Tag Archives: estate pipe hunting

It turned out to be an Epic Pipe Hunt


Blog by Steve Laug

Jeff and his wife Sherry went on an overnight trip to Utah and did a bit of pipe hunting along with other things on their agenda. Throughout the day Jeff would either Facetime or send me a message with photos of what he was running into.  As I watched from a distance it seemed to me that he was having an epic pipe hunting trip. Each place he went whether new places that we have not been to before or places that the two of have hunted in the past yielded some great finds. I progressively wished that the border between Canada and the US was open so that Irene and I could take a trip down and join them on their journey. The first picture below is the one that he sent me when he got home – he gathered everything together and took the photo. He found the six pipe rest to the top left of the photo and the carved fisherman at the top center. Both were very interesting pieces to me. The find included a lot of different brand pipes and two of them freehand bowls without stems. There were quite a number of unsmoked pipes in the lot as well. A list of the pipes he found will be shown below with a closer look at that portion of the main picture. The first picture gives you a good feel for what he found this hunt. The second picture gives a closer look at the carved fisherman and the pipe rest. Pipe hunting over Facetime is not as good as being there but it allows me to experience some of the joys of the hunt. Thanks Jeff.

Jeff made a list of the pipes by column so that I could have a good feel for his finds.

The first column on the left has the following pipes from top to bottom:

  1. The 6 pipe rest
  2. Cowan’s Handmade Custom Unsmoked Pot
  3. Cartigiano Italy – freehand bowl sans stem
  4. Israeli Made Bridge Freehand – bowls sans stem
  5. Cowan’s Handmade Custom Unsmoked Squat Apple
  6. Genuine Meerschaum Imported Lovat (meerschaum lined??)
  7. Meerschaum Apple with acrylic stem and gold plated band

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The second column from the left top to bottom has these pipes.

  1. Sasieni Four Dot Ruff Root Bark Billiard – Unsmoked with box and sock
  2. Scandanavian Freehand with plateau and rustication
  3. Preben Holm Regal Freehand
  4. W.O. Larsen Copenhagen Freehand with horn shank extension
  5. Dunhill Shell Briar Billiard 1969
  6. Blatter Montreal Billiard – red dot
  7. Mauro Series 2 Italy – Bent Billiard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The third column from the left top to bottom has these pipes.

  1. Sasieni Four Dot Rustic Billiard – Unsmoked with box and sock
  2. Sasieni Four Dot Ruff Root Bent Volcano
  3. Sasieni Four Dot Walnut Billiard
  4. Savinelli Non Pariel 9412 Bent Dublin
  5. Castello Natural Virgin Saddle Stem Billiard
  6. Castello Sea Rock Briar Apple
  7. Savinelli Capri Root Briar Dublin
  8. Comoy’s Blazon Rusticated Billiard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The fourth column from the left  top to bottom has these pipes

  1. Cowan Handmade Custom Bent Bullmoose
  2. Cowan Handmade Custom Bulldog – unsmoked
  3. Gourd Calabash (small) with an amber stem
  4. Custom Bilt Taper Billiard
  5. Custom Bilt Scoop
  6. BBB Natural Grain Zulu
  7. Caminetto Business Pot
  8. Cowan Handmade Custom Apple – unsmoked

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This truly was an epic pipe hunt when you look at the brands of pipes he found and how many of them were unsmoked. The Dunhill, Sasieni, Preben Holm, Castello, Caminetto, Custom Bilt and BBB are well known brands and those alone were great finds. Added to that some of the others such as the odd Comoy’s Blazon, the older Gourd Calabash and the Savinelli Non Pariel give depth to the find. The unsmoked Cowan Handmade Custom pipes are a new brand to me and one that should be fun to search out. I would say that Jeff had a great pipe hunt and from the list of pipes I would say and epic one.  I only wish I could have been present as there is nothing quite like walking into an antique shop and finding a bonanza of pipes that have not been picked through. Thanks Jeff for sharing the trip.

A Great Day Pipe Hunting in Southern Alberta


Blog by Steve Laug

Whenever I am traveling I try to fit in some time, no matter how short to do a bit of hunting for pipes and pipe accessories. My last trip to Alberta earlier this week was no exception. My friend John and I went on the prowl on Monday to see what we could find. In the past I have had good hunting in Nanton and in Airdrie, Alberta. So we planned our hunt for those two cities. The photo below shows the success of the haul. In the paragraphs that follow I will talk about each pipe that I found.huntWe headed to Nanton first, a small Southern Alberta town south of Calgary. The community has developed into a place known for antiques with quite a few antique shops along its two main streets. We parked the car and began the hunt. I always get a bit of an adrenaline rush when I am looking for pipes. There is always that niggling sense that I may find something really amazing that will top the scores I have found over the years – an older Dunhill or Sasieni pipe or the like. So I am gnawing at the bit to see what I can find. I tend to move quickly through a shop looking at the various displays or I ask the shop keep if there are any pipes in the store… kind of depends on my mood as you will see in the descriptions of our hunt.

We went into the first shop, a combination Ice Cream, Candy Shop and Antique store. It always has a lot of tobacco tins and pipe racks that are worth a look. John found a nice two pipe rack for his garage smoking area. It was in great shape and since all the antiques in the store were being sold at half of the price tag the little rack cost him only $5 and change. You can see that it was an easy decision to make to buy it. He settled up and took his pipe rack with him.

We walked down the street and crossed to the other side where the second shop was located. In the past I have picked up some nice pipes from that shop. This time was going to be the same. I found the bent pipe in the case shown in the photo above. It is stamped Celtic over Made in France on the left side of the shank. On the right it is stamped 268 which I am pretty sure is a Comoy’s shape number. It is a well made pipe with a sterling silver band. The tag on it read $35 but since the case did not really match the pipe I made the shop keeper an offer – the pipe, case and the random stem that was on the shelf for the $35 original price he had on just pipe and case. He nodded his approval and after a few shared stories we left his shop. Now both of us had our first finds of the day.

We moved down the street a few doors and opened the door to the crowded third shop. We made our way to the counter to see what kind of pipes might dwell in the midst of the all the collectibles that filled the narrow aisles of the small shop. I asked the clerk at the checkout counter, who ended up being the owner, if she had any pipes. She handed me a mug with some pipes in it. I laid it on the counter and had a look – there was a Grabow pipe that was in rough shape, a Missouri Meerschaum Cob and a worn Falcon that were all overpriced. I mentioned that to her but she was not interested as they were on consignment. I handed the mug back to her and was getting ready to leave when she reached to the side of the counter and lifted a cased pipe from a shelf. It was in a nice black leather case with a dark blue lining. On the inside of the case top there was a GBD in an oval logo over Speciale in stamped in gold. The bowl in the case also bore the same stamping. It sported an oxidized silver band. The stem was missing and the clerk told us the sad story of how someone had stolen the amber stem and left the pipe behind. It was marked at $35 but since the stem was missing I asked her what her best price was for the pipe. She let it go for $25 and said to have fun fitting a new stem on the bowl. I added my second pipe to my hunt kit.

