Tag Archives: estate pipes

Determining the Cost of Rescue Pipes


Blog by Joe Gibson (PappyJoe)

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

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

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

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

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

A Bavarian style pipe

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

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

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

Who Made It.

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

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

What Condition Is It In?

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

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

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

Does it Smell Bad?

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

How Much Is The Cost?

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

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

(© J. Gibson Creative, April 2018)

 

 

 

 

 

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


Blog by Joe Gibson (PappyJoe)

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

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

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

Savinelli Giubileo de Oro

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

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

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

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

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

Finding good pipe deals…

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

Mauro Armellini Cavalier in an Elephant Pipe Holder

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

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

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

(© J. Gibson Creative Services 2017)

 

I Bought a Collection of Estate Pipes


Blog by Steve Laug

One of the benefits of the blog is that I meet a lot of really nice people around the world – some of them pipe men and some of them family members. Not long ago I received an email from a fellow on the blog about some pipes that he had. His father had died in June and he was cleaning up the estate and found a box of pipes and accessories. He contacted me to see if I was interested in the lot. He did not want to piece them out; he wanted to sell them all. He sent me a small spread sheet of his Dad’s pipe collection so I could see what was included. He had a column with the stamping information on the pipes and noted any issues that he saw. We talked a few times on the phone about the condition of each pipe and I really enjoyed meeting and talking with him.We emailed back and forth and I called him several times. We chatted a bit about what he wanted to get for the collection in terms of a price and after discussing it with his wife and family we arrived at a fair price for the collection. He surprised me by adding all of the accessories along with the pipes as well as two pipe racks. I transferred the payment to him and the package was sent to my brother Jeff. It is simpler than sending it to Canada so it worked well for the seller to send it there.

When the package arrived in Idaho Jeff messaged me and said it was there. He took photos for me of the unpacking process so I could see what was there. This is the one thing I miss being far away – I don’t get the sense of surprise that comes as each pipe is unwrapped. No matter how well they have been described or how many photos have been included there is nothing quite the same as going over each piece in person.

Even though the U-Haul box says it is small it was a large box and well packed. The racks and surprises were packed in paper and protected by the crumpled packing materials. The pipes were individually wrapped in bubble wrap. Jeff unwrapped the two pipe racks and took photos of them for me (Understand – the photos were coming on messenger as soon as he unwrapped them so I was virtually experiencing the thrill of each piece he took out of the box). The first rack was a 9 pipe circular rack with room in the middle for a humidor (which was missing). It appeared to be made of walnut and was in good condition. The second rack was a 12 pipe rack and was more worn. It too was probably walnut but had a dark opaque stain on it.The next item out of the box was a mysterious cedar cigar box held closed by a rubber band. This was the surprise I had not expected in the lot. I could not wait to see the next photo and know what was in the box. I don’t know about you but when I find this kind of closed box I have all kinds of notions as to what may be inside and over the years most of those notions have been realized.Jeff removed the rubber band and opened the lid. He took a photo of the contents inside without going through them so I could see what he saw. I could see a lot of different items from pipe knives to reamers to brushes to mysterious little tubes in the top right corner. Inside the box, before he could see the contents, he had to remove some leather pipe bags. These were stamped Amphora Xtra Holland.Jeff unpacked the surprise box slowly and photographed each step of his discovery. I have already written a blog on what the box contained so I won’t repeat it here. Suffice, to say that there were some reamers and pipe parts that I have been looking for and not found for quite a few years. Here is the link to the blog. https://rebornpipes.com/2017/08/22/sometimes-when-you-buy-an-estate-there-are-unexpected-additions/ The photos that follow tell the story better that words. With the mystery box unpacked and inventoried Jeff went on to unpack the carefully wrapped pipes. He took photos of the lot once he had removed them from the box and before he unwrapped them. The suspense was building for me. I wondered how each pipe looked. Descriptions and spread sheets can only tell so much but when you have the pipe in hand you know far more.The seller had put a small paper label on each pipe describing what he found as he went over them for me. The descriptions matched the spread sheet that he had emailed. Some of the pipes had pipe cleaners in the stem and shank. The photos show each set of pipes as he unwrapped them. As I saw them I was getting more excited about them. They were dirty and had cake in the bowls and wear on the stem but I was happy to see that the work needed was less than expected. The next photo is a little blurry but I have included it because I think it adequately captures the excitement of unwrapping each successive package. There were some very nice old pipes in this lot. Some were average and some were above average. It was going to be a fun lot to work on.Jeff took a photo of the rim top and bowl to give me a better idea of the condition of the pipes. There were no surprises here – mostly what I expected tired and dirty pipes that needed TLC. Jeff took a series of photos of side view of the pipes as a group. The pipes looked like they were in good shape. He set up all of the pieces of this purchase on his table and took a series of photos of the whole together – pipes, accessories, reamers and racks. It looks very good. I am looking forward to working on this batch of pipes and restoring them to their former glory. It is a nice batch of pipes and I am excited to work on them. The mix of brands is interesting and will make it fun as well. The additional surprise of the reamers, pipe knives and parts is a great bonus. I could not be happier with this estate purchase. I send my thanks to the seller and posthumously to his father the pipe man. I will think of you both as I work on each one.

