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Billiard, the Paradigm Pipe

(34 posts)
  1. mso489

    mso489

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    To me, the billiard shape is the simplest pipe, the most basic in design, the easiest to smoke. An interesting aspect of the billiard is that, because of its rudimentary shape, it finds a vast and nuanced variety. Little tweaks to its standard and traditional design make it almost infinite in its variety while still being a billiard. The balance between shank and stem length, size of bowl, finishes, size of chamber, and thickness of walls of the bowl, and embellishments or lack of them, make each one surprising, often in a quiet but decisive way. Go from a tapered to a saddle stem, and the whole pipe changes. I enjoy and revel in a wide variety of shapes, but billiards have a kind of magnetism beyond that of other shapes. I'd be stretching to say it is my categorical favorite, maybe in my top three or four, but of those it is mysterious in its subtle shape changing allure. Having to choose my favorite billiard among my many ... impossible.

    Posted 1 month ago #
  2. chasingembers

    Embers

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    I've only ever owned one.

    Damnation seize my soul if I give you quarters, or take any from you.
    -Edward Teach
    Posted 1 month ago #
  3. skydog

    skydog

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    I agree. My first briar was a straight billiard and after a short detour into the bent pipes world I find myself loving the wide variety of straight billiards I've amassed. Like you, they're not my clear favorite but they are definitely in the top 5 favorite shapes for me. There is a classic feel to them and yet there are so many little tweaks that can make them feel completely different.

    Posted 1 month ago #
  4. hiplainsdrifter

    hiplainsdrifter

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    I have pretty much pared my pipe collection down to a few fine straight billiards. By far my favorite. A well executed billiard is the most beautiful shape to me. A petite Calabash would be second.

    Posted 1 month ago #
  5. sasquatch

    sasquatch

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    Yup. I came into pipes hating "boring" straight pipes, and now I see the billiard, done right, as the ultimate paradigm-setting shape, perfect in proportion and function.

    Posted 1 month ago #
  6. ashdigger

    ashdigger

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    Love a perfect billiard.

    Ubi Ignis Est?
    Posted 1 month ago #
  7. rmpeeps

    rmpeeps

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    My first pipe was/is a basket straight billiard. Overall it’s been a top 5 pipe for 23 years.

    Posted 1 month ago #
  8. georged

    georged

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    ...and now I see the billiard, done right, as the ultimate paradigm-setting shape...

    And doing them right BY HAND is so difficult that more aspiring carvers have died attempting to shape one than from all other causes combined. Accidents, disease, you name it. Chasing a perfect billiard is a hazardous business.

    Dogs live such short lives... and spend most it waiting for us to come home
    Posted 1 month ago #
  9. chasingembers

    Embers

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    I've heard from a few carvers that mastering a billiard is very difficult.

    Posted 1 month ago #
  10. sablebrush52

    sablebrush52

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    A perfectly made billiard is like a piece by Mozart. Perfect proportion and beauty with nothing extraneous. I used to think there was nothing more boring than a billiard. Not so anymore.

    It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt. - Mark Twain

    It is pointless to argue with a fanatic since a dim bulb can't be converted into a searchlight. - Jesse Silver
    Posted 1 month ago #
  11. jpmcwjr

    jpmcwjr

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    "Er, Amadeus, it has..... It has..... Too many, uh, notes."

    "No, Sire, it has exactly the number of notes it needs."

    It has exactly the amount of briar needed to make a wonderful pipe. Or something like that.

    I know that you believe you understood what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.
    Posted 1 month ago #
  12. kcghost

    kcghost

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    Really tough to do.

    Posted 1 month ago #
  13. fishnbanjo

    fishnbanjo

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    Yes sir there’s nothing more elegant than a perfect Billiard!
    banjo

    From the 70’s is this Meerschaum Billiard with silver military mount and cultured amber stem by Andreas Bauer.

    Posted 1 month ago #
  14. npod

    npod

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    A good billiard is like a good pair of men’s dress leather shoes. They work, they perform, and they last. Sure we all want to look at the Trendy shoes, maybe even purchase some interesting pairs, only to find out later that they end up at Goodwill. When we start we tend to ignore the billiard and go for the wild pipes. And then after a few years of pipe smoking we realize a good billiard is perfect in its own right.

    Neal
    Posted 1 month ago #
  15. cigrmaster

    cigrmaster

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    I am a big fan of billiards and always have been. I have more billiards than any other shape in my collection. Shape wise this 1966 Dunhill LB is one of my favorites.

    Harris
    Posted 1 month ago #
  16. chasingembers

    Embers

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    And then after a few years of pipe smoking we realize a good billiard is perfect in its own right.

    Going on thirty years and this remains the only one. I do have a strawberry Weaver magnum billiard but it's never getting smoked.

    Posted 1 month ago #
  17. mso489

    mso489

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    Embers, if you're only going to smoke one billiard, that's a great one. You could write your own hymn of praise to your Dublins. Dublins are right up there with billiards for me.

    Posted 1 month ago #
  18. chasingembers

    Embers

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    I really don't know why they never took. It's an iconic shape. Then again, straight pipes never really struck a cord with me. Most of my collection throughout the years have been 1/8-1/4 bent.

