Category Archives: Pipe Related Essays

Short and not so short essays on pipes and tobacciana

I am the happy owner of an unsmoked pipe by the late John Calich

Blog by Steve Laug

Not too long ago there was a benefit auction on TLOC (Tobacco Lovers of Canada) Facebook Group in support of the son of one of the members son was diagnosed with cancer. There were tobaccos and pipes up for auction with all proceeds going to a fund for the family. I decided to enter an auction for one of the pipes – an unsmoked smaller group two sized Calich pipe. I put in repeated bids for the pipe both because I actually wanted the pipe and because I wanted to try to drive the price up so others would bid more in support of the family. I entered bids up to the last minute, even bidding against myself and ended up winning the pipe. I was pleased to have won the pipe in that it was a double win for me – first it gave me the chance to help out a family and second it gave me the opportunity to add another Calich to my collection. I have loved John Calich’s pipes for over 25 years now and have collected a few of them. When John was living I spoke with him several times via phone and had him make some new stems for some of his pipes that I picked up off eBay. He was a very kind gentleman and was always helpful when I spoke with him. He was always ready with encouragement and when I needed to know how to do something when I was first learning to repair pipes he was willing to help. He was one of the old guard of Canadian Pipe makers. I miss him.

John Calich, courtesy Doug Valitchka

John Calich was one of Canada’s finest carvers. He died in July 2008. John was a full time pipe maker for the last 40 years. Calich pipes were mostly traditional shapes. His signature style is rustication and smooth on the same pipe along with his unique skill to stain a pipe in contrasting colors. He used only top quality Grecian and Calabrian briar. The mouthpieces are hand finished Vulcanite “A”. Each pipe was entirely made by hand. John Calich was featured in the summer 2005 issue of Pipes & Tobacco. His pipes are graded 3E – 7E. Retail prices range from$ 145.00 to $ 500.00 Each pipe is stamped “CALICH” 3-8E, his earlier pipes were graded from 3-14, and a single, tiny silver dot is applied to the top of the stem (

The first two photos were from the auction itself and show the shape of the pipe that caught my eye. The third photo was sent to me in response to a question I asked about the size of the pipe. You can see from that photo that it is a petite pipe. The rustication on the pipe is rugged and tactile and should feel good in my hand when it heats up. John Calich always puts a silver dot on his stems as is visible in the second photo. The colours in the third photo are more accurate in terms of capturing the dark brown colour of the stain.The next photo shows the stamping on a smooth panel on the underside of the shank. It reads Calich 00 over Hand Made. Under that it reads Made in Canada followed by the letter E. Both that photo and the one that follows it show the rustication pattern on the bowl and shank.The pipe arrived about two weeks ago and the box was quite large. It made me wonder what was inside. When I opened the box I found that the fellow handling the auction had included a tin of McClellands #22 Virginia. I am thinking of breaking in the pipe with that tobacco as it is one of my favourites and it is no longer available. I took the following photos to show what it looked like. The pipe is small but will be a great Virginia pipe. The dimensions are as follows – Length: 5 inches, Height: 1 3/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/8 inches, Chamber diameter: 5/8 of an inch. Like the other pipes that have, made by John Calich this is bound to be a very good smoking machine. John’s pipes are comfortable in the hand and the mouth and have an effortless draught. I am truly looking forward to loading up the first bowl of Virginia and enjoying the pipe on the weekend. Thanks for looking.




The article was produced and shared by Sharrow Mills and sent to me to see if I would be interested in posting this history of lighters on rebornpipes. We corresponded and the long and short of it is that I am posting it here now. The original blog piece can be read on the Sharrowmills site at the link below. Thanks to the folks at Sharrowmills for sharing this with us.  — Steve

“It’s not the order in which things are invented that makes them the most impressive, it’s the importance they have to humanity. So my number one is this: fire with a flick of the fingers.” – Stephen Fry

 Some items have been around for so long, and have become so embedded in the modern world, that it’s hard to imagine a world without them; the lighter may be one of these. Even Stephen Fry, as part of Channel 4’s 100 Greatest Gadgets documentary, named the cigarette lighter as the greatest invention in human history.

From the iconic Zippo lighter and disposable plastic varieties, to the obscure contraptions of old, the history of the lighter is a fascinating one, so we thought we’d tell you some more about it.


In 1823, Johann Wolfgang Döbereiner, a German chemist and professor at the University of Jena, invented one of the earliest lighters; however, it looked nothing like a modern-day lighter.

Also known as a ‘tinderbox’ (or “Feuerzeug”), the lamp was an exceptionally popular item, reportedly selling over a million units in the 1820s.

The bizarre looking contraption worked by reacting zinc with dilute sulphuric acid in order to produce hydrogen. To use, a valve was lifted, firing the hydrogen towards a porous form of platinum known as ‘platinum sponge’. This then reacted with the atmospheric oxygen, heating the platinum and igniting the hydrogen – the result was a steady flame.


Ferrocerium is a synthetic alloy that produces very hot and bright sparks when struck. Often incorrectly referred to as ‘flint’, ferrocerium is a different substance completely; the naming similarity stems from flint’s previous usage as a producer of sparks.

Invented in 1903 by Austrian chemist Carl Auer von Welsbach, ferrocerium revolutionised the lighter, as it made creating necessary sparks for ignition easy, and was also a relatively affordable material.


