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James Upshall Pipes - a Discussion

(327 posts)
  1. tarheel1

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    So there has been huge decline in upshall pipes online and are not answering emails anymore. I have been wanting one for many years but not found the right one. Once and a while I talk with the Moty to see what is available. The last email about a year ago was from his wife and now nothing. I have sent about 4 emails over the past couple of months with no reply.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  2. ssjones

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    Sadly, I wouldn't be surprised if that was has occurred. If so, that is a sad end to a storied name and history. Moty's involvement in the brand has always been cloudy and caused me to lose favor with that brand altogether. A James Upshall was my first really good British pipe and I'll always keep several. Perhaps someone will swoop in and buy the brand and revive this name.

    Al

    Posted 3 years ago #
  3. tarheel1

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    Well just got an email response back and here is what it said. With all the responses that he was on vacation every time I asked and now this, it makes me wonder if they were just selling old stock and Barry never made any pipes for the new owners or if he left many years back. "Dear MrDarnell,
    We do not currently have any in stock and Mr Jones is very near retirement so we will not be making speacila order for the foreseeable future. Best regards, Karen - James Upshall Pipe Company "

    Posted 3 years ago #
  4. tarheel1

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    Double post

    Posted 3 years ago #
  5. clickklick

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    That has been my assumption for years now.

    It would match with the idea that they were selling a TON of New Old Stock on ebay for a long time after Moty acquired the name.

    Hobbyist Pipemaker - Carmette Pipes
    Posted 3 years ago #
  6. kenbarnes

    kenbarnes

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    Hi, I am a new member from England, and I want to say how sad I was to hear that James Upshall may be starting to fade. When I was 16 years old (44 years ago) I started a holiday job at F.Charatan & Son's factory in the east end of London. At that time, my father was appointed by Herman Lane to manage the company. I was saving up some money to buy my first car and getting £7 per week for working in the cellar packing orders(with a great guy called Jeff who taught me this job). Another part of the job was to 'wheel' the sacks of briar to the lift and take them upstairs to the cutting department. This is where it all started. I did work in the factory sanding pipes and also worked in the Charatan Pipe shop in Jermyn Street. For the next few years I worked for Charatan's German distributor in Heidelberg and worked in a pipe store in Munich. In 1977, after the Dunhill buy out, I started The Tilshead Pipe Company with Barry Jones, taught by Reuben Charatan in the 1950s, and who in my opinion was the greatest craftsman at Charatan's and truly the best all-rounder when it came to pipe making. Barry would display breath-taking skill at each stage of the pipe making process and he was certainly the best finisher of pipes I have come across. Barry taught me cutting on the saw and for many years I worked next to him. Barry would be on the turning lathe and I would be cutting on the circular saw (under his wing initially). During the period of 1977-1989 I was cutting briar in the factory and also in charge of the sales.
    I sold my shares in the Company in 1989 partly due to pressure from my ex-wife who gave me an ultimatum as I seemed to be spending much more time at work than I was at home. barry was an amazing teacher of his craft and I feel sad that none of the people Barry had trained up over the years are able to continue the tradition.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  7. georged

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    Hi Ken, and welcome.

    Looks like Upshall isn't just starting to fade, but is indeed gone. Gave up their domain, anyway:

    http://www.jamesupshall.co.uk/

    There are several BritWood historians on this board who would love to buy you a beer and hear some stories. Please feel free to post anytime the mood strikes you.

    Dogs live such short lives... and spend most it waiting for us to come home
    Posted 3 years ago #
  8. disinformatique

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    Hey George,

    Upshall are online here at http://www.upshallusa.com/

    Dont know why they went with USA or a .com though

    Cheers,
    Chris

    Albert Einstein was once quoted as saying, “I believe that pipe smoking contributes to a somewhat calm and objective judgment in all human affairs.” One of the reasons behind this statement is that pipe smoking is meant to be a slow leisurely activity. It takes patience to smoke a pipe. Unlike cigarettes and cigars, there is a certain amount of technique to smoking a pipe. Where cigars and cigarettes can just be picked up, lit and puffed on, pipes require the development of a technique in order to get the best smoking experience.
    Posted 3 years ago #
  9. ssjones

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    Wow, we are honored by your particiption Ken Barnes. Do you keep in touch with Barry Jones? He seems to just have dropped out of sight.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  10. tarheel1

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    I also would love to hear about Barry Jones from someone other than Motty or Karen. Find out if what they have been saying over the past decade is correct.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  11. tbradsim1

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    Ken thank you for the fine smokes I have, I treasure my Tilshead pipes. Don't be a Stranger.

