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Seeking The Best of the Best

(76 posts)
  1. iamn8

    Nate

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    When I began collecting a year ago I limited myself to a single brand. I've recently begun branching out, seeking the best of the best. As a new guy here, I've read online and saught advice from others, helping to compile the following list. Anybody I've left off who belongs in the pipe hall of fame? Due to copy n paste some names appear twice.
    Dunhill
    JT Cooke
    Baldi
    S. Bang
    Ligne Bretagne (by Trevor Talbert)
    Halloween/Goblin (by Trevor Talbert)
    Rad Davis
    R. Barbi
    Bruce Weaver
    Grant Batson
    Larry Roush
    Joe Nelson
    Chris Askwith
    Paul Hubartt
    Brian Ruthenberg
    Paolo Becker
    Bo Nordh
    Tom Eltang
    Sixten Ivarrson
    Tonni Nielsen
    Jody Davis
    Scott Thile
    Bruce Weaver
    Steve Morrissete
    Mike Butera
    Jorn Micke
    Bo Nordh
    Jess Chonowitsch
    Lars
    Nanna
    Anne Julie
    Jorn Micke
    Arne Ljung
    Bjorn Bengston
    Gotoh

    Nate @ Moody AL
    Posted 4 years ago #
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    J Alan and Michael Parks come to mind and Poul Ilsted and Teddy Knudsen are a must. There are several Japanese carvers and which is the best I don't know. Balleby and Joura have an excellent reputation as does a Bill Taylor made Ashton. For a "hall of fame" standing, I suggest 10 years experience should be required. Don't forget the great pioneers and innovators--Savinelli handmade, Ser Jacopo series, and Castello fiammata. J. Larson under his name or Stokkebye. Some might add Todd Johnson and one or more of the older Amerian retired carvers. Maybe Lee von Erck and Wolfgang Becker.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  3. klause

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    Viggo Nielsen. And, Erik Nielsen.

    Dunno if they're related - doubt it.

    Toss in a high grade Preben, and Celius, and you're in pipe nirvana.

    Just my Tuppence worth.

    Ars longa, vita brevis.
    _____________________________________
    Posted 4 years ago #
  4. sablebrush52

    sablebrush52

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    Lee Von Erck, Brad Pohlmann, Wayne Teipen, Scottie Piersel, Walt Cannoy, Peter Matzhold

    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 #
  5. misterlowercase

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    Not on the list so far...

    N. America
    Will Purdy
    Alex Florov
    Maigurs Knets
    Premal Chheda

    Russia
    Alexey Kharlamov
    Michail Revyagin
    Viktor Yashtylov
    Boris Starkov

    Japan
    Hiro Tokutomi
    Smio Satou
    Takeo Arita
    Ray Kurusu

    Germany
    Roger Wallenstein
    Werner Mummert
    Axel Glasner
    Cornelius Mänz
    Jürgen Moritz
    Christian Wolfsteiner
    Axel Reichert

    Denmark
    Manduela
    Peter Heeschen
    Benni Jørgensen
    Former

    Sweden
    Love Geiger

    Italy

    Massimiliano Rimensi (Il Duca)
    Gian Maria Gamboni

    Greece
    Chris Asteriou


    ...and many more I'm sure,
    quite a daunting task to compile!

    Posted 4 years ago #
  6. huntertrw

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    Don't forget family-era Barlings!

    Love Me, Love My Pipe
    Posted 4 years ago #
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    Anonymous

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    How about Mark Tinsky? I've always wanted one of his bent apples but it's never in my budget.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  8. newbroom

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    who's this Tsuge guy?

    Posted 4 years ago #
  9. misterlowercase

    misterlowercase

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    who's this Tsuge guy?

    Have a look through their pdf catalog,
    it's great fun!

    http://www.tsugepipe.co.jp/catalogue.html

    Their website is pretty cool too.

    Posted 4 years ago #
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    elpfeife

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    Best of the best has turned into ...?? A list of every good pipemaker on the face of the earth. Castello obviously doesn't rate (Dunhill does make it!).