One of the most well-known classic lighter designs was the Pist-O-Liter, manufactured by Ronson in 1910.

Designed to closely resemble a long-barreled pistol, the trigger released a file-like component which rubbed against a flint-like surface contained in the barrel. This produced sufficient sparks to ignite flammable substances. The long barrel made the Pist-O-Liter a practical choice for applying sparks to harder-to-reach places, such as motor vehicle engines.

Shortly after this in 1912, Ronson developed the Wonderlite, a metal cased lighter more closely resembling modern    varieties, known as a ‘permanent match’ style of lighter.


Life in the trenches during the First World War was notably difficult, particularly on the front lines, where resources, tools and general supplies were extremely limited.

Soldiers therefore started to improvise and created everyday tools by hand using whatever discarded items they could find. One of these was a handmade lighter fashioned from an empty bullet cartridge; it even included a holed chimney cap to better protect the flame from wind.



Image Source: unique-ronson-lighters.html

Ronson went on to refine their design with the Banjo lighter in 1926. Developed in New Jersey, USA, the Ronson Banjo was a huge success thanks to its simple usability and attractive design.

The world’s first automatic pocket lighter, the Ronson Banjo required only the press of a button to generate the flame.

It cost $5.00 at the time, but mint condition versions are worth many hundreds today as collectables.




Inventor George G. Blaisdell introduced what would become the world’s most famous lighter in 1933. The design of the original Zippo proved so popular that it is still popular today, with only small changes.

Early Zippos were made of brass; however, during the Second World War they were manufactured from black crackle steel due to metal shortages. Zippos during wartime were commonly emblazoned with unit crests and other military symbols, a trend which is still popular today.


The inner mechanisms of Zippo lighters have barely changed since their introduction; however, following the Second World War, they developed into a popular fashion accessory with a huge variety of artistic designs and metals used.

The Zippo quickly became a cultural icon and was widely used in movies, television and advertising. Even today, vintage designs (such as the Venetian brass model pictured) are hugely popular with collectors.



The Zippo lighter developed into a symbol of the American armed forces during the twenty years of the Vietnam War.

American soldiers fighting in Vietnam would often have their Zippo lighters engraved with a variety of personal mottos, slogans, icons and individual designs, commonly reflecting the emotions, beliefs and values of the soldiers themselves during the now infamous conflict.

Vietnam war lighters are now valuable collectors’ items, some fetching huge amounts in auctions.


The piezoelectric lighter was introduced in the 1960s and was developed as an alternative to fuel burning lighters. Instead of a naked flame, the mechanism here used a small, springloaded hammer to hit a quartz crystal. This created voltage when deformed, resulting in an electrical discharge, which served as the ignition.

While still in use today, the piezoelectric lighter’s popularity was relatively short lived, fading out of mainstream use during the 1970s. While not used by smokers, variants of this technology remain in use for more practical purposes such as barbecue lighting.


Bic introduced a new disposable variety of lighter in 1973 with the intention of rivaling the popular but relatively expensive metal cased Zippos at the time. Typically, the cheapest lighter on the market, the Bic disposable lighter was extremely popular and remains widely used to this day.

While lacking the artistic or fashion appeal of the Zippo, disposable lighters were perfect for a fast-moving, money conscious society, as they did not require refills and could be easily discarded.


Despite the recent decrease in the number of smokers in both the UK and the USA, traditional lighters have managed to maintain popularity.

This is thanks in part to their status as a fashion accessory alongside its practical uses. To capitalise on this, Zippo’s brand has expanded in recent years to include a whole range of apparel, accessories and other gadgets. This is not dissimilar to the expansion made by Harley Davidson Motorcycles, who to this day are a significant fashion brand, as well as motorcycle manufacturer.

It’s unsurprising, then, that Harley Davidson and Zippo have collaborated to produce some of the most iconic and popular examples in the Zippo range.

We believe classic metal lighters have a brighter future than disposable varieties due to their long lifespan, individuality and vintage appeal. Of course, only time will tell…


Do Higher Priced Pipes Smoker Better?

Blog by Joe Gibson
(© J. Gibson Creative, April 19, 2018)

The topic keeps resurfacing on pipe smoking forums. Do the higher priced, premium pipes really smoke better than less expensive pipes?

There are some pipe smoking snobs who claim the more expensive pipes do smoke better. But how does that explain the thousands of pipe smokers who collect and swear by the smoking qualities of Kaywoodies and Dr. Grabow’s for example?

My test pipes:

Pipes used in my test

I decided to test some of my pipes to see if I found a difference. My one Dunhill is a 3/4 bent billiard made in 1926, so I chose bent pipes for this test. I smoked the following for the test:  Dunhill 151 Inner Tube, Rinaldo Triade YYY 1, Stefano Santambrogio (not a full 3/4 bend, but close), Stanwell Hans Christian Anderson Smooth Dublin, a Savinelli Dry System 2622, an Italian briar with the only stamping being Christmas 1988 and a Borkum Riff pipe.

The tobacco for the test? Dunhill My Mixture 965 so there was no variance because of the tobacco blend. I measured out 2 grams for each bowl, straight from the tin without any additional drying time. I packed and smoked each bowl using the same technique.