    The Old Cajun
    Posted 3 years ago #
  12. philobeddoe

    Philo Beddoe

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    Ken Barnes,
    Welcome to the forum, please feel very encouraged to post as much as possible. It would be an honor to hear some stories and reminisces from a gentleman such as yourself.

    Thank you,
    Philobeddoe

    "So it goes." - K.V.
    Posted 3 years ago #
  13. fitzy

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    Welcome to the forum. We would love to hear more of your stories.

    "These are ghosts that are more at home in a girdle-filled drawer than one of my pipes." Quote by Neil Archer Roan on lakeland ghosts
    Posted 3 years ago #
  14. papipeguy

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    Welcome, Ken, and thanks for the fascinating story. Please visit often.

    Blowin' smoke since 1970.
    Posted 3 years ago #
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    historypiper

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    Wow, Col. Ken! Nice to see you here! I had gotten the story from Barry and Dave Field years ago but nice to hear from you directly. For everyone else, I can tell you Barry actually retired some years ago. I spoke to him a few times after he retired but it's been a few years so I'm not sure I could even still get in touch but certainly hope he's well. And I do agree with Ken's assessment of Barry's skills and the quality of the pipes, I have and continue to love my Upshalls.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  16. neverbend

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    Kennedy and I reconnected this summer after 26 years and it's brought me a lot of joy. Glad to see you here Ken.

    Historypiper said

    Wow, Col. Ken! Nice to see you here! I had gotten the story from Barry and Dave Field years ago but nice to hear from you directly. For everyone else, I can tell you Barry actually retired some years ago. I spoke to him a few times after he retired but it's been a few years so I'm not sure I could even still get in touch but certainly hope he's well. And I do agree with Ken's assessment of Barry's skills and the quality of the pipes, I have and continue to love my Upshalls.

    Actually, the Colonel was Kenneth, Kennedy's dad, and I believe that he retired with the rank of Major. Kennedy can confirm if he wishes but you're on the right track.

    Tarheel1 said

    I also would love to hear about Barry Jones from someone other than Motty or Karen. Find out if what they have been saying over the past decade is correct.

    I'm not sure what you expect to hear about Barry but he was a great craftsman (retired) and he's an even better man. I knew him well, remember him fondly and miss him. Great family man too.

    (continued next post)

    Posted 3 years ago #
  17. neverbend

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    SSJones said

    Sadly, I wouldn't be surprised if that was has occurred. If so, that is a sad end to a storied name and history. Moty's involvement in the brand has always been cloudy and caused me to lose favor with that brand altogether. A James Upshall was my first really good British pipe and I'll always keep several. Perhaps someone will swoop in and buy the brand and revive this name.

    Hi Al,

    When Ken told me that he had posted here I thought of you. Sadly, Barry's level of skill would be difficult if not impossible to replace. During Moti's tenure there were many carved Upshalls made but under Kennedy there were only smooths (other than a few test carves and sandblasts). The skill required to make a smooth, unblemished handmade pipe has, essentially, been lost. One of the most respected boutique craftsmen recently told me that his yield of smooths is less than 10%. Under Kennedy, Upshall made 100% smooth, about 55% branded James Upshall and the rest Tilsheads (true 2nd).

    From it's inception in 1977 (I thought it was 1978) until 1989, Ken was the face and driving force behind Upshall as they became the largest selling handmade pipe in the world. During those years it was Ken who was know to the industry and not Barry who ran the factory, taught the staff and had expertise in all phases of production. In 1985, Ken dedicated himself so completely to Upshall that he rarely left the factory, except to make some sales calls, and he often slept there. That year, I too slept in the factory a few times.

    In ALL pipe making, the Cutter is the most important and skilled position. For machine made pipes this is done at the saw mill that delivers their customers shaped ebauchons. Hand makers use larger, higher quality and unshaped blocks of plateaux briar and no one had better briar than Upshall in the 1980s. A skilled Cutter crafts a custom ebauchon based on optimal shape, grain and to avoid flaws. It's the Cutter who defines what the following craftsmen must do. By 1985, Ken was Cutting much of the Upshall production and his ability to 'see' in 3 dimensions (he Cut on a open table saw and on any bias required) had people in the industry, and other pipe makers, marveling at his skill.

    On eBay I often see pipes that I've sold and this pipe caught my attention the other day. If I can't post pictures please use the link.

