Daily Archives: October 15, 2022

Adding Another Jack Howell Pipe to my Collection  – A Great Looking Straight Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The second pipe I added after the S. Bang to my collection is also another one that came to me from Robert Lawing of Lawdog’s Pipes. It was also listed on a post I was reading from Robert on Facebook regarding some pipes he worked on that were for sale. It was a beautiful Jack Howell Straight Billiard with a shank ring that was made of vegetable ivory I believe. It caught my eye and I was very interested in adding it to my collection. I have several of Jack’s pipes that I enjoy already so adding another is a pleasure for me. The first is an acorn and the second is a short nosewarmer Lovat. Both are great smoking pipes. I have included the link to my review of those pipes (https://rebornpipes.com/2015/04/27/a-review-two-pipes-by-jack-howell-an-acorn-and-a-lovatnosewarmer/). I copied the photos that Robert sent me to look at. I wrote to Robert and we chatted and I soon was able to purchase it. I had him send it to my brother Jeff along with the S. Bang. Jeff later sent it to me with some other pipes that I would need to work on. Everything about the pipe ticked my boxes. The grain around the pipe, the ivory looking shank band and the size all were what I wanted. It was light weight and comfortable in the hand. The shape is a classic Billiard shape that really highlights the grain around the sides and shank. It is well designed and really shows off the grain. It is a beautiful pipe. I turned to Pipephil to remind myself of the background of the brand and get a sense of the stamping on the pipe (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-h3.html). I did a screen capture of the material there and also included the side bar information. I remember meeting Jack at the 2004 Pipe Show in Chicago. I have included that below.Artisan: Jack Howell begun to be known after his participation in the 2004 Chicago Pipeshow.

I also turned to the article on Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Howell) for more information and background. I quote below.

Jack Howell plays clarinet in the Pittsburgh Symphony and makes pipes part time. Except for when the symphony isn’t playing — vacation, say, or a global pandemic — then pipe production goes into gear. For current production, check out http://www.howellhandmade.com. And maybe have a look at the blog.

The following is Jack’s bio from his website:

Jack Howell, Maker

“Every rabbit needs two holes” — Jack’s Dad

I have early memories of watching my uncles whittle things with their pocketknives. I was, I dunno, six or seven years old when I started asking for a pocketknife so I could whittle. My dad said, no, I’d cut myself. But he gave me a file and access to a pile of cedar shingles that we used for kindling and said when I could make things with a file we would talk.

Perhaps that was meant as discouragement because a regular bastard file isn’t much for wood removal, but it’s not much for skin removal either, so there’s that. I set to with the file. Before too long I’d settled on my first oeuvre, a sort of Easter Island head. Which turned into the pommel of letter openers, and before long my dad gave me a knife, a Cub Scout model with one cutting blade and a can opener. I headed straight for the shingle pile, where it took me about ten minutes to cut myself.

Anyway, I’ve been making things for a long time, gradually getting to the point where I used tools with which I could no longer afford to cut myself. Along the way I became a professional musician, my manual skills coming in handy making clarinet reeds. I’ve also made knives, and bamboo fly rods (you can get a book I wrote about that at http://www.thelovelyreed.com), and other stuff. I started making pipes in 1999 and sold my first one in 2004. I went to a few Chicago and Columbus shows, was pretty visible on the old ASP forum, yada yada yada. My production has gone up and down as my musical employment has gone up and down, but for a number of years it stayed around 50 pipes a year. Once I joined the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra as bass clarinetist I only made a few pipes here and there on commission, because, well, I was practicing my ass off.

​Recently my dad’s wisdom has become evident. When I went to dust off my website it had come unhooked from my domain host, no idea how long it had been down and nobody had said anything about it, so . . . ​I’m back.

I have included some shots that Robert included of the pipe from various angles to highlight the grain and the shape of the pipe. It is a real beauty. Robert included a photo of the underside of the shank. It is stamped Howell [over] JH [over] the year the pipe was made – 2008. It is a great looking pipe.Now it was time to enjoy the pipe itself. I loaded a bowl with Seattle Pipe Club’s Deception Pass and sat on my porch and enjoyed a bowl while watching the world pass by on the sidewalk in front of my home. It was a great smoking pipe that met all of my expectations. It is one that I will continue to enjoy for years to come. Thank you Robert for making this possible.

