Daily Archives: April 11, 2018

Broken Pipe Blues


Blog by Joe Gibson (PappyJoe)

I have followed PappyJoe on Twitter ever since our paths crossed on the Country Squire Radio show. We have fired tweets back and forth and not long ago he sent an invite to his blog PappyJoe’s World – Pipe Smoking and other thoughts.  Since then I have frequented the blog and read quite a number of his posts. During my lunch hour at work today I decided to visit again. I read three really interesting posts that I thought would be great to share on rebornpipes. I wrote PappyJoe and asked permission to post these blogs here. This is the first of them. Well worth the time to read. Thanks PappyJoe and welcome to rebornpipes. Without further words from me here is his blog (https://pappyjoesblog.com/broken-pipe-blues/).

This is a cautionary tale about buying “estate” meerschaums at antique/collectible/junk shops…

As mentioned in an earlier post, we like to walk around antique/collectible/junk shops, malls and flea markets.  I also said most of those pipes are overpriced. I’ve seen briar pipe so dirty you would have trouble fitting a toothpick into the bowl and priced upwards of $75. Look carefully and instead of something like a Dunhill or Charatan, you will find a Dr. Grabow or Medico you could have bought just a few years ago at a drugstore. Get real lucky though and you can find a nice briar with 50 or 60 years of age on it that is still worth cleaning and sanitizing. Just inspect them carefully. I once examined a nice looking Charatan that you could run a pipe cleaner though – the bowl that is. It had burned through the bottom.

My Sultan Saxophone meerschaum. The crack is along the base of the turban

The worst offenders seem to be vendors selling meerschaum pipes. I’ve seen figural meerschaum pipes with broken stems and bowls priced at $400. I looked at CAO Sherlock Holmes pipe priced at $350 because it was “signed.” Unfortunately it was signed in big block letters along one side  by someone using a rotary tool. You could still see the tool marks. I passed on both of those.

I do have a Sultan saxophone meerschaum I paid $10 for at a flea market. It has a 3-part stem (one acrylic and two sections of meerschaum) and was unsmoked. I examined it carefully before buying and didn’t see any cracks. But as I smoked it the first time and it got hot, two long cracks at the base of the bowl appeared. I quickly applied super glue to it and it’s been sitting on my shelf since then. It looks nice sitting on display as a $10 piece of art. It is also my first cautionary tale about buying pipes at these shops.

Floral meerschaum in case was only $20

And it brings me to my second cautionary tale. This past weekend we made an overnight swing through southwest Mississippi. At one stop I found an unnamed, never smoked, Meerschaum in its hard case for $20. After carefully examining it with a magnifying glass, I took the stem off and inspected the stummel end. I felt I gave it a thorough examination and other than a musty, moldy, almost mothball smell in the bowl, it looked in great condition. Until I started the cleaning process when I got home.

I removed the stem by gently turning and pulling it with no problem. Next, I inserted a clean and dry pipe cleaner through the airway and then filled the bowl with baking soda to see if that would get rid of the smell and let it set.  A few hours later, I dumped the baking soda and removed the pipe cleaner. Wiped out the bowl with a tissue and then dipped the pipe cleaner in water and ran it through the airway.

The invisible crack appears...

The first crack, before attempted repair

That’s when a crack at the very end of the stummel, where the nylon screw went appeared. Don’t you hate it when that happens? I have five rescued meerschaum pipes. I have cleaned each of them this way. This is only the first one to crack when cleaning. I sat there and watched as the crack around the stummel expanded and a half inch piece fell off.

I hate it when that happens. My first thought was to throw it in the trash.  My second thought was it may be salvageable. The broken part was only part of the threaded stummel so if I glued it back together it might not affect the smoking capability of the pipe. That’s what I was hoping for, anyway.

It wasn’t what I got. After letting it sit for 24 hours, I loaded the bowl and lit it carefully. About five minutes into the smoke, as the tobacco started burning good, I heard a crackle which I first attributed to maybe the tobacco not being dry enough. Then I look at the right side of the pipe and saw another thin, almost imperceptible crack extending from the stummel along one side of the bowl. Then I heard another crackle and saw the crack had expanded around the bowl and up the left side.

The crack expanded around the front of the bowl

Lesson learned? Not really

Nothing can save this pipe, so I gentle pried the tobacco out of it to prevent more damage. It now sits on top of one of my pipe shelves with the Sultan which is also never smoked. Either the pipe had not been cared for properly or the block was flawed when carved. It only takes a drop or two on a hard surface for a meerschaum to crack.

Won’t stop me from rescuing more pipes in the future.