    By 1985, Ken's craft was so evolved that Upshall was making more graceful, better balanced and superior grained pipes than they had in their past or even that Charatan (generally) had made. This eBay pipe caused an argument between Ken and myself (~1985).

    Ken graded it a "B", despite a superior straight grain, because the production was so strong. I argued that he was setting the bar too high and that it was at least a "G" (one grade higher). Obviously, Ken won the argument :).

    Upshalls best pipes were made between 1985-1987, not coincidentally when Ken was doing so much Cutting. In 1986, after a hard downturn in the value of the dollar we were forced to raise the price of the "P" from $125 to $175 but under Ken's leadership and Cutting the Upshall quality was so strong that sales increased.

    The eBay listing (properly) lauds Barry but doesn't mention Ken who Cut it.


    James Upshall B from 1985

    Posted 3 years ago #
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    elpfeife

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    Very, very interesting. So glad you posted.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  19. ssjones

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    Fabulous insights Pete (and Ken). I fear that except for these kind of threads, this information would be lost to time. I feel honored to have folks like you and Ken sharing your industry and brand insights.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  20. fishingandpipes

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    Glad to have you on board Ken. Fascinating story. I'm sorry to see Upshall go.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  21. okiescout

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    Welcome, Ken. Looking forward to many interesting stories.

    "Work as if you were to live a hundred years. Pray as if you were to die tomorrow."
    Benjamin Franklin
    Posted 3 years ago #
  22. neverbend

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    JamesUpshallPipeCo is still selling a few pipes on eBay, 8 listed, 7 of them James Upshall.

    James Upshall Pipe Co eBay items 11-20-2015

    Hope that you folks don't mind but I made some comments about the dates of these Upshalls and hope that Ken will add his comments.

    Dating Upshalls can only be approximate since, at least through 1992, they never carried any nomenclature to indicate year of manufacture. Barry started marking pipes marked with 'FH' and Size# around ~1990 (bad idea). I gave Upshall my New Hermes engraver in 1983 (you're welcome Ken :D), so extra nomenclature could have been added at any time after that.


    This pipe is listed as a 1982 but I think that it was made later.

    The left side nomenclature (logo, FH and size) all appear to have been engraved at the same time with the same depth and coloration of the revealed briar that is very fresh, (under the engraving). An engraved logo means 1983 or later, the FH/Size 1990 or later (if they were done at the same time).

    The "A" (below) shows an earlier logo that had the "FH" and "5" added later. The exposed briar is darker under the logo compared to the FH and 5.

    Ken made a couple of changes, ~1984/5, to the walnut staining and finishing (that I loved) on the "P" and "B" grades to make the grain pop (more dynamic). Earlier Upshalls tend to have less dynamic grain (flat).

    I think that the "A" (red pipe) may be the oldest of this lot, 1986/7.

    What do you think Ken?

    Posted 3 years ago #
  23. ssjones

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    I've long suspected Moty was simply guessing that age of those pipes.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  24. neverbend

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    SSJones said...

    I've long suspected Moty was simply guessing that age of those pipes.

    To be fair Al, the dates listed probably aren't egregiously off. I can usually date post-transition Barlings within a 2 year window and I just pick a year and call it that. If I'm wrong it's only off by a year and that really has no meaning.

    The 1982 bent "B" I suspect was made in 1990 or a bit later, so it's the worst offender but as a group he's not far off.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  25. ssjones

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    I was bothered that the ads don't say "approximately 19XX" versus a specific date.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  26. briardan

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    From what I hear Moty has tarnished the "PRESTIGE" of the Upshall brand. The Barnes and Jones era were the "golden years" of the Upshall company.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  27. tarheel1

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    "From what I hear Moty has tarnished the "PRESTIGE" of the Upshall brand. The Barnes and Jones era were the "golden years" of the Upshall company"

    Thats why I was wondering if Barry was actually making pipes for the past 10 years or if Moty was just claiming it.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  28. bobpnm

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    This outstanding and fascinating thread motivated my login (not just read as usual) to thank all contributors. This thread is the potential of special interest forum realized. Thanks all!

    Posted 3 years ago #
  29. neverbend

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    SSJones said...

    I was bothered that the ads don't say "approximately 19XX" versus a specific date.

    Agreed, the dates shouldn't be stated as absolute.

    BriarDan said...

    From what I hear Moty has tarnished the "PRESTIGE" of the Upshall brand. The Barnes and Jones era were the "golden years" of the Upshall company.

