Tag Archives: Hunting for estate pipes

A long awaited pipe hunt in Salt Lake City & Surrounding Communities


Blog by Steve Laug

In May, in talking with my wife, Irene it was decided that I would travel to Idaho Falls from Vancouver Canada for my Father’s 91st Birthday at the end of June. I began to search for flights that were both affordable and would not require a lot of transfers to other airports and planes to get to Idaho. The prices were crazy and all included significant layovers on the way there and back. I talked with Irene and pretty much decided this trip was not going to happen this year. I was a bit sad as every visit could well be the last one with age and distance. I went to bed and woke up with a plan. I decided to check on the cost of a flight to Salt Lake City, Utah (about a 3 hour drive from Idaho Falls). The price was literally a third of the cost of everything else I had checked. I called my brother Jeff to see if he would be willing to drive there and pick me up. As we talked we decided to take some time include a pipe hunt! I booked the earliest flight I could which gave me a whole day in Salt Lake and another day to drive through the neighbouring communities back to Idaho Falls – all the while stopping by antique shops and malls scavenging for pipes. We hung up and I booked the ticket. It was set for June 28th which was perfect all the way around. The wait for the date to arrive seemed to take forever.

The morning of the flight arrived and I was on the way! The flight was a short 1 hour and 40 minutes and I was on the ground. Jeff picked me up and he had a plan of attack for the pipe hunt. We decided to visit Jeanie’s Smoke Shop first as it was close to the airport. From there were would visit the antique shops in Salt Lake City and Ogden that day. The following day we would visit Brigham City and Logan. We also would visit small communities between the major stops noted above. We were off on the hunt. I have written about Jeanie’s in a previous blog (include the link here). So I will focus only on the antique shops. We found the Salt Lake shops empty of any pipes that caught our interest and manned by sales staff that had no desire to help us out in our hunt. In fact they were almost offended that we would expect them to have such “filthy” items as estate tobacco pipes. It was like they were saying, “You are in Utah after all and we don’t do such things.” What is funny is that in all the shops we visited we came away from SLC with just one pipe – little Dublin with a red, white and blue band and stamped St Claude, France. We laughed and continued our hunt.

We finished the last of the shops and malls in Salt Lake and headed to Ogden. There was a great shop there that Jeff had previously found some great pipes at. So we set off to see if there were more. The shop was called “The Estate Sale Antiques” and it advertises itself as Ogden’s best antique mall. The Estate Sale Antique Mall was nearly 6,000 square feet in size filled with some of the finest and most unusual antique and collectible items anywhere. The owners Lance and Becky are both life long collectors with a wide variety of knowledge including advertising items, coins, bottles, country store antiques, toys, western memorabilia and jewelry.Lance greeted Jeff like a long lost friend and we were made to feel very welcome in the store. In Googling the shop here is what I found and I have to concur with the description: “Estate Sale Antiques brings together a fantastic group of antique vendors under one roof in the heart of Ogden. With convenient accessibility and plenty of parking, The Estate Sale is a must-see stop on any antique shopping quest in Ogden or even from Salt Lake City!”  The next photos are from theire website and give a pretty good idea of the size and diverse contents of the shop. It was a great place to visit and contained two floors of treasures. Jeff lead me to a corner near the cash register and not far from the front door where he knew there were pipes (It is shown in the second photo above). In fact not only were there ones that he had looked over previously but there were also new pipes as well. We found 8 pipes that we wanted including some real beauties and some old timers. We also found a walnut pipe rest made specifically for holding a gourd calabash pipe and a PipNet pipe reaming set.