    Posted 1 month ago #
  19. mso489

    mso489

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    I give equal billing to bent billiards. One of my treasures is a Ferndown given to me by a Forums member.

    Posted 1 month ago #
  20. virginialover

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    My first pipe was a Billiard and I have more Billiards than anything else.

    Posted 1 month ago #
  21. tschiraldi

    tschiraldi

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    Straight Billiards are a top three, maybe top two, shape for me. Classy and elegant in its simplicity. Perfect combination of form and function!

    Posted 1 month ago #
  22. bnichols23

    Bill Nichols

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    Well, here I go again. -laugh- As usual I fully agree with Tom, & you all know how much I love my crazy Danishes. Billiards are about as basic & right-down-to-it as a pipe can get, yet open a broad range of shapes, all different. Right now, in fact, I'm running good old Frigate in a truly elegant pre-Cadogan Comoy, a perfect match for an easy calm evening's last smoke. I got to thinking (always dangerous) how many billiards of different sorts I own. Must be 40 or more, counting all the bents. I had no idea my collection was so boring.

    B

    Head Black Frigate keelhauler, boss powder monkey, & troublemaker 1st class.
    Posted 1 month ago #
  23. jaytex969

    jaytex969

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    I like boring.

    Currently smoking my Savinelli 111KS Roma, a perfect smoker after initially slaying the eBay ghost it came with.

    Gunner, Black Frigate. Say "Hello" to my little friend!
    Posted 1 month ago #
  24. bnichols23

    Bill Nichols

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    To a certain degree I do too. But I'm bipolar, I think, when it comes to briars!

    Posted 1 month ago #
  25. irishearl

    irishearl

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    With about 10 bent and 4 straight billiards, it is the most prevalent shape in my collection. A billiard, though, has to have a certain something extra to attract me. All my bents, most of which are Petersons, are either beefy numbers and/or have silver ferrules. Straight billiards particularly have to have that extra as I've seldom been attracted to them. 1 has an octagonal shank with nice rustication, 1 has an elongated down-turned stem with military mount. 1 is a chubby. The pebble grain Ashton I got from Ashdigger, though, is my favorite straight billiard.

    Posted 1 month ago #
  26. mso489

    mso489

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    I like four-sided panel pipes too, most of which are of billiard proportions even if not the classic cylindrical billiard. Embellishments can be just right or a distraction. Some spare unadorned billiards are striking because of their design, finish, and materials. A thick-walled bowl, done right, can be a real touch.

    Posted 1 month ago #
  27. cigrmaster

    cigrmaster

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    mso, I also like a nicely done panel pipe. It has a traditional look to my eye. So far I only have one in my collection. It is a Simone Gilli pipe. He is an Italian carver who specializes in classic shapes.

    Posted 1 month ago #
  28. philobeddoe

    Philo Beddoe

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    I’m with Embers on this one, 95% of my pipes are 1/8 ~ 1/4 bent. I like being able to see the top of the bowl as I smoke and bent pipes just feel better to me. But, that’s why there are so many pipe shapes, something for every smokers taste.

    "So it goes." - K.V.
    Posted 1 month ago #
  29. josephcross

    josephcross

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    I love a good billiard. Its a top three shape for me. Billiard, Apple, Prince.

    Posted 1 month ago #
  30. mtwaller

    mtwaller

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    Clean, elegant straight billiards are my favorite. I love all of my Dublin’s and apples, but they don’t compare to the classic billiard.

    “There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion”.
    Posted 1 month ago #
  31. diamondback

    diamondback

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    I have to admit a predilection for the classic straight billiard myself! I don’t own many briar billiards, as I most often have my head bent over a book whilst smoking, and for that I’m prone to reach for bent briars. Exception being the MM Country Gentleman straight bit cob, which I don’t mind biting with clench force.

    “Well, I can’t cure death. This is bad, Morty. You’re trapped in a dead man. Listen, if the situation keeps darkening, do yourself a favor and pop by Pirates of the Pancreas. Obviously I’m biased, but I think it’s great, Morty. It’s a bunch of *belches* pirates running around a *belches* pancreas. We don’t whitewash it, either, Morty. I mean, the pirates are really rapey.” - Rick & Morty
    Posted 1 month ago #
  32. daniel7

    daniel7

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    Straight or bent - it depends on my mood. When I started to smoke pipes ~15 years ago I prefered straight billiards. Nowadays I'm more into bent pipes I think, but around half of my collection is straight. For shape, I like apple, brandy and author the most - at least for now. So maybe the rule works just the opposite way for me. But who knows, I'm still only 30 so my taste can change with time.

    Posted 1 month ago #
  33. paulie66scandinavian

    Paul

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    80% of My pipes are straight classic Billiards & Canadians, I find them quite elegant yet timeless. As stated above,I think too these are not the easiest shapes to master.

    Paul The Scandinavian'
    Posted 1 month ago #
  34. dcon

    dcon

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    Like many of my generation I started smoking with Dr.Grabow billiards. Through the years I eschewed the shape and collected mostly bents. Purchasing a couple of birth year Dunhill billiards renewed my interest in the shape. Now, probably half of the estate pipes that I purchase and/or contemplate buying seem to be billiards. There is something about this classic shape from classic makers.

    Posted 1 month ago #

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