Category Archives: Pipe Reviews

Over the years as I have bought pipes from Pipe Makers I have written reviews of those pipes. While they do not deal with the theme of pipe refurbishing, they give me some great help in the area of mechanics of the pipe – airways, drilling, stem shapes, button shapes and the shape of the slot in the button. I have learned much from these pipe makers whose pipes I buy – both from their work and from them personally.

A Review – A Lone Star Briar Works Rusticated ¼ Bent Apple

Blog by Steve Laug

Not too long ago I saw a set of photos that Mark Domingues posted on Facebook of a pipe that he had just finished. It ticked all the boxes for me – thick shank, apple shape, tactile rustication, multidimensional stain colour and a tortoise shell tapered stem. I saved the photos of the pipe that Mark had included and have inserted them below. I sent him a message on Facebook about the pipe and we struck a deal. I purchased the pipe from him and now only had to wait for it to arrive. I don’t know about you but I hate the wait between when I purchase something and it arrives at my door. Add to that the fact that I live in Canada also adds time to the transit from the seller to me. I suppose it is my impatience but I check the tracking information daily and the mailbox as well. I am like a kid waiting for my catalogue order to arrive.

Yesterday morning I received notification that the package was out for delivery. At lunch time I called my wife to see if it had arrived and sure enough there was a package for me. I always reserve my excitement a little bit because I have experienced being excited for a pipe only to get home and the package was not the right one. The afternoon dragged on at a snails pace. When I did get home I looked at the Customs documents to see if it was from Mark and it was! Ah the expectancy of opening this kind of box. The box was a compact box and it was undamaged and UNOPENED by Customs. There were no duties attached to the pipe that needed to be paid.I turned the box over in my hands making sure that I had not missed any damage or slicing of the tape and there was not one issue. I used a sharp knife and cut the packing tape along the edge of the box and lifted the flap. Mark had done a great job in packing this pipe for shipping. The first thing I saw was Mark’s Business card on the top of the packing material. The box was filled Styrofoam peanuts and nestled in the midst of them was what looked like a child’s white sock! Mark innovatively had a draw string sewn around the ankle of the sock so that it could be drawn shut. He had created a pipe sock out of a crew sock! Well done Mark – Bravo! I removed the sock from the box and knocked off the packing materials that stuck to it and laid it on my desk top. I loosened the draw string and removed the pipe from the bag. The pipe is a beauty. I turned it over in my hands and examined it. The shape is very well done and the rusticated finish is eye catching. The way Mark did the stain and the rustication makes the finish sparkle as I turned the pipe over in my hands. The rustication goes right up to the edge of the bowl but does not compromise the rim top at all. There is a thin smooth band at the shank end which makes a good connection spot for the stem. The fit of the stem to the shank is perfect.There is also a smooth area on the underside of the shank where Mark stamped his Lone Star Briar logo.  The logo is vertical on the shanks and is an outline of the state of Texas with LSBW (Lone Star Briar Works) on the inside of the outlined area. The stamping is a little wobbly looking with both the outline and letters double stamped. It still is legible under a lens but not so without a lens.The stem is a Tortoise Shell acrylic that is beautiful and picks up some of the colour from the bowl and shank. The flow of the taper is even and ends at the button with a comfortable thickness that is too my liking. It is very smooth and well finished. There were small scratches or sanding marks that are visible on the top of the stem toward the shank when looked at closely. The underside is far better with no visible scratching. The photos below catch the marks that I am speaking of. The button was thin and comfortable feeling in my mouth. It is not a heavy pipe and sits well in my mouth even though I tend not to be a clencher. Those are my first impressions of the aesthetics of the pipe as I turned it over in my hands. I moved from aesthetics to mechanics pretty quickly. Because I work on so many pipes from many different makers I have become pretty picky when it comes to the mechanics of new artisan pipes. The 3/4 inch diameter bowl had walls that were sanded smooth and there were not any rough edges from the drilling. The airway entered the bowl at the bottom and was centered. From the perspective of looking down the bowl the drilling is spot on. The chamber is straight down from the top of the bowl and does not deviate either toward one side or the other or front to back. The smoke chamber is also proportionally well centred in the bowl and is pleasing to my eye. I have had some beautiful pipes that are just a little off and it bothered me to no end. I removed the stem and looked at the mortise. The shank had been given a slight bevel to draw the tenon and shank face flush against the shank. That bevel was somewhat rough and out of round but it functioned well. That detail was the only detraction from the perfect drilling. The walls of the mortise were also smooth with no roughness – to me a very good sign. The airway at the end of the mortise is centered though because of the bevel it looks off in the photo. The open, smooth airway and mortise give an unobstructed flow of air from the chamber through the mortise. I blew air through it and also sucked air through and the flow was perfect. Well done on the mechanics of the bowl and shank.I turned my attention next to the mechanics of the stem. The tenon is a Delrin insert which is a nice surprise. Many of the pipes I have picked up and worked on have integral vulcanite or acrylic tenons. This tenon was well set in the stem. There was no sloppiness to the drilling or to the area where the tenon face and the stem face met. Very smoothly done and well fit. The tenon itself fit well in the shank – neither too loose nor tight. The airway in the tenon end was chamfered (beveled) into a nice smooth funnel to give more focus to the incoming smoke from the bowl. It is a stark contrast to the bevel on the shank end. From my measurements the depth of the mortise is the same as the length of the tenon. There is no gap where tars and oils can build up. Well executed. The airway in the rest of the tortoise shell stem is smoothly drill and is centred from the end of the tenon to the end of the slot. The stem tapered both on the upper and lower sides but also on the right and left. It flows to a narrow end with a thin button. The air way flares in the button as you can see in the photo below with the light shining through it.To me the button is a critical feature that either makes the mouthpiece comfortable and adds to the overall appeal of a pipe or detracts from the rest of the pipe. Mark has done a really good job in creating a comfortable and really well functioning button. I would describe the shape of the button as a prolate spheroide (North American football). There are no sharp edges. The top edge of the button is a bit more crowned than the underside but both are thin with an edge that is high enough to comfortably hold behind my teeth but not bulky and thick. The slot in the button is smoothly fashioned and fanned out from side to side and slightly to the top and bottom made to deliver a smooth flow of smoke from the bowl to the mouth. I looked down the stem from tenon to button and back and the airway was smooth and unobstructed. Lining up the stem and turning it into the mortise was easily done and the fit between the stem and shank end was flawless. I blew air through and sucked air through the complete Pipe and found that the airflow was very good. The flow was perfect to my liking. Overall I was very pleased with the mechanics of the pipe. With the aesthetics to my liking and the mechanics well done only one thing remained. I needed to load up the pipe and enjoy an inaugural smoke. That would confirm the craftsmanship of the pipe.

I got the chance to load the bowl with some of a Balkan Blend I put together this afternoon. It is a great blend to test a pipe. I have smoked quite a bit of it so I know the taste it should have which is why I chose to start with this blend. Forgive the crazy label. It is an old jar I had around and I blended the  the tobaccos in that jar back in October. It has melded very well and I enjoy it!I decided to break the family rules this afternoon and have a bowl in the house. It was quiet and most of the household was away. So I put the packed pipe in my mouth and touched the flame of the lighter to the tobacco. I pulled the flame into the tobacco and then it caught. I drew the first smoke through to my mouth. The draught is effortless and smooth. It did not take long for the tobacco to begin to smolder along and give me a good smoke. There are no obstructions on the draw. The stem is just right in terms of thickness. I was able to hold it in my mouth as I typed the end of this review. The bowl was easily kept lit as the draught was perfect. I effortlessly puffed on it while typing this and working another pipe. I had to relight only a couple of times when I became too focused on what I was doing and forgot to puff. It delivered a good tasty smoke from the first bowl. There was none of the taste of burning briar that can often be imparted in an inaugural smoke. This is a well-made pipe.The bowl lasted for the better part of an hour as I wrote and worked. When it was over there was a dry white ash in the bowl. There was no moisture in the smoke or in the leftovers. It was a great smoker and one I would come to again and again. Thank Mark for a great pipe!

If are interested in seeing more of Mark’s work and picking up one of his pipes or commissioning him to make a pipe for you, contact him on Instagram @lonestarbriarworks on Facebook Messenger under Lone Star Briar Works. He regularly posts new work to his page there and I am sure you will see something you like. Thanks for taking time to read the review.

A Review – A Grant Batson Blowfish

Blog by Steve Laug

I have written previously about my long desire to pick up a Batson pipe and the fact that for about three years I have been hunting. I have been on Grant Batson’s mailing list and have received notifications regarding pipes that he had finished and was selling. While there were many that caught my eye, I had pretty much come to the conclusion that I would never own one. As I watched more and more of them fit what I was looking for and the prices continued to ascend to heights that I could never scale with my income. It is what my wife calls “champagne tastes with a beer budget”. But like most of you I did not stop looking. In fact I went so far as to figure out how many of my existing pipes would need to move for me to be able to pick one up. Once I had that done I had to decide which ones would go to make room. Once again I assume that at least some of you are like me and making that kind of decision is like letting go of my children. So I made no decision and just let things lie as they were. No Batson pipe would be joining my collection at any time soon. Yet, the more I looked at the pipes the more I wanted to acquire one of Grant’s pipes. However, it truly seemed beyond my grasp.