    Posted 4 years ago #
  11. klause

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    Forgot - Peter Heding.

    One day I'll have one of his pieces.......one day.....

    Posted 4 years ago #
  12. misterlowercase

    misterlowercase

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    Just go down the list at Esterval's Pipe House,
    he has just about everything at one time or another.

    The Sixten Ivarsson's sell very quickly for mucho money,
    and just how often do you see a Sixten-made stem up for grabs?
    He just listed one today!

    http://www.tecon-gmbh.de/products_new.php?currency=%24

    Posted 4 years ago #
  13. misterlowercase

    misterlowercase

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    France
    David Enrique

    Posted 4 years ago #
  14. danielplainview

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    I didn't see a Brylon Medico on the list...

    Make aromatics great again.
    Posted 4 years ago #
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    elpfeife

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    Nor Dr. Plumb.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  16. sablebrush52

    sablebrush52

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    Don't forget family-era Barlings!

    Damn straight! J T Cooke has said that they were the best pipes ever made, but what would he know?

    I was sticking with Artisan makers.

    Forgot about Tinsky, excellent smokers.

    Great lists!

    Posted 4 years ago #
  17. huntertrw

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    What about TAO?

    Posted 4 years ago #
  18. daimyo

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    Peter Heeschen
    Maigurs Knets
    both definitely belong on the list as mr.lowercase pointed out.

    Also, Trever Talbert does have two lines but you have them a bit scrambled. Ligne Bretagtne is his less expensive line mostly from French stummels but the Goblins are also part of this line. Then he makes Talbert pipes which are his regular pipes and the Halloween pipes belong to this line.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  19. buroak

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    Not to knock any of the makers listed here, but I agree with elpfeife on the length of this list. This is starting to sound like the Honor Roll roster at a "progressive" grade school.

    Life contains a particle of risk. - Allardyce T. Meriweather in Little Big Man
    Posted 4 years ago #
  20. daimyo

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    None of the makers listed here got a ribbon just for showing up. This is still quite a small list when one considers it spans the globe. Try naming all the respected individuals from some professions and we would fill a page with the first post. Not a name mentioned here I wouldn't be happy to own a pipe from. Dunhill should be knocked off though since the rest are carvers.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  21. pitchfork

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    Not to knock any of the makers listed here, but I agree with elpfeife on the length of this list. This is starting to sound like the Honor Roll roster at a "progressive" grade school.

    It's like Lake Wobegon, "where all the children are above average."

    Posted 4 years ago #
  22. hiplainsdrifter

    hiplainsdrifter

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    It blows me away how much money some people are willing to spend on pipes. It's all relative though- I suppose my 300.00 Ruthenberg looks pretty extravagant to a guy with a 10.00 cob.

    Posted 4 years ago #
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    I'm really shocked with how well they are praised and how so many people here rant about the quality and smokability of them that Missouri Meerschaum aint been suggested to go on the list.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  24. daimyo

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    Posted 4 years ago #
  25. buroak

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    daimyo, As I said, I am not knocking anyone on the list. It just seems that some winnowing is needed, even if we can only crown a first among equals.

    pitchfork gets me.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  26. iamn8

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    I agree with a lot of what's been said. Dunhill off the list? I could live with that. And yes, I should've made my request more specific. Shouldve said this...
    Make a list of your top ten pipe makers. Then remove all but three. That's the list i was seeking. That list began with pipes I liked, hence machine made/Talberts lesser line.
    At that point the list became different and I should've removed a couple. My apologies.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  27. toby67

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    I'm Surprised nobody has made mention of the Wathen "Reflection" pipes

    Posted 4 years ago #
  28. daimyo

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    I hear you but it does seem the original poster was looking for a rather complete list. Perhaps the title is a bit misleading.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  29. buroak

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    iamn8, No need to apologize (not that you need any affirmation from me). daimyo and pitchfork both have good and valid points. This exercise may just be in the throw-it-at-the-wall stage. As it progresses we will see what sticks.

