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pipe prices...

laker1963laker1963 Posts: 5,046
What is it that makes a pipe either cheap or very expensive? It seems like they are made of Briar and apart from the obvious difference in thickness of the bowl and a few other things like that, what makes up the price of a pipe? What should a person be looking for when looking at pipes? Just looking for some education on everything pipes!

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  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 0
    Laker check out these two links, they will be a wealth of knowlege for you.
    http://pipedia.org/index.php?title=Main_Page
    http://pipesmagazine.com/forums/
    When it comes to the pipes; the overall quality of the pipe will be reflected in the price. In the end, the old saying stands true, you get what you pay for. But check out those two sites, especially the latter, their forum has a wealth of knowledge that will truly benefit a newb such as yourself.
  • xmacroxmacro Posts: 3,402
    laker1963:
    What is it that makes a pipe either cheap or very expensive? It seems like they are made of Briar and apart from the obvious difference in thickness of the bowl and a few other things like that, what makes up the price of a pipe? What should a person be looking for when looking at pipes? Just looking for some education on everything pipes!
    Beyond the quality of the materials, THE biggest factor in a pipes smokability, and the first thing you should always look at, is how the hole is drilled; it should be nice and close to the bottom - flush with the bottom, so you're drawing from the very bottom of the ashes.. It should not above, otherwise you won't be able to smoke all the tobacco and some of it will go to waste. If the hole is too low though, such that it makes a little indentation, then tobacco oils and tar can pool there, creating a bitter taste if its not cleaned out.

    The quality of the briar has a lot to do with the price; the oldest briar, decades or centuries old, is the highest prized of all, and it's mostly been depleted, leaving only the younger stuff. IIRC, the older briar gets, the more dense it gets, and in many pipers opinions, the better. But since most of the old stuff has been dug up and used, only the younger stuff is in abundance anymore

    When it comes to meerschaum, again, quality is what dictates price. If you look at meerschaum in a microscope, you'd see there are millions of small channels running throughout it - it's porous, and the oils from the tobacco being drawn through the pipe are what color it (for more info, check out a pipers board for how to properly wax your meerschaums; waxing draws out the oils that have been lagging behind in the meerschaum, bringing them to the surface. While not required at all, a proper waxing every 50-100 bowls can help hurry the coloring along. If you wax after a few hundred bowls, you'll be VERY shocked at how much it colored).

    African meerschaum is harder than Turkish meerschaum; it doesn't break as easy, but it's not as porous as turkish, so it doesn't take up the oils as quickly - it'll color, just not as quickly as turkish. Turkish meerschaum on the other hand, is so delicate that you can scratch it with your fingernail, or just by rubbing it on your shirt - it's very soft, but it's so porous that it takes to the cigar oils like nothing else and colors quickly; of course, even with turkish meerschaum, there's grades - from A to D (I think; not sure what the lowest grade is); A grade is obviously the best, without flaws, etc.

    What's the difference between turkish and african meerschaum? As the name suggests, location, location, location. I don't know the details, but there's something about the way it was formed that makes turkish meerschaum softer and in most pipers opinion, a better choice. That said, there's nothing wrong with African meerschaum, but you should know the difference so you don't get scammed and know what it is you're buying.

    At the very lowest end of the meerschaum scale, is the equivalent of particle board. When a quality meerschaum pipe is made, it's carved, like wood, from the meerschaum stone. Like wood, this leaves many shavings on the ground - meerschaum pieces, maybe turkish, maybe african, are gathered from the cutting room floor of pipe makers, ground up/powdered, and glued together like particle board is. Because these meerschaum pieces are glued together, they don't have the microscopic channels that blocks of meerschaum mined from the ground have, and as a result, they will never color - they may appear to change color after many bowls smoked, but it's an illusion, easily wiped away. In reality, they'll remain forever white - which may be exactly what you're looking for; not everyone wants to color their meerschaum, some people like it to remain white and pristine looking

    After the quality of the materials, there's always the name itself; some old pipe brands just command higher prices due to reputation; sometimes they deserve that reputation, sometimes they're just coasting.

    As for pipe forums, this one is my favorite; tons of old geezers and life long pipers, mostly from the UK, who love to talk pipes and pipe tobacco: http://pipesmokersforum.com/community/

  • Gray4linesGray4lines KentuckyPosts: 4,503 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Another large factor is: if the pipe all hand-made, or is it "factory" made, or in between as in "hand finished" pipes.

