Monday, June 10, 2013

Do You Know Your Pipes?

    Pipes have been found throughout most cultures for centuries. There are many different kinds of tobacco pipes, but the shapes of pipes are all variations of a few basic shapes.   Here is a short summary on pipes and a couple of diagram to help you get acquainted.

Meerschaum Pipes
Meerschaum Pipe
Meerschaum Pipe
    One of the first materials to be sought out for making pipes was Meerschaum, a soft white clay material which hardens when exposed to the sun or dried by a furnace. The highest quality deposits of this mineral are found in Turkey, where they are mined, sorted and sent to workshops to be carved. The carved pieces then go into a high temperature kiln to remove all the moisture. The shank is fitted with a stem, it is then polished and waxed with bees wax multiple times. Finally the pipe is inspected and if a flaw is found the pipe is destroyed. Pipe smokers enjoy Meerschaum pipes because they provide a smoke full of flavor which is cool and dry.

                                                     Briar Tobacco Pipes
Hand Carved Briar Wood pipe
Hand Carved Briar Wood pipe
    The briarwood used to manufacture pipes comes from a Mediterranean shrub or small tree, called Erica arborea, whose hard woody roots are used to make tobacco pipes. This shrub or small tree is also called the White Heath Tree and grows in rocky dry soil.  It produces a growth on its root system called a burl and that burl can sometimes be one hundred years old. Pipes made from these burls are dense, porous, heat resistant and strong. After the burls are harvested, they are cut into blocks using only the best hardest and closest grained part of the burl.  The blocks are then boiled for two to three hours to remove the sap and moisture and dried during a curing process for up to five years. The pipes fashioned from these burl blocks produce the finest smoking because the pipe absorbs the oil and moisture from the tobacco.
    The extremely fine briar blocks are often sold to craftsmen that hand carve the briar into two main types of pipes, free form and standard shapes.  The grain of the wood is followed and accentuated in the free form pipe whereas; the standard shaped pipe follows a specific pattern. These hand carved briar pipes are very expensive and the experienced collector takes great pride in adding a briar pipe to his collection. Many briar pipes are machine made.  These pipes do not process the attention to detail or style of the handmade pipes but they are still appealing and they are well priced. 
Kaywoodie Tobacco Pipes
    The name Kaywoodie comes from the Kaufman brothers name and the briar wood used to make the pipe, K + wood became Kaywoodie.  The Kaufman brothers came to New York from Germany in 1851 and started a small shop where they made their pipes. The company soon expanded to most of the major cities.  By 1881 Kaywoodie pipes carried a cloverleaf emblem inlaid on the pipe stem.  This symbol has changed through the years and can be used to help determine the age of the pipe. The black cloverleaf in white circle or white cloverleaf in black circle was first used in 1937. Up until the late 40's this logo was used on all of the upper grades pipes. The  plain white cloverleaf and the disk inlaid logo continued from untill the early 80's. Kaywoodie pipes are still in high demand and recognized worldwide for their high quality.

                                                              Dr. Grabow Tobacco Pipes
Dr. Grabow Briar Wood Pipe
Dr. Grabow with spade
    Dr. Grabow is the name of a physician who lived the in Lincoln Park area of Chicago. Dr. Grabow and Dr. Linkman were frequent customers at the Brown Drug Store where they became acquainted.  In 1932, Linkman asked Dr. Grabow if he could use his name on a new brand of pipe that he was going to manufacture. This pipe had a metal extension into the stem of the pipe to make it easier to scrap out deposits inside the bowl.  Dr. Grabow agreed and the M. Linkman Company manufactured Dr. Grabow pipes until 1953.  After 1953, Leonard, Henry and Thomas Inc manufactured Dr. Grabow pipes.
    Dr. Grabow pipes had several different trademarks.  The earliest pipes were stamped with the names of both Linkman and Grabow and include a propeller emblem in white on top of the mouthpiece.  The white propeller emblem was replaced in 1944 with a white spade and later models carried the words ‘Imported Briar’.

                                                   Medico Pipes
    In the 1930’s the S.M. Frank & Co introduced the Medico pipe filter, and with it a new brand of pipes. These new pipes enabled customers to capture the tars and nicotine as well as mellow the flavor of the hot tobacco smoke with an added filter. This line of pipes is still in production today. By 1955 S.M. Frank & Co. ended up buying up some of their competitor’s like the Kaywoodie. By the 1960’s they started developing synthetic materials by combining the briar wood with resins, they were known as Brylon. Medico brand is still being made today, five briar woods with thirteen different finishes, and many Brylon, all come with an inside filter that can be easily changed.

    Now you know the basics about pipes. Start collecting today!
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