We settled out bill and went for a visit to the town of Layton where we found one more pipe. It was an interesting Italian made pipe with a rusticated finish that had been sandblasted over the rustication. It had an oval shank and an unusual shape. The shop was managed by a group of very friendly seniors (meaning a bit older than my 65 years). We enjoyed the stop even if all we took away was one pipe. There were lots of others there but nothing that caught our collective eyes and called out for restoration. We called it a day and headed back to Salt Lake City for dinner at the Red Iguana – a restaurant that is famous for its Mole dishes.We had a great meal and waddled to our hotel. I spread out the haul on the desk top and took some photos. It was a good day pipe hunting. I included the day’s haul along with the tins of tobacco I had picked up at Jeanie’s Smoke Shop for the photo. These included a tin of Dunhill Flake, Capstan Blue, Dunhill Durbar and a tin of Royal Vintage Latakia No. 1 made by Mclellands. The pipes included from left to right – a Rossi Rubino, Schoenleber billiard, Irwin by GBD Canadian, a no name Meerschaum Apple, 2 Duncan Aerosphere Billiards with pearlized stems, a Kaywoodie Relief Grain 18S, an Ansells of Washington DC Prince, a St Claude Americana Dublin, and an Italian Made unique.Not a bad haul for the day.The next morning we got up early and after a good breakfast at the hotel continued the pipe hunt. We drove to Brigham City and went to several shops. There was an interesting mall in an old Residential School that was well laid out. Despite the horrendous history of the treatment of aboriginal peoples the place had been cleaned up and redeemed. There were aboriginals working in the shop and it seemed to be a great place to work. We found one pipe in the cabinet toward the front of the shop. The first photo shows the layout of the shop. Jeff found the meerschaum in the display case in the centre of the photo. The second photo shows the pipe that Jeff picked up – a nicely carved lion’s head meerschaum that was in the original box and in pretty decent condition. We left the shop with pipe, put it in our bag of finds and headed to our next stop in Logan, Utah. Logan is a nice looking town with wide boulevards and several antique shops. Other than finding an old Medico Brylon pipe we almost came away empty handed. However we went into a large Antique Mall on the main street and talked with the seated clerk. He did not seem interested in helping much until we got talking about pipes and I gave him a source for tobacco. He said they did no have any pipes in the shop and then I happened to see a pipe case over his shoulder. I asked about it and he said he thought it was empty. I reached for it and low and behold it was not empty after all. Inside was strange looking pipe like nothing I had ever seen before. The inside of the cover had a sticker that read Oriental Frischen Socket Pipe. I turned it over in my hands and found that the pipe had a screw in meerschaum bowl that was threaded into the base. The base appeared to be made of Bakelite and the stem seemed to be cast into the shank of the pipe. We made and offer and added one last pipe to our collection.We went back to the car and headed to a final shop that had no pipes. We were a bit hungry so we decided to visit a cheese factory nearby. We bought some cheese curds to snack on and something to drink. The pipe hunt came to an end and we headed for Idaho Falls. It was a great time pipe hunting with my brother. It has been a long time since I took a trip for the sole purpose of stopping at every antique shop on the journey and sleuthing through their stock for the hidden or not so hidden pipe treasure. I thank my brother for taking time out of his “busy” retirement to come and pick me up and take me to some of his favourite hunting spots. We had a ball. Thanks for giving this a read.

 

 

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A VIRTUAL PIPE HUNT – A new way to experience the joy of a pipe hunt


Blog by Steve Laug

To me there is nothing quite like the thrill of a pipe hunt to get my blood running. The anticipation of finding something that I had not found or seen before is always a prologue to the actual hunt itself. When I walk through the door of the “hunting ground” there is a new anticipation – what lies in store for me in the aisles and booths of the shop. I have found that some shops/malls are organized and have all of the tobacciana in one spot in the shop but the majority are not that systematized. Something about walking through a large or small shop with a focused objective makes the pleasure even more intense. When I find pipes – be it just a few or a box full – I get a solid rush as I work my way through the box and see if anything special is hidden in the lot. I have found Dunhill’s hidden in cans of junk pipes so I always work through the lot individually. I have to tell you that there are very few times that I come home from a hunt empty handed.

On Friday evening my brother Jeff called me from Montana. He and his wife had driven there to visit her parents. Along the way they had of course stopped at several antique shops and looked for pipes. In one of the shops he struck “gold”, the shop had a motherlode of pipes. He had talked with the owner and she told him she bought a box of pipes. He bought a few of them from her and then went back to the hotel and gave me a call. He showed me the pipes he had picked up and they were old ones. He had some nice pipes. He then told me the story and an idea he had.

His idea was brilliant really and quite simple. We both have iPads and use FaceTime to chat back and forth about pipes that he is looking at. He thought, why not bring the iPad to the antique shop and take me on the pipe hunt with him. That way we could look through the many pipes that were available in the shop and it would be like I was present experiencing the discovery of each one. We made a plan and set the time for the hunt. I was looking forward to checking out the place.

The next day after lunch my iPad showed that Jeff was calling on Facetime. I answered and in a moment I was inside the antique shop with him. We walked over to the corner of the shop where the display case was. The owner opened the case and Jeff brought out a rack of pipes at a time. He brought them to the counter where the iPad was sitting. He took each pipe out of the rack and we looked at the stamping on the shank and the condition of the mouthpiece and bowl. We looked at the stem material and determined what it was made of. We guessed the age as best as we could, given the brand and the style of the bowl and stem. We went through over forty pipes that way and spent the better part of an hour and a half.