As is often the case, especially in my life, it seems that the impossible can happen at the least expected moment. One day last fall, in October, 2017 I was on my lunch break at work. I took the time while sipping my coffee to scroll through one of the pipe groups there. That lunch time I was on the Gentlemen’s Pipe Smoking Society (GPSS) group. Low and behold while looking at photos of pipes others had purchased, I came across a pipe that one of the members was selling. Even before I read the ad I knew it was a Batson. When I got around to reading it – I know some of you are like me and just absorb the photos first, I read the details. The seller called the pipe a Blowfish Nosewarmer. The look of the pipe had my attention. He said that it was a great smaller pipe with a full-sized bowl, a unique finish and amazing grain. He said that the pipe had been well taken care of. The dimensions were: Length: 4 1/4 inches, Height: 2 inches, bore: ¾ inches, depth: 1 1/2 inches, Weight: 48 grams. The first three photos I have included were from the seller. The way the pipe looked is what caught my eye even before I knew the size of the pipe.I was hooked and immediately sent him a message. I fully expected him to respond that the pipe was already gone. But he did not. He said it was available and he quoted a price that I could actually afford with the birthday money that was coming to me. I did not hesitate for even a moment because this pipe would not last too long. I sent him a message saying that I wanted it and he responded with an invoice on PayPal. Before my lunch was even finished the deed was done and I had added a Batson to my collection. I could hardly believe what had happened. It seemed that one of the pipes on my wish list had actually become min. I copied the photos of the pipe and took them home to look at after work. I had arranged with the seller to ship the pipe to my brother in the US so it would be over a month before I actually saw it in person. When the pipe finally arrived I took a long time just turning it over in my hands to get a feel for the reality of the pipe in front of me. The pipe had an interesting stain that flowed from a dark colour on the rim top and down the left side of the bowl lightening as it moved onto the base of the bowl and the shank. The right side of the bowl was a lighter colour brown that matched the stain on the smooth portions of the bowl and shank. There was a smooth band around the end of the shank and there was a smooth band that ran from the front of the bowl to the shank. It has some stunning cross grain on the smooth portion. The sandblast is birdseye grain that took the sandblast in a unique way. The lay of the bowl is asymmetrical following the shape of a blowfish. But the blowfish has a twist in it that I have seen in other pipes this shape from Grant’s shop. The black acrylic stem is short and stubby but comfortable in the mouth. It flares and matches the end of the shank. The pattern flows from the sandblast browns of the shank to the smooth band at the shank end to the polished black acrylic of the stem.I always enjoy learning about the carver when I buy a handmade pipe. I like to read about his philosophy of pipe making and some of the history of the brand. I find that learning this background information gives me a feel for the pipe that adds another dimension to the smoking experience. When it came I did some research to refresh my memory in terms of information on Batson pipes, I turned to On the site under the CONNECT tab I found the information I was looking for. Grant had posted a well written article regarding his history as a pipemaker and his training. I have included the following from his site as it set the stage for me in terms of enjoying this pipe. I quote in some of Grant’s own words to give and idea of what attracted me to his work:

“Two years later, Todd Johnson generously offered me the opportunity to train under him. I took him up on that for 7 months. During that time, I met Teddy Knudsen, who invited me to work with him in his shop in Italy. I’m not a good enough writer to tell you how wonderful that was. Since then, I’ve worked alongside some of the world’s finest pipe makers, many of whom have become close friends. Today, I’m humbled and grateful to have judicious pipe enthusiasts, around the world, as clients.”  

 I really resonated with Grant’s humility and appreciated his training. I had met both Todd and Teddy in the past when I attended the Chicago Pipe show and have always been an admirer of their craftsmanship and true artistry.

MY INITIAL IMPRESSIONS OF THE PIPE really include what drew me to this piece of pipe art enough to want to add it to my collection and make it a part of my pipe journey. The seller had described the pipe as a smaller pipe, but that applies only in terms of length. It was well cared for and after my brother did an initial cleaning it was ready for me to use. The dimensions were: Length: 4 1/4 inches, Height: 2 inches, Bore: ¾ inches, Depth: 1 1/2 inches, Weight: 48 grams. The size of the bowl alone tells you that at least at that point the pipe is a normal sized pipe. I would classify it as perhaps a Group 4 sized bowl. There is a narrow band of smooth briar that separates the shank from the stem and provides a smooth transition from the sandblast to the smooth finish of the black acrylic stem. The application of stains – both dark and medium brown to the sandblast finish transitioning to a medium brown on the smooth band and the smooth bottom of the shank and up the front of the blowfish shape works well with the shape of the pipe. The stem is a handmade saddle shape from black acrylic. It is short and thin and surprisingly comfortable for a nose warmer stem. The stem shape and colour works well with the contrasting stains on the sandblast and smooth portions of the bowl. The button on the stem is thin and comfortable.DETAILED IMPRESSIONS – When the pipe arrived it was an impressive piece. The workmanship of the pipe, the deep and craggy sandblast birdseye grain around the entire bowl and the smooth cross grain up the shank and transition between sides of the blowfish shape gave it very tactile feel that really captured me. Some pipes like this one leave a lasting impression in my mind. I remember sliding the pipe out of the sleeve and enjoying the look and the way it sat in my hand. Grant had crafted a stunning pipe that really followed the grain of the briar in a fantastic way. It had the faint aromas of the Virginias that its previous owner had smoked and the bowl had no cake at all. It appeared to have not been fully broken in and there was still raw briar in the bottom third of the bowl. The smooth band around the shank end and working up the underside and across the front of the asymmetrical bowl has beautiful cross grain on it and the arched flow of the smooth band gives the pipe and added touch of class. Examining it up close it is obvious that it is blasted with a master hand. The pipe is stamped on the underside of the shank with Grant’s signature stamp – a wood plane over G. Batson, over 2015, over a stylized GB.  The asymmetry of the pipe is easy on the eyes. The balance between the height of the bowl and the length of the shank is perfect. The stain has variation and almost a sparkle when moved in the light. The black acrylic stem stands in stark contrast to the mix of brown stains on the bowl and shank. Together give the pipe an artsy and unique look that is classic Batson. The inner mechanics of the pipe are perfect. The drilling is perfectly executed from the shank and into the bowl – coming out exactly centre in the bottom of the bowl. The airway from the bowl into the mortise is centered. It is smooth in its entrance to the mortise and the mortise itself is also smooth with no rough spot left by drill bit. The end of the shank is sanded smooth and is finished. There is a bevel in the shank end to accommodate the tenon and provide a snug fit against the shank. The bowl itself is U shaped and smooth from sides to bottom. The air way enters the bowl and is smooth and clean.The draught on the bowl is wide open and effortless. Looking at the acrylic stem one is struck by the way the saddle portion of the stem follows the asymmetry of briar. Even the flat blade of the stem has a twist which follows the flow of the shank and bowl. It is hand cut out of a piece of acrylic. The tenon is Delrin and is seamlessly inserted in the stem. The airway is funneled slightly for a smooth transition from the mortise when it is in place. There is a very minimal gap between the end of the tenon and the base of the mortise. From the saddle back it is well tapered with good even angles top and bottom progressing to the button. The blade of the stem that is put in the mouth is thin and comfortable. The draught of the stem is unrestricted and open. When the pipe is put together the draught is effortless. The fit of the stem to the shank is very well done. The button is cut to my liking with a good sharp inner edge and tapered to the tip. It is a thin button with material enough to provide an edge that fits behind the teeth. The slot is rectangular with rounded edges and deeply funneled to deliver a uniform airway from bowl to button. The inside of the slot is sanded smooth and polished. The airway is absolutely smooth from slot to tenon. Grant did a great job shaping the stem and capturing a shape that really works with this pipe.The overall construction of this pipe is very well done. It is light in the hand and in the mouth. The shaping of the stem is exactly what I like in terms of the feel in my mouth. The blade from the button to the saddle is deep enough to give room for how it sits in my mouth. It is well balanced and tactile feel of the deep blast as it warms up during the smoking of a bowl is very pleasant. Like others in my American carver collection, I smoked the pipe at specific times in my life. Since it is a small pipe and comes with a thick leather pipe bag it is a pipe that I have carried with me on various trips I have taken for work. It is a pipe I enjoy smoking while walking on the streets during my visits to other cities and when sitting at a sidewalk café along the way. It is also one I smoke at home on the porch on weekly walkabouts. Since I received it I have smoked it enough to have a good thin cake developing in the bowl. I have dedicated the pipe to Virginia and Virginia Perique tobaccos. It delivered a good smoke from the first smoke I had in the bowl and continues to do so to this day. It draws well; the lighting has never been a problem and continues to be an effortless smoke. Now that I am writing this review up, the pipe is sitting next to my chair to smoke on the weekend. Thanks Grant for delivering a beautiful, well-made pipe that remains a very good smoking pipe to this day.If you can acquire a pipe crafted by Grant Batson I can assure you that it will not disappoint you and you will find that it will become a favourite in your rack. One of the things I love about pipes is that they live far longer than the original owner. I hold it in trust while it is in my care. The craftsmanship of this pipe gives the certainty that it will continue its journey well beyond the years that it is my companion. Thanks Grant for the great pipe… perhaps one day I will add another to my rotation.