    Without hubris, the best Upshalls were made after Marble Arch began importing them, in late 1982, through Ken's departure in 1989. This era was concurrent with Ken's strong relationship with Otto Braun, who controlled much of the world's supply, that insured that Upshall had the best briar. Without Ken, Barry was stretched since he had to Cut, Turn and run the factory and business. It's unlikely that Moty could have sourced briar of the quality that Ken used but, as long as Barry Jones was involved, the decline in Upshall wasn't as egregious as many other storied companies. You could start with the changeover to machines in the 1930s through Barling's abdication and then some.

    Tarheel1 said...

    Thats why I was wondering if Barry was actually making pipes for the past 10 years or if Moty was just claiming it.

    My first-hand knowledge ended in 1992 but Barry and his sons continued to make pipes and based on what I've seen I feel that they were involved in making them for Moty. The current lack of pipes from Moty is consistent with Barry's retirement.

    The lack of Tilsheads indicates that what Ken deemed a 2nd were carved into Upshall firsts. This is actually a prudent business move and it's done by most (all) pipe makers, especially when a pipe maker lacks the skill to make flawless smooths (not in Barry's case and Moty sold many new smooths). There were perhaps 4 test carved pipes made, at my request, but Ken refused to reduce the quality of his product despite the certain financial benefit. When I asked, Barry immediately made a carve that would have made Gigi Radice blush.

    Upshall, Charatan and Barling were the leading 'English Freehand' makers, thus the Upshall motto, "the Tradition continues...". English Freehand process requires Cutter, Turner, Shapers (sanders) and Finishers in sequence and in level of skill. To be sure, all steps require skilled craftsmen.

    To understand the skill of a pipe maker, look at the finished pipe. The hardest pipe to produce is a smooth, classically shaped straight grain. Grain isn't required to make a good smoking pipe but it can indicate the quality of briar used and it's not just a cosmetic device. How well the grain is expressed is an indication of the Cutter's skill.

    The English Freehand Turner uses a lathe to fully establish the shape of the bowl and shank while removing flaws as they go ('running flaws'). When Ken was Cutting he unburdened Barry to Turn at the highest level. From Cutter to finisher, each step is important and will address keeping the pipe flawless.

    All pipes are made as a smooth but when they have flaws, most are sandblasted or carved, (in whole or part) that adds an additional process (and cost). During Ken's tenure all pipes were smooth and pipes with flaws, true seconds, were offered as a Tilshead. You can tell a pipe maker's ability to 'run flaws' by their yield of completely smooth pipes and it appears to be a dying art.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  30. tarheel1

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    Thanks for the reply. It just sucks that I have been trying to get a bespoke pipe since 2005 with no results. I was always getting from Moty or Karen that he was on Vacation and could not make anything. I really would have liked to have one in my collection. I guess I can try and get a bent billiard or straight billiard as they seem to have them, but a Bent Bulldog group 5 with a tapered stem was what I wanted.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  31. ssjones

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    That B sold today and appeared to be well bought at $172. Did anyone here make the grab?

    Posted 3 years ago #
  32. aggravatedfarmer

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    Not me, but this thread is very interesting. Thank you all for contributing.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  33. brudnod

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    Since denholrl posted 5 pipes on eBay the prices will likely drop on the web for some time. Eventually the prices will increase with the lack of offering. That being said, his offerings were quite impressive!

    Posted 3 years ago #
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    walt24

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    Yes, I bought it.

    Walter

    Posted 3 years ago #
  35. neverbend

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    Yes, I bought it.

    Congratulations Walter, it's a beautiful pipe, enjoy it and please let us know how it smokes.

    I argued that your pipe was a "G" because it was beautifully rendered (graceful and not Charatan bulky) with it's grain running top to bottom (despite it's size) and straight around most of the bowl.

    [img][/img]

    Posted 3 years ago #
  36. neverbend

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    Another rare 'triangle shank' pipe that is also the first Upshall with engraved nomenclature. The template of the correct logo, in an oval, wasn't yet made.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  37. ssjones

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    Nice grab Walt!

    (graceful and not Charatan bulky)

    A good point Pete. The bulkiness of Charatans is one reason they are not a British maker that I collect (I have one). James Upshall shapes are somewhat tempered in size and although still large pipes, they appeal to my sensibilities better. Some of the B shapes are downright petite.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  38. skraps

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    This thread is like reading a history book. Thanks for all the contributions, guys.

    "People are not made better by a briar. An idiot before smoking a pipe is still an idiot after smoking a pipe, they're just more likely to speak less drivel with something in their mouth. For that, all society should be grateful."

    - Bob Runowski
    Posted 3 years ago #
  39. neverbend

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    SSJones said...