    Generally all factory-made is cheapest, and all hand-made is the most expensive. You typically expect better engineering and carving in a hand-made. I think that "hand-finished" is a good compromise to find affordable, but well made pipes. Luciano is a good brand for those, in my opinion.
    LLA - Lancero Lovers of America
  • laker1963laker1963 Posts: 5,046
    Thanks to all who responded. There is a LOT of information to absorb here. I will be busy reading thru these links. Thank you for all the information guy's. That was VERY informative Macro. Have you been enjoying pipes for a long time?
  • Amos_UmwhatAmos_Umwhat West TNPosts: 5,174 ✭✭✭✭✭
    laker1963:
    Thanks to all who responded. There is a LOT of information to absorb here. I will be busy reading thru these links. Thank you for all the information guy's. That was VERY informative Macro. Have you been enjoying pipes for a long time?
    That really was. I'd known that there were softer Meerschaums, but didn't know about the origins/location.
    I've got a cheap Dr. Grabow that I really like, and am in fact about to fire up, and the reason is exactly what Xmacro pointed out about the hole. Just a touch above the bottom. I've also had several Dr. Grabows that ended up in the trash, again, wrong placement. Too high or too low. My favorite pipe is one I picked up in Germany for about $90.00 in 1985. Very hard and dense, nice thick walls, well placed hole. My wife flipped at spending nearly a hundred bucks "just on a pipe", but a good one that meets all the requirements is a lifetime investment.
    WARNING:  The above post may contain thoughts or ideas known to the State of Caliphornia to cause seething rage, confusion, distemper, nausea, perspiration, sphincter release, or cranial implosion to persons who implicitly trust only one news source, or find themselves at either the left or right political extreme.  Proceed at your own risk.  

    "There is nothing so in need of reforming as someone else's bad habits."   Mark Twain
  • xmacroxmacro Posts: 3,402
    laker1963:
    Thanks to all who responded. There is a LOT of information to absorb here. I will be busy reading thru these links. Thank you for all the information guy's. That was VERY informative Macro. Have you been enjoying pipes for a long time?
    Eh, not too long, maybe a few years. Most of the info I know I picked up from that forum I linked to; I spent hours just reading and reading on there and absorbed a ton of good info

    Amos Umwhat:
    laker1963:
    Thanks to all who responded. There is a LOT of information to absorb here. I will be busy reading thru these links. Thank you for all the information guy's. That was VERY informative Macro. Have you been enjoying pipes for a long time?
    That really was. I'd known that there were softer Meerschaums, but didn't know about the origins/location.
    I've got a cheap Dr. Grabow that I really like, and am in fact about to fire up, and the reason is exactly what Xmacro pointed out about the hole. Just a touch above the bottom. I've also had several Dr. Grabows that ended up in the trash, again, wrong placement. Too high or too low. My favorite pipe is one I picked up in Germany for about $90.00 in 1985. Very hard and dense, nice thick walls, well placed hole. My wife flipped at spending nearly a hundred bucks "just on a pipe", but a good one that meets all the requirements is a lifetime investment.
    Not sure if I was clear on this, and I've amended my post to make it a bit more clear - you want the hole to be flush with the bottom of the pipe, not above it.

    EDIT: Something I forgot to mention in my other post as well - meerschaum is so porous, that oftentimes the meerschaum will absorb the oils from your hands, leading to stained fingerprints on the outside of the bowl. You may or may not care about this, but should be aware of it; those fingerprints can result in an uneven coloring when the oils from the outside are drawn out and begin showing.

    The classic way to avoid this back in the day was to wear white cotton gloves, which some people still recommend. Or you can take the easier route and either 1) handle the pipe by the stem and avoid the bowl, or 2) Just wash your hands before handling the pipe, and try not to grab onto the hot parts - no more fingerprints.

    It should be mentioned that meerschaum, being a stone, doesn't burn like briar, so you can't catch the bowl on fire by smoking too hot, but still - smoking a meerschaum hot degrades the beeswax, which will slow or stop coloring. The easy way to get around this is to either smoke slow, or just rewax the pipe yourself (a very easy thing to do; just buy some pharmaceutical grade white beeswax, melt it, and apply to pipe; there are some excellent tutorials on the website I linked to. It can be done by dipping the pipe in a pot of hot wax or applying it chapstick style, thought the hot pot method is the most thorough)

  • laker1963laker1963 Posts: 5,046
    So I just took the plunge and purhased several pipes to give this hobby a try. It seems like a natural evolution from (or to) cigars and pipes at least to me.

    It seems like there may be a few good sources of tobacco and whatknot locally so it is advice that I am looking for now.

    What types or blend names do you guy's suggest for a new pipe smoker. Keep in mind that I am a regular cigar smoker who loves full on Nicaraguan cigars, so I don't think I need to start off too mild or anything. In fact I have been doing some reading and it seems the current thoughts on this is that as you mature as a pipe smoker you may become better at enjoying the subtle and more refined taste of single blend or milder tasting tobacco? That was not my opinion... just what I have been reading. Any help is appreciated.
  • Amos_UmwhatAmos_Umwhat West TNPosts: 5,174 ✭✭✭✭✭
    My favorite, everyday, goes with morning coffee blend is the Captain Black Royal, in the blue can/pouch. SO MUCH chocolate. Mild and uncomplicated, but smooth and mellow, and predictable. The Lane 1-Q is very similar.

