Relative Value of Briar; a Tribute to our Workhorses

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homewaters

Member
Jul 16, 2014
111
0
I was sitting in the garage last week, puffing away and thinking about this idea for a thread. What is the real value of briar? I am not a pipe maker but I believe you can buy a block for anywhere between $10-50 depending on the origin, curing time and quality of the grain. Some exceptional pieces probably fetch even more money. That's only the starting point in the life of a pipe.
Following the purchase of the raw material comes a wide variety of factors that can influence the final retail price of a pipe. Some of these are based on tangible facts such as the size, the drilling, the shape of the bowl, the finish, placement of the grain. Others are totally subjective such as who made the pipe, the historical context (think about the famous picture of Alfred Dunhill selling pipes right after a raid on London during WWII), the previous owner may have been a famous person such as Einstein or Tolkien. All of these factors determine the price point of a pipe but in most cases they all have something in common, they are all present or established before the collector decides to acquire the pipe. For someone who is after the pure pleasure of enjoying the taste of burning leaves in a receptacle made of briar, it's all gamble until the Maiden smoke!

What happens next? How much value will the pipe bring to your life as a collector, as a pipe smoker? Is it necessarily linked to how much money you paid for the pipe? Personally, whenever I decide to sit down and enjoy a bowl of my favourite tobacco, there are plenty of elements contributing to the entire experience. If you think about the concept of the “perfect smoke”, it involves selecting the right tobacco for the pipe, the moisture content and prepping, weather conditions, state of mind, paired beverage, the aesthetics and feel of the pipe in my hands, and these are just a few of an endless list. When we reach the sweet spot where everything comes together, the point in time where the stars align, we then achieve the ultimate experience and it brings a certain value to our lives. Think about what our hobby would be like if this wasn't true. We would see S. Bang pipes go for $25 on eBay or maybe Mr. Eltang would have to own a corner store to supplement his monthly income!
What would happen if we were to assign a dollar value to these experiences?
You may have seen me coming with my final thoughts from reading the title of this thread. Some years ago, I acquired an unsmoked estate pipe for next to nothing, a Canadian made Phillip Trypis. I never exercised extra care around this pipe. There was an unusual terracotta-like bowl coating in it, something I have only seen done by Trypis and also the older Brigham pipes. I paid no attention to the break-in process. I have smoked everything in this pipe from aromatics to (insert your own adjective here) Lakeland blends and everything in between. This pipe was also my guinea pig for the so controversial tap water cleaning method made popular on this forum! It was left under the rain for a night, spent quite some time in the car and the workshop. Through time, something special happened: it earned my love and respect. So many times this pipe has given me memorable smokes, making certain blends taste like Heaven! It never gets hot, never gurgles. Whatever is left after most bowls is white ash. At first I didn't care much for the shape and design of it but now bent eggs are a favourite. The rustication on each side of the bowl allows a perfect grip. The stem, no matter how dirty it gets, always returns to a near new condition after a quick spin on the buffing wheel. This is the pipe I reach for most often. It is a workhorse, the one I would grab if the house was burning down. This pipe climbed its way to the top by proving itself to be a faithful companion, adding value to my life as a pipe smoker. You ask me how much is it worth? Well, first of all it is not for sale. I am unable to assign an exact dollar value but let's just say that I would turn down a $1,500 offer on it...
Here she is!

Your turn now! Let's see your workhorses and tell us why they earned the title!

 

bassbug

Preferred Member
Dec 29, 2016
867
1
I own 6 pipes. Every one of them is a workhorse. The only slight exception is the 307 in the front, because its a pre republic from 1945-1947, so it gets some extra care.


 

mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
26,237
434
About a year after I joined Forums, one of the members regularly offered Trypis pipes for sale. They were snappy looking, and I was often tempted. People said they were fine smokers. I am attached in one way or another to most of my pipes -- gifts (some of them exceptionally fine), long-timers bought new, old stock factory pipes with incredible charm to me anyway, and so on. When I haven't smoked a pipe for a while and I light it up for a good smoke, I remember just how fine each is. It's an odd attachment. I hope pipes don't supplant friendships, but it certainly is a strong attachment, all the more so because with some pipes, they're nothing special except to me, once they become regulars.

