Expensive pipes can be a blessing or – somewhat less than a blessing. At one time, I built up a smoking collection of 62 pipes. My office had pipe racks all over the place. Aromatics of a multitude of delicious pipe tobaccos filled the air. A gigantic desk that Winston Churchill would have loved. Heirloom leather chairs.
Then in an instant, I lost everything. A lifetime of hard work, gone. Homeless. Yes, homeless. I swore that no other person would smoke my beloved collection – and I retired it with a twelve pound sledge hammer. Everything my life stood for was wiped out and I walked away like Mad Max.
Today, my economic situation is not that great due to factors beyond my control in the world of politics. I have managed to increase a meager collection of smoking pipes, from eight, to about a dozen, and slowly growing. Certain basics remain true today, as when I started smoking pipes at a young age in 1965.
Corn cob, is a staple. Once broken in and tuned, throw away the filter and the void in the shank becomes a mixing chamber. I like briar. Plain and simple, briar is my favorite. Clay, I used as a tasting pipe and only to be filled with a small pinch of pipe tobacco, regardless of how big the bowl may be in size. Meerschaum, is okay, but not the greatest, in my opinion. Gourd calabash, is nice, but I have cracked the gourds when removing the bowl to clean muck, with a wet sponge. Rosewood, Pearwood, Cherrywood, Maplewood, Lemonwood, all are nice, only if you break them in properly, using the Rule of Thirds, as pipes were broken in years ago. You only need 3/1000ths of an inch to be carbon lined, but this does not mean that you may unwittingly puff full-steam-ahead, as the bowl is not, armor plated. Understand?
A true Collection will contain unsmoked pipes, with data of the year of manufacture, whom the manufacturer is, and location of the manufacturer. The pipe may have a particular oddity that makes it collectible and desirable. It must be in pristine condition.
Where does this leave a new generation of pipe smokers? In a very good place, it appears. I like GBD. A fill here or there, or even cosmetic fissures, does not ruin a pipe. I let others tend to bigger name brand pipes. Anything Comoy, or pre-Comoy, is what I love. Beautiful pipes. Some needing a little attention. Great purchase prices. Bits that fit in my mouth comfortably. I smoke daily, so a rotation is necessary. I enjoy the visual collections of others, and absolutely delight, in a wonderful smoke my pipes give, meriting them as my smoking collection.
Algerian briars are light in weight. Greek briars to me, are the tastiest. Plateau briars have straight and closely cropped grain. I dislike cumbersome pipes, or pipes which others purchase for me without prior approval. Why? Because any pipe I own, will, be smoked and not laid aside on skid row.
This does not mean that common drugstore pipes or even unmarked pipes are anything diminished in their smoking or crafted adoration. At times, it’s quite the opposite. Once, I had a really nice Peterson Wellington. It was my hunting pipe. I’m not 147 pounds anymore, and I lack a full head of hair. Unfortunately, the Wellington was retired by me. So what do I do? I buy a Dr.Grabow Omega. Sand it down to bare wood. Min-Wax Special Walnut Oil Stain, about ten applications. Dab of Carnuba. Son-of-a-gun.., the Omega sans filter, smokes great. Until my life is at a point it once was, I have no qualms with my Omega. For that matter, my all time favorite tobacco, is Prince Albert. Sure, I love McClelland’s Bombay Extra, Balkan Sasieni, and I even recall the legendary Balkan Sobraine [I scored a bit of this recently!!!], but my bedrock is sipping Prince Albert, and a cup of strong coffee, black/no sugar, to accompany my smoke. I’ve hunted Big Horn Sheep, Mountain Goat, Ibex, Kudu, Whitetail, Carribu, and always my Wellington and Prince Albert. Both of my Grandfathers smoked Prince Albert, so it is, my family tradition, as well as part of our American heritage.
Hopefully, your life will not be as “interesting”, as mine has been so far, up to this date. A pipe collection, should contain pipes which please the individual, for one reason or another. There is no wrong way, in the world of pipe smoking. From the single cob, to museum quality collections, I love them all. It’s what makes you feel good inside your heart and mind, that a pipe means. The very fact that you smoke a pipe distinguishes you among your peers, globally. Comfort.
Make sure to check out the rest of the pipe smoking guide below. Also don’t miss our list of the most popular hobbies for men.