We walked to the corner of the main street and turned left. On the left side of the street was the fourth antique shop. We opened the door and went inside. Immediately inside the door on our right was a display case that held quite a few pipes. There were clay pipes, corncobs, Falcons and Dr. Grabows. In the midst of them were the two that I chose from the lot to add to the hunting kit. The first is shown in the first column of the photo above. It is the second pipe on the left side. It was a Kirsten K pipe. It was in decent shape though the end cap on the barrel is stuck in place. The stem has a gasket/O-ring so it is a newer one. The second one is the amber stemmed bulldog with the over clocked stem. It too has a silver band that is stamped with hallmarks and AF in a lozenge. On the left side of the shank it is stamped with the letters CNO stacked together so that the C encircles the other letters. Above that it is stamped with a crown. She let the two pipes go for $50. I added these two finds to my hunt kit. Nanton was turning out to be a great place for finding pipes this trip. I had added four pipes to my lot for an average of $25 a pipe and had a random stem and two pipe cases. Not bad for a morning’s hunting.

We left Nanton after visiting one other shop along the street with no additional purchases. We drove north toward Airdrie, Alberta and a large antique mall on the west side of the highway north of Calgary. When we got there we parked and pushed the door open to enter a typical antique mall with lots of stalls, sellers and locked cabinets. This was the type of place that really required almost two walk throughs – the first to scope out the place for pipes and the second with the clerk and his keys to have a look at the pipes that we had scoped out.

The last time I was there I had picked up some nice Peterson pipes and GBDs. So John and I went to the first cabinet where I had previously found the Petes and found an assortment of pipes. The only one that caught my eye was the first one in the right hand column of the photo above. It is stamped with the words Twin Bore over Bite Proof on the left side of the shank. On the right side it is stamped with the typical Comoy’s COM stamp – Made in England in a circle with the “in” central. The stem is a twin bore. I am pretty sure that it is a Comoy’s Made pipe. It was priced at $20.

We wandered through the aisles of the shop and looked at some nice pipes that were seriously overpriced and left no margin for reselling them after they were refurbished. So I left them behind. One of the cases had a nice older 3 dot Canadian Brigham that was marked Display not for Sale. It would have been a nice addition but the seller of that booth was out of the country. Wandering through the rest of the mall we saw a lot of standard antique mall pipes – Dr. Grabows, Tourist pipes, corncob and Chinese made pipes with metal bowls masquerading as old pipes. I had almost given up and called it a day. I began to make my way to the counter to pay for the Twin Bore when in the last case we looked at before the counter I found a nice little Wally Frank Lovat. It is the last pipe on the right hand column in the above photo. It has an interesting combination finish of rustication and smooth areas around the circumference of the bowl. It was marked at $12 so it was a deal. I left the shop with two more pipes at a cost of $32.

With the new additions to the hunt kit I had found six pipes for a price of $137 or $23 per pipe. Not too bad a haul or price for the finds of the day. It was a great day with John. We headed back to Calgary and his home. We relaxed over a great meal of chicken fajitas with guacamole, cheese, salsa, peppers and sour cream on flour tortillas. This was a perfect end to a great day hunting.

A Good Day Hunting Orchestrated Between British Columbia and Idaho


Blog by Steve Laug

About a week ago I received a call from Gene, a gentleman that my brother Jeff and I visited when I was down in Idaho. We had purchased a large lot of pipes from him that I have begun to clean up and restore. He had purchased a batch of 37 pipes as an estate from an old customer of his when he had his Pipe and Tobacco Shop. He was trying to get a hold of my brother to arrange a time when they could meet and Jeff could look over the pipes. I asked him to send me a picture of the pipes he was talking about. He said that he wanted to pick through them himself so not all of them would be for sale. The photo below shows the 37 pipes that he had purchased. I sent the photo and the fellow’s contact information to my brother. They arranged to meet to go through the pipes the next Friday.pipehunt1My brother drove to his home and spent a couple of hours with him over a cup of coffee talking pipes. He had a great time with Gene and ended up buying 16 pipes that day. On his way home he also stopped by an antique shop and picked up four more pipes they are shown from various angles in the photos below. He also picked up an interesting older porcelain tobacco jar at one of the antique shops on his journey. The jar is visible in the photos below.

The pipes he found are shown in the photos below. In the first column on the left are three pipes: the top one is a Charatan’s Make Canadian Sandblast 0121, the second is a four dot Sasieni Pembroke with a patent number, Pat.No. 150221/20, the third at the bottom with the rusticated bent bowl and the Lucite shank extension is an Estella by Savinelli that is stamped Nonpareil 9606. The second column from the left contains: first a Savinelli Dry System 2101 military bit billiard, second a GBD Midnight 788, and a Stanwell Antique Bulldog 156 with the wrong stem. The third column from the left has another Savinelli Dry System bent billiard 26, followed by a GBD New Standard 9438 Rhodesian, followed by an old CPF Best Make Bulldog with an amber stem. The fourth column has just two pipes a bent Gefapip Giant bent billiard 2SM and a Winslow Viking with the wrong stem. The fifth column shows a stemless Rungsted Mariner bowl made by Preben Holm, a Savinelli Roma 111KS and a Stanwell made Danish Star 64. pipehunt2In the next photo the last two columns toward the right are shown. From the top of the colulmn next to the Rungsted Mariner there is a Savinelli Punto Oro Mr. G.606KS, Comoys MG 184, a Stanwell Antique 56 Canadian and a GBD Prodigee Hand Hewn bent billiard 1526. The last column includes a Dunhill Bruyere Canadian EC 4R and a Jost’s Supreme Diamond Shank bent billiard.pipehunt3pipehunt4The four pipes that came from the antique shops were by far the most prestigious of the finds. These included the Charatan’s Make Canadian Sandblast 0121, the four dot Sasieni Pembroke with a patent number, Pat.No. 150221/20, the Dunhill Bruyere Canadian EC 4R and a Jost’s Supreme Diamond Shank bent billiard. The rest of the pipes are also nice additions that came from the meeting with Gene. I had to laugh last evening when I talked with him; he was just talking about hoping that he would one day find a Dunhill. Now, when he was cleaning up the pipes he found he was looking at the stamping and about fell over – the elusive Dunhill was in his hands and he had paid only $8 for it. This is the kind of find that pipe hunters live for! pipehunt5I can only say that my brother had an amazing day pipe hunting. The only thing that would have made the day better would have been to be able to accompany him on the hunt. The caliber of the pipes he found is excellent. The ones he walked away from included more standard finds – Grabows and Medicos and pipes with cracked bowls. And to cap the day he had found three stellar collectibles – a Charatan’s Make sandblast Canadian, a Sasieni Four Dot Pembroke and a Dunhill Bruyere EC Canadian. Not bad finds for a day of pipe hunting!

