Castello's Golden Era

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alialansari

Junior Member
Mar 2, 2015
73
0
Hidd, Bahrain.
Hello there,
I collect English billiards almost exclusively and after a while of doing so I can fairly say that I have more than I need, or want for that matter. I have therefore decided to branch out and include Italian pipes in my collection and where better to start than Castello. I am however not as experienced in that regard and was wondering whether or not Castello pipes do have an unofficial golden period marking the peak of their production quality as most English pipe brands have.
Thank you very much for your help and I look forward to reading your replies.
Kindest regards.

Ali

 

npod

Preferred Member
Jun 11, 2017
2,801
109
This is just me talking, but I believe Castello's golden era is right now. They continue to recreate themselves while staying true to their origins. The new stuff they are producing is very traditional, but very much "Castello" at the core. Their briar supply is very vast, so you don't need to worry about a certain era for best briar etc, it is stable stock. Their employees and artisans have all been there long term and the "factory" is more a unique blend of artisan shop and factory. A unique model for sure. If you are looking to get a Catello billiard, I'd personally recommend a new one to start. It is rewarding to smoke the first bowl in that virgin chamber and watch the cake develop over time while the taste/flavor changes. If you want a "classic" Castello, there are plenty of those to find as well, look for the 1950/60's era.
Others may have different opinions. It is a broad topic and there are many Castello collectors much more experienced than me. It's rewarding to search out the nuggets of history on this line of pipes.

 

oldgeezersmoker

Preferred Member
Oct 7, 2016
1,116
4
I am increasingly drawn to 1970's era (large font K's, not in an oval) production. Very graceful, thinner shanks and stems that actually terminate in a discernible button. But the briar they use today is still first rate and they still come up with innovative designs.

 

daveinlax

Preferred Member
May 5, 2009
1,054
0
WISCONSIN
I am increasingly drawn to 1970's era (large font K's, not in an oval) production.
Every era will have great pieces but I agree about the 70's and 80's. I just love the big bold SR, fumed top OA's and "rock" Epoca's that Hallco was importing. 8O

 

dadosaurusrex

Junior Member
Jan 22, 2019
63
0
I don't really know a whole lot about the different eras of Castello, but I know that every one that I own is wonderful, and I really don't think that you can go wrong with their pipes. In fact, I'm smoking one right now! Happy hunting!

 

jmsmitty6

Junior Member
Jan 12, 2018
64
0
Austin, Texas
I think the lack of a discernible 'golden era' stems from the fact that their production technique/setup is the same it's always been, as NPOD eluded to. I have 70's-current production and they are feature a somewhat larger button with a wide open draft in comparison to english pipes. From what you are coming from I can't recommend a #10 in any finish highly enough

 

alialansari

Junior Member
Mar 2, 2015
73
0
Hidd, Bahrain.
Wow guys! Thanks a lot for your valuable input. I will definitely get a Castello billiard now. But as with all brands I collect, I would love to get hold of a vintage (maybe 60's or 70's) unsmoked Castello billiard as well. I always love having two pipes of the same make sitting next to one another on the rack with decades apart. There's something quite fascinating about that notion to me. So would any of you know where I could get such a pipe from? Thanks again folks!

 

philobeddoe

Preferred Member
Oct 31, 2011
4,509
15
East Indiana
I am with npod, the best Castello’s are being produced now. I haven’t had much luck with 70’s or early 80’s Castello’s, it’s to the point where I avoid them. Their pipes from the last fifteen years or so have been much more to my liking.

 

fishingandpipes

Preferred Member
Aug 24, 2013
627
0
IMO the best Castellos were being made around 2000-2010. 2015? I dunno. I think the old guys retired and the shaping hasn't been the same since.
I've noticed that a few very new production Castellos are going back to the old shaping though... I've heard one of the old guys is still there for a few pieces a year.
I do have some older Hallco ones. I can't speak to daveinlax's collection because it is a really, really good collection. I can't deny that the Hallco Castellos had the best Sea Rock rustication I've seen.
To be fair, my first Castello was purchased in the aughts, so maybe we all just love the time we first experienced something. But I do think the aught era Castellos had the best of the main guard carvers before they all retired.