An Admitted Relative Beginner’s Utterly Subjective Review of Pipes

Guest Blog by Robert M. Boughton
Member, International Society of Codgers
Member, North American Society of Pipe Collectors
Photos © the Author

CRITIC: n. A person who boasts himself hard to please because nobody tries to please him. ― From “The Devil’s Dictionary” (compiled 1881-1906), by Ambrose Bierce (1842-1913), U.S. printer’s devil, Union soldier [private-first lieutenant], Civil War hero, Federal Treasury agent and other low-pay money transport jobs, newspaper-magazine columnist, short story writer, fabulist, satirist, heavy drinker, brawler, daredevil

In a word, Ambrose Bierce was a gun-toting card, in the sense of a character, one-of-a-kind, clever or audacious; or, as one might say nowadays, a sociopath. I suspect Bierce would have approved of the latter term, and he is one cultural/historical figure I would like to meet if I could somehow arrange an interview – although, given his mercurial proclivities, I doubt I would want the rendezvous to occur in the region of the Hereafter where he might very well find himself. Besides, Bierce almost certainly would consider me too daring (“one of the most conspicuous qualities of a man in security,” meaning safety) for his tastes, wherever he is now.

Neither Bierce’s definition of critic, nor the long-standing common misconception that to criticize necessarily implies a negative bent, applies to this humble attempt to categorize my own personal favorites from among some of the pipe brands I have tried and collected. Call this a critique, then, to clarify my well-intended endeavor to review, based on my experiences, limited lists of brands in general and individual pipes.

I will be the first to admit the present list is somewhat meager, in particular considering my impossible dream of someday acquiring every pipe suggested to me by a wildly out of control case of Pipe Acquisition Disorder. In fact, I am already certain I will, maybe sooner than later, look back on this patently subjective exercise with the shiver of self-censure usually reserved for old drafts of literary attempts.

Then again, I’ve never been one to retreat from a challenge, even when I’m the one to throw down the gauntlet. Therefore, do not be surprised to find your own choices way out of order, so to speak, if not missing altogether. There are countless brands and styles I want to try, many of which are difficult to find outside of the high three-digit or even into the four and five figure price range. To those in that rarefied category of collecting, I can only say, more power to you, and may you enjoy your prizes for many years to come. I will provide more on a few of these hopeful future acquisitions later.

Which brings me to my next point: the origins of some of the pipes I have appreciated most, and indeed have come to cherish more as time passes, have proved to be untraceable, despite my concerted and ongoing efforts. A few – dare I say it? – can only be categorized as no-names. In other words (as I often find myself counseling clear newcomers to the thrilling world of pipe enjoyment, online at my own restored pipe sales business or even at my local tobacconist when opportunity knocks), the price tag is irrelevant.

My simple standards of review, by necessity, will rely on the following qualities.

• Is the pipe well-engineered? This refers not only to the alignment of the bit’s smoke channel, through the shank’s mortise and draught hole and ending flush with the bottom of the chamber; it includes construction elements such as materials used, bowl thickness, design and various factors effecting the ability to enjoy a good, thorough smoke without overheating, and the attendant tobacco performance issues of that problem.
• Does the pipe reflect my own sense of identity? Only a few times since I first smoked a pipe in 1989, when I was a non-traditional undergrad at New Mexico State University, have I been told by a fellow local club member that a particular pipe “looks good on me.” Now, there’s an interesting misnomer! I try not to end up wearing a pipe, though I have dropped more than a few with red-hot ashes in my lap and even scorched a shirt or two when a loose bit ran amok. One of these appreciated comments, as I recall, concerned a BBB Special Make 1982 Christmas Pipe, and another referred to a Peterson’s Sherlock Holmes Baskerville. Based on those two, I have to assume that a sturdier bent briar pipe looks good on me. But the fact is that most of the pipes I go back to over and over are straight, but I have to say the above complimented members of my growing collection are among my favorites, which vary in shape and from briar to meerschaum and other materials.
• Is the pipe comfortable in my mouth and hand?

I think that about covers that, although in no vital order.

Again, I feel a need to qualify this list as being based on the sheer numbers and relatively consistent qualities of the products made by these crafters. There are, to be sure, exceptions. Each brand is followed by its country or countries of origin and/or various manufacturing, and the year or approximation of establishment.

1. SAVINELLI (IT, 1876): Call it luck or what you may, but as Will Rogers suggested, I have never met a pipe created by this legendary maker that I didn’t like. That is to say, every Savinelli I ever smoked performed with excellence in engineering and taste.

2. PETERSON (IE, 1865): First Kapp Brothers, then Kapp & Peterson and finally its present incarnation, Peterson pipes by any name are almost tied with the second largest part of my collection, the other being meerschaums that I can’t include as a brand but would if there were any way I could rationalize doing so. I am quite fortunate to have chosen my Petersons well over the years from estate pipes restored by my good friend and mentor, Chuck Richards, as well as some used collector’s editions I bought from other restorer friends. Of course, there are also those I bought on eBay and cleaned up myself, and some choice new models pre-checked for perfect engineering by Chuck. The results have almost always been top-notch, despite the fact that each year when the time rolls around to examine all 120 or so pipes supplied to our tobacconist by its Peterson supplier for the annual Christmas sale, Chuck returns a surprising number. Some of these, he says, are defects in drilling; others are from the wear and tear of salesmen’s car trunks. Either way, the lesson I’ve learned is to check out pipes carefully whenever possible before paying.

3. KAUFMAN BROTHERS & BONDY (US, 1851): Creator of the Kaywoodie line in 1919 and Yello-Bole in 1932, KB&B has been an innovator of premier pipes for almost 165 years.

4. KAYWOODIE (US, 1919): From a 1930s Super Grain Lovat to some beautiful meerschaums, Kaywoodie has never disappointed me.

5. BUTZ-CHOQUIN (FR, 1858): While aware of fluctuations in quality throughout the history of BC, I have found none that isn’t an excellent example of everything a pipe should be, including a huge gourd calabash church with cork lining in the chamber and an exquisite meerschaum bowl insert. I concede that one is high-maintenance as far as cleaning is concerned.

6. BEN WADE (UK, 1800s, DK, c. 1989): What can I say? I just love Ben Wades, again choosing with care. My absolute favorites of these are a Town & Country Bent Dublin with a Barling Cross gold band accidentally placed on it in the factory, and a gorgeous Preben Holm Danish freehand made on the sly for Ben Wade.

7. STANWELL (DK, 1942): Whenever I look at these or find one in my rotation – the bamboo shank cherry wood, the Kyringe No. 1 beech wood Bulldog Commemorative or the Billiard #88 with tortoise shell ferrule, for example – I can’t imagine the collection I’ve cobbled together so far without them.

8. COMOY and CHAPUIS-COMOY (UK, 1825 and 1925, respectively): Say what you will about some of these pipes, I have yet to experience problems, not even with the splendid orange pebbled London made Panel I have often regretted gifting to a friend.

9. DUNHILL (UK, c. 1902-1907): Undoubtedly one of the greatest if at times inconsistent brands

10. GBD (UK, 1850): Named for three gentlemen who designed the original (Ganneval, Bondier and Donninger), GBD was begun by Chapuis-Comoy. This is a very popular brand, and from my dabbling with it I understand.

11. KARL ERIK (DK, 1965-1966): In my opinion, this is one of the most under-rated lines of mostly free-hands. Maybe now that he passed on, they will come to be admired more.

12. ROPP (FR, 1890): I happen to be an unabashed fan of the natural cherry wood line of Ropps (the thicker the bowl, the better – all of which smoke cool and are versatile with tobaccos. I also adore my old Eug. Ropp Signature that was one of my best restorations.

13. FALCON (metal – US, 1936, UK): I doubt I will meet much resistance with this brand, other perhaps than its placement on my list! Since Kenley Bugg invented this metal system pipe in the U.S. in 1936, it has sold tens of millions worldwide, not counting the spin-offs.

14. BEST BRITISH BRIAR (UK, 1847): Anything with three initials – BBB, LHS, KB&B – seem to fly off of my virtual sales shelves, and I can appreciate the reasons.

15. L&H STERN (US, 1911): Founded in NYC, this venerable pipe maker moved to a permanent Brooklyn factory in 1925 until it dissolved in 1960, and is still regarded as one of the best. I have to agree.

16. JOBEY (US, FR, DK, UK): This name may not be a smoker’s household word, but I’ve had good luck with them…and they sell well, too.