One of those unforgettable days Pipe Hunting


Blog by Steve Laug

Last week I was in Idaho to spend time with my 87-year-old father who needed to have the aorta valve on his heart replaced. His surgery was on Tuesday and went exceptionally well. On Thursday morning my brother Jeff and I visited him in the hospital and then drove to a neighbouring city to do some pipe hunting. There is something about the thrill of a pipe hunt that is hard to beat in terms of the adventure of the hunt and the thrill of the finds. It is something that we both enjoy doing and it is great to be able to do it together. In preparation for our hunt that day we had done a bit of research on our destination city. We had visited a few shops in the town where my brother lived and picked up a magazine of antique shops. He had hunted pipes in the neighbouring community so we knew there were a few shops.

But in our digging we found that there were 13 antique shops in that city and that many of them may well have pipes. So we drove the fifty miles to get there with expectation but we had no idea what we would run into when we arrived. The first shop we went to had several pipes that I picked through. I purchased a bent billiard Peterson K-Pipe with a fish tail stem that was in decent shape for $10 and the shop keeper gave me a GBD Lovat with a severely cracked bowl. He sent it along to see if I could do anything with it and only wanted photos of the process.

The second shop we went to had no pipes but did have a wealth of information for us on the antique shop scene in the city. She recommended two shops owned by a husband and wife team that was only a couple of blocks away. We walked to the shops and enjoyed a great visit with the wife and the staff of the two shops. They went through their stock in the back room and were able to find four pipes that I picked up – a Dr. Grabow bent bulldog for $8, an Ehrlich Canadian with a monogram on the shank $8, a Ben Wade Freehand $6 without a stem and a Peterson System pipe bowl without the stem for $3. I had happened to put a stem in my bag when I flew to Idaho for another pipe my brother had and it fit perfectly. So far I had spent a whopping $35 and had six pipes to show for it. I was pretty pumped and we had only covered four shops at this point.

We put our bounty in the back seat of the car and drove to the next shop. The owner had sold out everything in her pipe section but a couple of beat up corn cobs. I asked if she had any other pipes in the back. She thought for a moment and then opened a bag under the counter and took out a nice flat bottom rusticated Jobey Stromboli Bent sitter. I don’t remember the shape number as it is still packed away. That one was $10. She recommended another shop to us so we drove to the next shop. It was a small hole in the wall shop – an old single story house that had been converted into and antique shop.

When we got there the owner was outside painting the building. She said that her 84-year-old mom was running the shop and she would show us the pipes that they had. We looked around for a while and she pointed out their stock. I picked up a Peterson Dublin Castle that was barely smoked for $42 and a Scandia Bent acorn with a twin bore stem for $6. I also picked up a nice leather pipe pouch for $10. My brother picked up a beautiful Servi Basket Weave carved block meerschaum for $49. It was barely smoked. By far this was the shop where we spent the most – a total of $107. We had 10 pipes and a new pipe pouch for a total of $152 at this point in the process.

In the course of our conversation with the mother of the shop owner it turned out that her husband had owned a pipe shop and that these pipes were some of his stock. I asked if he had more and if he would be willing to have a couple of visitors. She called him and let me talk with him about what I was looking for. It turned out he was willing to meet us at his house if we were serious about buying estate pipes. He had many that he was motivated to sell. We left the shop and drove to his house. He met us at the door smoking some Lanes 1Q in a Stanwell. He took us into the kitchen to show us what he had for sale. He had a rack of 36 pipes and a small rack of about 6 and at least 6 unsmoked and four smoked Gourd Calabash pipes. There was also an assortment of other loose pipes on the counter to look at. On the floor was a large ice chest filled with bulk tobacco that he was also selling.

As I looked over the pipes I felt like we had hit the jackpot with this lot. I spent a lot of time talking with him as I went through the pipes he had displayed for sale. I mentally catalogued the ones on the rack. There were 7 Savinellis, 6 Petersons (2 shape 999 one of my favourites), 2 Bjarne pipes, 2 Nordings, 1 Dunhill Shell, 4 Italian Corsena pipes, a Castleford, two older horn stemmed pipes, a Tracy Mincer author, a Jobey Asti,a Dutch made ceramic double walled Dublin, a Stanwell 63 and a Lane billiard. I looked through the others and as I picked them up he would get a sentimental look on his face and remove those from sale. There were a lot of pipes for sale in that lot. He kept repeating that he was a motivated seller. While I was fiddling at choosing a bunch to take with me, Jeff asked him what he wanted for the lot. He stalled a bit but finely gave us a price for the rack and the pipes that were on it. We dickered a bit and he threw in a Gourd Calabash for my brother. We made a deal and added 35 more pipes to the days finds along with a solid oak three tiered 36 pipe rack. I also picked up a tin of GLP’s Blackpoint and a sealed package of Esoterics’ Peacehaven (a pleasant mix of 6 Virginia tobaccos).

We loaded our bounty in the car and bid the old pipeman farewell. He hinted at the fact that he had many more pipes that he would be selling in the near future so I am sure we will one day go back for another visit. We had a bit of lunch and made our way back to the hospital. All in all it was one of those amazing days. We came home with 35 pipes (several that were unsmoked), a pipe pouch and an oak pipe rack. My brother has been hunting pipes for a while now and we both knew that this was a rare find that we had stumbled upon – we got to cherry pick a pipeman’s estate and bring home some of his old pipes. It was a mixed lot but there were more than enough really nice pipes in it to make it a worthwhile purchase. Besides that we got to meet a nice older pipeman who was thrilled that his pipes were going to someone who obviously loved pipes as much as he did.

Oh, I almost forgot. When he had his shop I used to stop by there on the way to visit my mom and dad. I stopped and bought pipe tobacco and cleaning supplies from him over the years. When we walked in his front door he remembered me and I remembered him. That was the icing on the cake for me. He had closed his shop several years before and I had lost touch with him. It was a very good day pipe hunting.

