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Broken Pipe - Paolo Becker

(47 posts)
  1. pipestud

    pipestud

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    I learned this evening that Italian pipe maker Paolo Becker has died. I received the sad news from a good friend of Paolo's who lives in New York. It is ironic because I just sold a Paolo Becker and a Fritz Becker pair of pipes today on eBay. Fritz, of course, was the founder of the brand and carved until his death in the early 1990s. And with the passing today of his son Paolo, that wonderful pipe brand will be no more.

    Pipestud

    Pipestud
    Posted 4 years ago #
  2. bigboi

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    Well that is sad news.

    “I believe that pipe smoking contributes to a somewhat calm and objective judgement in all human affairs.”
    -Albert Einstein, 1950
    Posted 4 years ago #
  3. antbauers

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    This is truly sad. I saw those two you had listed. I wish I could've gotten them now hearing this. They both made great pipes. Losing Paolo is a great lost for our community. I can only imagine how their family feels. My thoughts and prayers go out to them.

    Posted 4 years ago #
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    graydawn

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    Shocked, I'm just shocked by that news. He is one of my favorite carvers. I was under the impression that his son was training under him.

    Richard

    Posted 4 years ago #
  5. pipestud

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    Howdy Richard,

    Yes sir, he does have a son that was training under him and also working with him on the finish out of the pipes me made. I have absolutely no idea whether his son is at the point where he could continue the brand or whether his skill level is where his dad and granddad's were.

    Pipestud

    Posted 4 years ago #
  6. daimyo

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    Devastating news. While I never met the man, the pipe world is certainly worse off for his passing. A unique and talented carver, RIP.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  7. peckinpahhombre

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    Heartbreaking news. I have six of Paolo's pipes and am a huge admirer of his work. His name will live on.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  8. fishingandpipes

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    Terrible news. Very sad to hear this.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  9. tbradsim1

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    Terrible news, I have many Paulo and a couple of Fritzs, what sad news.

    The Old Cajun
    Posted 4 years ago #
  10. sablebrush52

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    Very sad news. I have several of his pipes and they're all beautifully made.

    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 4 years ago #
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    Anonymous

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    While his passing is sad, it is pretty cool that 100 years from now someone will enjoy a briar that still bears his name...beats the heck out of a tombstone.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  12. cosmicfolklore

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    Sad

    Michael
    Posted 4 years ago #
  13. daveinlax

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    This is sad news. RIP
    I've been acquainted with Paolo for years. One evening that stands out was spent in a smoke filled room with him and a group of collectors passing round (puff puff pass) his new strawberry wood pipe for our impressions. IMO his work with blasting bog oak is unequaled and his spaghettio shank was an original.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  14. crazypipe

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    So very sorry to hear this news, May he rest in peace with his pipe.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  15. dottiewarden

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    While his passing is sad, it is pretty cool that 100 years from now someone will enjoy a briar that still bears his name...

    Apparently he and his father were living legends. Let's hope his son can carry on the tradition.

    Condolences to the Becker family.

    Dot
    Posted 4 years ago #
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    Anonymous

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    I met him at a Chicago Show; seemed to be a good guy. Just bought one of his pipes after I got the news.

    Posted 4 years ago #
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    boilermakerandy

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    Sad news.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  18. allan

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    Very sorry to hear this. Along with being a well known pipe maker, I believe the family was involved in charitable causes.

    A great loss to the pipe community.

    Allan
    Posted 4 years ago #
  19. philobeddoe

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    Very sad to hear, bad news indeed!

    "So it goes." - K.V.
    Posted 4 years ago #
  20. dottiewarden

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    Broken Pipe - Paolo Becker
    Broken Pipe: Paolo Becker

    Definitely worthy of two threads,

    Condolences to the familly and all those who knew and loved him.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  21. kcghost

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    A huge lost to the piping community. A friend of mine has traveled several time to Rome to visit Paolo and family. He will be devastated. Deepest sympathy to Paolo's family & friends.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  22. misterlowercase

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    Sad to hear.

    One of the best pipemakers in the world.

    Love his stuff.

    I think Trailboss got it right:

    While his passing is sad, it is pretty cool that 100 years from now someone will enjoy a briar that still bears his name...beats the heck out of a tombstone.

    Indeed.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  23. fishingandpipes

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    Do we know how old he was? He looks so young in all the pictures I see of him...