Finally Added an S. Bang Pipe to my Collection


Blog by Steve Laug

Several months ago now I was reading a post that Robert Lawing of Lawdog’s Pipes posted on Facebook regarding some pipes he worked on that were for sale. One of them was a beautiful S. Bang Squat Apple with a Boxwood shank extension. It caught my eye and I was very interested in adding it to my collection. I copied the photos that Robert sent me to look at. I wrote to Robert and we chatted and I soon was able to purchase it. I had him send it to my brother Jeff who later sent it to me with some other pipes that I would need to work on.Everything about the pipe ticked my boxes. The grain around the pipe, the shank extension and the size all were what I wanted. It was light weight and comfortable in the hand. The shape is quite uniquely Bang! I have had an eye on pipes from that brand for several years now and this shape is one that I have had an eye on. The angles of the pipe shape where the bowl and shank join combine a round apple like shape and the rounded rectangular shank and the Boxwood extension. The comfortably shaped, black vulcanite stem was a great contrast with the  Boxwood and the briar. The next photo that Robert sent was of the stamping on the underside of the shank. It reads S Band [arched over] Kobenhavn. Under that it is stamped Handmade [over] In Denmark [over] B. The stamping was clear and readable. To help me understand the stamping a bit more I turned to Pipephil’s site and read what it said about S. Bang pipes (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-s1.html). I have included a screen capture of the section below as well as the side bar information below the capture.Sven Bang opened his tobacco and pipe shop in 1968 in Copenhagen. He was more a business man than a pipe carver and began to hire pipemakers. About half a dozen succeeded each other in his workshop during the 1970’s (Ivan Holst Nielsen, Jan Wideløv, Phil Vigen…). At least Per Hansen and Ulf Noltensmeier stayed and when Sven retired in 1983 they took over the company (in 1984) keeping its name.

I knew from that the pipe I have was made for the European market and bore a B grading which is quite high. I also knew that it was made after 1984 when Ulf and Per took over the company so it was made by one of them. I am including two final pictures that Robert included for me below.To close my understanding of the pipe I turned to Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/S._Bang). I quote the section from the article where the company changed hands from S. Bang to Hansen and Noltensmeier in 1984. It is a great read so I have included it below.

Svend Bang retired in 1984. Evidently he felt a great deal of pride in the product that he initiated throughout his career and retirement and until his death in 1993.

Once Hansen and Noltensmeier took over the company (in 1984) they knew it was best to retain the S. Bang name – the two carvers always shared the same philosophy about that. Noltensmeier and Hansen were determined to maintain top quality at the expense of increased numbers. The only change they made concerns the stamping on the pipes changing from the English version “COPENHAGEN” to the Danish “KOBENHAVN”.

Still, they are two separate carvers, with their own styles and preferences. Each makes his own pipes – there is no “assembly line” construction at S. Bang. They bounce ideas off of each other, of course, and admit that when problems arise in a pipe, it is nice to have a partner to discuss them with.

Though they carve pipes as individuals, there are similarities in their work. All Bang pipes are made with black, hand-cut vulcanite stems.

The same engineering is used by both carvers as well. The shape and size of the tobacco chambers vary according to size and design of the pipe, but each carver follows the same design guidelines for choosing the proper chamber dimensions. The smoke channel is always engineered for optimum performance.

Bang pipes are noted for the high definition and fine contrast in the grain. They undergo a double staining process to achieve that effect. The technique makes the grain leap from the bowl of the pipe, making well-grained wood become extra ordinary. The same coloring, however, will produce different results in different pieces of briar, making each pipe truly individual.

Per Hansen is the designated sandblasting artist for the team. He personally takes those pieces that are to be sandblasted to Stanwell, and is permitted to use the sandblasting equipment himself. That is the only S. Bang process, though, that is not executed by the individual carver of each pipe. Everything else, including the famous S. Bang silverwork, is done in the shop by each of the carvers on his own pipes.

Now that I had read through the background it was time to enjoy the pipe itself. I loaded a bowl with Seattle Pipe Club’s Deception Pass and sat on my porch and enjoyed a bowl while watching the world pass by on the sidewalk in front of my home. It was a great smoking pipe that met all of my expectations. It is one that I will continue to enjoy for years to come. Thank you Robert for making this possible.