    ...The bulkiness of Charatans is one reason they are not a British maker that I collect (I have one). James Upshall shapes are somewhat tempered in size and although still large pipes, they appeal to my sensibilities better. Some of the B shapes are downright petite.

    Handmades are a vastly different process from machine made pipes. The machine spits out the bowls and you get a range of quality and work from there. Hand makers, (English Freehand school such as Upshall and Charatan), evolve the shape while they attempt to get the bowl clean. The primary difference between the English and Danish Freehand schools is that the English begin with an intended shape and work toward that goal while the Danes let the flaws dictate shape.

    All English Freehand makers, including Barling, reduced or cut-down pipes as flaws dictated shape change to be necessary. Upshall and Chararan did this with some latitude while Barling, who made shapes based on a numbered chart, had less flexibility. Barling craftsmen knew now to alter pipes to fit their shape chart. The most obvious example is a billiard being topped to become a pot but, especially with Barling, their skill in this regard was an art form.

    The 'clunky' Charatans are more common in the Lane Era. As a business practice, ending shape alteration once a bowl is clean, makes some sense because you won't continue to uncover flaws. It's also going to be the largest pipe that can be made. Herman Lane and I discussed this (Switzerland, 1986), specifically relating to Upshall that he felt were good but dainty pipes. Herman felt that larger, more fantastic pipes sell, and they did, but we found that the more refined pipes had a broader appeal. From a purist perspective, Herman took the easier path and while I understand his point of view, I'd never associate dainty with Upshall.

    Ken was the most open minded of my pipe makers, readily accepting criticism and new ideas and implementing them. Ken and I worked to make the Upshalls more graceful despite the potential of uncovering flaws during process. By ~1984, Barry felt that Upshall had surpassed Lane Era Charatan and was equal or superior to pipes made in the Reuben Charatan Era and Upshall did improve over the following years.

    Al, very perceptive about the smaller "B"s. Size did factor into grading, at least to some degree.

    A Ken Cutting story:
    Lionel Melendi, of De La Concha (NYC), was the largest Upshall dealer in the US (and probably the world) selling ~500 a year. He asked us for a donation to be auctioned at a charity event and when I told Ken he was eager to help. We agreed to make a straight grain billiard with a gold band (L&JS) in a presentation box.

    Ken sifted through 20 or so large blocks of briar, digging into flaws, (to see how deep they ran) with a knife (like a clam shucker) and wetting their sides to see their grain.

    "Right mate! This one will make a little corker with perfect straight grain! I can see it." It was a big block that could have made 2 large pipes for other pipe makers.

    The table saw started and chips flew as Ken kept examining and turning the block, cutting at different angles and the briar kept shrinking. A couple of deep cuts finished the shaped ebauchon, only slightly larger than a Dunhill group 6. Ken Cut the block in a scant few minutes.

    Barry took over on the lathe, turning away flaws and scooping out the tobacco chamber. Normally, Barry would have passed the pipe to a Shaper but he worked it through the finishing stages himself, including a hand-cut, rod vulcanite stem. Red backing followed by a natural stain and the pipe was finished. It was only a Dunhill group 5 in size but it was every bit the 'corker' that Ken said it would be, an obvious (to me) "X" grade and perhaps a "XX" since it was nearly a 360 degree straight grain billiard that ran from rim to heel. Ken felt that it was too small to be an "X" and that it wasn't completely a 360 straight grain and he'd only put the Upshall name on the pipe if it were marked as an "E" (one grade below the "X"), and so it was marked.

    Les Wood fitted the band and I took the pipe back to the States, put it into a presentation box and gave it to Lionel. It sold for $550 in 1986.

    Ken, it was an "X" then and still is, but I relate the story, partially, to illustrate that size did matter in grading. More importantly, it shows Ken's ability to see a (near) perfect pipe, of a specific shape, inside a massive block of briar and then his skill to produce it.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  40. ssjones

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    The 'clunky' Charatans are more common in the Lane Era. As a business practice, ending shape alteration once a bowl is clean, makes some sense because you won't continue to uncover flaws. It's also going to be the largest pipe that can be made. Herman Lane and I discussed this (Switzerland, 1986), specifically relating to Upshall that he felt were good but dainty pipes. Herman felt that larger, more fantastic pipes sell, and they did, but we found that the more refined pipes had a broader appeal. From a purist perspective, Herman took the easier path and while I understand his point of view, I'd never associate dainty with Upshall.

