Pipe Market Analysis (Or Not So Much...)

PipesMagazine Approved Sponsor

.
.

Log in

Search on Site

PipesMagazine Approved Sponsor

.
Peterson Tobacco Ad
.

Recent Posts

PipesMagazine Approved Sponsor

.
Peterson Tobacco Ad
.

mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
26,680
1,058
I wonder if the estate pipe market has tamped down new pipe manufacture. It seems as if Dr. Grabow and Missouri Meerschaum are still doing volume work. Some new Kaywoodies did show up on the PC site, the first I've seen in a long time. The big slump in pipe sales came with the smoking cessation campaign decades ago and has continued ever since, but I think the estate pipe market has also taken its toll. I don't see a whole lot from Edwards or Franks. Some of these pipes may be being made, but they aren't in pipe shops or so much at online retail anymore. tobaccopipes.com used to have a fair inventory, but not for a while. What are your observations?

 

lawdawg

Preferred Member
Aug 25, 2016
834
358
You might be on to something, mso. I can say that better than 3/4 of my briars are estate pipes. Of course I buy all my cobs new, and frequently add a cob or two to any online order.
On the other hand, I should also say that I first bought estate pipes so I could inexpensively acquire enough pipes for a good rotation and variety. Having established a good basic rotation, I will probably buy more new briar pipes in the future.

 

mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
26,680
1,058
As I've observed before, you can buy Dr. Grabows at my local Walgreens drugstore, but you really have to be looking for them. They are on a shelf just above the floor behind the check-out counter, behind a tall candy rack. If you are below 5'10" in height, you couldn't even see them, so you'd have to think to ask. They also have some off-brand pipe tobacco, but just one or two blends. The Dr. G's are about $40, and aren't the top of the line. My local indy pipe shop carries a cardboard rack full of MM cobs, but no Dr. Grabows. The smoker friendly chain near me closed, and they carried some tub and pouch standard blends but no pipes except for el cheapo Chinese cobs. A low-price beginner briar is probably a basket pipe at the indy shop, some good, some not so much.

 

jaytex969

Preferred Member
Jun 6, 2017
4,583
1,389
About 2/3 of my rotation are now "estates". Keep in mind, however, that every person's estate pipe was another person's new pipe.


 

craiginthecorn

Preferred Member
May 8, 2017
1,156
120
Sugar Grove, IL, USA
These new Kaywoodies are an outstanding value, IMHO. While I don’t own any, I did see them at the last Chicago Show and was impressed. One of our forum regulars owns the company now. I have forgotten. Is it Crash? It would be interesting to hear from him.
I’m afraid that I have long ago lost any real perspective on the mass market pipe market since I have long ago moved on to much more expensive pieces. BTW, have you noticed that if the pipe’s expensive then it’s a “piece” rather than simply a “pipe”? :P I imagine that I would be shocked at the percentage of pipes sold for under $80.
It’s much the same with tobacco. From where I sit, the tinned non-aromatic blends rule the tobacco world, but the reality is that Lane Ltd and Mac Baren’s Sutliff sell far more tobacco in bulk, and most of it is aromatic. Let’s not even talk about the tobaccos formerly sold as RYO cigarette blends and rebadged as pipe tobacco to skirt federal cigarette taxes. The RYO market is huge compared to pipe tobacco. Reality is far different from perception in the pipe world.
As for the estate market, it’s still heathy, but from what I can tell it’s cyclical. Brands go in and out of favor, driven in part by sales of new pipes at remarkably high prices to the Chinese market. Yet, a fellow I smoke with every week who owns dozens of Jess Chonowitsch pipes claims that the estate market for them has dropped significantly over the years. It’s hard to imagine while seeing them regularly selling for north of $3k on SP. The chatter I heard amongst vendors, big and small, at the end of the last Chicago Show was that the pipe market was back this year following a couple years of downturn attributed to smokers’ focus on tobaccos as a result of the closure of McClelland, looming FDA rules, and ever-increasing taxes.
It’s encouraging to see one of our best local shops, Arlington PIpe and Cigar, really making a push to re-invigorate their pipe business. While they’re staying away from the artisan business, they are regularly stocking and selling nice Petersons and Savinellis and doing a good business selling tinned tobaccos. They’ve even hired a pipe specialist, Amu, who a wonderful young woman who does pipe restoration as a side business. On the other hand, Iwan Ries seems to be out of the new very high end new pipe business. It could be that they simply can’t acquire them, with the limited production going to SP and some fine European and Asian shops, let alone the burgeoning and lucrative direct sales market. They still get some of the best Dunhills and Castellos, though.

 

mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
26,680
1,058
I started with Iwan Ries as my online pipe and tobacco retailer. They used to have an excellent September pipe sale, like everything 15% off, but before my gimpy operating system shut them out (it's fixed now) the sale became more limited, and I don't know what it will be like this year. I started with their Benton house pipes, three of them, and bought various other pipes from them. Then they went with Italian house pipes, couldn't tell whose, and now they have what look like some excellent Genod house pipes, which they had decades ago, I believe. IR is categorical about charging sales tax, as are most online retailers now, and a little high on shipping, but it is must-see stop for pipe smokers. I was a steady client of SP for a long time, and now I seem to gravitate to PC, but I shop between them.

 

lawdawg

Preferred Member
Aug 25, 2016
834
358
Thanks for that update, Craig. It's always good to hear industry updates from those in the know. Aside from the enjoyment I get talking about pipes and tobacco with my fellow pipe smokers here, it's that inside information that also keeps me coming back here after taking a forum hiatus.

 

cigrmaster

Preferred Member
May 26, 2012
13,762
1,211
United States
For the artisan pipes that I look for, the market is still tight. Not many choices and prices seem a bit high for what the quality of the pipe is. For factory pipes the choices seem endless and prices are very competitive.

 

tkcolo

Member
Apr 30, 2018
112
24
I am 5 years into getting back to pipe smoking. I have a lot of estate pipes I purchased early on. 3 out of 4 were just bad smokers or foul in general. By the time I figured the actual cost of getting good estate pipes, I'd rather just buy new ones, when they go on sale.

 

lawdawg

Preferred Member
Aug 25, 2016
834
358
I am 5 years into getting back to pipe smoking. I have a lot of estate pipes I purchased early on. 3 out of 4 were just bad smokers or foul in general. By the time I figured the actual cost of getting good estate pipes, I'd rather just buy new ones, when they go on sale.
I found that out quickly as well, so I started buying my estates from known sellers who refurbish the pipes. There are a quite a few reputable sellers on ebay, including one who runs a brick-and-mortar shop and does pipe repairs, I believe his name is Steve Laug. I've got several good deals through his ebay store. You can also get great estates from smokingpipes.com though their prices are quite a bit higher than some of the ebay deals.

 

thebigragu

Member
Aug 31, 2019
245
217
I find Dr.Graybows in the PX on base. my first pipes were estates that I restored and learned on, I also think that estate pipes are a way to connect to the great past of the hobby and to go back in time and makes me feel like I am in that time