Blog by Steve Laug
Every so often when I am scrolling through the Gentlemen’s Pipe Smoking Society (GPSS) group on Facebook a pipe for sale catches my attention. I have already purchased at two pipes since I joined that group. Well the count is now three pipes as it happened again. I was scrolling through the GPSS page looking at the pipes, minding my business and enjoying a quiet moment over lunch at my office. Then it happened. There was a pipe for sale that immediately got my attention. I did not even have to read it because I recognized the carver at a glance. The seller described the pipe as a Grant Batson Blowfish Nosewarmer. He said that it was a great smaller pipe with a full-sized bowl, a unique finish and amazing grain. He said that the pipe had been well taken care of. The dimensions were: Length: 4 1/4 inches, Height: 2 inches, bore: ¾ inches, depth: 1 1/2 inches, Weight: 48 grams. I have included the photos that he used on GPSS that caught my attention. The backstory on this pipe is that I have longingly scrolled through Grant Batson’s website (http://gbatsonpipes.com/) and followed his work for a long time. I have been hoping that I would be able to acquire one of his pipes. There is something distinctive about his work and I seem always know when I see one of his pipes. The shapes the finishes, the stem work and other things get my attention and all say Batson. I have watched as they have gone up in price and I had pretty well concluded that I would just enjoy his work from a far. I would probably never own one. I sent a private message to the seller, asking if it was still available. I asked about the price if it was still on sale. I fully expected him to write back and say that it already sold. That would have been par for the course. Instead he wrote back and said it was mine if I wanted it and that the price was thus and so. I swooped and said I wanted it. We talked about shipping and decided to have him ship it to my brother in the US. It would be simpler than shipping it to Canada. I asked for his Paypal information so that I could pay for it while it was still unsold. He sent the address and I paid the bill. All of this transaction took a total of less than 15 minutes. I saved the photos so that I could enjoy looking at the pipe until I actually got to have it in hand.The combination of sandblast on the sides and top of the bowl and shank and the smooth cross grain ridge running from the hand cut stem to the front edge of the bowl on the underside of the shank worked well for me. The mix of colours on the pipe was interesting and I was looking forward to seeing it in person. The rich medium brown tones and the darkening on the sides toward the top of the bowl and carrying over to the rim top worked.The flared shank and wide hand cut stem were really nice and the stem looked like it would be comfortable in the mouth. The next four photos show the ridge that flows up the pipe on the underside. It is off centre in keeping with the Blowfish shape. The grain is quite stunning and Grant did a great job shaping the pipe to maximize the grain. Though the next photo is out of focus it is readable. I asked the seller to send me a picture of the stamping on the shank. It has the Batson logo and the 2015 date over the signature.My brother and his wife were traveling in Europe when the pipe arrived in Idaho so I had to wait until they returned before I could find out if the pipe was as nice as the pictures the seller posted. When he got home, unpacked and bit rested I gave him a call and asked about the pipe. I don’t know about you but I am not a patient “waiter”. I like to open and see what I got so waiting a few days was hard to do. Jeff opened the package and took some photos of the pipe for me. It is kind of virtual excitement to be part of the process of opening a package over Facetime. He opened the package and I watched. Jeff went over it and said that it was very nice. The photos show that it was as nice as the seller said and in excellent condition. Jeff did a quick cleanup on the pipe for me so when it arrives it will be ready to fire up with a bowl of my favourite tobacco. He cleaned the inside with his usual regimen of pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. He wiped down the outside of the bowl and shank with a cloth and some Murphy’s Oil Soap, rinsed and dried it off. I can’t wait to see the pipe when it arrives in Vancouver. It may arrive in time for an early birthday present for me! We shall see.