Extending the Life of a Hard Used Kaywoodie Bulldog


Blog by Steve Laug

In the box of pipes that a friend sent for me to fiddle with, was a tired old Kaywoodie Bulldog. The stamping was worn off and with a loupe I could read that it was stamped Kaywoodie on the left side of the shank with something illegible below that followed by an R in a circle. On the right side of the shank was the remnant of a shape stamp the looked like it had four digits ending with the bottom curve and tale of an S. The pipe was in rough shape. The bowl was reamed out of round with the rim having taken a beating. The right side of the inner edge was very thin and had been scored down toward the bottom of the bowl. The rings around the bowl were rough and damaged. There was a cut mark on the top of the shank where it joined the bowl and a small crack above the shank insert on both the top and the bottom of the shank. The junction of the stem and shank showed damage as well from what appeared to be pliers. The stem was overclocked. It had some tooth damage on the top and bottom surfaces and was oxidized. KW1 KW4 KW3 KW2 I looked at the pipe as it sat in the box and removed it and turned it over in my hand many times during the past three months since it arrived. I just was not sure that I could salvage it. I figured it might make a good delegate to cannibalize for parts or for another Frankenpipe but I was not sure it was redeemable. I took the next close up photos of the rim and the gouge in the shank to give you an idea of what I needed to deal with if I tackled this pipe as a project.KW5 KW6I spent quite a bit of time looking at the pipe and decided it would be worth a try to see if I could improve it and make it functional. It would never be a pipe of beauty but the old warrior deserved another lease on life. I could certainly make it look better. So with that resolve I heated the metal stinger and tenon with a lighter to loosen the glue so that I could re-clock the stem. It did not take too much heat or time to loosen and then adjust the fit of the stem to the shank. I set it aside to cool and set the glue once again.KW7I decided to top the bowl to even out the height of the bowl around the rings. Currently it was taller in the front than the back and taller on the right than the left side. I worked to take off that excess and minimize some of the damage to the rim as well.KW8 KW9 KW10I used a knife blade needle file to redefine the twin rings around the bowl and to sharpen up the definition on the top and the bottom of each line.KW11With all of the adjustments done I wiped down the bowl with acetone on cotton pads to remove the remaining finish and the ground in grime that was on the bowl.KW12 KW13 KW14I reamed the cake back to bare wood so that I could see the extent of the damage to the walls of the pipe. I used a PipNet reamer to take back the cake.KW15 KW16I cleaned up the remaining cake with a sharp pen knife to clean off all of the debris. I then sanded the rim with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the damage and prepare it for the plan I had for it. I wiped it down with alcohol and then packed briar dust into the rim damage. I place drops of super glue on the briar dust to form that patch. While I did that repair I also repaired the gouge in the shank bowl junction.KW17 KW18 KW19I sanded the cured patch with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the excess and to level out the surface with surface of the bowl and shank. The first two photos below show the repaired shank damage and the third photo shows the repaired rim.KW20 KW21 KW22I set the bowl aside at this point and worked on the stem. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper and then with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge. Then I sanded it with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-4000 grit pads. I rubbed down the stem with Obsidian Oil between each successive grit to give the micromesh pads more traction as I used them.KW23 KW24I buffed the stem with White Diamond and Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to raise the shine. Then it was time to stain the bowl. I decided to use an opaque oxblood aniline stain. It is a stain that is thicker in consistency to the Feibings and gives good coverage on damaged briar repairs. I applied the stain and flamed it. It gave the old warrior some life while not hiding the repairs that it would wear proudly over the years ahead to witness to its hard life.KW25 KW26 KW27 KW28I buffed off the excess stain once it was set with a quick buff of Blue Diamond polish on the buffer. I then worked some more on the stem working back through the previous grits of micromesh to reduce the stubborn oxidation on the stem. I used a lighter flame to paint the surface of the stem to burn off the oxidation as well. I finished by sanding it with 6000-12000 grit micromesh pads and then buffed the entirety with Blue Diamond on the buffer.KW29I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it to a shine with a clean flannel buff. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to give it some depth. The finished pipe is shown in the pictures below. While the pipe certainly is not a thing of beauty there is some restored dignity that will serve it well in the years ahead. It should serve the pipeman whose rack it graces with a good solid smoke for a good long time.KW30 KW31 KW32 KW33