    I've been casting about since my local supplier went out of business a couple years ago, and I found that most of the blends I'd smoked before were no longer available. Apparently, a lot of the Dutch companies don't send to the U.S. due to our ridiculous packaging laws? The labelling of tobacco California style, I think.

    Recently I've been smoking MacClelland 221-B, and Sutliff Balkan Luxury. The 221-B is the mellower of the two, the Balkan is complex and more powerful. I've found that after the Balkan, nothing else will do that day, and cigars won't taste right. You can smoke it sometime after a cigar, no problem. Reverse the order and your palate is tainted.

    Yesterday my first tin of FrogMorton On the Town arrived. Smells fantastic, I'm looking forward to trying it out later today, maybe tomorrow.
    WARNING:  The above post may contain thoughts or ideas known to the State of Caliphornia to cause seething rage, confusion, distemper, nausea, perspiration, sphincter release, or cranial implosion to persons who implicitly trust only one news source, or find themselves at either the left or right political extreme.  Proceed at your own risk.  

    "There is nothing so in need of reforming as someone else's bad habits."   Mark Twain
  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 0
    Frog on the town is still one of my all-time Favorites...but McClellands Deep Hallow I recently found to be just delightful. I seriously suggest trying it out.
  • xmacroxmacro Posts: 3,402
    Frog on the town is still one of my all-time Favorites...but McClellands Deep Hallow I recently found to be just delightful. I seriously suggest trying it out.
    Never tried the Dark Hallow before - any chance of Ccom getting some in stock? Is there a Dark Hallow and Dark Hollow that Ccom stocks? (Not sure if that was a typo or there really is a Hallow vs Hollow)

    Laker: +1 to the Frog Morton, great stuff

    I'd also add that I've never encountered a pipe tobacco that packs the punch of a cigar; it's all milder. I can sit out on the porch for 2 hours and retrohale pipe tobacco without any burn whatsoever; it's a much more mild experience.

    That said, if you want a punch, there are some that'll hit you hard:

    - Samuel Gawith Squadron Leader
    - Samuel Gawith 1792 Flake

    Between Sam Gawith and the milder stuff, you may wanna try GL Pease Triple Play and GL Pease Jack Knife Plug, along with Peter Stokkebye Luxury Navy, Peter Stokkebye Luxury Twist and Peter Stokkebye Luxury Bullseye Flake

  • laker1963laker1963 Posts: 5,046
    Thanks for all the selection choices boy's. These sound awesome. I think the Deep Hollow is the correct one. I can't find anything on a Deep Hallow. Just a typo.

    There are several shops in Vancouver who seem to stock a ton of different blends, but they are also really big on house blends. Do you guy's have any experience with house blends? Are they worth a shot, or should I wait until I know more about what I am looking for, as far as type of tobacco I like etc.?
  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 0
    If your local B&M has house blends then I would say give them a worth while try, some times you can find a hidden gem amongst those blends.
  • J.S.J.S. Posts: 754
    Most of the house blends around here are Altadis blends that are just relabeled with Altadis' permission. I personally don't like anything I have tried from Altadis but they do have a wide range of product and I have only tried about a dozen. Anyway, that has been my experience, Altadis is usually the cheapest bulk anywhere by the way. That said, I would still try a couple you never know you might find them OK.
  • xmacroxmacro Posts: 3,402
    House blends can run the gamut. It's actually really easy to make your own blend; most guys just order some basic tobacco and mix it together themselves. Visit the pipers forum I posted, IIRC, there's an entire section about mixing your own pipe tobacco and various recipes

    EDIT: I can't believe I forgot to mention this in my other meerschaum posts - the main reason people enjoy meerschaum isn't the coloring, it's the fact that the pipes don't contribute anything to the tobacco like briars do, so you get more of the tobacco's actual flavor, but most importantly: they almost never ghost, so you can smoke a ton of different stuff in a meerschaum and it won't ghost the pipe. That said, it is possible to kinda-sorta ghost a meerschaum if you smoke a TON of stuff in it that's notorious for ghost, without giving the pipe a rest or smoking anything else, like a bunch of lakeland, perique, etc, exclusively. I've heard that even in that situation you can unghost the pipe if you smoke some other stuff that doesn't have those blends in it for a bit - no idea if this works tho.

  • Amos_UmwhatAmos_Umwhat West TNPosts: 5,174 ✭✭✭✭✭
    The Frog on the town is nice! Easily near the top of my list.
    WARNING:  The above post may contain thoughts or ideas known to the State of Caliphornia to cause seething rage, confusion, distemper, nausea, perspiration, sphincter release, or cranial implosion to persons who implicitly trust only one news source, or find themselves at either the left or right political extreme.  Proceed at your own risk.  

    "There is nothing so in need of reforming as someone else's bad habits."   Mark Twain
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