    Posted 4 years ago #
  24. tbradsim1

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    Smoking his pipes all day today.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  25. pipebaum81

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    Sad loss. His work was beautiful. Wish I had one to smoke in his memory. Maybe one day.

    "I am a firm believer in the idea that who we are today is strongly influenced by the sum total of all of the individuals whom we have had the privilege of knowing."
    -huntertrw
    Posted 4 years ago #
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    Pipebaum and others, if you can, buy one of his pipes now before the prices double. Trade in your cheap pipes if you have to.

    Posted 4 years ago #
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    Sad news for the community. Thoughts to his family.

    Amazing that some people can only think of being an opportunist at a time like this... or at least advertise it.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  28. raevans

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    Very sad. No words can describe the loss that we have just taken in the pipe community.

    Posted 4 years ago #
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    Amazing that somebody who claims to be a brother of the briar insists on attacking those whom he dislikes. Some people need to criticize others to feel better about themselves. Considering the imperfections this is understandable but quite immature.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  30. ssjones

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    I missed this thread Steve started so I deleted the one I posted earlier today.
    Very sad news indeed.

    Al

    Posted 4 years ago #
  31. pipestud

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    I learned today that Paolo Becker died following a courageous battle with a type of spinal cancer. I have no further information at this time.

    Thanks,

    Pipestud

    Posted 4 years ago #
  32. shaintiques

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    Though I don't have one I have greatly admired his work. Sad loss indeed!

    I know what I need, smoke, I can't recall the last time I tasted it....Gandalf in the mines of Moria.

    "we shall have to share pipes, as good friends must at a pinch'....'I keep a treasure or two near my skin, as precious as rings to me. Here's one: my old wooden pipe. And here's another an unused one...He held up a small pipe with a wide flattened bowl, and handed it to Gimli. 'Does that settle the score between us', said Merry. 'Most noble hobbit, it leaves me deep in your debt."
    Posted 4 years ago #
  33. tbradsim1

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    Steve I tried in vain to get an obit, not too computer challenged and can not pull up info like the fellows on TV, would have loved to read what they said about his life.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  34. wyfbane

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    RIP Mr. Becker. Your art will be missed.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  35. kcghost

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    Sad to see how few members of this site responded to this news.

    I was surprised to see that there was no real bio info available on Paolo.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  36. misterlowercase

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    Interview with Paolo Becker
    By Simona Novi, journalist and smoker

    I bought my first pipe in 1979, almost as a joke, to show the whole world that a woman could be even more beautiful with a pipe in her hand. It's a small, slender and fascinating apple. It has never let me down and the pleasure of feeling its texture and studying its grain has never abandoned me. That pipe is now over 20 years old and is still my favorite. I have grown quite curious to learn more about its origins: the creation of the Becker brand- the story of Fritz Becker who started it all and of Paolo who has developed it into what it is now. Where and when did this adventure begin? Each Becker pipe has its own history, an accurate design and exclusive creation that respects its tradition of high aesthetic and technical qualities, elements which are appreciated by smokers and collectors world-wide.
    And by me, too.

    Question: It's been a while since the first Becker stamped pipes were put on sale in 1979...

    Paolo Becker takes his time before answering. He adeptly loads his pipe and lights it with care. An effluvium of latakia spreads throughout the small workshop ina Roman street just around the corner from the Trevi Fountain and the Quirinale, the palatial residence of the Italian President. We are in the heart, in the winding alleys of old Rome, where the daily vegetable market intermingles with the shops of artisans and ancient osterias. The aroma in the workshop is unmistakable: prized briar, sawdust and that particular smell produced by freshly cut and worked wood.

    Answer: 1979 was a milestone, but by then Becker pipes had already made headway by leaving the attic in which they were conceived in 1970 and reaching one of Rome's oldest shops, Carmignani. At the time, they still weren't stamped with our signature (my father's or mine) but they had already gained the consideration of pipe smokers and had earned themselves a good niche on the market. In 1979, thanks to this experience and the positive feedback we received, my father and I decided to begin stamping our names on the pipes.

    Q: How come your father decided to start making pipes?

    A: An English officer introduced him to pipe smoking in 1944. However, once he had become an "experienced" smoker he was never satisfied with any of his pipes. He was constantly busy modifying them, widening bores, altering their structure and overall design. Finally, he decided to try making his own pipe. The small attic studio where he used to paint was the ideal place to begin this new experience.

    Q: Your father had a thousand and one interests...