Changes I have seen in the pipe refurbishing craft


Blog by Steve Laug

I was sitting this morning with a hot cup of Nepali coffee that I was gifted on a recent journey to Kathmandu and reflecting on the state of our refurbishing hobby. I remember when I started buying my first estate pipes and stumbling through the process of cleaning them up. I joined several online forums and sent incessant emails to pipe carvers for help with my questions. There just was not a single resource out there to help the pipeman who wanted to purchase and clean up estate pipes themselves. On top of that there were few repairmen out there who I knew of. I talked with Dave Wolff at Walker Briar Works, Ronni Bikisan at Night Owl Pipeworks, Tim West at Lowes Pipemaking supplies and a few scattered others for help when I ran into something I did not know how to tackle. I called pipe makers like John Calich, Steve Downie, Mark Tinsky and bugged Rad Davis at the few pipe shows I went to as well. I spoke with online estate pipe sellers like Tom Myron to pick their brains on what to do with the pipes in my hands. Categorically, these gentlemen were always willing to help me in any way they could. There was no unwillingness to share what they had learned of their craft with me.

Throughout the years most of what I have learned I learned like most everything else in my life worth learning – the hard way through mistakes and much practice. Trial and error, through more trial and error led eventually to most of the methods I have learned today. I have never been afraid to ask questions from those who are far better at things than I am and to learn from them. I generally have to make it my own just because I don’t have access to a lot of tools or a good shop. I work on a worktable/desktop that serves as a multipurpose piece of furniture for me. I have added a few tools over the years – buffers, Dremels and modified many others from my tool box to make up my work kit. But the point is that through the majority of those years there was nowhere to go to learn the craft. It was a matter of hunting down those willing to teach and working to know what to ask them when I got a hold of them.

Even three years ago when I started rebornpipes blog there was not a lot of information available. Most of the online forums had a section dedicated to restoration/refurbishing/repair where a lot of show and tell happened and some were gutsy enough to give constructive critiques of people’s work. I have always learned from that so I appreciate good constructive observations bent on helping me do it better. A criticism for the sake of criticism from someone not doing the work is a useless expulsion of noise and air in my opinion. I prefer the way I am doing it wrong to the way they are not doing it at all. Thank you very much.