17. EHRLICH (US), 1868: Another lesser-known brand, Ehrlich makes great pipes with consistent quality. The company closed in its centennial year, 1968.

18. PARKER (UK, 1926): Dunhill seconds, these pipes may actually be more consistent than their famed creator.

19. RIMKUS PIPES (US, c. 2007): I know Victor Rimkus from my local pipe club in Albuquerque, New Mexico and have purchased four pipes from him (three of them early works and the fourth a commissioned double-chamber). Victor, being a perfectionist who constantly hones his innate talent crafting blocks of briar into works of art enhanced by his long experience as an engineer, discredits his earlier efforts at pipe making, but I can attest that even they are among the finest pipes I have ever smoked. He fashions everything, the wood and bits, by hand, employing tasteful additions including turquoise, bamboo and varied ferrule materials. The grain of his natural pipes is exquisite, and his finish work makes the final products stunning. Shapes include traditional, unique and variations on the two. One of Victor’s engineering standards allows for the ability to insert a cleaner with ease all of the way through the assembled pipe, from the hole in the lip of the bit and always ending up flush with the bottom of the chamber. The only reason I add Rimkus Pipes to the end of my favorites list is that they remain relatively unknown to the pipe world as a whole, although he is well-known at all of the major pipe shows and to discerning collectors of American pipes. But the fact remains they are among the very best. By the way, Victor’s son, Nathan, following his own path, also makes exquisite pipes. I’m still hoping he will craft a double-bowl pipe for me and presently have first right of refusal when he decides to take me up on the commission offer!

20. Don Warren Pipes (US, ?): Another Albuquerque master and friend from our club, Don’s original website notes that his pipes – briar, cherry, morta, hickory, maple, pecan, oak and walnut – are designed in the Danish freehand tradition, but really, many of them transcend that description. Unfortunately, I only own one of Don’s works (which he calls a Fine Figured Maple Gilpin), and look forward to buying many more of his unique and finely-engineered works. Other Don Warren products include bowls for Kirsten metal pipes. For basic information, see his old site at He now sells at, and

Oh, I can hear the uproar, grumbling and outright scoffing starting now. Look at all the missing giants! And what kind of order is this, in the name of all that’s holy! I can only ask by way of defense that the reader give me time. I’ll get there, and hopefully make updates as I progress! Also, after the top four, I found it very difficult to assign a number to most of these brands. Don’t get me wrong. I love and enjoy each and every one of the pipes I own, including my five Dunhills, four of which are especially prized if only for the sentimental value associated with the genuine old codger who gifted them to me. But mine do tend to smoke a bit hot.

Larry – as I will refer to my Dunhill benefactor due to his desire to keep professional details of his life separate from personal web information such as this – at age 91 chose, with great sadness but the better part of valor, to give up the pipe instead of the ghost just after his cardiologist threw a conniption fit when he found out my good friend had taken up his pipes again despite a genuine predisposition for heart disease. Larry (see experienced his first taste of the briar social elixir, as in “the quintessence or soul of a thing” [OED], when he was 18 and FDR was president. That’s a boggling idea for most of us to wrap our minds around, even those who know what FDR stands for.

I called Larry on Friday to see how he is doing, and he was as spry and full of good humor as ever. I told him I was getting constant questions about him and that everyone missed his warm personality and wonderful humor. He quipped, “You miss me for my wisdom!” and offered to drop by that night’s pipe meeting, as an emeritus (my word). Larry’s 92nd birthday was the next Monday, November 30, and I greatly admire his eventful, fascinating life so far. Sadly, we were the only two people there other than Candace, who was on duty, but we had a very pleasant chat with much humor. When Larry promised to return a week later, I knew I could count on him, and again look forward to the event.

I received the four lovely Dunhills, wrapped tightly in a plain brown paper bag, waiting for me at the tobacconist almost a year ago when I arrived for the regular weekly meeting and learned that Larry would no longer be able to attend. I procrastinated a serious attempt to date them until this writing, but never forgot the clear facial indications of shocked awe on those in my pipe club who know pipes far better than I, as they examined them when I passed the quartet around the large group. More telling was the general agreement that I should consider selling them! My eyes actually watered up at the mere notion of such a betrayal, not to mention the unending sense of guilt and loss I would experience. That is the despicable sort of habit I fell into before I began to recover from alcoholism coming up on 28 years ago.

At any rate, taking advantage of my private audience with Larry this Friday past, I asked if he had any idea how old they were. He told me three were from the 1970s, and one from the ’30s.

As was true with this blog, when I write I tend to make mental notes to return to parts that need additions. And so when I inserted the photos below with the models’ basic descriptions, I determined to date them no matter what it took. At last finding a reliable way to accomplish the task on my own, I used the two-digit year code usually found just to the right of the D in ENGLAND, or after the Patent Number.

A Dunhill Inner Tube, 1912, Courtesy of

A Dunhill Inner Tube, 1912, Courtesy of

As it turned out, I tentatively guessed the pipe made in the 1930s but was flabbergasted by my full findings. I just emailed Larry my discovery.

Root Briar #433 – 1916

Root Briar #433 – 1916

Shell Briar #114 – 1917

Shell Briar #114 – 1917

Bruyere #4103 – 1925

Bruyere #4103 – 1925

Shell Briar Canadian #34 – 1934

Shell Briar Canadian #34 – 1934

As I already clarified, I value these Dunhills above almost all of my other pipes, and with more virtuous motivations than their extreme age and potential resale value. I would never consider parting with them because of how they came to me. Still, as they are my only experiences with the Dunhill brand and all seem to smoke on a notably hot side, I have to be practical and as unbiased as possible in my judgment – which perception a little voice in my ear whispers is most liable to change with more exercise of my P.A.D. Still, #9 isn’t shoddy!

For those who enjoyed my favorite brands list, the subjectivity of this part should come as a real treat. (That’s semi-facetious!) However, on the plus side is that a far greater number of pipes, brands, shapes and materials will be represented, and by the very nature of that variety, the potential for redeeming the very possible negative perception of my judgment will be decided. And so, for better or worse, here they are.

1. Cavicchi 4C Silver Band Freehand (IT)rob6
2. Castello Old Antiquari KKKK (IT)rob7
3. Sasieni Four-Dot Rustic (IT)rob8
4. Savinelli Autograph Grade 4 Rusticated Bottom (Restore) (IT)rob9
5. Savinelli deluxe Milano Panel #515KS (Restore) (IT)rob10
6. CANO A. OZGENER (CAO) Silver Band Lattice Meerschaum (US)rob11
7. Barling Special Make 1982 Christmas Pipe (UK)rob12
8. Butz-Choquin Meer Insert Gourd Calabash Church (FR)rob13
9. BC Regence Extra Curved Billiard (FR)rob14
10. Ben Wade Town & Country Dublin with Gold Barling Cross Band (UK)rob15
11. BW Preben Holm Danish Freehand (DK)rob16
12. Comoy’s Satin Matte (Restore) (UK)rob17
13. GBD Super Q Bent #9456 (UK)Rob18
14. Kaywoodie Vintage Small Meer Billiard (Restore) (US)rob19
15. Rusticated Red/Brown Meerschaumrob20
16. The Doodler (Restore) (US)rob21
17. No-Name Italian German Folk Wine Pipe (Restore) (IT)rob22
18. La Grande Bruyere Vintage Mini (CZ)
My first restore before:rob23
19. No-Name “The Beak” (Restore) (IT)rob25
20. Peterson Sherlock Holmes Baskerville (Restore) (IE)rob26
21. Stanwell Kyringe Beech Wood Bulldog #1 Commemorative (DK)rob27
22. V. Rimkus Double Chamber (US)rob28
23. Sjoborg Danish Panel (Restore) (DK)rob29
24. WDC Wellington Custom Deluxe Pot (Restore) (US)rob30
25. Lepeltier Glazed Ceramic (US)rob31
26. Jobey Rustic Apple (Restore) (US)rob32
27. Johs Semi-Rustic Danish Billiard (DK)rob33
28. Dr. Grabow WWII Era Birch Dublin (US)rob34
29. Kaywoodie Super Grain 1930s Lovat (Restore) (US)rob35
30. Ser Jacopo Maxima Delecta Fatta a Mano (IT)rob36
31. Stefano FX Bean Pot (IT)rob37
32. Royal Goedwagen Ceramic Billiard (Restore) (NE)rob38
33. Don Warren Fine Figured Maple Gilpin (US)rob39
34. Playboy African Meer (Restore) (UK?)rob40
35. Falcon, c. 1930s-1940s (US)rob41

These are a few of the more expensive pipes on my wish-list. The two Russian pipes shown had no price, but the styles and quality usually have four-digit tags.

1. Buddha Bamboo Shank Pipe – Doctor’s Pipes (RU)add1

2. Evgeniy Looshin Pipe (RU)add2

3. Dunhill Christmas Pipe 2015 Kit — $2,150Add3

I could go on and on with photos of my favorite individual pipes, but I think I demonstrated that my tastes are at least eclectic if not fully satisfied. With hope, they never will be.