Four of the pipes were new when I received them (One purchased, two contest prizes, one included in an on-line tobacco purchase deal).  Two pipes I rescued and the last was a gift to me.  All seven are in good smoking condition.

Part of the premise that more expensive pipes smoke better, is that the engineering and quality of workmanship makes a difference. I settled for examining the drilling of each pipe and stem as a comparison in engineering. A perfectly drilled pipe should smoke better than a poorly drilled pipe, in my opinion. To check this, I performed a “pass a pipe cleaner” test on each pipe. By “pass a pipe cleaner,” I mean I can insert a Dill’s pipe cleaner through the bit and it goes all the way into the bowl.

What makes a perfectly drilled pipe:

In my opinion, a perfectly drilled pipe has three things: 1. Draught hole dead center in the mortise, 2.  Hole and airway in the stem perfectly aligned (will pass a pipe cleaner), and, 3. Draught hole and airway the same diameter.

If the draught hole is not perfectly centered in the mortise, then the airway in the stem will not line up properly. It won’t necessarily prevent the pipe from being a decent smoker, but it won’t be a great pipe until you get it re-drilled. If the airway in the stem is larger than the draught hole, you may hit briar when inserting the pipe cleaner and must wiggle the cleaner to get it into the draft hole of the bowl. Conversely, if the draught hole is bigger than the airway, it should pass the pipe cleaner more easily.

When setting up for my test, I shined a bright LED light into the mortise of each pipe I used. Surprisingly, none of my pipes were what I would call perfectly drilled. The drilling on my Savinelli Dry System 2622 looks more like the drilling on a Cavalier. For example, the draught hole is drilled into the top of the airway and there is a space at the bottom of the mortise where moisture can collect. This is part of the engineering design of a Dry System pipe. It’s a very good smoker and I’ve never notice it gurgle.

On the other hand, the Borkum Riff bent pipe is just badly drilled. A cleaner inserted into the mortise bottoms out in briar. Shine a light in the mortise and you don’t see the draught hole. Run the cleaner along the top of the mortise and it does slide into the draught hole.  Of all the bent pipes I tested, this was the worst in my opinion.

My unscientific method of measuring the size of the airway and draught hole was equally as simple. A single pipe cleaner fits into the draught hole and the stem airway. Five of the pipes did this. The Savinelli and the Dunhill have larger bores. The Savinelli is a balsa filter pipe and the Dunhill originally came with an aluminum inner tube (hence the name, Inner Tube). I don’t use either. I can easily insert 2 pipe cleaners at one time in both pipes.

The pipe test:

I used My Mixture 965 for the test.

For the testing I loaded two grams of Dunhill My Mixture 965 in each pipe.  I weighed the tobacco on my kitchen scale.

Stanwell HCA:

Passes a pipe cleaner with some wiggling. Draft hole off center high. Avg. size airway in stem.

Good, easy draught – like sipping a fountain drink through a plastic straw. Bowl was warm but comfortable to hold. Session lasted 55 minutes with no relights. Ash and minimal tobacco bits left at the end of smoke. Good flavor from the tobacco throughout the smoke. (Acquired as a prize give-away from This Pipe Life pipe forum. MSRP listed as $250. The pipe came with both a regular stem and a churchwarden stem.)

Christmas 1988 pipe:

Does not pass a pipe cleaner. Draft hole drilled high and the airway in the stem seems smaller than Stanwell.

Decent draught, open and unrestricted (probably because of gap between the tenon and bottom of mortise. The bowl got warm but not hot. Session lasted just over 50 minutes with some dottle in the bottom. Relit once around the 41-minute mark. Good flavor from the tobacco throughout the smoke. (Used pipe found at antique/collectible shop for $15.  Probably sold by Tinderbox originally)

Stefano Santambrogio

Doesn’t pass a pipe cleaner. Even with the draught hole drilled high of center it’s very good smoker.

I have won two long smoke competitions with this pipe. My record is 1 hr. 27 minutes with this pipe. The bowl got warm but still comfortable to hold. Session lasted 67 minutes with no relights. Good flavor to the end with a minimal amount of dottle remaining. (Bought new, unsmoked off eBay for $80.)

Borkum Riff Bent

– Does not pass a pipe cleaner. Draught hole drilled into the top of the airway. Gurgles. Smoked the worst of the pipes tested. To my eye, the airway seems smaller than the rest and the draught feels more restricted, like sipping a drink through a cocktail straw. Bowl gets hot while smoking. Session lasted 43 minutes and required 3 relights. Approximately 1/8th of a bowl left at the end. Flavor didn’t seem as developed in the other pipes. (Acquired new as part of a package special from an only retailer) I find myself wondering why I still have this pipe.

Savinelli Dry System 2622

Smoked without the Savinelli Balsa Filter. Draught hole drilled into the top of the airway, probably by design.

Because of the design, the airways in the stem and the mortise are large enough to fit two pipe cleaners at the same time. However, the pipe cleaner does not go through the bit because it is a P-lip design. As I smoke it with no filter, the draught is wide open (like using a jumbo drink straw). The session lasted 49 minutes with only ash left. It seemed to produce more smoke than the rest. The bowl got warm but doesn’t get hot. From a flavor standpoint, the tobacco started tasting “ashy” just before it went out. (Used pipe found at an antique/collectible store. Paid about $20 for it.)