 

homewaters

Member
Jul 16, 2014
111
0
Bassbug, that second pipe from the right looks like a Lorenzetti... I see them often in local shops but never pulled the trigger on one. Although I have often been tempted! Thanks for sharing the picture!

 

bassbug

Preferred Member
Dec 29, 2016
867
1
home,
It is indeed a Lorenzetti. I picked it up on sale because I liked the look. It smokes well, but if the tobacco is wet, it gurgles. Still, I would not hesitate to get another.

 

prairiedruid

Preferred Member
Jun 30, 2015
1,679
9
Chewed right through the stem. They are really soft plastic.
They sell replacement stems at several of the forum sponsors. Depending on style 50 cents to a buck or if you really like your cob a forever stem might be a good investment.

 

mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
26,237
434
bassbug, I don't think of myself as chewing up stems, but I certainly bore right through MM cob stems. They are easily replaceable with another standard stem, but I have found satisfaction in either paying a little extra for a stock MM cob with a vulcanite or acrylic stem, or retrofitting a Forever acrylic stem. Modified this way, a MM cob is no longer a disposable pipe to me. In rotation with many others, they last for years, decades, and keep right on smoking well. Recently I've bought both the Dagner MM poker nose-warmer and the C&D Charles Towne Cobbler bent cob pipe, both with acrylic stems and deep ample bowls that smoke about anything. Consider not chewing up any more MM cob stems and making this adjustment.

 

chasingembers

Preferred Member
Nov 12, 2014
15,914
714
Always found that odd. None of my cobs have anything more than minor nicks on the stems. One's over ten years old. As to the OP, from cobs to artisan pieces, they are all work horses.

 

weezell

Preferred Member
Oct 12, 2011
9,623
831
None of my cobs have anything more than minor nicks on the stems.
Same here. I have 2 Legends(1 bent/1 straight) that I have been smoking since the late 70s and the stems are still intact. I don't clench any of my pipes, I just sort of let them hang between my teeth...

 

bassbug

Preferred Member
Dec 29, 2016
867
1
I actually didn't know you can order replacement stems for MM. I'll be ordering a few right away.

 

chasingembers

Preferred Member
Nov 12, 2014
15,914
714
I just sort of let them hang between my teeth...
Same here. Only reason all of my standard cobs have Danish amber stems is because I preferred the look of them and purchased them with the pipes.

 

mikethompson

Preferred Member
Jun 26, 2016
4,059
170
Bass, your middle meer looks very similar to mine. You have excellent taste :)
I don't smoke often enough to have a 'work horse' but sometimes the mood will strike me to have a pipe while mowing the lawn. Its very much the opposite of how I think pipe smoking should be, taking time, relaxing, breathing. The smell of fresh cut grass and the taste of a nice blend is magical sometimes.
That said, I will use my Ozark hardwood

my now wife bought it for me as a joke some 15 or so years ago, but it delivers a great smoke and is super durable.

 

jpmcwjr

Preferred Member
May 12, 2015
13,879
799
Monterey Peninsula
Funny how a tribute to briar morphed into cobs! But whatever your workhorses are, thank heavens!

An ancient cob and unidentified pipe at a friend's house.

 

cigrmaster

Preferred Member
May 26, 2012
13,668
677
United States
I have no work horse. I have probably 3 dozen or more favorites that get smoked more than some of my other pipes. I love my Rad Davis, Brian Ruthenberg, Bruce Weavers, Trever Talbots and many others. I get a great smoke every time from them and could not pick a favorite.
I have spent 200 for an estate Rad and I have paid 450.00 for a brand new one. They both smoke great and I don't cherish the new one anymore than the estate. A great smoker is a great smoker for me, new or used.

 

eaglewriter1

Member
Sep 22, 2018
172
3

My Personal workhorse is this Peterson.

While all my Pipes get smoked, this is the one I just puff away with without much consideration for temperature or what tobacco I put through it. Mostly during a writing session. It was a very beaten down Estate when I got it, the bowl had beginning burn out and was asymmetrical (Still is) but I decided to try and fix it anyway. Some Pipe Mud and whole packages of cleaners later its not beautiful but it smokes well and continues to do so for now 1 1/2 years.