When we got back to my brother’s house I set up the pipes and took the following photos of the haul. You can see the amazing pipes that we found. The first photo shows the rack and the finds in their entirety.Hunt1The next photos I tried to get some closer pictures. The first one below shows rows 1 and 2 of the rack. The second one shows rows 2 and 3. The third photo shows the pipes on the table in front of the rack. I put the Peterson stem I had brought along in the Peterson bowl I found. See if you can identify the pipes in the rack and on the table. What do you think of the results of our hunt? I am still pretty pumped by the find and had to share it with folks who understand what it feels like to make this kind of find. Thanks for looking.Hunt2 Hunt3 Hunt4

A Perfect Pipe Hunting Day


On Friday John, a friend of mine from Calgary, Alberta came for the weekend for a visit. We planned to go to the US for a day so that I could take him to a couple of pipe shops in Bellingham, Washington – the Senate Smoke Shop and the Fairhaven Smoke Shop (I have written reviews of both shops here on rebornpipes). When John arrived and we were planning our day he said that he also wanted to visit some of the places where I went hunting for estate pipes when I am down there. It was going to be a great day and I was hoping that we would find some good pipes to make his first hunt a success. We decided to leave early on Saturday morning and spend the whole day hunting. We crossed the border, headed to a local restaurant for breakfast while we waited for the shops to open. We each downed an order of biscuits and gravy, bacon and eggs and orange juice. We took our time to enjoy our breakfast and once had finished we headed to the first hunting spot – an antique mall.

We cruised slowly through the store looking at all the cupboards and tins, ferreting out old pipes. I found quite a few old timers that did not grab my interest. John found a pigskin covered opera pipe stamped Longchamp and bearing a horse on the stem. It was in good shape and lightly smoked. The rim was tarred and the leather dirty. It had a ¼ bent stem that was very clean, though oxidized. He found an old 10 pipe rack made of oak and a brown glass humidor in the middle that had a worn finish but beautifully grained wood. It came with four old pipes – a Falcon, a nylon Falcon style pipe, a Yello-Bole Bulldog and a no name Imported Briar Apple full of fills. We paid for our finds and headed to the next stop to see what we would find. I had a bit more luck and found an old Canadian stamped Paul’s and Italy. It was a large Canadian made from a nice piece of briar but was filthy and the rim was beat up. I purchased my Canadian and then we moved on to the next shop. IMG_2051 IMG_2052 We visited with the shop keeper who had just returned from a trip to California and he showed us a dozen or more pipes that he had purchased from an estate. None of them caught our attention but we had a great visit with him before heading to our next stop. At that shop we enjoyed looking through the pipes that were for sale. John picked out two of them that caught his eye. The first pipe was a Danish Sovereign Peewit shaped sandblast. It was a dark brown/black stained blast with a typical Stanwell style stem. The shank bore the stamping Danish Sovereign, shape #30. The stem was dirty but easily fixable. The tenon had an interesting Delrin sleeve over the end that made the diameter large enough to fit the shank as it had been drilled out to make it larger. I am not sure why they had enlarged the shank but it had been well done. The second pipe was a Peterson Dumore shape 72 that had some beautiful grain – birdseye on the sides and cross grain on the front and back of the bowl. The stem was in great shape though badly oxidized. All totalled John had added seven “new” pipes to his “new” round 10 pipe rack. IMG_2050 I picked out four that caught my eye. The first one was a Savinelli Punto Oro 804 Canadian black sandblast that was in decent shape. The finish was very good while the stem was oxidized but had no tooth marks. The bowl was smoked but clean. It would be an easy one to clean up. The second was a Peterson Tankard with a rounded rim and a military bit. The finish was very worn, the stamping was weak in spots but it said Peterson Tankard over Made in the Republic of Ireland. The stem was oxidized and had a few tooth dents on the top and bottom sides near the P-lip button but should clean up nicely. The third one was a Dunhill Shell Billiard with a saddle stem. It was stamped Dunhill Shell over Made in England. Next to the Shell stamping it had a 23 stamped. On the other side of the Dunhill stamping it read 42121. After the D in England it was stamped 20 which if I read it correctly makes it a 1980 pipe. It had a nice blast and the finish was not terribly worn. The rim was dirty and the bowl was thickly caked. The stem had the inner tube insert in the tenon and it extended to the airway in the bowl. The stem was badly oxidized and had tooth dents in both the top and bottom sides near the button. The fourth pipe was an Astley ¼ bent cherry wood. It had a black rusticated finish and the stamping on the smooth bowl bottom read Astleys over 109 Jermyn St over London. The shape number 48 was under that. The bowl had a thick cake and heavy buildup on the rim. The finish though was in very good shape. The stem had a thick calcification on the top and bottom, tooth marks and chatter as well. It was oxidized but bore a very clean capital A stamp on the top of the saddle. The stem was over bent. IMG_2049 We stopped by the Senate Smoke Shop and spent the better part of an hour visiting with the owner/proprietor, Mike. John bought two pouches of tobacco from him before we left the shop to drive south to Fairhaven to visit his other shop. I had visited the Fairhaven Smoke Shop many times over the years and it has the air of an old time pipe and tobacco shop. I always enjoy going there and wanted to introduce John to the charms of the place. We visited with Jesse, the sales clerk and I picked up a pouch of McClellands Oriental and a few flakes of 2035 that had some age on it. We each bought some bundles of pipe cleaners so that we could clean up the pipes we had added to our collections.

We finished the hunt having had a successful day each of had found some good pipes, some tobaccos to try and John had picked up a nice oak pipe rack for his pipes. We decided to celebrate a great day and headed to a favourite Mexican restaurant of mine for lunch while we looked over our finds. We laughed and ooohed and ahhhed at the various pipes we picked up. We had a great visit over lunch and after lunch found a spot outside to enjoy a bowl of our new tobacco and visit before we headed back to Canada. We relaxed and smoked our pipes and commented on what a great day it had been. We were pleased with our finds and looked forward to working on them later. When our pipes had gone out we tipped out the dottle and headed home.

The plan was to spend the evening cleaning up John’s purchases – both pipes and the pipe rack so that he could take home some clean pipes and a refinished rack. He wanted to learn about the craft of refurbishing so these pipes would be a great place for him to begin. Over the evening we refinished the pipe rack – stripped it and restained it with a light Cherry stain. We washed the humidor and reattached the clay disk to the lid. We also refurbished the Peterson Dunmore, the Danish Sovereign Peewit, the Falcon (the bowl was shot, so I gave him an extra bowl that I had here), the Yello-Bole Bulldog and the Longchamp Opera pipe. John loaded his car and left this morning with his cleaned and restored finds for a short road trip back to Calgary. It was great to spend time with him chatting, hunting, refurbishing and enjoying our pipes. I always enjoy my visits with John and on top of our normal good visits this time we had added great day pipe hunting. IMG_2106 Now the time has come to begin cleaning up my pipe hunt finds. I am looking forward to seeing these five pipes cleaned and refurbished and then filled with tobacco to smoke for many years ahead.