He captured two photos of the iniside of the shop that showed what we saw when we were on FaceTime. They show a display case and the area where the pipes were in the store from two different angles. He gathered the pipes together and took them to his hotel room. He spread out the pipes on the bed and took some photos of the lot. There really are some unique pipes in the lot. I can’t wait to get them in Vancouver and work them over. There were many CPF pipes in the bunch that are different from others I have worked. The first is a photo that gives a big picture of the pipes we picked out from the shop.He also took some close up photos of sections of the lot. Here are those photos. They give you an idea of some of the unique pieces we found at the shop.The next two photos is a close up of the pipes on the left toward the top of the first photo.The next two photos show closer looks at the pipes in the middle and on the right side of the first photo. You can see from the photos that there are some interesting pieces that we found. I could not believe that we picked up 30 pipes and one case. There were 11 unique CPF brand pipes, 1 Manhattan, 1 Twisted shank horn stem, 1 Borlum, 1 Superior, 1 Hilson, 2 WDC, 1 Kaywoodie All Briar, 1 Imperial, 2 Italian Briar, 1 Hooker, 1 Stanwell Majestic,  1 London Thorn Drucquer pipe, 2 Meerschaums, 1 carved bulldog, 1 Seville, 1 Frank Bakelite and a RBC empty pipe case. He sent me a list of the brands on the pipes. I have grouped together to give a sense of what was present in the lot.

  1. CPF military mount Oom Paul
  2. CPF The Remington, French Briar, (Miliatary mount)
  3. CPF French Briar with Hallmarked band and horn stem. Filigree carving around bowl
  4. CPF Pullman with Horn Stem
  5. CPF Siamese with twin horizontal stems
  6. CPF Cromwell with twin vertical stems
  7. CPF Briar Bowl Sitting on Petals- Horn Stem
  8. CPF French Briar Bulldog with Horn Stem
  9. CPF French Briar with tarnished metal band and a Horn Stem (looks like mini-Wellington)
  10. CPF French Briar Horn Shaped Pipe with metal band and Horn Stem
  11. CPF Colon French Briar with Black Meer Bowl and Amber stem
  12. Briar pipe with twisted shank going into a twisted horn stem
  13. Borlum Italian Briar (Unbreakable Bit)
  14. Hilson Bolero, Made in Belgium, #8
  15. Superior with filigree metal band around shank and bowl- red bakelite stem
  16. Manhattan with Horn Stem
  17. WDC Monitor
  18. WDC Campaign with Briar unscrewable bowl
  19. Kaywoodie AllBriar 50B (All-imported Briar)- chewed off wood stem
  20. Imperial De Luxe, Made in London England (Mini-churchwarden)
  21. Italian Briar bulldog with red dot on stem
  22. The Hooker- with screw cap next to bowl on top of shank- Patented May 17,1910- Horn Stem
  23. Stanwell Majestic 64, Made in Denmark
  24. London Thorn, Drucquer & Sons, Berkeley
  25. Carved bulldog with yellow Bakelite stem
  26. Seville Filter, Imported Briar Italy
  27. Heavily Rusticated Italian Briar with wrong stem
  28. No-name Meerschaum Bowl and shank without stem- with spikes on bowl and shank, brown to black
  29. Large Meerschaum Capped Pipe with horn stem and cherry wood shank
  30. Frank Bakelite (EP Silver)
  31. RBC Genuine French Briar , Red-lined small Black Case

When Jeff returned home, he removed the stickers and tags from the pipe and laid them out on his kitchen table. The photos below give another look at the pipes – sans price stickers and tags. I would say we had a good day pipe hunting. I have never seen that many CPF pipes in one spot and the number of pipes of that age is unique as well. I think we will have to do some more of these virtual pipe hunts because it transcends borders and space and gives the experience in real time. The only thing missing to me was the actual handling of the pipes in person. The experience was really good and I was able to feel like I was in the shop itself as we looked at each pipe and discussed the pros and cons before buying them. You might consider this kind of pipe hunt if you have a good friend who enjoys the hunt as much as you do and has an iPhone or iPad. If you happen to try it out or have already done so in the past post a comment below. Thanks for looking.

 

 

 

 

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.

Not a Bad Day’s Hunt – 14 June 2014


This morning my wife, daughters and I got up early and drove down to Bellingham, Washingto for the day. It was my number two daughter’s 30th Birthday so she wanted to do a bit of shopping and then celebrate with a Mexican dinner. Typically I take them to the shopping mall and then leave for two hours and hit my favourite antique malls and pipe shop. We sat at the border for an hour and a half and then went to breakfast together. Afterward I left them at the mall and headed to my shops.