However in the last three years there has been significant change. There is a growing community on You Tube that provides ongoing videos on all the aspects of pipe refurbishing and repair. These are visual demonstrations of the work of refurbishing with descriptive monologue as the work is done. Many are excellent resources and some are even humourous and a delight to watch. I never laughed as hard as I have at some of these You Tube videos. They are doing a great service to the community. There are also several blogs on most of the pipe repair sites such as Rebornbriar and Briarville giving simple how to methodologies for cleaning up your own estate pipe. Additionally new bloggers are popping up across the web with how to photos and steps in how to repair and refurbish your own pipe. There is no end to material available to a person who wants to repair a stem, restem a pipe, refinish or just spruce up one of their own.

Along with this is a bit of a down side – the cost of estate pipes has gone up considerably. Even the most worn out broken down low end pipe often costs more than a new pipe on eBay. Care must be exercised when looking at estate pipes there. One of the plagues that to me are increasing is the new descriptor that I am seeing more often there is “fully restored and ready to smoke” on pipes that look merely polished. I have bought a few of these over the last few years and found that they are actually more work than the old foul smelling awful looking pipes I used to pick up for very cheap prices. Along with that is the fact the “refurbisher” will often do irreparable damage to the stamping on the shank. They damage the fit of the stem – rounding the edges at the shank stem union. They “paint” the pipe with a shiny coat of varnish and in the worst case urethane to give it a shiny new look. All of these make my work and that of any other refurbisher who truly loves the craft difficult indeed.

The craft has become more accessible through the windows of the internet but with it have come some drawbacks that must be understood and observed if you are to continue to learn and develop a skilled craft. But then again you have found your way here and probably are reading other blogs and checking out You Tube videos on our craft so you do not need to be warned. Help carry the commitment to doing the work well to others who want to learn and give freely of what you have learned from others. Pass on the craft to all who ask – never hesitate to help where you can and teach others what you know. In doing this we will see the craft we love passed on to the next generation of pipemen who are already entering the community.

Truly that is my commitment with rebornpipes. That is really the only reason we are here. Thanks for being a part of this growing community of refurbishers. If you have learned something here please submit a write up of your work to share with others. If you have added a trick or a tool that came through trial and error write it up and share it with the community. The blog is yours and will only be as good as the work that we each contribute. Thank you.

My Introduction to the World of Estate Pipes


Blog by Steve Laug

Many years ago, when I picked up the pipe again after leaving it aside for a time, I purchased a Medico billiard. I remember that I bought it from a 7-Eleven Convenience Store on the morning my oldest daughter was born in 1982. To me it was a thing of beauty, long and slender and light weight. It had a shine and it felt smooth in the hand. It was made out of Brylon – a mixture of briar and resin and had a nylon/plastic stem. I had no idea of what Brylon meant and how it would smoke but I did not care. I was ecstatic over the birth of my daughter and wanted a pipe to celebrate the event. It smoked hot for the longest time but eventually built a cake that cooled things down a lot. It was the only pipe I had and I never even thought of rotating pipes. I smoked Borkum Riff Whiskey flavoured tobacco as well as Captain Black Blue. I used pipe cleaners because somewhere along the way I had learned that they were necessary but I never let the pipe rest before loading it again and smoking a few more bowls. The only time it rested was when I did! I still have that old pipe – 33 years later. I have restemmed it with a churchwarden stem and still smoke it on occasion.MedicoWarden I can tell you when I changed my habits and bought more pipes and some better grade tobacco. I can’t tell you the date of that momentous event but I can tell you the story behind it. I visited a small tobacco shop near where I worked in Vista, California to pick up some more pipe cleaners and some tobacco. When I went into the shop there was an older gent was sitting behind the counter smoking an interesting pipe and the tobacco he was smoking smelled great. We got to talking and I showed him the pipe I had – the old Brylon. I have to give him credit because he did not laugh at or mock me. He just said that he thought I needed to think about picking up another pipe or two so that I could give this one a rest. He was very gentle with me, knowing full well just how green I was to pipe smoking. He asked me what kind of budget I had to work with and like all young fathers my response was a laugh and a question. “Budget?” I asked. He chuckled and did a midstream adjustment in his path to take me to the estate pipe rack.