(© J. Gibson Creative Services 2018)

Determining the Cost of Rescue Pipes


Blog by Joe Gibson (PappyJoe)

I have followed PappyJoe on Twitter ever since our paths crossed on the Country Squire Radio show. We have fired tweets back and forth and not long ago he sent an invite to his blog PappyJoe’s World – Pipe Smoking and other thoughts. Since then I have frequented the blog and read quite a number of his posts. During my lunch hour at work today I decided to visit again. I read three really interesting posts that I thought would be great to share on rebornpipes. I wrote PappyJoe and asked permission to post these blogs here. This is the first of them. Well worth the time to read. Thanks PappyJoe and welcome to rebornpipes. Without further words from me here is the second of his blogs (https://pappyjoesblog.com/determining-the-cost-of-rescue-pipes/).

Two pipes I rescued from an antique/collectible shop. The Kaywoodie Stembiter was first on the market in the 1950s.

Here’s the question. When shopping at antique/collectible/flea market/junk shops, how much is too much to pay for a pipe?  Of course, the final answer is, “It depends on how much the buyer is willing to spend.”  But other than that, how do you determine if the pipe you’re looking at is a good value?

I look at different factors when I find a pipe in one of these shops. First, if it says “Made in China” I don’t buy it. Period. Second is the brand name because there are some pipes I don’t personally collect – Dr. Grabow, Medico, Yello Bole and most Kaywoodie. (In an effort to be honest, I do have four Kaywoodies, 1 Yello Bole Spartan (It was my grandfathers.) and a Linkman Hollycourt Special made before the name changed to Dr. Grabow.) Let me be clear, there is nothing wrong with these pipes and many pipe smokers collect them. With some exceptions, I don’t.

I also don’t normally collect pipes to sit on display. I own five pipe designated as display pipes. Two are Meerschaums which displayed cracks after the bowl got hot. One is a gourd Calabash with a cracked Meerschaum bowl. The last display Meerschaum I bought specifically because of the intricate carving and the size. Two Bavarian Hunter style briar pipes round out my “display only” pipes. Eventually I may clean and smoke them as well.

A Bavarian style pipe

For the most part, I look for pipes European made pipes like Savinelli, Jobey, Chacom, Peterson, etc. My personal holy grail would be to find a Dunhill that I could afford to buy and restore. While I have had luck finding a few Savinelli’s and other Italian made pipes, the rest have eluded my efforts. So far.

The next thing I look for is the condition of the pipe bowl and stem. I only buy pipes that are in such a condition that I can either clean and restore it myself or it would be worth the cost to send it to a professional. Having the work done by professional pipe restorers can range from very reasonable to the cost of a new pipe. Whether it’s worth it or not, is again, a personal choice.

Here are some things I consider when hunting for a rescue pipe as I call them.

Who Made It.

Lighthouse Pipe by Akdolu. The top of the lighthouse comes off.                                                  Total weight: 5.92 ounces (168 grams)

As I mentioned above, I don’t necessarily collect every pipe I see. I like looking for higher quality names. One exception is Kaywoodies. I learned the difference between 2, 3 and 4-digit Kaywoodies. If I find one with 2 or 4 digits, I generally will look at it more closely. If it’s a 3-digit pipe, it was made after 1972 or so and I am less interested. This generally doesn’t apply to Meerschaum because most I find are not signed.

What Condition Is It In?

Obviously, I check for cracks and burnouts. After that I look at whether the smoker took care of the pipe or abused it. The amount of cake in the bowl is one indicator I look at. For example, I passed on several pipes recently because I couldn’t fit my little finger into the bowl. The cake in each of them was thick and old. In two pipes, the cake was separating from the wall in spots. These pipes included a Dunhill, a Savinelli, a Jobey, a Butz-Choquin and a Wally Frank. They also had other condition problems.

I also look at the stem condition. If I can’t remove the stem of the pipe from the stummel I will usually pass on the pipe. The stems on three of pipes I mentioned above were stuck so bad I couldn’t remove them. I did remove the stem from the Savinelli but there was about a 1/4-inch gap between the stem and the ferrule. It just wouldn’t go in all the way.

The stems on these pipes were all heavily oxidized and severally chewed on, also. The Dunhill, for example, looked like a weathered orange ball used as a chew toy for a large dog. The deep tooth marks extended for almost an inch down the stem. Again, it was a matter of my personal choice, to not buy any of these pipes because I felt the stems were not repairable.

Does it Smell Bad?

In addition to the amount of cake in the bowl, I smell the pipe. If it smells like tobacco, I consider buying it. If it smells like mothballs, mold, ammonia or anything else, I pass. This is especially important when it comes to Meerschaum pipes. I have come to learn that if an unsmoked Meerschaum in one of these shops smells like acetone or chemicals, then it’s been broken and glued back together.

How Much Is The Cost?