A Review – A Lannes Johnson, LJ Heart Handmade 2 Heart Apple

Blog by Steve Laug

Before I post this review I wanted to let you know that it has been in the works for many months now. Somehow I misplaced this little pipe and only found it this morning. I loaded a bowl and smoked it as I wrote the review. It is a great little pipe. I only wish I had kept it in the rack when it arrived. But, it is kind of like getting a new pipe when you find one that you have misplaced. Without further ado, here is the completed review.

LJ1 I want to introduce this pipe review with a little bit of information that is taken from the book From Pipes, Artisans and Trademarks, by José Manuel Lopes. Lopes states that Lannes Johnson was an artisan pipe maker from Texarkana. He was a graduate in Medical Technology, and that was his profession for around thirty years. He began making pipes in 1997, having first bought a kit from Mark Tinsky, and later learned the art from Trever Talbert.

Lannes preferred making traditionally shaped pipes, working with Greek brair and with stems in vulcanite and lucite. He stamped them originally with his name, Lannes Johnson and later used LJ in a heart (“pipes from the heart”), adding the grade, date, origin and handmade. His earlier grading was as follows, in ascending order: L (Legion), T (Tribune), C (Centurion), G (Governor), and E (Emperor), to which he adds the numbers (1 to 5, according to the beauty of the wood and the design of the piece). Later his grading changed as follows, in ascending order as well: one to five hearts. Symbol: LJ (in gold, silver, or white) in a heart.LJ2 When I purchased the pipe I copied the following information off of Frenchy’s website and from Lannes’ own website. I am certainly glad that I did as it is no longer available. I will let Frenchy himself give you some information on Lannes Johnson.

“LJ Heart pipes are high quality, handmade pipes crafted from 30 year old Grecian and select Corsican Plateaux Briars. The stems are made from the best Vulcanite available (and rarely, Lucite), most feature Delrin tenons. None of the pipes have any fills, so there are no surprises. These pipes will give you a cool, dry smoke from the start without break-in. I really love the green Cumberland stems LJ’s been usin’…”

The following gives you a glimpse of the philosophy he had about making pipes and the way he went about it as he told it on his site.

“… All LJ Pipes are guaranteed for the life of the pipemaker. Pipes will be repaired, or replaced, at the discretion of the pipemaker. Naturally, this guarantee does not apply to pipes abused by the owner… I want you to be happy with your LJ pipes. A tremendous amount of effort has been put forth to insure that you have one of the finest smoking pipes available in every LJ Pipe. If for any reason you are not completely satisfied with the LJ Pipe just simply return the pipe in the condition in which you receive it and your funds will be promptly and cheerfully refunded. No questions asked!”

“Many LJ Pipes are made from 30-year-old Grecian Plateaux Briar. This briar is no longer available at any price, anywhere. I have a large quantity of this briar, enough to easily last me the rest of my life, it is really exceptional and I am so lucky to be able to craft pipes from this quality briar. I have received many compliments concerning the grain, smoke induced taste, and lightness of the briar. The briar is perfect now for pipemaking due to only containing approximately four percent moisture. Recently I have started using some Algerian Plateaux, Corsican, and Select Corsican Plateaux briars in addition to the 30 years old Grecian Plateaux for pipe crafting. Every effort will be made to identify the origin of the briar in the pipe description.”

“No LJ Heart pipes will ever contain fills-ever! No way Jose! I call these shop pipes and they are usually smoked by myself, gifted to smokers, or destroyed. Briar is a naturally occurring product and is subject to contain sand pits, variations in color, and just minor irregularities in general. I will make no efforts to conceal or hide very minor imperfections during the construction of LJ Pipes. Naturally, every effort will be made while shaping the pipes to produce a pipe free of any briar blems. If there are any issues in any LJ Pipe I do guarantee they will be made known to any prospective buyers if I am aware of them. Sometimes, even the pipemaker is unaware of their presence in briar until the pipe is in the hands of the buyer and after the pipe is smoked.”

“All pipes will be stamped with a custom stamp to identify the pipe as a LJ Handmade. The custom stamp will be a heart with the initials LJ inside the heart. Pipes may be stamped with additional makers marks such as grading, date, origin, and handmade. I seem to have preference for traditional shaped pipes. I smoke them, I like them the best, and naturally this influences the pipes that I make. I like pipes that I can smoke every day and treat as normal pipes. I like straight pipes and slight bent pipes the best so these are the types of pipes that I am enthusiastic to make and this shows in my crafting…”

“…LJ Handmade pipes are available in several finishes. All LJ Handmade smooth finished are hand sanded to a satin smooth finish, stained, and liberally coated with Carnauba Wax. I use traditional Aniline stains on my pipes in different colors and combinations. Additionally, many times I use LJ Custom Stain that I developed and have used for many years. It is an alcohol based stain but is not an Aniline stain. The stain is light in color and very durable. I like this stain very much and use it often.”

“I like rusticated finished pipes. Rusticated pipes are probably my favorite finish. I use rustication to enhance the aesthetics of pipes that have little to offer in the way of grain. I think that pipes partially smooth/rusticated are very attractive and will sometime make striking aesthetic enhancements to a pipe. Robert Vacher, longtime friend and fellow pipemaker, made my rustication tool and gifted it to me. Thus, all pipes that I rusticate will be labeled as having Vacher Rustication. I love it and it is the only rustication that I have ever used.”

“LJ Handmade Pipes are constructed by hand. Lathes are used in the drilling of stummels for air holes and tobacco chambers. Tobacco chambers are available in three popular sizes, 3/4″ Custom Taper, 13/16″ Custom Taper and 7/8″ Custom Taper. 13/16″ is my favorite size to smoke so look for many pipes drilled in this size. You will find the custom design of the tobacco chambers in LJ Handmade Pipes will enhance the airflow of the pipe while insuring combustion and smooth burning of tobacco in the chamber. Tenons will be made from Delrin, ported, and used whenever possible in all LJ Handmade Pipes. I love Delrin because of its durability, self-lubricating properties, and it just about eliminates any tenon problems found in pipes. Not all pipe designs, or various stem shapes, allow the use of Delrin but every effort will be made to use Delrin whenever possible.”

“Pipes will be graded in a series of 1 thru 5 and the pipes will be correspondingly stamped with a custom 3/32″ LJ Custom Heart Stamp. One heart being the lowest grade and 5 hearts being the highest grade pipe. Any grading is highly subjective but it does relate the pipemakers overall opinion of the briar graining etc., construction, and general feeling about the pipe.”

“I have found that it usually takes about 6 smokes to get a pipe to break-in. I realize this is a highly debatable issue but this reflects my feelings. When you get your new pipe the briar in the pipe is very dry and needs to be hydrated slightly before use. Many methods have been used to do just this. Before the first smoke just wipe the interior of the tobacco bowl with some tap water, saliva on finger, etc. to put just a small amount of moisture in the bowl. This will help hydrate the briar. The hydration of the briar is necessary before the first smoke only. Subsequent applications of moisture to the tobacco chamber are not necessary but will not damage the pipe either. I recommend that you not get the pipe really warm, or hot, for the first six smokes. You need to season the briar a bit. If you are an aggressive puffer just put the pipe down an allow it to cool before relighting. Fill the bowl full of tobacco during the break-in period. The pipe will smoke better and much cooler and give a more pleasant break-in smoke. After the first six smokes, smoke the pipe as you normally would. With just a little care on your part this pipe will provide you with several lifetimes of quality smoking.”

“Thanks for your faith and patronage of LJ Handmade Pipes. They are the best pipes that I am capable of making. I really feel they are “Pipes From The Heart”, my heart to you.”

I had learned about Lannes Johnson on Frenchy’s website and had followed his pipe making there for quite a few years. Later I chatted with him on Smoker’s Forums an online pipe forum and shared stories and even enjoyed some tobacco he sent me. Then one day I decided to have him make me a pipe so I commissioned a straight apple pipe from him around the fall of 2008. I have had it since then and continue to enjoy it. I had put it in a cupboard and just found it recently. It is once again in my current rotation.