From the many pipes on the rack he chose two pipes for me that he thought would work well for me. They would give me some variety as well as value for the money. They were very differnet from my Medico. The first was an Alpha Comfit in a modified Prince shape. It was smooth briar and dark and rich looking made in Israel. It had thick walls, a thin saddle stem (with a comfit dental bit) and was clean and ready to smoke. I immediately fell in love with the hand feel and the shape of this pipe. That was my second pipe. The Medico had a rack mate. At that point I had no inkling of the difference a briar pipe would make to smoking when compared with Brylon. It was all about how they looked – their shape and feel – to me. The old gent did not mock me but shook his head approvingly. He truly had my number.AlphaComfit2-1 The second pipe he chose for me was a sandblast Ben Wade Preben Holm made freehand. It was a piece of art to my eyes – almost what I have come to know as a Dublin shape, but had no idea of that then. The body of the pipe was a beautiful sandblasted briar. Then end of the shank and the rim were what he described as plateaux but to me just looked rough and craggy. It was very light weight. The stem was thin as well. I held the pipe and knew that I had to have this one as well. It too felt amazing in the hand.Ben wade
I told him I would take them both. Now, understand I had no idea what they cost or if I could afford them. I was in “love” with them and had to have them. He laughed when he saw the “teenage boy in love” look in my eyes. He gave me a price that fit well into what I could afford. I have no idea what I paid for those two pipes but looking back I know he gave me a very good deal. He led me over to the tobacco bar and handpicked two tobaccos for me – not packaged drugstore tobaccos but two of his own blends – I don’t remember the names and the shop is long gone now but I do remember that one was a Virginia and the other was an aromatic that he said smelled like plum pudding. He gave me 2 ounces of each blend to go with the pipes. He cleaned each pipe with a pipe cleaner and wiped them down with a cloth and put them in a pipe sock that he had for them – a no name felt sock. He put some pipe cleaners in the bag along with the tobacco and the pipes.

Then to my surprise he asked if I wanted to smoke one of them before I left the shop. He would guide me in the packing and lighting to make sure I had it right so I would get the most out of my `new` pipes. I remember choosing the Ben Wade and packing it up. He checked my load and then added a bit more. He had me feel the springiness and then showed me how to light it with a match. Then he relit his own pipe and we smoked a bowl together. I will never forget that old gent and the first two good pipes I purchased. The pipe smoked like a dream.

I put away the old Medico and smoked those two pipes for quite a few years. I frequented that shop for as long as I lived and worked in Vista. I went back to see if it was still there a few years ago but it was gone. However, it still lives in my memory. I still have those two pipes. I still smoke them, 33+ years later and I still relive the story with every good smoke that they deliver. The Ben Wade looks tiny now in comparison to the newer freehands that are on the market. The old Alpha has been restemmed by none other than Lee von Erck many years ago now. Both will continue with me through my life.

That was my introduction into estate pipes. Is it any wonder that I still have far more estate pipes than pipes I have purchased new? Somehow, that initial experience set the bar for me to be on the lookout for estate pipes and to add them to my collection. Today not only do they make up the majority of my collection but I have added to that the hobby of restoring and refurbishing estate pipes. I have been doing that for over 15 years now and love the feel of old briar and bringing it back to a life of usefulness. At this point in my life I don’t think my love of estate pipes will ever die. The hunt for them is a part of every holiday and trip that I take. Even my kids take part in the hunt now.