    That makes perfect business sense. I've never heard such a brilliant explanation about pipe size and grading. Current Castello pipes frustrate me because they only seem concerned in making/selling larger pipe (G, GG, etc.). I suppose a similar business perspective is employed. Most of my Upshall collection could hardly be called "dainty!" My S and B grades are less than 50 grams but the P's all approach 90+ grams.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  41. georged

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    I remember talking with a high-end Charatan dealer about the, "Why are they all so big?" thing 30-odd years ago. His answer: "The shaper stops shaping as soon as the exterior is clear, because removing more material could expose a flaw."

    Ever since, I wondered if some sort of cost/benefit analysis was ever performed on the assumption that the smoking public preferred a flawless outer surface on an over-sized, sometimes awkward pipe enough to offset the higher briar drop rate of making smaller and more elegant ones. Because I knew any number of smokers who avoided Charatans because of their size. People who said they would have bought them otherwise.

    This thread is obviously my chance to get that answer. Ken?

    Posted 3 years ago #
  42. buroak

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    Right now I have scant time for reading threads on the forum, but this one has kept my attention. I own no Upshall pipes, yet the stories and insight keep me coming back for more. I suspect I am not the only "lurker" here, just another boy at the kids' table keenly observing the conversation amongst the grown-ups.

    Life contains a particle of risk. - Allardyce T. Meriweather in Little Big Man
    Posted 3 years ago #
  43. sablebrush52

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    This is easily the most interesting thread that I've read in months because I'm getting to hear from the people who were directly involved with the subject. It's such a huge pleasure to read Pete's clear and informative posts. You can't get better than straight from the source. Many thanks to both Pete and Ken for elevating this discussion. I hope that it gets preserved so that other interested people can easily access it.

    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 3 years ago #
  44. jvnshr

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    I checked this thread when it was first created a month ago, then I was seeing it on latest discussions from time to time, but not checking, today I wanted to have a glance and I read the whole thread from very beginning to the end. What a great source of information. Thank you all for the contributions.

    Javan
    Posted 3 years ago #
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    lestrout

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    Echoing Jesse's sentiments, this is an exceptionally informative and interesting thread, thanks to unique contributions from Ken, Pete and Al (among others). I had independently been trying to peer through the clouds to discern what had transpired post Dunhill and pre-Moty, and have gained a great deal of insight about the Upshalls and Tilsheads that I treasure.

    hp
    les

    Posted 3 years ago #
  46. kenbarnes

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    Hi Guys,
    Wow, so many recall buttons being pressed. First of all, I would like to say that I thought Barry was a far superior cutter of plateau. My idea at the time was that if I was involved in the cutting and the sales I could better coordinate what the pipe-smokers wanted at that time. Barry was so skilled at both cutting and turning in fact, all the processes. He could take any piece of briar and 'turn' it into something truly amazing. Unfortunately, it was not financially viable for Barry to complete each process on his own. He did so for that De la Concha special order and on a few other occasions. There are pipe-makers who do so, such as Ingo Garbe who works through each process himself-from cutting the block to wrapping the pipe. A production of 300 pipes a year has a drawback from the point of view of developing a prestigious name worldwide.
    As far as dating Upshall pipes is concerned, we started production on the 7th of November 1978 (thanks Pete! it's all coming back to me now) and we had ordered a stamp from Bonzer (who made stamps for Dunhill, Charatan, Barling etc for many, many years) which was simply '78'. We made approximately 300 pipes that year (November & December) all stamped '78'including the Tilshead seconds. I remember selling the first Tilshead Pipes ever to a shop called Walter Thurgood in London Wall. They bought all I had (one gross). So, if you ever come across a JU or Tilshead with '78' on the shank, these were made by the two of us (much more input from Barry though!)
    I will write more when I have re-read this thread and possibly made some notes on queries and points of discussion. Ken

    Posted 3 years ago #
  47. fordm60

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    This thread is simply fascinating. Thank you Ken and Pete! Please do keep telling us your history. Blew me out of the water!

    Posted 3 years ago #
  48. fishingandpipes

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    Ken, thanks again for commenting.

    This is a fantastic thread.

    Posted 3 years ago #
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    jguss

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    As others have noted, a truly fabulous thread. Too often we admire the artifacts without knowing much about the people who made them and the businesses they created. Context is damn near everything; without it we miss much more than half the story.

    Thanks Pete & Ken.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  50. neverbend

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    The only time that I met Ken Barnes (Kennedy's dad) was at the 1980 RTDA trade show, where he was presenting Upshall with their first American agent, Marion Lezack. The quality and pricing of the Upshalls was inconsistent but there were gems and talent that impressed me.