The Pipe Hunt – Rule #4: Buy estate pipes that challenge your refurbishing abilities


When I formulated Rule #4 it was a natural outcome of my pipe refurbishing self-training. I purchased according to what I wanted to learn until I had learned it. For me this method of buying old pipes provided the class time/workshop time where I could practice some of the tips I was reading about and learning from others in the online community. I have never been particularly shy about asking “how” and “why” questions. Ask my daughters and they will tell that one of my nicknames is “Why”. Buying pipes according to what I wanted to learn in refurbishing quickly became a habit that I really did not take time to think about until I was ready to move on to something new. I often picked pipes that I really was not interested in keeping in my collection but because they had problems that would be teaching/practicing opportunities for me. This has been the case each step along the learning curve for me. In the rest of this article I will trace out my journey in refurbishing through the kinds of pipe I bought. Through this monologue on the journey you will see my process and the method to my madness.

When I began my refurbishing education in earnest my earliest purchases were pipes that were dirty and caked but did not have any issues requiring technical skills. I was looking for very straightforward cleanup jobs. The bowls just needed to be reamed and cleaned and the stems cleaned and deoxidized. They were not chewed on or beat up on the edges of the rim. They were not charred or badly damaged. They had merely been smoked and used. I bought that kind of pipe and worked on them until I was ready to move from learning how to cleanup minimal external and internal issues. I wanted to learn how to clean a pipe from the inside out. I bought reamers – actually I have over twenty different kinds now residing in my work kit. I tried them all until I found the ones that worked best for me. I read about processes of cleaning shanks and bowls. I bought a retort and learned how to use it. I practiced with salt and alcohol treatments. Everything I did was done with a single purpose in mind – to learn how to clean a pipe. Once I felt comfortable in the process of cleaning out a pipe it was time for me move on and learn other aspects of the craft.

The second skill I wanted to learn was to refinish a pipe bowl. This influenced the type of pipes that I hunted for and purchased. I looked for ones that still had intact stems with little damage but bowls that needed to be refinished. I bought sandblasted bowls, rusticated bowls, smooth bowls all types and shapes. I wanted to learn how to remove the finish from a pipe and then to prepare it for restaining. This involved different methods for cleaning each kind of finish.I learned to top a bowl and remove damage to the inner and outer edge of the rim. I learned to steam out the dents in the bowl and to remove or minimize dings and scratches. I learned to sand smooth bowls and rims with varying grades of sandpaper and micromesh sanding pads. Each step in sanding taught me to be pickier regarding the scratches and sanding marks I left behind. Once you have a pipe almost finished and have to start over and resand you quickly learn to work at the preparation more carefully. I spoke with several pipe makers to learn the art of staining and where to get the aniline stains. I learned (and I am still learning) the techniques of staining and practiced them on many pipes. I worked on various colours and blends of colours. I worked on understains and overstains. I worked on learning how to do contrast stains. I worked on buffing the bowls and sanding them after staining. It was a great learning curve, one fueled by the kinds of pipes I bought.

The next step in my refurbishing course came from the previous one. After staining old pipes and still being bothered by the fills that were eyesores to me I decided to learn how to replace the old pink wood putty fills. I tried a variety of methods all learned on bowls I picked up at garage sales, antique malls, junque stores and thrift shops. The idea was to remove the fill and replace it with something that would take the stain. I tried putties and filler sticks and still was not happy. I tried wood glue and briar dust mixed with a bit of stain and was a bit happier. But I found that the wood glue dried shiny and still stood out on the bowl. I moved on to try superglue and briar dust and am very pleased with how it works. It is a dark colour in contrast to the lighter/pinker colour of the putty but it is solid and hard when it dries and does darken with the stain. I began to look for pipes with fills to remove and practice on in the stores. I found many pipes that I practiced on and then passed on to the racks of new pipe smokers. The pipes I worked on had begun to look better and better but I still had much to learn. Everything up to this point was pretty simple and cosmetic. The real challenges were just around the corner for me.

It was time for me to learn stem repairs with a greater degree of technicality. I say repairs and not restemmingbecause as yet I had not tackled that aspect of refurbishing. With that objective firmly in mind I was on the hunt for and purchased pipes with tooth marks, bite throughs on the stems, cracks and broken pieces. I wanted to learn how to make patches on the stems and also to recut and shape a new button on the stem. I shortened the stems. I cut buttons with files and sanding blocks. I learned to shape slots in the button with needle files. I called repair people and pipe makers to make sure I got the right tools. I bought and discarded many in the process of building the right kit. I worked with epoxy patches mixed with vulcanite dust. I worked with patches using pieces of vulcanite and epoxy. I worked with superglue and finally settled on black superglue for patching holes and bite through areas. In the process I learned to use heat from a hot water bath, a heat gun and then even a lighter to raise bite marks in the stem and to reduce tooth chatter. I learned a variety of methods to remove oxidation. All of this was part of the process of learning to refurbish stems.

When I felt more competent in the stem repairs I wanted to learn how to fit new stems to the bowls. I went on to purchasing bowls that were missing stems and learned how to turn the tenons on precast stems and to shape the stems with a Dremel and files. I bought precast stems from Pipe Makers Emporium and also bought lots of used stems on Ebay and scavenged them from broken pipes. The learning included fitting tenons, shaping stems, adjusting the taper, making saddle stems, reducing the diameter at the shank, countersinking the shank to make for a tight fit, shaping the button and opening the slot in the end. Lots of experimenting took place in learning to use the PIMO tenon turning tool which meant that some tenons were too small and others too large. All were part of the process of learning to use the tool, its limitations and methods of working around those limitations.I also learned how to shape a stem from a piece of rod stock. Each step was part of the education for me in stem repair and shaping. You can see with this method in mind I bought many bowls that later I ended up giving away and/or selling very cheaply. They ended up being good pipes for starters.

I always keep an eye out for pipes that push the limits of my restoration abilities to see if I can learn new tricks and tools. For me the purchasing of estate pipes is for my ongoing education. I am always looking for better methods and learning new methods and acquiring new skills and tools. The above paragraphs spell out my learning journey. A few more years down the road I will add new skills and thus new paragraphs to the learning journey. The long and short of Rule #4 is to buy for the purpose of learning.

The Pipe Hunt – Rule #2: Look Inside ALL Small Boxes, Cupboards and Drawers


Blog by Steve Laug

A second rule of the pipe hunt that I have learned over the years is that not all pipes and tobacco related items are in plain view as I walk around a shop. This took time to learn and by and large I learned it by asking sellers if they had any old pipes or tobacco items for sale. I used to do this after an initial walk through but now ask as soon as I enter a shop. It saves time and generally is a way of engaging in a conversation that may lead to more pipes. When the answer was affirmative I followed them to the stall or spot in the shop and watched where they had placed the items. This quickly taught me where to look. But they would also often have pipes or items at home or in the back room and they would gladly bring them out for me. I have learned that it never hurts to ask.