Savinelli Giubileo d’Oro. I paid $3 for at an Antique Street Fair

A lot of shops I visit are not one-owner businesses but consist of numerous vendors. That makes haggling over the price of an item difficult because the person at the register must track down the vendor and discuss offers over the phone. Sometimes it’s worthwhile, other times it’s not worth the effort. Here’s where personal choice comes into play, again. I look at a pipe, estimate what it would cost to restore (time, effort & money) and add that to the asking price. Then I consider the cost of a similar pipe either new or from a reputable estate pipe vendor.

(© J. Gibson Creative, April 2018)

 

 

 

 

 

Antique? Vintage? Estate? Or, Just Junk No One Wanted?


Blog by Joe Gibson (PappyJoe)

I have followed PappyJoe on Twitter ever since our paths crossed on the Country Squire Radio show. We have fired tweets back and forth and not long ago he sent an invite to his blog PappyJoe’s World – Pipe Smoking and other thoughts  Since then I have frequented the blog and read quite a number of his posts. During my lunch hour at work today I decided to visit again. I read three really interesting posts that I thought would be great to share on rebornpipes. I wrote PappyJoe and asked permission to post these blogs here. This is the first of them. Well worth the time to read. Thanks PappyJoe and welcome to rebornpipes. Without further words from me here is his blog (https://pappyjoesblog.com/antique-vintage-estate-just-junk-no-one-wanted/).

I’m one of those pipe smokers who loves shopping for “estate” pipes. The wife and I enjoy walking around so called antique/collectible shops, malls, flea markets and street fairs. I like being able to pick up the various pipes I find and try to identify the maker and age. I have probably 25 rescued pipes I’ve bought from these shops. (I call them my rescued pipes because while they are definitely not antique, I have cleaned, sanitized and polished them into smoking condition.) But to be clear, none of these are “antiques.”

If it’s not 100 years old, it’s not an antique. And, not all of these shops are really antique shops.

Savinelli Giubileo de Oro

To be clear, I looked up the definition of antique. To be considered a true antique, the accepted rule is the item has to be at least 100 years old. Anything between 40 and 99 years old is vintage. Old items actually bought at an estate sale, are estate. Anything you find in a shop that is less than 20 years old is probably just a piece of junk someone threw out. In other words, it takes more than being old to be an antique.

Mostly these are shops which throw the name “Antique” around like a used hamburger wrapper. Some are collectible shops. Others are vintage shops. Some may even contain a few items that are bordering on being real antiques. In my opinion, real antique shops are as clean and organized as a good jewelry or furniture store. The individuals working in it are neatly and professionally dressed. And, it is one store. That is an antique store on the upper end of the scale.

You will know you are not in good antique stores when you walk in the door. If you see a sign that says, “Over 100 different vendors,” it’s not an antique store. When you walk in and smell the dust and mildew, and vendors look like they’ve been cleaning out their attic, chances are it’s a flea market.  If you walk down the aisle and each booth looks like someone just dumped out a bunch of garbage bags, it’s not an antique store.

My opinion is that these places are flea markets and the vendors spend way too much time watching American Pickers to get their prices. They all operate under the premise that if it’s old and the price it about 10 times what its worth, someone will call it an antique and buy it.

I’m not saying these places should be avoided. I’m just saying don’t go into them with the expectation that you are going to find something along the lines of a Dunhill for $20.

Finding good pipe deals…

Sure, you may find some real antiques like broken clay pipes from the civil war era, but for the most part everything found in these shops are more likely from the 1930s to 1990s.  Mostly I have found were Dr. Grabow, Medicos, Kaywoodie, Yellow Boles and unnamed briar basket pipes. But, I have also found Savinelli, WDC’s, and a variety of Italian maker pipes like Mauro Armellini. I have seen a number of “Made in London” or “Made in England” basket pipes. I even have found Edward’s Algerian Briar pipes.

Mauro Armellini Cavalier in an Elephant Pipe Holder

Some of my finds have been at really good price points. Who wouldn’t want to buy a Savinelli Guibileo de Oro for $3.00 or a Savinelli Nonpareil 9604 for $10? I also have a Mauro Armellini Cavalier I found for $25. If you do your research and learn how to identify them, you may even find more desirable Kaywoodie or Dr. Grabow.

Educating yourself is key. I have missed out on a couple of briars that I didn’t recognize the markings on. Mainly those “Made in London” or, “Made in England” pipes I mentioned earlier. They definitely weren’t Dunhill’s, but I later learned they were good, collectible pipes. They are out there; you just have to learn to recognize what you are looking at.

Let me say something about estate pipes. In my opinion, an estate pipe is one found in the collection of a pipe smoker whose last bowl has been extinguished. The family will pick over the collection and maybe choose a few as keepsakes. The majority of the remaining pipes will be sold to antique shops specializing in estate sales or to reputable pipe shops or pipe dealers. Many of these pipes will be cleaned and sanitized before they are sold.

(© J. Gibson Creative Services 2017)