    I suspect that Ken may have the same experiencing that I did last year, when I revisited my time in the pipe industry and the memories flooded back in waves. Jon and Jesse, (good to see you both), and I had many email exchanges and they kindly tolerated my overlong missives. These were memories that had been stored and never anticipated to be recalled but I’m glad that they have been. For me, the memories returned, vivid and distinct only needing to be sorted by chronology.

    The red "A" above, that I feel to have been made in 1986/7 was introduced in 1986 to fill the price point that the "P" had occupied and to increase yield. Within a few years the "A" became a walnut finish, with lesser grain than the "P", and the "R" was introduced in a darker red stain.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  51. kenbarnes

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    I need some help as to when I left the company- I thought it was around 1989? I have never seen this red finish that is graded an "A". The "S" grade was the Upshall quality which was finished in this colour just below the "P" grade light walnut finish. The qualities that we were producing when I left were XX, X, E, G, B, P, S, some carved pieces, a process introduced to Upshall by P. Siegel, Tilshead natural and Tilshead dark Tan.

    Ken

    Posted 3 years ago #
  52. papipeguy

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    I'll echo the other here in this is a most interesting and fascinating discussion. It's like sitting in a lounge and listening to first hand accounts about the industry and that of James Upshall. Thank you, gentlemen for sharing your recollections with us.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  53. ssjones

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    Here is a red stain "S". This was my first James Upshall pipe. I probably see 50 "P" grade Upshalls for every one "S". Perhaps less.

    An ebay search for S grade pipes yielded:
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/ENGLISH-ESTATE-PIPE-JAMES-UPSHALL-S-GRADE-/371453114682?hash=item567c54b93a&nma=true&si=NMWvBlC7LPw4eMhnchcpV3qlXoI%253D&orig_cvip=true&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2557

    Currently offered:
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/James-Upshall-S-TILSHEAD-ENGLAND-DUBLIN-EXCELLENT-ESTATE-/201470121693?hash=item2ee88e16dd:g:E~UAAOSwcdBWTnnJ

    Posted 3 years ago #
  54. ssjones

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    In the search for S grade pipes, this "DS" pipe came up. The seller, calls it a "Designer Series". I find no reference to the DS grade on the Upshall website, not anywhere else. Thanks to Peter, I have some familiarity with the Empire Series, but this is a new one on me.
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/JAMES-UPSHALL-DS-DESIGNER-SERIES-GRADE-PIPE-WITH-EXCEPTIONAL-GRAIN-/121752632600?hash=item1c5905bd18%3Ag%3AQNsAAOSw3ydV7Fb3&nma=true&si=NMWvBlC7LPw4eMhnchcpV3qlXoI%253D&orig_cvip=true&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2557




    Posted 3 years ago #
  55. georged

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    Since the thread is starting to do dual duty as an Upshall pic archive, here's a rare one. A physically small (40 gram) XX grade piece:

    Posted 3 years ago #
  56. ssjones

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    The XX is the top of the Upshall grade. Wow.(and George's picture is probably as close as I'll ever get to one!)

    Posted 3 years ago #
  57. kenbarnes

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    What beautiful pipes! That XX is a peach. My first urge was to see all the way 'round it. Beautiful birdseye on the top.

    Posted 3 years ago #
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    robski

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    DS=Desmond Sautter - a high end tobacconists in Mayfair. Its not a grade of pipe - simply a stamping for pipes sold in his shop

    Posted 3 years ago #
  59. ssjones

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    DS=Desmond Sautter - a high end tobacconists in Mayfair. Its not a grade of pipe - simply a stamping for pipes sold in his shop

    That makes sense, but if so, this pipe would have no grade stamp? (I've never seen an ungraded, smooth James Upshall)

    Posted 3 years ago #
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    robski

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    I've seen a few DS pipes come up over the years, I cant remember whether they had a grade stamp or not. Perhaps Ken can enlighten us. We cant ask Desmond - passed away a few years ago.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  61. ssjones

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    Fascinating stuff!

    Posted 3 years ago #
  62. kenbarnes

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    I want to ask anyone how I can 'attach' a photo to this message (or the next one I will write)

    Posted 3 years ago #
  63. ssjones

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    PM sent Ken.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  64. owen

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    What a great thread, every Upshall thread is always a classic, SS Jones you seem to have a hand in this. This should be in a book or at least on pipedia. The men involved are national treasures as far as I am concerned and deserve more recognition. It must be strange to see this thread and see grown men getting all excited about things you did for work.
    owen

    Posted 3 years ago #
  65. ssjones

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    Update: Tarheel and I decided to change the title of this thread to "James Upshall Pipes - A Discussion". It seemed more respectful in light of the direction where the thread had evolved.