As a result I quickly look through a shop (I know quickly is a relative term but to me it is quicker than it used to be and way more focused). I walk through after my initial scan and open small drawers, cupboards, cigar boxes, and look inside revolving display cabinets. This may seem intrusive but trust me, it is not (well at least in my mind it isn’t). Small typography cabinets can hold pipes and tobacciana. Revolving display cases can hold pipes, tampers, lighters and other pipe related objects. I have found wind caps, tampers, Baccy Flaps, Bakelite stems, pipe holsters and other items too numerous to list by just going through these revolving cases slowly looking for tobacciana. Coffee cans, tobacco tins and old cigar boxes can often hide old pipe paraphernalia in their interiors. Don’t hesitate to have a look. Here is a tale of an old pipe I picked up by doing what I am suggesting – a nice older bent billiard for $20. I can tell you it was well worth opening drawers and digging deeper.

My wife Irene and I love doing an antique mall crawl on our days off. We generally visit as many as we can fit in before lunch and then have a good lunch at a neighbourhood pub before finishing the day with visiting a few more shops on our way home. Over the years one of our favourite spots is found not far from Vancouver. Just across one of the many bridges and upriver it is a spot with several antique shops and several larger antique malls. On the day of this tale we had visited several of them in the morning and so far had struck out on any significant finds of pipes or tobacciana for me or anything of interest for her. We had stopped for a great lunch at the local pub and were now visiting the last of the shops. We were almost finished looking and still empty handed. I had passed by some very high priced drugstore pipes – no deprecation intended here as I have many of them in my collection but I am not willing to pay the exorbitant prices that sellers mark these – $50 or more is an unacceptable price in my opinion.

I turned down the last aisle. It was lined from floor to ceiling on the right side of the aisle with display cases. These cases had drawers underneath that were labeled with different key items that resided inside. I did a quick walk by of the display cases checking them out. In one I found a couple of older Brighams that I noted. I would need to get the sales clerk to open the displays for me so that I could look at them more closely. That could wait. I turned my attention to the drawers beneath the cases. In the middle case I opened a drawer labeled miscellaneous collectibles and dug through it. There in the middle of the drawer, nestled among lots of unrelated items such as linens and doilies I found an older looking pipe that captured my attention. I stopped for a minute before picking it up. (I have a habit of trying to guess what the pipe might be before I actually look at. Quirky I know but it is what it is.)
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I made my guess (a Dunhill of some sort) and then I picked it up. It was a sandblast bent billiard. I turned it over in my hands and noted a slightly darkened white spot in the top of the stem and then read the stamping on the underside of the shank. It read Dunhill Shell Made in England 8 and underneath that it was stamped Patent No. The number itself was obscured in the dirt and grime that accompanied the old pipe. It was caked with a heavy carbon buildup and the stem was oxidized and had several small tooth dents on the top and bottom of the stem. Other than that it was a good clean find. To say that I was excited is to understate the case. Here in the drawer under the display cabinet I had found not just a Dunhill pipe for $20 but a Patent Era Dunhill pipe with fairly clear stamping and in a condition that would easily be refurbished. I was ecstatic. I called my wife over to show her the cause of my ecstasy and she just shook her head – another pipe. Big deal. She wandered off and I was left standing there.
I almost totally forgot the Brighams and just stood there basking in the joy of discovery! This is what I always dreamed of finding one day in my pipe hunts. And now here it was in my hands. I could hardly believe my good fortune on finding it. I shook myself and carefully cradled the old pipe while I went and found the sales clerk. She brought the keys with her and opened the case so that could add the two old Brighams to the lot. I carried the three pipes to the counter and paid for them before they disappeared in my dreams. The clerk carefully wrapped them in tissue paper and placed them in a bag for me. She handed me receipt for my purchase and I went looking for Irene. I had my haul and I was finished. I just wanted to get home and do some research on this lot.

When I got home I went to my basement work table and used my jeweler’s loupe to check out the stamping more clearly. I had read the majority of the stamping correctly at the shop. I was also able to read the patent number on the bottom of the pipe. I looked up the information on John Loring’s Dunhill dating site and found that I had a 1938 Patent Era Dunhill Shell bent billiard. I could not have been more pleased. I cleaned up the old timer carefully and gave it several coats of wax. Here are a few pictures of the restored pipe.
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It is this kind of find that keeps me pulling out the drawers and looking in the boxes and behind tins and displays. I am confident that there are other hidden treasures out there. So Rule #2 will always be right up there next to the first rule I posted about earlier. I will look in every nook and cranny while I am working my way through a shop looking for “treasures”. Will you join me in following this rule of the hunt?

Finding an Old Parker Super Briar Bark Cherrywood


Whenever I visit Edmonton there are three places I always visit in old Strathcona – two Antique Malls and Burlington on Whyte Tobacconists. My last trip I visited all three and one of the Antique Malls yielded a couple of treasures while the other was a bust. You never know which place will yield something but generally I don’t walk away from both with nothing to show for the stop. This time I found two items in the same display case in the mall (this is truly a Mall – it is large, two stories of things to look at, many stalls and many sellers). The first was a beautiful older Parker Super Briar Bark Cherrywood and the other was the old cutter top tin of Condor Slices I have already written about earlier. Let me tell you the story of that find.
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The shop is full of antique hunter’s eye candy and what astonishes me is that things I played with as a child and used in my dad’s garage have now become antiques. (Hmmm, I wonder what that makes me. Ah well that is another story, back to the walk about.) As I walked through the shop there were many displays that had pipes – older Brighams, Dr. Grabows, Yello Boles, Whitehalls, Medico’s and new Meerschaum pipes. The place had a lot of old pipes and each of them warranted a good look. To complicate things and I suppose to give a modicum of security in a world of shop lifters, I had to hunt down a store clerk to get a key to open the locked displays before I could look at any of the pipes. Because of that I was very selective about the ones I looked at more closely. The mall was full of people that day and they were milling about looking at everything – everything but pipes in this case. I made my way through the shop and noted case numbers that I would need to have opened for a more thorough look. My method in this kind of shop is to get two or three case numbers in my head before I get help from a clerk. Why two or three? Well, simply put – that is the most numbers I can remember in my head these days! With that limitation the hunt in a mall that size can take me awhile. Ask my wife and children how long it can take and they will tell you, I have no sense of time when I am on the prowl for old pipes.