Dunhill “Inner Tube” 151”

Even this Dunhill is drilled a little off center.

Produced in 1926 according to the markings, this pipe originally came with an aluminum “Inner Tube.” Mine doesn’t have the tube. The airways and draught hole are big enough to fit 3 pipe cleaners into them at one time. It passes a single pipe cleaner from the lip or button into the bowl with no effort.

With the openness of the airway and draught hole the draught was like drinking through a jumbo size straw. I expected this pipe to smoke faster, but I found myself smoking slower. Flavor was good, tobacco burned evenly and required less tamping than I expected. Bowl gets warm but not as warm as some of the other pipes. Session lasted 71 minutes with no relights and just ashes left. Unlike the Savinelli Dry System, I did not get the ashy taste at the end though. (Used. A gift from a friend after he learned I didn’t have a Dunhill.)

Rinaldo Triade YYY 1

Easily passes a pipe cleaner. Instead of a perfect circle, the draught hole is elongated and reaches from the top of the mortise to the bottom.

Good, even draw like a plastic fountain straw. Bowl gets warm but not as warm as some of the other pipes. Session lasted 59 minutes without a relight. Very minimal dottle at the bottom of the bowl and good flavor throughout.  (New. Won in a long smoke competition.)

Linkman Hollycourt Special 7023 (Bonus addition)

Produced between 1938 – 1943. Threaded stinger but looks like the end of the tip of the stinger cut off. Easily passes a pipe cleaner to bowl.

After the Dunhill, this is the oldest pipe I own, so I decided to include it in the test. The bowl gets hotter at the bottom than I expected but it can still be held. Bowl is deep, and 2 grams only fills about half of it. Very open draught. Tobacco burns evenly and I noticed more flavor at the start. Where the tobacco was medium strength in previous test, it was stronger at the end of this bowl. Session lasted 50 minutes. (Used. Acquired at antique/collectible shop for $25.)

My Conclusions…

After conducting my smoking test and talking to several expert pipe carvers and restorers, I decided the answer is so subjective for a yes or no answer. What makes a pipe a quality smoker depends on the definition of a quality smoker by each pipe smoker. I have several hypotheses and a theory.

First the theory.

The reason more expensive pipes are considered to be better smokers is because more time, money and effort go into producing the pipe and the quality control is better. In other words, high-end manufacturers usually have strict quality control guidelines. If at the end of the manufacturing process, the pipe doesn’t meet those guidelines, it is either destroyed or sold as a second or basket pipe. This doesn’t mean that every high-end pipe is perfect but the chance of it being a bad smoker is less.

This also apply to Artisan pipes carved by people like Mark Tinsky, Walt Cannoy, Ryan Alden, Rad Davis, et al. Artisan pipes are more likely to be great smokers because they are going to make sure it is a perfect pipe before selling. If for some reason, the pipe has problems, they tend to stand behind their work and fix it.

Now for the hypothesis.

After the engineering, the most important part is the quality of the briar itself. I believe artisans and companies always buy the best briar blocks that they can afford. They don’t call up a dealer and send me 1,000 lbs. of whatever is on the shelf. They ask about the aging, curing and grading.

After harvesting, cutting, boiling and air drying for two years minimum, the briar is ready to sell. The longer the briar is aged, the more it’s worth.  In some cases, the blocks are aged for decades before selling. Briar dealers inspect each block and assign it a quality grade. Carvers and manufacturers make their purchases based on the length of aging and the grading. The more money they spend, the chances of better blocks increases.

Conversely, there is the old saying that “even a blind squirrel occasionally finds an acorn.” By that I mean even carvers/manufacturers on the lower end of the pay scale can and do occasionally find and produce a pipe worth more than what the end user pays.

Good smoking, low cost pipes…

Wait! What about Kaywoodie, Dr. Grabow, Wally Frank and other mass-produced pipes from the mid-20th century? My hypothesis is there weren’t as many high-end artisan carvers back then, so it was easier for them to get better grade briar. Also, despite not being “hand-made” the engineering on the pipes was very good. Large collecting communities for Kaywoodie and Dr. Grabow will attest to this.


The book every pipe smoker should read.

While pipe smokers will continue to argue this question no matter what I say, I want to turn to one I consider an expert – Dr. Fred J. Hanna. His book, “The Perfect Smoke” published in 2012, is a collection of his essays about pipe smoking

I recommend the essays in Chapter Three of his book. “Choosing the Great Briar Pipe: Factors to Consider (Pages 91-102) discusses the 24 factors Hanna considers important for choosing a great briar pipe. These include the draught hole location and the size, the length of the tenon, the thickness of the bowl wall, etc.