    This thread has certainly sparked in me, a renewed interest in James Upshall pipes. To this point, I had become disheartened about the company and offerings. I do know of two East Coast shops that each have an unsmoked James Upshall in their case (one P, one G). I may have to drop by for a visit!

    Posted 3 years ago #
  66. neverbend

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    Thanks to you folks for posting Al (SSJones), thanks for making the British Pipes section of the forum. Tarheel1, sorry that the bespoke Upshall may not happen but thanks for starting this thread. The incomplete history of Upshall on the Internet had eliminated Ken but there was no James Upshall without him. Warms my heart to have him here and for this thread to start setting the record straight. Ken was a mad warrior in the pipe trade, daring, pure and passionate and modest about his work. My comments about Ken’s skill as a Cutter, initially, came from Barry who told me that “I cut what I know and Ken cuts what he sees.” That comment was made ~1983 and I saw Ken’s work with new eyes and realized that he could be challenged to produce even better pipes and he did. Ken would never agree but he was a Cutting prodigy and the proof is in the pipes.

    Ken, do you remember the diameter of the open table saw that you used? I know that you remember when you cut your thumb (ouch!).

    I try to connect dots to anchor dates and events but I can be mistaken. I was incorrect when I said that the “FH” and size first appeared in 1990 because they were occasionally used beginning in 1986 when we started to leverage the flexibility of the New Hermes engraver with nomenclature. Barry added the “FH” to the prototype of the “A” series in 1986 (it was the only “A” ever made as intended) as well as the “L” series of long canadians (homage to Barling) and occasionally other pipes. The FH and size were regular additions soon after Ken left. The “FH”, of course, stands for “Free Hand” as Upshall understood themselves to be English Free Hand pipe makers. With the New Hermes we never needed to make costly stamps and any nomenclature was available (except graphics).

    Ken, I thought that you left in 1989 too but it was in late 1988, a couple of months before my dad passed (Jan 4th, 1989). More about the finishes later, especially those below the “P”, but ~1984 we started to import the “S”, orange-red priced at $100-$110, that had previously only been sold in Germany (Europe?). The German importer (name?) wanted this finish exclusively, so we made the “S” as a bright red that contrasted with the natural tobacco chamber (~1986). Tilsheads were natural and red but later some were made in the dark tan.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  67. troutface

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    This thread more than makes up for suffering through all the Penzance ones. I thank these gentleman for sharing all this fascinating information. Back in the mid 80's I was only a casual piper, making the first three pipes I ever smoked, but distinctly remember picking up an Upshall brochure at a B&M. I didn't know shit about pipes, but as a woodworker I could easily see that it was damn fine wood and workmanship. I'm so sorry now that I didn't buy one, but it would have been more than a week's salary at the time. Even today I doubt that many of us spend near that amount on a pipe, judging from a recent thread. Once again, thank you all for sharing this information.

    "Each of you be a light unto yourself; betake yourself to no external refuge. Hold fast to the Truth. Look not for refuge to anyone beside yourself." -The Buddha
    Posted 3 years ago #
  68. kenbarnes

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    well, this thread sure gets my heart pounding (in a healthy way!)Thanks S.S.J for your guidance in downloading some stuff I came across yesterday (for the first time in 26 years. I have done what was suggested I am just hoping the photos are attached to this

    Posted 3 years ago #
  69. kenbarnes

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    I have my album with my member's photo and 2 others which I wanted to share with you. How do I attach this album or photos to this message?

    Posted 3 years ago #
  70. sablebrush52

    sablebrush52

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    Hi Ken,
    Once you have uploaded your pictures to your album, do the following:

    To begin, i usually have two windows open when I attach images. One is open to my album and the other is open to the forum page.

    Click,or double click on the image that you want to attach so that you open the tpage for that image. You need to copy the image's location in order to attach it. If you are on a PC, right click over the image to open a pop up menu and select "copy image location". If you are on a Mac, hold down the control key and click over the image to open the pop up menu.

    Next, go to the window where you want to attach the image. Look for IMG on the overhead menu and click on it to open a dialogue box. Paste in the image location that you just copied. The location will appear in your post with IMG in brackets flanking it. When you post, the image will appear.

    Repeat copying and pasting the image location into separate IMG boxes then post. Your images will be attached to your post.

    Posted 3 years ago #

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