It is a beautiful little straight apple sporting a hand cut green Cumberland stem. It is stamped with his signature LJ in a Heart and Handmade next to it. On the underside of the shank it is stamped with two hearts which is how he graded the pipes that he made. It was cut from well cured Greek briar that had been in LJ’s shop for a while getting acclimated. The briar has two small flaws in it – the first is on the bottom of the bowl toward the front and the second is on the right side near the top of the bowl. Lannes never filled the flaws but left them as they gave character to the briar. The weight of the pipe is 1.60 ounces or 45.4 grams so it is light in the hand and the mouth. But the measurements are as follows. The tobacco chamber is drilled ¾ inches by 1-7/16 inches deep. The pipe itself is 1 1/2 inches wide and 1 3/4 inches tall. The overall length of the pipe 4 ¾ inches. I took it out today and took some outside photos of the pipe against a palm tree in my backyard. The green of the palm really highlights the green Cumberland stem.LJ3 Lannes did an amazing job fitting the shape of the pipe to the grain of the briar. The grain runs diagonal across the sides of the bowl coming from the front and ending toward the back of the bowl. The bottom of the bowl has birdseye on the rim as does the rim and the top and bottom of the shank. LJ hand sanded the briar to a satin smooth finish, stained, and liberally coated with carnauba wax. He used an LJ Custom Stain that he spoke of above. It is an alcohol based stain but is not an Aniline stain. The stain is light in color and very durable. The bowl is round and an apple shape and the shank is at a slight angle giving the stem a canted look. The combination of the natural finish and the green Cumberland stem give the pipe a very clean look.LJ4 The stem is a hand cut green Cumberland taper that angles back to a thin button where it flares to the same width as the shank junction. It gives the pipe a stubby look like a nose warmer even though the pipe is five inches long. The Cumberland is a good grade of material and has not oxidized in the years I have had it. The tenon is Delrin and is inserted into the stem material. It is perfectly centered in the circle of the stem face. The airway in the end is chamfered inward to form a dished end that is well-polished.LJ8 The button is on the small size and does not have a well-defined lip or edge. The shape does work for me but one day I may have to give it a little more definition. Looking at the button from the end it is a fat oval that curves at the edges flattens out on the top and bottom surfaces. The end is also flattened and the slot is shallow and Y shaped into the airway. LJ made the slot oval shaped, but different from the oval of the button. Where it was flattened and rounded, the slot is more curved and shaped like an eye. The airway is like a pupil in the middle of the eye. It is a comfortable and well executed pipe. A pipe cleaner passes easily through the pipe with no obstruction.LJ7 Lannes is as good as his word in crafting the airflow dynamics in his pipes. The draught is clean and easy with no whistling or tightness. The draw makes smoking it a pleasure. The bowl chamber is drilled to 3/4 of an inch diameter with a rounded bowl bottom. Lannes left the tobacco chamber uncoated but sanded smooth. I smoked it several times when I got it but because I misplaced it the cake has not really begun to form. The draught hole is centered perfectly above the bottom of the bowl and seems to have a slight funnel leading into the shank and stem. The fit of the stem to the shank is excellent – smooth and snug with no light showing at the joint. The tenon fits well in the mortise and is almost against the bottom. The airway is in the center of the mortise and aligns perfectly with the airway in the tenon. The edges of the tenon have been polished and rounded and the airhole countersunk so that it meets the airway in the mortise. Looking at the airways with a flashlight it is clear to see that they are smooth and polished with no rough edges. The interior of the pipe is smooth and polished from the button to the bottom of the bowl.LJ5 When the pipe arrived I loaded it with some aged McClellands 5100. I wanted to make it a dedicated Virginia pipe because of the shape and size of the bowl. Those first smokes were very good and confirmed my decision about keeping it a dedicated Virginia pipe. It smoked cool and dry and delivered good flavor with the Virginias that I choose to smoke in it. After finding it again today I have loaded it once more with some aged McClelland Dark Navy Flake (2035) and am not disappointed with the great smoke it delivered. I intend to enjoy it throughout the weekend ahead and move it into rotation in my rack.LJ6 I am glad I found this pipe once more and reacquainted myself with it. I was quite pleased with the craftsmanship of Lannes work when it arrived and after seven years of not seeing the pipe I am still pleased with it. Lannes Johnson provided me with a beautiful little smoking pipe. It is light weight and comfortable in the hand. I am not sure if Lannes is still living. I have looked for him on the web and have come up empty handed. I want to let him know that I have and will continue to enjoy the pipe that he made for me. While he may no longer be making any more pipes there are many of his showing up on the web as estate pipe. I would definitely recommend that you give them a try. I don’t think that you will be disappointed.

A Review – Two Pipes by Jack Howell: An Acorn and a Lovat/Nosewarmer

A Blog by Steve Laug

Jack Howell Pipes LogoI first saw Jack’s pipes on Smoker’s Forums many years ago now and had to have one of them. The shape that captured my interest was his sand blasted acorn shape. He had posted several of those and others on the forums had picked them up. I believe that it occurred in late 2007 or early 2008 because I do know that it happened in conjunction with the first Chicago Pipe Show that I attended. I spoke with Jack early in the New Year about crafting me an acorn shaped pipe. He gladly made one with a beautiful sandblast finish with contrasting stains. There was a faux ivory (at least I think it is) shank ring and faux horn extension on the stem itself. The stem was vulcanite and had an integral tenon. Jack sent me the photo below of the finished pipe. I was stunned by the beauty of the pipe and we sealed the deal. Jack would bring it with him to the Chicago Show and we would connect and finish the deal. Needless to say I could hardly wait to have the pipe in hand.Jack1 Chicago soon came and I met Jack in the lobby of the Pheasant Run Resort and we did the deal. He gave me the pipe and I paid immediately via Paypal so as not to cut into my show budget. It was one beautiful pipe. I commissioned this pipe from Jack knowing full well that it would be magnificent and he did not let me down. The pipe was everything I had hoped for and more. Its length of is 4.75 inches and the bowl height is 2.25 inches. The bowl diameter is 1.5 inches. The chamber diameter is .75 inches and depth is 1 1/8 inches. It sports a hand cut vulcanite stem with a built on extension of faux horn. The pipe is acorn shaped with a ¼ bent stem that fits well in the hand. The shank is shaped round, though larger at the mortise end than next to the bowl. It has a slight curve from the end of the shank to the bowl. It is stamped on the underside of the shank Howell over JH over 2008 in a round smooth spot. The bowl is acorn shaped with a definite point on the bottom that hangs below the shank. The rim is smooth in contrast to the sandblast finish of the bowl. It is slightly beveled inward. It has band of faux ivory at the shank end that sits against the horn when the stem is in place.Jack2The finish on the outside of the pipe is a sandblast that is visually very pleasing. It is a craggy blast that is not too deep a blast but highlights the ring grain on the sides, front and back of the bowl and on the sides of the shank. On the bottom of the bowl and shank is a beautiful sandblasted birdseye that highlights the pattern of the grain. The rim is finished smooth showing the birdseye grain in the surface. There is a very tactile feel to the sandblast on the bowl and shank that feels great as the bowl warms during a smoke.Jack3 The bowl is stained with a dark brown or black under stain that goes deep into the grooves of the blast and highlights the deeper parts of the blast and the rings and whorls on the birdseye. The higher parts of the blast are stained with a reddish coloured medium brown stain that is a perfect contrast and adds depth to the finish. In contrast to the bowl and shank Jack cut a black acrylic stem that combined with the translucent horn extension and ivory band make an elegant looking finished pipe. The blacks/dark brown stain on the sandblast also provides contrasting highlights to the total package of the pipe. Jack did a great job on the stain and finish of the pipe.Jack4 The stem itself very nicely worked. It is an vulcanite stem that is cut at slightly less of a flared angle than the shank. The faux horn band on the stem works as a shank extension. The vulcanite is made to look as if it is inserted into the horn cap but in reality is attached to it. The combination of black and horn gives the stem a formal and stately look. Jack did an amazing job shaping the stem. The short blade of the stem is thin and has a good even tapered flow from the saddle to the button. It is matched in terms of angles on the top and the bottom and on the left and right side of the stem. The design along with the slight bend makes it fit very comfortably in the mouth. It also rests well enough that it can be clenched quite easily. The tenon has been cut from the vulcanite and is integral to the stem and is the same length as the mortise. The fit is snug. The end of the tenon has been rounded and funnelled for good airflow.Jack5 The button is very thin in width but is elevated above the surface of the stem so that it gives a good edge for holding behind the teeth. It is thinner on the edges with a gentle rise at the centre top and bottom. The slot in the end of the button is inward at the same angles as the exterior of the stem to deliver a mouthpiece that has the same diameter from start to finish. It is also open and rectangular with the same distance from the outer edge of the button to the inner edge of the slot all the way around.Jack6 The mechanics of the pipe are well done. The bowl chamber came without a bowl coating and the briar was smooth and had no flaws of pits. The bowl is drilled straight into the acorn shape and rather than having a rounded or U shaped bottom has a V or conical bowl. Jack did a great job with that alignment. The draught hole is centered at the bottom of the bowl and seems to have a slight slope from the bottom to the top of the airhole. There is a very easy and open draw to the pipe. The fit of the stem in the inset shank extension is smooth and tight. The tenon sits deep in the mortise – if not exactly the same length then impressively close! The fit of the tenon is also smooth. The drilling of the draught in the shank is centered in the end of the mortise. The tenon on the stem is drilled to match it and there is no misalignment to the two. The air pulls clearly through the pipe with no whistling at all. Using a light to shine through the various airways reveals smoothly executed airways on the inside. Very nice work on the drilling, it is extremely well executed.