I checked out some Mario Grande pipes – new ones – that were in one display and several other brands that looked promising but none of them grabbed my attention. I am getting more particular than I was when I first started picking up old pipes in shops like these. I think it was on the second or third set of case numbers that I took back to the main desk to get a clerk with keys to open that I found the little Parker. I know that it was in the back portion of the mall, in the far right corner of the shop. It was a small display case, upright glass with internal lighting. When I saw the case it caught my eye. There were quite a few pipes on the shelves of the case, arranged to attract attention. On the second shelf was a little sandblast cherrywood shaped pipe sitting in a pipe rest that caught my eye. The stem was slightly bent and the blast was craggy and deep – kind of like the blast you find on early Dunhill Shells. The size was diminutive but looked like it would sit well in the hand. Even though it was only one case number in my head this time, because of the beauty of this pipe, it was time to go and get the clerk and the keys.
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I went back to the front of the shop and got the clerk and we headed back to the case. I am always in a bit of a rush in this phase of the hunt in an Antique Mall because I am paranoid that someone else has spotted the object of my desire and will beat me to the punch. So I made my way back to the case in a hurry by the most direct route. There was no fooling around along the way. I saw other pipes in other cases as I hurried to the back corner but I merely glanced at them and noted their location for later looking. I was a man on a mission and nothing would deter me from reaching my goal.

We made it back to the case and no one was bent over an open door fondling the little pipe when we arrived. Whew, I beat all contenders (I know, probably no one else in the mall cared about the little pipe, but let me have my delusion). The clerk fiddled with the keys until he had the correct one in the lock and the door opened. He stepped back and let me pick up the pipe that had caught my eye – the little cherrywood sandblast. I turned it over in my hands checking it out for cracks and damage. The thin shank looked fine, the stem had some small tooth marks and was oxidized but in good shape. The finish and blast were very nice. It was in excellent shape and there was even a wad of tobacco still in the bowl – almost as if the old pipe man had laid it down while he went out to check the mail or eat dinner… It would clean up very nicely. I checked out the stamping on the underside of the shank. It read Parker over Super in a diamond over Briar Bark. I had a nice older Briar Bark in my hands – the equivalent of a Dunhill Shell in my book. It was also stamped Made in London England and had the shape number of 283. It sported a 4 in a circle stamp was well, which was the group number (Dunhill based sizing system). This surprised me a bit as it is pretty tiny for a group 4 pipe but that was its stamping. Up close the stem also bore a faded and worn stamping of the P in the Diamond of the Parker line. At the low price of $15 it was a keeper and it was definitely going home with me.
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The clerk took it in hand, as they have a policy to carry items to the front and hold them for you until you are done shopping. He was just locking the case when I looked at the shelf a last time before he closed the door and there in the back of the display case was an old tin with the label Gallaher’s Condor Sliced. I stopped him and reached into the case and picked up the old tin. It was full! I turned it over in my hands and noted that it was a cutter top tin – probably WWII vintage. It was two ounces of old tobacco, unopened and pristine. The tin itself was in great shape. I added this to my lot. Not a bad find for an afternoon – an older Parker sandblast cherrywood and an old tin of Condor Sliced. Since I am one of the few who actually like Condor Slices this was a great find for me.
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I followed the clerk back to the front of the shop to pay for my purchases with the satisfaction of a well spent afternoon. I had a tin of old tobacco – cost $10 and a Parker – cost $15 – all totaled a $25 hunting spree. Not bad at all and to top it off when I got to the till a young clerk commented on the pipe. He too was a pipe smoker and collector. (In this case I believed him rather than cynically assume more sales hype. To date I have not received many comments from sales clerks on old and dirty pipes I buy so odds are he was telling the truth.) He commented on how he did not know how he had missed seeing those two. Before I settled the bill he offered to give me a walk-through of other potential pipes that he had scoped out. He spoke of some of the great finds he had scooped while working at the mall. He told me he had Burlington on Whyte do his restorations on the pipes he found and asked who did mine. I told him that part of the fun of the hobby for me was restoring my own. He laughed and said one day he would venture into that part of things. During our walkabout nothing else caught my eye so we went back to the till and I paid up. I walked out of the mall satisfied with the hunt and with two pieces of tobacco history. I couldn’t have asked for more. Now off to find a pub and celebrate the finds and examine them more closely.

By Steve Laug 14 October 2013

The Pipe Hunt – Rule #1: Never Drive by Small Nondescript Antique Mall Without Stopping for a Look


Over the years I have added another hobby to my refurbishing one. I have been crafting a set of simple rules of the pipe hunt. A rule does not make the list until it is tried and proven to be a truism repeatedly. These rules are elastic in that they continue to grow as time goes on and my pipe hunting becomes more refined. But, I try to follow these whenever I am on the prowl looking for pipes and even when I am not. I have decided that any trip I take will end up with me stopping and hunting for pipes. My wife and kids can tell you that this is a fact. Over the years I generally end up finding a pipe or two. These rules have worked well for me over the past 20 plus years. The tale below illustrates how well this first rule works for me.

I was coming back into town from a long meeting in the countryside about a half hour away. It was getting late and our host had planned a dinner for us so I was aiming on getting “home” and not really paying attention to the buildings as I came into town. But as I got closer to town and drove by the nondescript buildings on my right, out of the corner of my eye I caught a small sign that said Antique Mall. It was located on the outer edge of a small town, across the railroad tracks from the town centre. It was five o’clock in the afternoon and the sign said the shop was still open so I decided to pull over, park the car and have a look. By the time I got to the front door it looked dark inside so I figured the owner had evidently closed up shop. However, the door was still open, the sign still said open, but the lights were out in the back portion of the shop. I decided to chance it, opened the door, called out and asked if they were still open and a gruff voice called out from a room off to the left, “Well you are inside the shop aren’t you so I guess it doesn’t matter or not if we are open.”

I shrugged off his gruff manner and asked if they had any pipes and tobacciana. He turned on the lights and said he would quickly take me to the cases in the shop that had “what little they had available”. He was not a friendly shop clerk anxious to make a sale and it seemed that the my presence did nothing to change his otherwise grumpy attitude. I had a friend with me and he gave me the “we should probably just leave” look but I ignored it and kept up a steady flow of “yak” to diffuse the situation a bit. I figured if I found anything I would make his day and it looked like the place could well yield some interesting old pipes. It was pretty dusty and looked like it had not had many folks picking through the stock of “antiques”. (I made a mental not to come back here for a visit on my next trip through but I would do so in the early part of the day and give it a good walk through at that time.)
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He walked us toward the back part of the shop (calling it an antique mall was an overstatement of epic proportion as it was not much bigger than a small convenience store. I suppose that it may have had multiple vendors gathered under the roof but still mall was overstating the case). There was a lot of clutter in the aisles and the accumulated detritus of junk stores that I have come to appreciate for their potential. It is in shops just like this, passed by quickly by the antique hunter and having a grumpy proprietor that have often yielded a veritable treasure trove of pipes and tobacco items. Many times I have found that these nondescript out-of-the-way shops can be rich with old pipes and tobaccos all to be had at very reasonable prices. There used to be way more of these little shops, but there are still a few where you can find some good stuff if you keep your eyes open.