    A: He was an intellectual, an artist, a politician, but above all he was a "man". He was born into a Jewish Family in Vienna and had to flee from Austria during the racial persecution. He took refuge in Yugoslavia until he was able to reach Southern Italy once it had been liberated by the Allies. My father spoke 5 languages fluently and collaborated with the British Intelligence Forces. He followed the advance of the Allies and decided to establish himself in Rome. Here, he became Ambassador to the Vatican for the World Jewish Congress. As time went by, his artistic penchant grew stronger and his attic in Campo de' Fiori became his studio in which paintings and sculptures mingled with his first pipe experiments...

    Q: How did you discover your talent for pipe making?

    A: I had always been fascinated by that attic. It was full of things, odors... It was a place in which fantasy and creativity reigned over the real world outside ... Paintings, sculptures, drawings. In 1974, I began visiting the studio more often and ended up becoming deeply involved in the new project. I had always been interested in mechanics and I loved to handle briar and experiment with new ways of working it.

    Q: What did your father think about this interest?

    A: He was enthusiastic about it. He was happy to discover that his interests became my interests. We had great fun developing new designs and improving their balance and functionality. Every time we designed a new model it was a fascinating experience that we shared.

    Q: How many pipes did you and your father produce at the time?

    A: Very few. We did it just for fun. However, as we progressed and grew more confident about what we were doing, the number of pipes began increasing, too. My father had the right idea. He began by giving them away to Carmignani clients to get feedback from expert smokers. The results were immediately very gratifying.

    Q: A pipe received as a gift, no matter how happy one is about it, will never really compare to one that he has looked high and low for. Pipe smokers and collectors rarely judge these pipes with a truly critical eye.

    A: That is why in 1975 we asked Carmignani to sell a series of pipes made by us that were stamped "Carmignani- Hand Made".

    Q: A true trial by fire...

    A: And we passed with flying colors! By 1978, the pipes had earned the respect and esteem of Carmignani clients and had gained a good portion of the market. So, in 1979, the Becker brand was born and the "Carmignani" nomenclature was abandoned.

    Q: And the pipes left the house attic and migrated to this workshop?

    A: With more work space available and my full time commitment, the number of pipes began to increase so much so that we decided to expand our market to other specialized sales points in Italy. Once again, we were greeted with another success. My father always stood behind me, ready to give me advice and help, but by this time I was fully in charge of designing and carving most of the production and, in particular, the neo-classic styles that I have always liked best.

    Q: Becker pipes expanded rapidly on the international market, too. In particular, in the United States which has always been an important outlet for Italian handicrafts. How did you reach the American market?

    A: Starting in the mid Seventies, American pipe retailers had been coming to Italy and looking for pipes to market in the United States. One of these fellows, David Field, arrived at our workshop in 1981 and volunteered to become the importer of Becker Pipes. We received immediate positive feedback from America and over the years the result has been full of satisfaction and praise. David has always managed the American market and the image of Becker pipes there. Over the years, we have become very close and I now consider him a brother.

    Q: Becker pipes are considered top notch both on the Italian and on the American markets. Have you had contacts with any other possible markets?

    A: I have, but they have been very limited. I have a few sales points in Switzerland, Austria and Germany, but there hasn't been any large scale distribution policy. Care and respect for quality has always come before quantity.

    Q: During the Eighties, the design and success of Becker Pipes was consolidated. However, at the end of the decade, there is another important milestone: your workshop underwent another transformation...

    A: Yes, it was turned into a shop/workshop which is quite unusual in the Italian commercial panorama. It was the idea of two pipe enthusiasts: a pipe maker and the director of an important shop.

    Q: The Becker & Musicò shop opened up in 1989...

    A: Giorgio Musicò was the director of Carmignani; I had by then become an established pipe maker. Together, we could provide smokers with a new and extremely satisfying type of sales point. Giorgio is one of the greatest experts in the field and has an extraordinary ability to entertain customers. I completed the scene with my knowledge on pipe making and technical aspects. Everything went smoothly right from the outset. Clients were able to learn about the history of pipes, especially English pipes which are Giorgio's true passion, and they could bring there pipes in to be repaired or altered knowing that they were leaving them in the hands of experts.

    Q: This winning strategy encouraged you to launch a new line of pipes under the Becker & Musicò brand...

    A: The credit for this goes to Giorgio who wanted to provide our clients with a series of classical English pipes: English style, simple and not too big. Once again, success came swiftly and we decided to start exporting them thanks to the help of Giorgio's son, Massimo, who collaborated with me in the creation and construction of this new line of pipes.