I have been smoking it since I received it in 2008. I started smoking some McCranies Red Virginia Flake at the Chicago Show and have continued smoking Virginia tobacco in it. I have smoked Virginia flake and broken flake tobaccos in it and it packs easily and stays lit. Smoking it is a pleasure and is uncomplicated and effortless. I have been pleased with it from the start as it has always smoked smooth with none of the new pipe break in woes. Thanks Jack for a well-made pipe that smokes as good as it looks! I am not sure you remember making this one for me but it has become one of my favourites.

With that great experience with one of Jack’s pipes when I saw the little Howell Lovat/ Nosewarmer come up for sale on the Smokers Forum Classifieds I immediately sent a private message to the seller and added it to my rack. The first four photos below are the ones that the seller posted to advertise the pipe. It is a short pipe with a thick shank and a large bowl. The stem is stubby. The smooth finish highlights the grain and the faux ivory band is identical to the one on the Howell Acorn above.Jack7



Jack10 I paid for it and when it arrived I found that it was far more rich and beautiful than the pictures had shown. Having already been introduced to the magic of Jack’s pipes I knew that this one would also be a great smoker and it had the benefit of being well broken in by the seller. He had smoked Virginias in it so that would be an easy transition for me. I was a little suspect of the short stubby stem and would have to see how it smoked. It certainly would be a pipe to smoke while sitting and contemplating and not a clencher. Its length of is 5 inches and the bowl height is 2 inches. The bowl diameter is 1.5 inches. The chamber diameter is 7/8 inches and depth is 1 1/2 inches. It sports a hand cut acrylic stem. The pipe is a short Lovat shape with a stubby straight stem. It sits nicely in the hand. The shank is round and quite thick, almost 7/8 inches in diameter. It is stamped on the underside of the shank identically with the Acorn. It reads Howell in an arch over JH over 2008. The bowl is quite large – a full sized bowl. The rim is smooth and is slightly bevelled inward. It has band of faux ivory at the shank end that sits against the acrylic stem.Jack11 The finish of the pipe is smooth with a contrast stain that highlights straight and flame grain on the bowl and the shank. It is visually very pleasing. The grain is mixed flame and straight grain all the way around the sides of the bowl and the shank. On the top and the bottom of the bowl and shank is a beautiful tight birdseye grain pattern that has a slight flare of flame grain at the shank end and curving up the sides. The beveled rim also shows the birdseye grain. The bowl is quite thick but warms nicely when smoked and radiates a nice heat to the hand during a smoke.Jack12The bowl is stained with a dark brown or black under stain that makes the grain patterns of the straight, flame and birdseye stand out. There seems to also be rich medium brown stain that is a perfect contrast and adds depth to the finish. In contrast to the bowl and shank Jack cut a vulcanite stem that combined with the ivory band makes an elegant looking finished pipe. The blacks/dark brown stain brings out the grain and makes it stand out against the top coat. Jack did another great job on the stain and finish of the pipe.Jack13 The short stubby stem took a bit of getting used to. At first it was not very comfortable and I wondered if I would ever get used to it. It did not sit very deep in the mouth. With my teeth on the button the saddle of the stem sits against my lips. I don’t know if you can picture the way the pipe sits from my description but I hope you get the picture. This pipe was made to be held in the hand not in the mouth. The button itself is very thin in width but is elevated enough that it gives a good edge for holding behind the teeth. It is thinner on the edges with a short, quick rise at the centre top and bottom that ends abruptly at the round short saddle. The slot in the end of the button tapers inward in a V shaped funnel to meet the airway. It delivers a mouthpiece that has the same diameter from start to finish. The slot is open and rectangular with the same distance from the outer edge of the button to the inner edge of the slot all the way around.Jack14 The mechanics of this pipe are also well done. The bowl chamber came to me already smoked and well broken it. The bowl is rounded or U shaped with the walls descending straight to the curved bottom of the bowl. The draught hole is centered at the bottom of the bowl and seems to have a slight slope from the bottom to the top of the hole. There is a very easy and open draw to the pipe. The fit of the stem in the inset shank extension is smooth and tight. The tenon sits deep in the mortise and is the same length as the mortise. The tenon fits smoothly in the mortise and tightly against the end of the shank. The drilling of the draught in the shank is centered in the end of the mortise. The tenon on the stem aligns with the airway in the end of the mortise. The air pulls clearly through the pipe with no whistling at all. Using a light to shine through the airway in the stem and the shank reveals smooth and polished airways. The drilling and alignment are spot on. Well done once again Jack.Jack15 I have been smoking it since I received it in the fall of 2008. The pipe had been broken in on straight Virginias so I have continued smoking Virginia tobacco in it. It seems to love McClelland Virginias and delivers a rich and flavourful smoke every time. I have smoked both flake and ribbon Virginias in it and it smokes both very well. I have to say that the shape and style of the stem on this one does not make smoking it as much of a pleasure as shape and style of the acorn does. It is not as comfortable and because it tends to be a pipe to smoke when sitting and reading I do not pick it up nearly as often as I do my other Howell. But the grain and the shape in the hand bring me back to it again and again when I want to just sit and relax or think.

Both of my Howell pipes equally deliver a great, flavourful smoke. I would not trade them for another pipe but will continue to enjoy them in my rotation. I think if you have not tried one of Jack’s pipes you owe yourself a gift of one of them. I can only say that if it smokes like my first acorn it will not be the last one you purchase. His website is and he responds quite quickly to email requests. Now it is time to load a bowl of some aged 5100 in the Acorn and enjoy a bowl before I call it a night.

A Review – Jan Pietenpauw Rhodesian – The 2010 PipeChat Pipe of the Year

Blog by Steve Laug

StampJan Pietenpauw pipes are made by Jean du Toit and his son in Pretoria, South Africa. In 2009 and 2010 I was regularly online at the PipeChat forum. Jean was a regular there as well. When the 2010 Pipe of Year was being discussed Jean was asked to make the pipe for the forum. He consented and I followed the process with much interest. The shape chosen was Jean’s take on a Rhodesian. He combined both smooth and sandblasted finishes on the pipe. The stem material was Cumberland and there was a shank extension that was applied like a ring to the end of the shank. Jean used Delrin tenons inserted in the Cumberland stem. When Jean posted pictures of the shape and the finished pipes I had to have one and placed my order promptly.PipeChatPOY I am fairly certain that quite a few of you have not heard of either Jan Pietenpauw Pipes or of the carver, Jean du Toit. I have now had the pipe for over five years and have been smoking it regularly. It is a good smoking pipe. I remember that when I received it I wanted another but somehow time went by and I have only one in my collection at present. It was reasonably priced and promptly delivered. If you can get one of Jean’s his pipes I don’t think you will be disappointed. His work can be seen on his website at:

When the pipe arrived in the mail from South Africa I opened the package and took out the handmade pipe glove that the pipe was placed in for protection and storage. I was amazed at its beauty. The contrasting colours, the combination of blast and smooth finish, the stepped down Cumberland stem were quite stunning. As I held it in my hand I could not believe how light it was. The length of the pipe is 5.5 inches. The chamber diameter is .75 inches the chamber depth is 1.25 inches. It is comfortable to hold in the hand and in the mouth.Jan3

Jan2 The pipe has a mixed finish. The Rhodesian top cap is smooth and the bowl and shank are sandblasted. The stain on the cap and a thin ring on the end of the shank is a light/medium brown colour and the sandblasted shank and bowl are stained with a black under stain and what appears to be a oxblood top stain.Jan4 There is a patch on the bottom of the shank that is smooth and bears the stamping – Pipe Chat over Pietenpauw over PoY2010. PipeChatPOYBottom The sandblast is not deep and craggy but highlights the ring grain around the bowl and the birdseye on the top of the shank and on the underside of the shank and the bowl. The bowl is a classic Rhodesian shape with a slightly Danish flair. The shank is slightly under-slung and hangs below the bottom of the bowl. The shank extension is a smooth, dark African wood (I cannot remember what it is). It contrasts well with the sandblast and picks up the lines of the Cumberland stem. The combination of stains and finishes gives a dimensionality to the pipe that is fascinating. The unique finish and shape of the pipe is distinctive and feels great in the hand when held during a smoke.Jan5 The stem is a hand cut Cumberland taper that has a nice flow back to the button. The stem blade tapers gradually back to the button where it flares to the same width as the flare at the shank. It is just the right thickness at the portion that rides in the mouth – not too thick or too thin. It is made of quality material as it has not oxidized in the years I have had it. The tenon is Delrin and threaded into the stem. The end is rounded slightly and is wide open. It is well-polished. The button is the size and shape that I really like – thin at the edges with a very slight rise to the centre top and bottom, forming an eye shaped end view. The lip on the button is just thick enough that it fits well behind the teeth for a comfortable feel. The slot in the end of the button is also funneled and flattened to deliver a mouthpiece that has the same diameter from start to finish. Jean left the slot flat and rectangular but well finished. The attention to detail shows the love of his craft that is transmitted into this pipe. It is a comfortable and well executed pipe. A pipe cleaner passes easily through the pipe with no obstruction.Jan6 The internal mechanics are well-crafted with an attention given to the airflow dynamics. The draught is clean and easy with no whistling or tightness. It has an easy draw that makes smoking it a pleasure. The bowl chamber is drilled to a 3/4 of an inch diameter. The tobacco chamber was coated with a black, thin bowl coating that did not detract from the flavour of the tobacco in the initial smokes. The bowl was U-shaped and smoothly sanded on the sides and bottom. The cake built up on the bowl very easily. The draught hole is centered in the bottom of the bowl and seems to have a slight funnel leading into the shank and stem. The fit of the stem to the shank is excellent – smooth and tight with no light showing at the joint. The tenon fits well in the mortise and sits deep in the mortise against the bottom. The airway is in the centre of the mortise and aligns with the airway in the tenon. The edges of the tenon have been polished and rounded and the airhole countersunk so that it meets the airway in the mortise. Looking at the airways with a flashlight it is clear to see that they are smooth and polished with no rough edges. The interior of the pipe is smooth and polished from the button to the bottom of the bowl.