The first stop was the Senate Smoke Shop. I always try to stop by and support the owner Mike. He has become a good friend so I like to support him when I can. Besides I wanted to pick up a bunch of pipe cleaners and some supplies for my humidor. I also wanted to see if he had any estate pipes in and some new tobaccos. We talked for about an hour while customers came and went. I added items to my pile – pipe cleaners and some humidor supplies. He had taken his estate pipes home so I would have to check back another time.

I did find some well aged Peter Stokkebye Luxury Twist Flake. It was in one of his bulk jars so I picked some up. It is a pure Virginia blend from the best fields of Zimbabwe and southeastern United States. Rolled twist flake. The blend is handrolled into spun cakes; thereafter Cavendish pressed and cut – one of a kind. The descriptor says that it is lightly aromatic, with medium strength but I cannot taste any topping on it. I settled my bill and put the stash in the car. It was now time to check out my antique malls.
dark twist The first shop had some pipes on display with a rack and jar but the $50 price for what was included – a broken Falcon, a cracked Dr. Grabow, a nylon Falcon style pipe and a bowl without a stem – precluded my purchase. I tried to bargain with the seller for just one of the pipes – a nice little bulldog sans stem but she would not break up the set. That was it for that shop. It has been a great source in the past but it did not deliver today.

The second shop had one pretty burned out Viking for sale and nothing more. The price was not too bad for that one but I did not want another Viking to clean up. I walked around the shop and looked deep within the display cases and under boxes and in cans but found nothing more to catch my eye. It was beginning to look like I was going to strike out. I don’t think I have ever gone home completely empty handed. Generally I find something to add to the refurb box. This time I really needed to find a few pipes as the box is down to the last two pipes and one bowl to refurbish. None of them are particularly exciting so I have procrastinated working on them.

I left the second shop and made my way to the third shop. It was incredibly busy inside with a lot of folks looking at the stock and filling the narrow aisles of the store. I called out my greetings to the owner who has become a familiar friend to me – I have bought a lot of pipes from him over the years. He immediately responded that he had purchased 20+ pipes from a widow recently who was cleaning out her late husband’s pipes and tobacco. I have to say I got a little excited at that point. He took out the pipes and put them on the counter for me to go through. He knows my habits by now and stood back to watch as I assessed what he had purchased.

A cursory glance told me that there were some keepers in amidst the junk. There were several newer Kaywoodies, some newer Williards that were badly burned and chipped with many fills all over the bowls. There was a strange rusticated cherrywood with a metal insert in the bowl and shank. There were some bowls that needed stems but none that really caught my eye. I separated the ones that I did not want from the pile and he returned them to the display.

When I was finished there were six pipes in my pile. The old gent whose collection these came from must have liked certain styles of pipes. There were several pairs of pipes. The first pair that I pulled out was English Made Tinderbox, Liverpool shaped, Meerschaum lined, thin shank pipes with remarkable grain. The second pair was also English Made (the stamping on the right side of the shank is the Comoy’s Circle. They are ¾ bent billiards, shape 215 and are remarkably clean for their age. Both are stamped Royal Coachman Other than a few small nicks they are very clean. The last two pipes are distinct. The first is an apple that is stamped Brentwood Supreme and on the right side London England over 335.The second is an American made Mastercraft pot with a chamfered rim and nice grain. All should clean up nicely and the stems are unchewed.
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The shop normally marks the pipes at $15 each but as I was looking over my pile and making decisions about them the shop keeper wanted to know if I was interested in pipe books. I said of course and he directed me to a pile of books that had two pipe books in the stack. The first was Jean Rebeyrolles, Collectible Pipes a book I already had so I passed it up. The other was The Pipe Book by Alfred Dunhill. Though I already had this book I picked up another copy because I tend to give them away to friends over time. It is a good read for pipemen. It was in new condition and was marked at half the $25 price inside the cover. I quickly did the math – 6 pipes at $15 each was $90 and the book for $12.50 made the total $102.50 and add to that the Washington sales tax and I was looking at $110 for the lot.
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That was not too bad a price for what was there on the counter but as I was busy calculating the price, the shop keeper said he would take $70 for the lot. I was stunned and did not respond immediately and he looked at me and explained the cost per pipe etc. I quickly mumbled a thank you as I was quite pleased. That meant that the pipes and the book were a mere $10 each. I returned home with the six pipes, a pipe book, six bundles of pipe cleaners, some tobacco and the humidor supplies. I was set for awhile. I had some more pipes to refurbish, a gift book and some tobacco to enjoy while I worked. Not too bad a day at all. It is days like these that keep me going out on the prowl for estate pipes and tobacciana. It never ceases to amaze me what I come home with.

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.)
second

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.