I began to get excited as we made our way to the first display case. It was a crowded glass case with lots of dust and fingerprints. On the shelf next to the case were old packets of tobacco that looked like ancient drugstore blends, long past their shelf life even with all of humectants. There was also the standard collection of old Edgeworth and Prince Albert tins piled on the top shelf of the case. I bent down to get a closer look at the second shelf as it had a collection of about ten pipes piled on it. (So much for the shop owner’s “what little we have” comment.) I sorted through the lot and among the collection there I found three older pipes that caught my eye. I was attracted to them because of their shapes and finishes. They were all well used and dirty but I examined them showed no real damage under the dirt and oxidation.

This threesome included a Douwe Egbert Billiard, an Amphora Pot and long sandblasted Canadian stamped Birkdale Superb, Made in London England. None of these had show stopping names but the shapes all reflected an older European look. When I first saw the Canadian my heart nearly skipped a beat, it had the look of an older Dunhill Canadian. The white dot was missing in the stem but the hole was clearly there where it had been. I gingerly picked it up and saw that it was a Birkdale – a brand I knew nothing about. (I later found out as I researched the brands and stamping on these pipes on the internet that the Birkdale was probably a Comoy’s brand.) I left behind some older, worn pipes on the shelf that I may have to go back and pick over again when I get to the area in the future. But these three were to my liking. I happily added the first additions to my purchase – three pipes in my hand.

The owner had said nothing as I picked over the pipes and carried them with me. No comments or questions were asked as he locked up the first display case. Once locked, he hurried on to the second display case. I was feeling good about this stop on the road. It was already a great place and I had added three nice pipes to my collection so it did not really matter what I found in the second case. But who can stop looking and hoping for more after that kind of find in the first display case. We rounded the corner in the shop to the second case. On the middle shelf there were more interesting pipes to look over. I could not believe the luck I was having in this old shop. I sorted the 8 or 9 pipes on the shelf and settled on three nice looking older pipes – a Hardcastles Jack ‘O London Billiard, an African Meer Prince stamped Tanganyika with a shape stamp or 27 on the shank and an Old Pal diminutive Barling like pot with a pencil shank. I added this threesome to the lot in my hand. I now had six old pipes for refurbishing. All would clean up very well and be good additions to the collection or be sellable to help fund future purchases. Not too bad a find for a quick stop that could have easily been overlooked.

The grumpy shop owner led us to the counter at the front of the shop where he tallied what I owed him for the six pipes. I had noticed that several were marked $10 and some were $11. He said nothing as he scribbled out the bill and peeled off the stickers recording the display cases they each came from. Once he had finished his scribbling he pushed the bill my way. I could not believe my eyes – the total was $60 plus a bit of tax thrown in. What do you know; the old gent had given me a deal of sorts. He took my cash, put the pipes in an old grocery bag and handed me the change and the pipes. He then followed us to the front door and locked the door as we went out. He had probably spoken a total of three words – no more, no less in the entire time he had walked us around the shop. But I did not go there for the wit of the seller or the ambience of the shop but for exactly what I had come out with – six “new” old pipes that would be a welcome addition to my stock at home.

I guess it goes to show you, keep your eyes open when you are driving through the outskirts of the small towns you pass through on your travels. It is the nondescript shops that often are full of surprises. But then again, don’t bother to look too hard. It will leave more of them for me to find on my journeys.

My Wife Says that I am a Scavenger…


Looking at the picture below, you might agree with her and think that I have lost whatever was left of what few brain cells that remain in my 57 year old head. My wife and daughters are likely convinced that this is closer to the truth than I care to admit.  I will even agree that while both you and they may be correct, you need to understand that I intentionally bid on and won this lot from EBay recently. While nobody else wanted the lot I did!

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I just received them in the mail today. They came well packaged and labelled. In fact they were better packed than virtually every other pipe I have ever received from EBay shippers. The box was a solid 2”x4”x8” and stuffed with paper packing materials. The stems and pipes were then bagged and wrapped in bubble wrap and stuffed in among the packing papers. It was as if the seller was trying to protect a rare treasure. I opened the box and cut the tape on the packaging to expose the pipes inside. Five of the six pipes had cracked bowls and the sixth had a cracked shank and stuck stem. The bag included 9 extra stems that were actually quite old and three of those were military bits for spigot style pipes. The five cracked pipes were admittedly firewood and beyond repair.  The sixth one, with the split shank, which was the cleanest of all, could be repaired with glue and a band. I set it aside for a rustication project. In examining the split bowls I noted that they all had the same problem – a huge amount of cake. I am talking about cake so thick that you can barely stand a pipe nail spoon end down in some of the bowls. The cake had erupted from the tops of the bowls and had exerted so much pressure that the bowls were split in multiple places, as you can see in the picture below. It is a shame really as two of them, the ones with the stems on in the picture below, are opera pipes with oval bowls.

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Now you might wonder why I would purchase this lot. It was not a surprise or a disappointment to me, after opening the box, because I had asked enough questions of the seller to know exactly what I was getting. I had been the sole bidder, no other competitors for the lot to drive the bid higher.  In the past, when no one else bid, it used to bother me because I asked myself what I was missing. You see I was not bidding on the pipes.  I could care less about these pieces of firewood that were beyond redemption. What I wanted in the lot were the older stems and I bid accordingly, and I ended up with 15 stems, once I took the pipes apart, added the stems from the lot and found an extra one in the box.  I could not have been happier because I prefer to use stems from a similar era to re-stem the older pipe bowls that I have. These stems provide me with a solid batch of stems and in the next few months they will have new bowls attached to them. The beauty of this lot is that none of the stems were chewed or gnawed, and only one has a very repairable tooth mark. In this sense the old stems were my real and intended acquisitions.

I am a scavenger of pipe parts. It only is a matter of perspective that enables one to see beyond burned out unsalvageable shells of pipes and identify the many salvageable parts they contain. There are always parts on the worst of them that I reuse – stems, bands, logos, etc. that can be scavenged and re-used.  I have a box of these parts that has come in handy more times than I can remember. But another good part of the lot is that once I clean up the older briar some of the shanks could provide the base for tampers and such. The rest may well go in the fire pit this summer but you never know. Part of my hunting through thrift shops, rummage sales, garage sales, and Craig’s List for pipes always includes the element of hunting for pipe parts. I have scavenged old broken KWs and Yello Boles and kept the stems to use on sister pipes. I have cleaned up chewed KW and GBD stems so that I could remove the logos and medallions and re-inserted them on new stems or stems missing the logos. Even these little parts are always removable and reusable. It only takes eyes to see the possibilities in old castoffs.

Only one final word… if you begin to pick up my scavenging ways make sure to leave some parts around for me. Also if you need someone to blame for your newly adopted bad habit I am more than willing to take the blame… for a small price – say a few stems and parts. That is it for now I am off to take apart those old pipes and strip them down.