    Q: And what does the future hold for us?

    A: The future is rooted in the past. My intention is to spend more time creating Becker pipes. I don't mean to increase the number of pipes produced, but I want to offer a limited series re-edition of old pipes designed by my father to pipe smokers and collectors. The series will be called "My memory "and will include some of the most particular Becker designs. I decided to start this project in 1995 and since then I have been selecting the briar for it and setting it aside so that each re-edition will be made from specially seasoned briar.

    Q: And for your most demanding clients?

    A: I am going to make pipes based on an individual client's drawings and specifications. I believe it's a very positive approach, although in the past I have rarely had the time to do this. However, now that it's possible, I'm sure it will prove highly satisfying.

    Q: So we will soon behold a purple Becker pipe?

    A: Well, that depends ... I'm certainly in favor of freedom of design, but there has to be respect for the flair of a tradition that is now over thirty years old...

    :

    http://www.beckerpipes.com/en/home.php

    :





    Posted 4 years ago #
  37. ssjones

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    We had our December meeting of the Frederick Pipe Club this evening, several folks were unaware of this sad news.
    I did find this short piece on Becker pipes at SmokingPipes.com

    http://www.smokingpipes.com/pipes/new/becker/history.cfm

    Posted 4 years ago #
  38. misterlowercase

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    Ciao Paolo!

    I would like to dedicate a few words to say goodbye to a man who was both adear friend of mine, as well as the pipe world as a whole. His name is Paolo Becker, and he passed in the night between Friday and Saturday last.

    When a tragedy of this sudden nature strikes, the profound sense of loss and recollection of seemly infinite numbers of memories and shared experiences, becomes overwhelming, almost leaving me without a place to even begin. A litany of this singular master’s advancements in the realm of pipe design and accolades for all of his tireless contributions to our community isn’t the right place to start – or even finish, for that matter - Paolo wouldn’t have wanted any of that. Where I can begin, however, is simply speaking to the memory of my friend.

    Though it was 2004, it seems like only yesterday: I entered, for the first time, a workshop in Via della Panetteria in Rome, whereupon I was made to feel immediately comfortable and welcome by a man who, with a great passion, recounted every detail of his pipe making career. It was, not coincidently, the year when Neatpipes started to promote and sell Becker pipes.

    In 2007, you demonstrated your trust in our work by designing and helping to fully realize the Neatpipes 5th AnniversaryEdition briar.

    In 2008, for the first time, you and I traveled to China, then Russia and United States. Every country and every stop was filled with different and unforgettable experiences. That was amemorable year amongst many, my friend.

    When, in May of 2013, you enthusiastically decided to make a collaborative pipe together with Manduela, of all places you could have chosen to realize this dream, you chose our workshop in Milan. Together, we gave life to an amazing moment, unique in the Italian panorama of pipes.

    How could I ever forget our lunch, during which I decided to start the huge adventure and undertaking of organizing the Neatpipes Party? It was January 2014 and you had made a special trip to Milan to visit us. Your words of encouragement and your valuable suggestions were indispensable! Indeed, it was your faith in us, and your certainty that we would be able to do an excellent job, which helped to convince us to start work on this crucial project.

    We held the First Neatpipes Party, Paolo, and it was thanks to you!

    Paolo, you were a gentleman, in addition to a pipemaker with a gentle and reserved soul. Your untimely departure is a huge loss for all of us, but you gave us a fantastic gift: the hands of your son, Federico, who, thanks to your teaching, will continue to give us those precious jewels that the world knows as “Becker Pipes”.
    Ciao Paolo.

    Luca

    http://www.neatpipes.com/blog/ciao-paolo/&id=80

    +

    We have sad news. As some amongst you may have already heard, Paolo Becker, pipemaker extraordinaire, has passed. Like his father Fritz before him, Paolo was a singular fellow, and certainly a singular artisan. He broke every mold of the established Italian, or for that matter any school, creating works of functional art that were, purely "Paolo."

    Where the elder Becker took comfort in more traditional forms, the younger sought to carve his own way. Carve it he did, throughout the years experimenting with, altering, and innovating his designs, as well as freely adopting alternative mediums and the unique challenges working with them presented.