The third essay in the book, “The Myth of Brand and Maker in Pipe Smoke and Tasting” (pages 111 – 124) is also very enlightening as he explains that “a great-smoking pipe is not the same as a great-tasting pipe.” (page 112) I also found his comment that, “The brand myth has the potential to harm our hobby. It can lead us to believe that only the wealthy collectors of high- and ultra-high-grade pipes can enjoy the truly sublime, superlative smoking and taste experience.” (page 124)


The Case of the Murdered Dunhill

Blog by Robert M. Boughton

Copyright © Reborn Pipes and the Author except as cited

It is my belief, Watson, founded upon my experience, that the lowest and vilest alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside. — From Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Adventure of the Copper Beeches,” in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1892)

NOTE: I owe the singular logic and chronicle of this story to the author of a French blog upon which I had the good fortune and immense pleasure of discovering, quite by chance, in the course of a search for other, more mundane instruction on Dunhill pipes.  The credit for the blog, almost hidden at the bottom of the page, attributes the work to “pipephil,” whose nationality and working name being identical to that of a certain devoted and well-known researcher of pipes and their histories, I can only surmise is one and the same.  This story is based on an unequal blending of fact and fiction and might better be approached as the latter.   Acknowledgement to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) is likewise in order, and, if prevailing opinion of this willing suspension of disbelief warrants, apologies.  Names have been changed to protect the real and imagined

(Being a reprint from the personal blogs of JAMES BOSWELL)


At the age of twenty-six, early in the year of 1989, I was considered an old man to be commencing studies as an undergraduate at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces and was branded non-traditional, a distinction which stirs not a grain of animosity in my mind.  The principal difference between the average teenager fresh from the crucible of high school and myself, during my first semester of courses prescribed for those desiring to specialize in journalism, was my already appreciable experience in the workforce I sought to continue.  I had under my belt a solid grounding in the old school style of newspaper writing, owing to an early tossing into the cesspool when I was a mere fifteen-year-old.  Already I was squared away in the requisite determined and, when necessary, obdurate nature to survive the initial condescending underestimation of my ability to recognize obfuscation when I heard it.  These traits were of invaluable help in eliciting a modicum of legitimate answers from the police officers, politicians and other authorities who became the salt and pepper on the main fare of official reports that fed my regular police and city hall beats.

Quartered at first in one of the better dormitories and accustomed to taking my meals at the campus cafeteria, an establishment that over-favored a form of creamed chipped beef on toast that exemplified the military term for that menu item which I will for the sake of good form abbreviate as S.O.S., I straight away took up the tobacco pipe.  As well as soothing my nerves and allowing an air of contemplation conducive to my studies, the pipe expelled the unfortunate after taste of the gruel the school called food.  Pipes were also a family tradition on the paternal side, and so I embraced them with alacrity.  Smoking, of course, was prohibited in the dormitories, but I dismissed the absurdity as did all but a poignant minority of the other inhabitants.

Finding disagreeable the cramped suite of rooms that allowed no privacy and which I shared with three adolescent males who were more interested in beer kegs, parties and all of the other inclinations wholly natural to youngsters, I reached the inevitable conclusion that I must secure a more mature roommate off-campus.  The very same night, while strolling the university grounds taking the long course to the student union building, where I had planned to brush up on the Associated Press Style Book tucked under an arm, and puffing contentedly on the single pipe I then owned, I heard my name called from nearby.

“Boswell!  James Boswell!”

Glancing in the direction of the greeting, I found the young man smiling and waving at me vaguely familiar, but only a name came to mind.

“Beall!” I said, relieved to have no need to fumble with that social awkwardness.

Trapped, I found myself engaged in small talk.

“Wherever have you been hiding?” Beall asked.  “I haven’t seen you in dog’s years!”

Not caring for the suggestion that I in any way skulk and thinking that dogs tend to age with rather unfortunate rapidity, I was off-put before I could answer but endeavored to be civil.

“Off fighting the good fight, Beall,” I said.  “Just at the moment I’m considering how to move out of my dormitory but can’t afford a place of my own on my income.”
Where I met Beall and why the devil I let slip my need for a proper roommate eluded me, and I would have kicked myself had that colloquial expression been possible.  With all the delicacy I can muster, I found young Beall to be a nice enough fellow but rather insipid and a bit too friendly.  I braced in anticipation of his putting himself forward as a candidate, and indeed, having among other faults a distressing clutching habit, he seized me by an arm.

“Why, I have just the person for you!  I’ve known him forever, and he’s absolutely perfect!”

Not caring a bit for the sound of any of that and being dubious of Beall’s judgment, my aversion to conspicuous rudeness prevented me from declaring so.  By my own fault, therefore, Beall, still clutching my arm, compelled both of us at once in a straight line toward the north edge of the campus, obviously the direction of the friend’s place of residence.  I managed with some dexterity to dislodge my arm from his grip and counted myself fortunate beyond words that the mysterious dwelling was within easy walking distance.  My subsequent introduction to the man who, though five years my junior, was gifted with the most singular and brilliant deductive powers I have ever encountered, can only be attributed to fate.

When at last we found ourselves on the step and the door to the apartment opened, I had the first dreaded look at my proposed new roommate.  The appearance of Mr. Sherrinford Cavish was altogether the opposite of my preconceived image.  Standing three inches taller than six feet in height, Cavish towered over Beall, whom I had spent most of our walk struggling to devise a means of escaping, and had several inches on me.  His stature had none of the typical lankiness associated with very tall men and was instead complemented by a husky but fit build.  He wore an expensive powder blue dress shirt with the top two buttons undone, medium brown wool slacks appropriate for the season that appeared to be tailored, leather loafers with tassels and no jewelry whatsoever, not even a watch.  His longish brown, wavy and un-brushed hair, wild, for lack of a better word, was the oddest feature I noted.  The old, blackened clay pipe between his lips seemed a natural extension of his mouth and the highest testament thus far of his suitability as a fellow lodger. Then, ignoring poor Beall beside me altogether, his sharp blue and acute eyes narrowed and took in the whole of me with a glance.  I admit I was more than a little disconcerted by the scrutiny I thought rude.  His greeting astounded me.