I read a post on one of the forums on this topic that included a quote from Kris Kristofferson that I remember hearing when I was growing up. It is an apropos way to end this blog. “I’d trade all my tomorrows for one single yesterday.” The author talked about the nostalgia of old briar and what a great addition that is to the value of the pipe. To me though the thing that makes estate pipes even interesting to me are the stories that come attached to the old pipe. Sometimes you can ferret out the stories of the pipe other times you have to use your imagination and create a story that fits the pipe. But in either case the memories that come along with these old pipes (if you can find them) and the ones you add over the years give these estate pipes a patina of dignity that it will take many years for a new pipe to gain. Do you buy estate pipes? Why? What are your reasons for buying estate pipes? If you do not, what keeps you from these dignified old timers?

Saving the Pipes


Blog by Alan Chestnutt

I often spend a bit of time several days a week reading some of my favourite blogs during my lunch break at work. I regularly check Alan Chestnutt’s Reborn Briar Estate Pipe website and read some of his articles. I always find some food for thought and often come across kindred ideas that have been rattling around in my head. This was the case yesterday when I went through older articles that Alan had posted. It captured very clearly something I was thinking about as I worked on a particular pipe that I had bought from a pipeman who was a stroke survivor. It obviously had been his favourite pipe and I wanted to bring it back to life. The phrase that Alan used that caught my attention as I read was a simple phrase he used to describe the work he does as a pipe restorer – “Saving the pipes”. I am reblogging this here on rebornpipes as for me it captures the heart of why I work on old briar. Without further introduction here is Alan’s article. Thanks Alan.

The first time I heard the phrase “Saving The Pipes” was on a YouTube video made by TPC (Tobacco Pipe Collectors). This phrase has stuck in my mind ever since. As a pipe restorer, I feel that I am doing exactly that “Saving The Pipes” – but why is this such a vital role in the pipe smoking hobby?

An estate pipe is one that has been used and cherished by a previous pipe smoker. They may not always have been maintained to a standard that we come to expect today, but a little love and TLC can restore it to its former glory. Many estate pipes did not receive a high level of care and attention because in the heyday of pipe smoking, the pipe collection of a smoker may have been limited to one!

I remember my father with his one Falcon pipe. When the smoke was finished, the ash was knocked out and the pipe was refilled an hour later for the next smoke. Sometimes the ash wasn’t even emptied out and fresh tobacco was just loaded on top of it.

Anyone today who is a non-smoker finding a pipe like that may well throw it in the trash can and that would be a crying shame. These old pipes have a history, a story to tell. I have a pipe I am about to restore at the minute. It is a 1st World War officer’s pipe which has had the walls carved by the soldier during the war.Some might say these carvings have ruined a good Barling’s Make pipe, but I disagree. From the carvings, I have been able to establish the regiment of the soldier, where he was trained and where he fought. I am sure that pipe could tell some tales if it could talk. And despite the carvings, the bowl of the pipe is in solid condition – so now we have a smokeable Barling’s Make pipe which were considered at that time to be the best smoking pipes in the world, with a tremendous history attached to boot.Alan There is no question that the craftsmanship, and the quality of the briar, is celebrated as superior in the first half of the twentieth century. Many people will look at these old pipes and consider them junk. It is my role to take someone else’s junk and restore it to as like new condition as possible. This creates a pipe that can be passed on to a new smoker. A pipe with a history, a pipe with many stories to tell, a pipe with well dried out and cured briar that will smoke dry and a pipe from the heyday of manufacture for this great hobby.

When you buy an estate pipe, you will probably spend less than on a new pipe, so there are savings to be made. Take this pipe and have a quiet conversation with yourself. Imagine the hand of the owner that held it before you. Where did he live, what did he do for a living, what stories could he tell you? Fill the pipe with tobacco, light it, sit back and think of former owners. Raise a bowl in their honour and savour the smoke. An old estate pipe will have outlived its previous owner, and when well restored and looked after, may well outlive you also, to be passed into someone else’s hands who will be thinking about your life.

So for a value for money, good quality pipe with a story to tell, why not consider adding a few estate pipes to your collection. You will be glad you did, and I can continue to “Save The Pipes”.

Here is the link for the article above article. Be sure to wander around the site as Alan and his son Adam do stellar work. http://estatepipes.co.uk/shop/saving-the-pipes