Like most of my pipes I broke this one in with some aged McClellands 5100. The bowl now has a thin cake from the heel to the rim. It is still a dedicated Virginia pipe and always delivers a good tasting smoke. It smokes cool and dry and delivers good flavor with the Virginias that I choose to smoke in it.

A Review – a Jobert Olive Liverpool

Blog by Steve Laug

Johan_SlabbertMany years ago while I was active on the Yahoo pipes page I had conversations with Johan via email and public posts regarding some of his pipes. I was intrigued with the varieties of African wood that he used for his pipes. Good friend John Offerdahl had several pipes made by Johan and I liked the look and feel of them. Over time I settled on an olive wood Liverpool shaped pipe. I contacted Johan and the deal was struck. My olive wood pipe was on its way to Canada.

Recently I had the pipe out and was smoking it and wondered what had ever happened to Johan. I had heard that he had been ill and was no longer making pipes. I had emailed a few times and gotten no response. His website was down and unavailable so that did not bode well in my opinion. When I decided to write up a review of my wonderful pipe by Johan Slabbert the creator and crafter of Jobert pipes I went digging on the web to see if I could find more information regarding what had happened to him. I found a good write up on

The opening two sentences of the article gave me the information I was seeking. All of the posts and interactions I had read had spoken of a serious health issue for Johan. While that may be true it seems that his pipe making was cut short by “the untimely death of his friend and fellow pipe maker Leon du Preez…” Since that time Johan Slabbert no longer made pipes. The opening paragraph goes on to say that this information“was confirmed by his wife”.

The article also included the following for Johan himself. It reminds of what was originally on his website but I cannot confirm that at this point. I have copied the article here for ease of reference:

“I am Johan Slabbert from Goodwood, a suburb of the Cape Peninsula, South Africa.”

“I am a self trained pipe maker and a wood lover. Since my retirement in 1992, I kept myself busy with woodcarving, sculpturing, wood turning and restoring/renovating antique furniture. I also collect antique carpenters’ tools and other memorabilia.”

“During October 2000, while pondering what else I could do, I took one of my old collectors’ pipes and after 30 years I lit up a pipe again. While smoking, the idea came to me to try pipe making. Well, you are seeing the results now.”

“No Briar was available and I used our local obtainable wood like Wild Olive, Leadwood, Mopane, Black Hookthorn and African Black wood, which turned out to be very good smokers and popular among the local pipe smokers. I have since obtained some Briar, which I cherish.”

“My pipes are specially engraved with my logo “JOBERT”, an abbreviation of my first and last names.”
“Since I started creating pipes, I made a lot of pipe smoking friends on the Internet. I am also a member of the “Stuttgarter Pfeifen Freunde-79”, the “Buenos Aires Pipa Club” and the “Confraria Do Cachimbo” of Brazil.”

My own Jobert is a large Liverpool shaped pipe crafted of Wild Olive wood. It is a heavy piece of wood – far heavier than briar of the same size. It is 6 inches long and almost 2 inches tall. The tobacco chamber is 1 9/16 inches deep and 7/8 inches in diameter. The stem is handmade from vulcanite and its taper is smooth enough to make a comfortable stem. The shape execution is well done, though not quite ‘classic’. Johan takes a unique interpretation of traditional shapes. The craftsmanship, drilling and fit are all precise. This finish is natural, and no attempt has been made to mask or cover any imperfections in the graining of the wood. Wild Olive is visually stunning and unique in its pattern and flow.Jobert 1 The look of the pipe, the natural wood and feel of it in my hand continues to keep me coming back to this pipe. I remember when the pipe arrived. I cut open the package, removed the bubble wrapped package on the inside and took the pipe out. I was immediately struck by the look and feel of this pipe. Johan had done a magnificent job on this one and it was beautiful. There is something about the smell and feel of a new pipe that is unique and special. In this case I could almost taste my favourite green olives in the aroma of the new pipe. The grain pattern swirls around the bowl and shank with a contrast between the dark lines and the warm light colour wood between the lines.Examining at it I can see Johan’s masterful plan in laying out the cutting pattern of the piece of wood he chose. It is a beautifully laid out pipe.

The stamping on the shank reads SOUTH AFRICA on the left side neat to the shank/stem union. On the other side it is stamped Jobert in script. The overall flow of the pipe from the bowl to the stem well executed. The natural colours of the olive wood bowl and shank are a stark contrast with the black of the tapered stem. The combination really sets off the pipe and gives it an air of distinction.Jobert 2 The inner mechanics of the pipe are perfect. The drilling is straight and true from the shank and into the bowl – coming out exactly centre in the bottom of the bowl. The airway from the bowl into the mortise is centered. It is smooth in its entrance to the mortise and the mortise itself is also smooth with no rough spot left by drill bit. The end of the shank is sanded smooth and is finished. There is a bevel in the shank end to accommodate the tenon and provide a smooth fit against the shank. The bowl itself is U shaped and smooth from sides to bottom. The air way enters the bowl and is smooth and clean. The draught on the bowl is wide open and effortless. The bowl was bare – no bowl coating had been used to prepare the bowl.Jobert 3 The stem is either hand cut vulcanite or a modified stem blank; it is very hard to tell. The shaping and flow are nicely done and descend gently to the button leaving a good thin bit for the mouth. The taper is even on both sides and the bottom with good even angles top and bottom progressing from the shank to the button. The bit end of the stem is thin and very comfortable. Johan did a great job shaping the stem and capturing a shape that really works with this pipe. The tenon is cut from the vulcanite stem and is quite short and compact. The airway is drilled wide open and lines up with the one in the mortise end. There is a gap between the end of the tenon and the base of the mortise that serves as a short condensation chamber.

The draught of the stem is unrestricted and open. When the pipe is put together the draught is effortless. The fit of the stem to the shank is very well done. The button is cut with a good sharp inner edge and tapered to the tip. It is a thicker button compared to most of my pipes but still works for me. The edge provides a place for the button to fit behind the teeth. The slot is a straight rectangle and fanned out from the slot to the airway in the stem. The inside of the slot is sanded smooth and polished. The airway is absolutely smooth from slot to tenon.Jobert 4 The overall construction of this pipe is very good. While not a work of art per se it is highly functional and delivers a flavourful and cool smoke. The finish is probably the biggest weakness in this pipe. It is rough with sanding scratch marks left behind. More time spent with higher grit sandpaper would have polished the wood to a glassy finish. Over time my hands have rubbed the finish smooth. One day I may well sand it down and refinish it myself but have not done that yet. The pipe is slightly heavier than a briar that is similar in size. It is well balanced and fits well in the hand. I have smoked the pipe a lot since I got it and have chosen to keep it as a designated English or Balkan pipe. Latakia smokes exceptionally well in it and seems to deliver a fuller range of flavours than some of my briar pipes. From the first bowl I smoked in it the pipe delivered a good smoke and continues to do so. It draws well; the lighting has never been a problem and continues to be an effortless smoke.

Thanks Johan for delivering a beautifully grained, well-made functional pipe that remains a very good smoking pipe to this day. Over the years the grain has darkened and both the lighter and darker portions of the bowl have acquired a grey brown hue that is quite nice.Jobert5

Jobert6 If you can acquire a Jobert pipe, regardless of the type of wood, it will not disappoint you. It consistently delivers a great smoke. It may well become a favourite in your rack. For those who have never owned or smoked a Wild Olive pipe, try to find one you like and purchase one, you will not be sorry. Like others have said before me, Olive wood pipes initially impart a very nutty quality to a bowl of tobacco. Eventually as the cake develops in the bowl this property fades.Jobert7

Jobert8 I am sure that this will not be the last Jobert that own. I am on the prowl for one that fits the styles that I am now collecting. One day it will turn up and I will pounce on it. Until then I will continue to look and enjoy smoking this Liverpool. If anyone has heard on Johan is doing I would love to hear from you. If Johan, you happen to read this review of your pipe, I hope that you are well. Know that I continue to enjoy this beauty that was made for me.