“Have you been a reporter for any publications I may have read?”

The ensuing dumfounded silence prompted the otherwise meek and silent Beall, who still stood to my side, to remark, “Yes, he’s always like that.”

“Ah!  But you’re here about the room for rent, no doubt eager to quit the dreary conditions of the dormitories,” Cavish said before I answered, astounding me once again.

The man who introduced himself to me by his full first and last name the moment I stepped inside his apartment pursed his lips in a peculiar grin I have come to know well.  One corner of his mouth rose a tad and the other fell.  Initially viewing the practice as a sort of conceited smirk, I soon came to recognize it as an outward sign of the constant processing of simultaneous and unfathomable amounts of complex mental data related to the unparalleled fields of study of which Cavish can only be described as an expert.  Well into that first night, I learned of a comparative few of these, but our mutual fondness for pipes and shared interest in matters of crime were enough for me.  That grin of his meant that Cavish was in good spirits, working out the various enigmas he undertakes to solve for his own odd pleasure and at the request of others.  He calls them cases, but to me they are worse than giant white table puzzles.  Cavish invariably examines each piece with pure logic and science as his only tools.  On my word, I do believe he relishes scrambling the parts of the puzzles his clients – again, as he calls them – believe they have put together.  To Cavish, each piece of the puzzle must be probed from both sides and every angle regardless of how closely it may seem to fit.

“Excuse me,” I said, no longer able to contain my curiosity, “but how did you know I was a reporter?”

Cavish looked me in the eye.  “Elementary,” he said.  “Even without the well-thumbed AP guide under your arm the conclusion is inescapable.  Your red-striped Oxford with its frayed button collar doesn’t go with the ruffled tan corduroy blazer and dark brown elbow patches, as well as the mismatched light blue cord pants.  And that ancient polyester tie is enough to give an epileptic a fit.  Who but a reporter dresses in that style?  Then there are the light smudges of news print on your fingers and the cuffs of your shirt sleeves, not to mention the small note pad and flowy pen in your front coat pocket, icing on the cake, as it were.”

However accurate the conclusions Cavish reached, I still wondered if his lack of tact might be distasteful after all but resisted the urge to do an about-face and march out.

“Very well, then, what about the fact that I live in a dormitory?”

“Good God, man!” he said with alarming drama.  “Only a new student living in the dorms, regardless of age, would eat all of his meals in the cafeteria.”  Reading my face like a newspaper headline, he interrupted the protest I was about to make.  “My exhaustive research of every restaurant menu in Cruces tells me that none of them serves creamed chipped beef such as that which caused the spot on your tie.  I’m happy to say the dish is unique to that venue.”

In this disturbingly fascinating manner was I introduced to the deductive skills of Mr. Sherrinford Cavish.

“Interesting pipe,” Cavish said as he saw me to the door, speaking of the bulldog of which I was rather proud.  “An Italian no-name, I see.  Well, we’ll have to do something about that.”

The following morning, ignoring my petty misgivings as to my new roommate, I fled the dormitory.  I confess with some remorse that I left my affable yet erstwhile fellow cellmates understandably dazed and confused, not to mention sad in a manner that was touching, to see me depart.


Dunhill pipe courtesy These Pipes Like No Others

Sooner than later, I learned of the flipside of the unusual grin I noted.  When Cavish was without a case, he fell into periods of deep broodings and profound depressions that lasted until some new mystery he deemed worthy of his time presented itself.  At the low point of one of these bouts of sheer, unbearable boredom, a piece of mail arrived that Cavish was too despondent to consider.  I took the liberty of cutting open the end for him and found a single small photograph of a smoking pipe in utter ruin, accompanied by a letter imploring Cavish to investigate the matter and some pages printed from a website.

Reading the letter to my lackluster friend did not even make him stir.  Knowing the somewhat perverse delight Cavish takes in the most dreadful horrors this world has to offer, and also taking into consideration his deep love of smoking pipes, I concluded the only hope of rousing him from the lethargic stupor in which he was trapped might be the sight of the desecrated pipe.  I tossed the photograph and printout on his chest that might have been that of a corpse.  As I turned away, I heard Cavish sit up on the couch.  Turning back to face him the next instant, I saw him hunched over his laptop on the coffee table cluttered with many documents only he was permitted to touch.  Moving so that I could watch over his shoulder, I noticed he had pulled up the website from which the printout was made so that he could read the entire text in its original French, which he spoke fluently in addition to Latin, German, Dutch, Italian and Iranian, to name those I have identified.

“The game is afoot!” Cavish said with refreshed vigor.  I shook my head and sighed with no small amount of relief as he stood and began pacing in excitement.  I, on the other hand, needed a break and decided I deserved one for the part I played in reviving him.  Retiring to the comfort of my armchair, I took up an elegant new briar wood prince possessing the tightest vertical grain that I found at my local shop and filled it with a handy Balkan blend.  Already, I had a fine beginning of a collection thanks to a certain compulsion to acquire more and more that I blamed on the bad influence Cavish had on me.  Indeed, the compulsion verged on a disorder.