    Paolo Becker is gone, but he made his mark. Hundreds of marks, in fact, and so they remain with us — whether as favorite daily smokers or as fussed-over prize pieces of a collection. And any time someone in the know, as regards the art of pipes, sees one, even if it should be generations from now, we'll safely wager they'll know that what they are looking at, is a Paolo.


    http://www.smokingpipes.com/smokingpipesblog/single.cfm/post/fond-farewell-paolo-becker

    +

    The mantle of best pipe maker in Italy can
    now pass on to somebody else, for surely
    Paolo had been the best, hands down.
    But all the people that loved him, and that
    must, also surely, have been everybody that
    knew him, don't really care about that. They
    no longer have this sweet, lovely, bright and
    funny man in their lives.

    requiescat in pace

    http://www.pulversbriar.com/

    +

    Important Update: We were very saddened by the news that Paolo Becker passed on from the World of making pipes in mid-December 2014, and joins the many great pipe makers in what I hope is an afterlife that includes pipes in some way or another. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. Our hope is that the Becker brand may continue. Meanwhile Paolo, and Fritz before him, left a wonderful body of work to be explored on the Estate market, as well as through various photographs and essays.

    --sethile


    http://pipedia.org/wiki/Becker,_Paolo

    +









    +

    Posted 4 years ago #
  39. toby67

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    RIP Paolo Becker, a true artesian. I hope he went smoking his favourite blend with his favourite pipe in his mouth. A true loss in the world of Pipes.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  40. fnord

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    Kcghost:

    You wrote:

    "Sad to see how few members of this site responded to this news."

    I'm probably typical of most of the members here: well aware of the Beckers, admirers of their unworldly, God ordained artistic abilities yet, hard-pressed to cough up the gittes for one of their burners. And, on that note, what else is there to offer? He was an amazing craftsman and our very small pipe smoking world will diminish just that much more with his passing.

    I say this truly, KCG. You fellows who know his work intimately, have paid your respects better than anything I could write. All I can do is pray for his soul, his family and continue to admire his creations.

    Fnord

    It ain't the way I wanted it! I can handle things! I'm smart! Not like everybody says - like dumb - I'm smart and I want respect!
    Fredo Corleone
    Posted 4 years ago #
  41. romeowood

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    As I spend a great deal of time with my head in the sand, at least in regard to world events, I've only just heard of Paolo's passing. To say I'm saddened is understatement.
    My first Becker was an enlightening experience; here was a work of art from his hands to mine, a study in engineering and beauty, an Aristotelian thing that had achieved perfection in and of itself. The power that a lovingly- and well-crafted object has to speak directly to a human being is something we pipe enthusiasts remind ourselves of more than the general population. These little bits of wood transport the heart of the maker, and take on lives of their own as well. As has been said, there is comfort in the knowledge that this man will be remembered by so many, so intimately, for such singular dedication to excellence. There is something to be said for legacy.
    I don't know the family personally, so would only like to extend my condolences and admiration here. And my thanks.
    Thank you, Paolo.

    Posted 4 years ago #
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    I was smoking one of his Morta's the other day, what a great smoke!

    Posted 4 years ago #
  43. misterlowercase

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    A good gallery to look through:

    http://www.pfeifenstudio-frank.de/Pfeifen_neu/Becker_Paolo/becker_paolo.htm

    Posted 4 years ago #
  44. ssjones

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    I just saw this on the RD Field website:
    http://rdfield.com/news-2/

    The Becker brand of smoking pipes will continue, with Paolo’s older son, Federico, assuming his late father’s role. Federico had been working with Paolo for the past 12 years and has inherited his father’s talent and technical expertise. In addition Federico’s younger brother, Nicola, had been working with his father since the start of 2014 and will be continuing his apprenticeship under Federico’s tutelage.
    (January 10, 2015)

    Posted 4 years ago #
  45. phil22

    phil22

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    Glad to hear that Becker pipes will live on. I am saddened by Paolo's passing.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  46. pipeline

    pipeline

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    Learning of his death on March 14, 2015, I am deeply saddened. I did not know the man except by smoking pipes he made and by reputation. To say that Italian pipe making lost a giant, it is not to overstate the loss. Paolo was in rarefied air no matter the company, country, and time. May he rest in peace and best wishes to his sons.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  47. mso489

    mso489

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    Two sons inheriting the family business. It sounds as if a great tradition will survive. Still, it's their dad who's gone, and that can't be easy. What a powerful sense of design he had. If a person had no interest at all in smoking a pipe these would be beautiful pieces of sculpture, an instance of form transcending function.

    Posted 4 years ago #

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