Blog by Steve Laug
Whenever I am traveling I try to fit in some time, no matter how short to do a bit of hunting for pipes and pipe accessories. My last trip to Alberta earlier this week was no exception. My friend John and I went on the prowl on Monday to see what we could find. In the past I have had good hunting in Nanton and in Airdrie, Alberta. So we planned our hunt for those two cities. The photo below shows the success of the haul. In the paragraphs that follow I will talk about each pipe that I found.We headed to Nanton first, a small Southern Alberta town south of Calgary. The community has developed into a place known for antiques with quite a few antique shops along its two main streets. We parked the car and began the hunt. I always get a bit of an adrenaline rush when I am looking for pipes. There is always that niggling sense that I may find something really amazing that will top the scores I have found over the years – an older Dunhill or Sasieni pipe or the like. So I am gnawing at the bit to see what I can find. I tend to move quickly through a shop looking at the various displays or I ask the shop keep if there are any pipes in the store… kind of depends on my mood as you will see in the descriptions of our hunt.
We went into the first shop, a combination Ice Cream, Candy Shop and Antique store. It always has a lot of tobacco tins and pipe racks that are worth a look. John found a nice two pipe rack for his garage smoking area. It was in great shape and since all the antiques in the store were being sold at half of the price tag the little rack cost him only $5 and change. You can see that it was an easy decision to make to buy it. He settled up and took his pipe rack with him.
We walked down the street and crossed to the other side where the second shop was located. In the past I have picked up some nice pipes from that shop. This time was going to be the same. I found the bent pipe in the case shown in the photo above. It is stamped Celtic over Made in France on the left side of the shank. On the right it is stamped 268 which I am pretty sure is a Comoy’s shape number. It is a well made pipe with a sterling silver band. The tag on it read $35 but since the case did not really match the pipe I made the shop keeper an offer – the pipe, case and the random stem that was on the shelf for the $35 original price he had on just pipe and case. He nodded his approval and after a few shared stories we left his shop. Now both of us had our first finds of the day.
We moved down the street a few doors and opened the door to the crowded third shop. We made our way to the counter to see what kind of pipes might dwell in the midst of the all the collectibles that filled the narrow aisles of the small shop. I asked the clerk at the checkout counter, who ended up being the owner, if she had any pipes. She handed me a mug with some pipes in it. I laid it on the counter and had a look – there was a Grabow pipe that was in rough shape, a Missouri Meerschaum Cob and a worn Falcon that were all overpriced. I mentioned that to her but she was not interested as they were on consignment. I handed the mug back to her and was getting ready to leave when she reached to the side of the counter and lifted a cased pipe from a shelf. It was in a nice black leather case with a dark blue lining. On the inside of the case top there was a GBD in an oval logo over Speciale in stamped in gold. The bowl in the case also bore the same stamping. It sported an oxidized silver band. The stem was missing and the clerk told us the sad story of how someone had stolen the amber stem and left the pipe behind. It was marked at $35 but since the stem was missing I asked her what her best price was for the pipe. She let it go for $25 and said to have fun fitting a new stem on the bowl. I added my second pipe to my hunt kit.
We walked to the corner of the main street and turned left. On the left side of the street was the fourth antique shop. We opened the door and went inside. Immediately inside the door on our right was a display case that held quite a few pipes. There were clay pipes, corncobs, Falcons and Dr. Grabows. In the midst of them were the two that I chose from the lot to add to the hunting kit. The first is shown in the first column of the photo above. It is the second pipe on the left side. It was a Kirsten K pipe. It was in decent shape though the end cap on the barrel is stuck in place. The stem has a gasket/O-ring so it is a newer one. The second one is the amber stemmed bulldog with the over clocked stem. It too has a silver band that is stamped with hallmarks and AF in a lozenge. On the left side of the shank it is stamped with the letters CNO stacked together so that the C encircles the other letters. Above that it is stamped with a crown. She let the two pipes go for $50. I added these two finds to my hunt kit. Nanton was turning out to be a great place for finding pipes this trip. I had added four pipes to my lot for an average of $25 a pipe and had a random stem and two pipe cases. Not bad for a morning’s hunting.
We left Nanton after visiting one other shop along the street with no additional purchases. We drove north toward Airdrie, Alberta and a large antique mall on the west side of the highway north of Calgary. When we got there we parked and pushed the door open to enter a typical antique mall with lots of stalls, sellers and locked cabinets. This was the type of place that really required almost two walk throughs – the first to scope out the place for pipes and the second with the clerk and his keys to have a look at the pipes that we had scoped out.
The last time I was there I had picked up some nice Peterson pipes and GBDs. So John and I went to the first cabinet where I had previously found the Petes and found an assortment of pipes. The only one that caught my eye was the first one in the right hand column of the photo above. It is stamped with the words Twin Bore over Bite Proof on the left side of the shank. On the right side it is stamped with the typical Comoy’s COM stamp – Made in England in a circle with the “in” central. The stem is a twin bore. I am pretty sure that it is a Comoy’s Made pipe. It was priced at $20.
We wandered through the aisles of the shop and looked at some nice pipes that were seriously overpriced and left no margin for reselling them after they were refurbished. So I left them behind. One of the cases had a nice older 3 dot Canadian Brigham that was marked Display not for Sale. It would have been a nice addition but the seller of that booth was out of the country. Wandering through the rest of the mall we saw a lot of standard antique mall pipes – Dr. Grabows, Tourist pipes, corncob and Chinese made pipes with metal bowls masquerading as old pipes. I had almost given up and called it a day. I began to make my way to the counter to pay for the Twin Bore when in the last case we looked at before the counter I found a nice little Wally Frank Lovat. It is the last pipe on the right hand column in the above photo. It has an interesting combination finish of rustication and smooth areas around the circumference of the bowl. It was marked at $12 so it was a deal. I left the shop with two more pipes at a cost of $32.
With the new additions to the hunt kit I had found six pipes for a price of $137 or $23 per pipe. Not too bad a haul or price for the finds of the day. It was a great day with John. We headed back to Calgary and his home. We relaxed over a great meal of chicken fajitas with guacamole, cheese, salsa, peppers and sour cream on flour tortillas. This was a perfect end to a great day hunting.