-hard and even now that I could, spending big money on pipes was something I couldn’t entertain. I did want to finally be able to expand my collection but just couldn’t justify spending a lot of money to accomplish it. That’s when I stumbled onto Ebay. Right in front of my eyes was the most wonderful selection of old classic shapes in need of some TLC. That would allow me to expand the collection at a modest cost if I could develop the skills to restore them. The quest was on.

My father did wood working and at an early age I was introduced to those skills but pipe restoration has its own special requirements so I set about mastering them. The internet is a wonderful thing; on it you can find like-minded people who are willing to exchange ideas and techniques. A few practice pipes and the right tools of the trade and I was hooked. Now time on Ebay can be something akin to being a kid in a candy store, I’ll have one of everything. My collection needed a focus and just about then I encountered the GBD 9438 Bent Rhodesian. It was love at first sight. I carefully restored that old Sauvage and when I finally put a match to the bowl I understood why I wanted to restore pipes. Rhodies and Dogs became my passion and with each restoration the skill set improves and the satisfaction increases. Now retired, my days are never without a project. When I have caught up with the seemingly endless “Honey Do” list, I retire to the bench, pick an interesting prospect and idle away a few hours or sometimes days bring it back to life. There are always a few pipes in the “Awaiting Action” box just so I never run out. I do on occasion treat myself to a new pipe. There are so many great artists making them today and every once in a while a pipe will just speak to me but something special happens when you light up a pipe that most thought had seen better days but you saw through the dirt and abuse and took the time and effort to return its beauty. It becomes a passion. All it requires is commitment, a few inexpensive special tools and the relentless desire to continuously improve your technique. A truly modest investment for such big rewards.

The collection now blossoms with Rhodies and Dogs of all types and makers. Most pipes others had passed on because they bore the scars of misuse. I acquired them at a cost far below their true value and with modest effort returned them to what they had once been. On occasion, when another package arrives on the doorstep, the wife will ask “do you really need another pipe”? No, I answer, but I do need the challenge. She smiles; glad I think that my passion isn’t golf.

4 thoughts on “The Love of “Old Briar”

  1. Dave

    Welcome Dutch. Your passion for Rhodies, and Dawgs is shared by many (most) of us. I look forward to you future installments.

  2. upshallfan

    It’s good to know a little bit more about you Dutch. I’ll look forward to seeing more of those projects come to life. It seems we share a similar passion for the Rhodesian shape and no love for golf!

  3. Todd L. Platek

    Dutch, she smiles because when you’re restoring pipes, she knows just where you are and can keep an eye on you. Smart lady! You and Steve’s blog and others gives me confidence to try my hand at restoring and refurbishing my old pipes. Happy New Year!


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