The masthead of the site, Cavish translated, read “These Pipes Like No Others.”  Succumbing to an uncontrollable urge, I wagered the Dunhill displayed in the blog and photograph just arrived in the mail was clearly well smoked and previously lightly enjoyed. *  I shall savor for the rest of my life the rare flash of utter incredulity on my friend’s face that dissolved back into his typical working countenance of gravest contemplation when he deduced I had to be joking.

“She is extraordinary,” Cavish said, almost in a whisper.  I took a moment to realize he was speaking of the pipe.  “The outer simplicity obscures an inner complexity.”

“No doubt,” I said for the sake of good manners.

Still pacing about the room, Cavish recited the entire text of the blog from memory after his single reading of it online.  In the interest of brevity, I will paraphrase the key points of interest in the blogger’s quite stylish and eloquent narrative detailing his theories relating to the cause of the Dunhill’s destruction.  The general theme as stated in the second sentence was that, whatever act of brutality indeed brought about the end of the pipe’s days of usefulness to anyone, the once noble but now wretched thing was murdered.  Counting myself an aficionado of tobacco pipes, I appreciated the writer’s dramatic use of personification.

When the gruesome remains were discovered, two immediate types of suspects were considered, the more likely being a lone assassin acting on his own insane motives, and the other a terrorist group.  The latter theory raised the possibility of a political link, perhaps the Front de Lutte Anti-Tabac (F.L.A.T.), in English the Fight Against Tobacco Front.  Whoever ended the pipe’s life, the blogger concluded, chose Dunhill rather than any other brand for the general regard of the old British house as perhaps the world’s most iconic maker.  The impact of the act of extreme violence would therefore engender outrage and consternation among pipe enjoyers everywhere.

“It is quite a two-pipe problem, and I beg that you won’t speak to me for thirty minutes,” Cavish said in characteristically blunt form.  Even with what I knew of his machine-like reasoning ability, I was impressed with the time in which he expected to solve the mystery.


I can only conjecture that Cavish chose a striking natural finish Dunhill Canadian as his own way of paying respect to the victim.  In silence, as requested, and as unobtrusively as possible, I watched while he loaded the pipe with Dunhill White Spot, an English blend not available in this country that he somehow managed to acquire, no doubt through one of his many private sources.  He lay back in the chair, stretching his legs out before him and crossing his ankles as was his habit when formulating his inscrutable conclusions.  After savoring the one fill, he repeated the process.  When the last of the smoke trailed off, I glanced at the clock and observed the prescribed half-hour had passed to the minute.  My friend sat bolt upright and, his eyes glinting through narrow slits, stood.  I waited with greater than average anticipation for him to begin.

“The deplorable annihilation of this ill-fated Dunhill billiard was not an act of murder, as conjectured by the blogger with eloquence that was nevertheless the product of typical human emotion,” Cavish said in an even tone that belied the passion I alone knew him well enough to detect from the deliberate choice of such strong terms.

“That much I myself concluded,” I replied.

“Indeed, as you well know, the inherent inanimateness of the briar wood forming the chief constituent of the whole, by definition, precludes the possibility of homicide.”

“Indeed,” I muttered for lack of anything more substantial to contribute.

“Nor was this the work of any terrorist organization, the blogger’s brio, however excessive, notwithstanding.”

“Oh?  How so?”

“Contrary to popular misconception, terrorists are not as secretive as they would have us believe,” Cavish stated in the form of a thesis.  “Why else would they invariably claim credit for their foul and pusillanimous deeds sparked by a sense of impotence?”  Knowing the last part was only rhetorical punctuation, I waited for him to continue.  “No such communication has been attempted.”

“I see,” I said.  “But wait, Cavish.  There is one thing I still cannot comprehend.”

“Only one?” he asked, again not expecting a direct response but with the annoying twist of his mouth that so infuriated me at times.

“Yes, for the moment at least, only one,” I said in a pointless attempt to defend my honor that was not lost on the great detective.

“Pray tell, my dear Boswell, let’s hear the singular point of your confusion.”

Once more, I knew enough of the man to recognize a note of reconciliation, however feeble I thought it.  “What about the Frenchman’s keen observation that in order to burn briar, how did he put it, ‘extraordinary temperatures are needed which cannot be reached in the combustion of even a dry tobacco’?”

“Aha!” Cavish exclaimed, triumphant.  “There you have it!  Once again, you see, yet you do not observe.  Any careless smoker can burn a pipe made of any material, briar by no means excluded, even to the point of creating a hole through the bowl.  One sees such uncouth damages all the time.  Just ask anyone who restores smoking pipes for a living.”

Cavish continued before I could register a protest.

“The operative word is burn, which is altogether different than incinerate, the latter being the choice our French blogger doubtless meant.  Based on my study of the incineration points of thousands of wood types, I can tell you with authority that briar can only be reduced to ashes, that being the definition of incinerate, at temperatures sometimes exceeding 1,292 degrees Fahrenheit.”

“Good lord!”