 

dunnyboy

New member
Jul 6, 2018
36
6
Castello has a number of iconic shapes—the 55 pot with a jutting chin, 84 hawkbill, etc. For an English billiard collector, however, the 215 billiard with a 1/4 bent stem army mounted into a flared shank, and a wavy rim, is simply gorgeous. I think it looks best in a dark brown/black sea rock with a smooth red rim. The 24 prince with army mount is stunning in sea rock too. They occasionally pop up on Pipes2Smoke and other places but sell quickly. As a confirmed Dunhill pipe smoker, I can attest that Castellos are every bit as good, or better. I'm not familiar with the Castellos from the 70s (I do have Duhills from that era and earlier) but the new ones are excellent. They smoke beautifully too.

 

bigpond

Preferred Member
Oct 14, 2014
2,024
0
Npod said

This is just me talking, but I believe Castello's golden era is right now
On the whole, I totally agree that today’s pipes are great. The only niggles I have are that I prefer the older shape 55’s over what I’ve seen in the last say 3-5 years and I had better luck on average finding a thinner saddle bit than I do today. Those are personal quirks though and the quality of construction ime has been excellent and as to the wood...well, I’ve never had a stinker!

 

oldgeezersmoker

Preferred Member
Oct 7, 2016
1,116
4
so maybe we all just love the time we first experienced something.
A lot of truth to that.
I think the present carvers are capable of reproducing the old style shapes if they want to. If you look around at the multiple Italian retailers with web pages, you can see all sorts of variations on 55's and other "classic" shapes, some (though admittedly not most) of which look just like 60's and 70's shapes. My understanding is that one of the retired carvers does come to the shop to do Flames and other very special pieces, but that is strictly based on scuttlebutt from the web. Shapes have always evolved over time.

 

cwpiperman

Member
Jun 15, 2018
213
0
I've been looking for a Shape 55 Sea Rock for a long time, but they don't seem to be producing new ones....Can anyone point me to an Italian website that might have one? Looks like none in the US currently..
Thanks!
CW

 

alialansari

Junior Member
Mar 2, 2015
73
0
Hidd, Bahrain.
CW you can try contacting Luca from Tabaccheria Corti. He lives near the Castello factory and has a a good relationship with Franco Coppo the owner. He can inquire about custom pieces. Hope that helps!

 

oldgeezersmoker

Preferred Member
Oct 7, 2016
1,116
4
Corti is a good, reliable source for Castellos.
But this shop always has several 55's in stock
The name, Floppy, is a little strange, but I have ordered two Castellos from them, satisfactory experiences both times. You might have to email them to get the info to get their shopping cart to take off the VAT. They are also well stocked on shapes 10 & 11

 

pipingfool

New member
Sep 29, 2016
20
0
I second the suggestion of contacting Luca at Tabaccheria Corti. His service and his pricing on Castellos is second to none. I was looking for a Shape 19 Sea Rock (KKKK) with a polished rim and a Shape 55 in the Natural Vergin finish and he did not have any in stock, but he called Franco and Franco told him that he would have them carved and ready to go in about 10 days. 12 days later I had the pipes in my hand.
His website is awesome and has lots of options. He grew up with the Ascortis, so he also has a great relationship with them as well.
He currently has several Shape 55s in stock in several finishes.
If you purchase a Castello from him, he also throws in a couple of packs of the Castello pipe cleaners which are by far the best cleaners I've ever used. They have a core that is a lot like a guitar string, so they don't crimp at all and are perfect for pipes with deep bends. I actually had him add a few packs to an order that a buddy of mine had with him. They're a little bit more expensive (about $4.00 for a 50pk), but there is no other brand out there like them.