“Quite so,” Cavish went on.  “As you will recollect from the photograph, the Dunhill, though burned more severely than any other specimen I have ever seen, which is no trivial claim, and to the point where evenly spaced horizontal cracks encircle the bowl through to the chamber, the pipe is nowhere near disincorporation into a pile of ashes.”

“Amazing, Cavish!  Simply amazing!  But what does it all mean?”

“It means, my obtuse friend, that the theory of some person or persons unknown filling the Dunhill with a fuel or other accelerant, intent on exploding or vaporizing the pipe, is erroneous.”

Bringing to bear the full powers of my brain to determine possible explanations, all I achieved was a pulsating headache.

“I surrender, Cavish!  How on Earth was the Dunhill destroyed, and by whom?”

Cavish has described himself as a high-functioning sociopath, a self-diagnosis with which I would not have argued until that moment.  The years I have known him, it was the first time he displayed what I would call a normal sign of humanity, the instance being a profound sense of grief manifested in his entire physical demeanor.  I was almost overwhelmed by a foreboding of some cataclysmic doom.  When he did speak at last, he sounded tired, but his usual veil of absolute self-control, dispassion and supreme objectivity was again in place.

“Never indulge in the delusion that the whole of mankind is not, in its most base state of consciousness, a species unequaled for its most natural instincts of callous cruelty and neglect for the welfare of others,” he said, pausing as though in emphasis of his perceived status of being separate from the rest of the world.  I wanted to disagree but held my tongue, letting Cavish expand on his point.  Whether he was aware of the repeated use of personal pronouns usually reserved for beings endowed with life, I could not say.  “Have no doubt, Boswell, she was tortured for some years.  Indeed, her neglect would be criminal were she, to employ a deliberate contradiction in terms, more that a work of art.  I agree with our French friend, the blogger, that the Dunhill was desecrated, and should like to believe his assertion that the act was premeditated.”

Unable to bear the ensuing silence longer, I prompted him.  “But?”

“Premeditation, my dear Boswell, implies a certain amount of forethought.  The atrocities committed against the once beautiful and vibrant example of skilled craftsmanship, created with the sole purpose of providing pleasure to a man, demonstrate the wanton kind of thoughtless, careless disregard for all but the self.”

“Really, Cavish, I think you’re being too harsh,” I interjected.

“In that case, Boswell, why did you acquire so many new pipes of which you could scarcely keep track?  I seem to recall your frequent agitation lest one of them end up falling to the floor, from wherever you happened to set it down, and breaking.  You even went to some expense to commission your carpenter friend to fashion an exceedingly large, elaborate cabinet made more of glass than wood, and filled with separate beveled holders so that you could display even more pipes than you already own.  Whatever possessed you to go to this trouble?”

My blood beginning to boil, I replied in hardly contained anger, “Because I care for them!  And besides, I got the idea for the cabinet from your own!”

“Quite so!” Cavish said with such pleasure he even let slip the rarest of smiles.  I must say that took the wind out of me, and I felt quite the fool.  My good friend had tricked me again.

“Point taken,” I conceded with a sheepish grin.  “But when are you going to reveal the identity of the scoundrel who so monstrously destroyed the excellent Dunhill?”

Cavish turned and resumed his former languid position in the armchair.  I stood there awaiting his solution to the puzzle while he loaded his pipe once more and leaned back, puffing away with a peculiar air of satisfaction.

“The culprit, Boswell, was no monster or group of terrorists.  The person who snuffed out the life of the Dunhill billiard was a common pipe smoker, one who considers these delightful instruments of divine contemplation to be as disposable as a Bic lighter.”

I was flabbergasted.  “Then you have no idea who did it?”

“Thankfully, no, or else I would have to track him down wherever he might live, if indeed he still does, and give him some lessons.  But I can say for certain that the unknown perpetrator of this loathsome deed prefers cigars to pipes.”

“How can you possibly deduce that?”

“Elementary,” Cavish said.  “He used a cigar torch to light his pipe.”

I took a seat in my chair across from him, sighed and filled my well-tended pipe, thinking the end of this mystery a bit disappointing, but pleased the case was closed.

“She is still a beautiful pipe,” Cavish said in a quiet tone.  “She shall always be the woman to me.”


I will leave my changing of name to the deductive powers of any readers who may be devotees of the great consulting detective, Sherlock Holmes.  The simplest way to sum up my little homage to the genius of the character and writing of the many Holmes adventures is to quote a funnier Holmesian anecdote, by Thomas Cathcart, another great author, who is still alive at 78.

Holmes and Watson are on a camping trip.  In the middle of the night Holmes wakes up and gives Dr. Watson a nudge.  “Watson,” he says, “look up in the sky and tell me what you see.”

“I see millions of stars, Holmes,” says Watson.

“And what do you conclude from that, Watson?”

Watson thinks for a moment.  “Well,” he says, “astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets.  Astrologically, I observe that Saturn is in Leo.  Horologically, I deduce that the time is approximately a quarter past three.  Meteorologically, I suspect that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow.  Theologically, I see that God is all-powerful, and we are small and insignificant.  Uh, what does it tell you, Holmes?”

“Watson, you idiot!  Someone has stolen our tent!”

* I owe the wry comments of two friends on the Smokers Forums UK, where I posted the graphic photograph of the horribly abused Dunhill, a note of gratitude for the inspiration of these words.


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 (

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 (

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 (

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)