    I considered positing Tinsky, Blatter (handmade specimens), and DeJarnette, but did not feel they were quite in the same league as, say, Cooke.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  30. iamn8

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    No, I think the thread title was accurate, but I should've then explained better what I was seeking and followed my own advice. As the new guy here I'm still figuring things out. Also i wasn't asking for esoteric reasons. I want to know what the best are for purchasing. It's been my experience in life that to truly begin to understand any object, be it art or wine or whatever, it's VERY helpful to experience the best of what's out there along with the worst. Understand the poles and you can better decide what you want. Of course this is just my opinion.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  31. woodsroad

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    I've found that some tin foil, wrapped around a pencil, works just fine in a pinch.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  32. iamn8

    Nate

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    Yes, but which brand of foil and what type of pencil? Make a list

    Posted 4 years ago #
  33. cobguy

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    some tin foil, wrapped around a pencil, works just fine in a pinch

    Yep!

    Posted 4 years ago #
  34. buroak

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    Yes, but which brand of foil and what type of pencil? Make a list [;)]

    Posted 4 years ago #
  35. sablebrush52

    sablebrush52

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    It's going to be very subjective. Everyone has favorites from amongst the pipes they have personally smoked. A lot of names on this list are highly respected, but with few exceptions, aren't likely to be in many collections due to their rarity and price level.

    I'm a huge fan of Le Von Erck and have 6 of his pipes. But I don't have any Bo Nordh pipes, unlike a few here, because I can't bring myself to pay those prices for a pipe. A lot of names here are here by virtue of reputation.

    So maybe the question could be rephrased as which artisans, out of your collection, are the best of the best?
    Lee Von Erck, Trever Talbert, Tony Fillenwarth

    And that may change tomorrow, with the exception of Von Erck. His proprietary treatment of his briar puts him in a different class for me than someone who is strictly a carver.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  36. woodsroad

    woodsroad

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    I'm partial to Reynold's Wrap, mostly because it's what my grandfather used, but the quality has dropped off in recent years. Too thin. Pencils? Well, the diameter keeps shrinking and the paint flakes off so easily anymore. I just can't bring myself to pay the money that they get for glass pipes, though.

    Check out Miguel Ramos-Lopez. He's whipped up some cool pipes from plumbing that we filched from abandoned houses. Uses lead-free solder, too.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  37. buroak

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    Subjective and subject to budget. I know I will likely never be able to personally assess the qualities of many or most of the pipe makers listed here.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  38. cobguy

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    I know I will likely never be able to personally assess the qualities of many or most of the pipe makers listed here.

    Luckily, you won't need to in order to enjoy a great smoke!

    It's 75% operator, 25% equipment ... or less.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  39. daimyo

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    A lot of names here are here by virtue of reputation.

    You have that right! I love Rasmussen's animal themed pipes but will never own one. I will have to go by what one can tell of his shaping and finishing from pictures and trust other smokers opinions that they puff as well as they look.

    1. Trever Talbert
    2. Maigurs Knets
    3. Chris Askwith
    Would be my top three. If you asked who were the best pipe makers in the world or who had the most impact that might be a different list, not to say these guys would be out of the running but many of the classic "greats" certainly deserve their spots in history.

    The rest of you need to stop messing with that tinfoil. That's the basket pipe of metals, get some Brillo pads and a glass tube!

    Posted 4 years ago #
  40. buroak

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    Luckily, you won't need to in order to enjoy a great smoke! [:wink:]

    I agree. Don't get me wrong, I have some good pipes that would have been expensive if I had purchased them new. Still my highest-end pipes do not come close to the price of the work from even the middle-tier makers listed above. I am not sure I could enjoy a $1,000 pipe if someone dropped it in my hands and said "you're welcome". The fear that I would somehow damage it might well be insurmountable.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  41. pitchfork

    pitchfork

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    This would be my short list.

    Tom Eltang
    Jorn Micke
    S. Bang
    Jess Chonowitsch
    Bo Nordh

    Posted 4 years ago #
  42. buroak

    buroak

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    If we were going to make a short list of factory pipes, who would be in the top 3?

    Posted 4 years ago #
  43. misterlowercase

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    If we were going to make a short list of factory pipes, who would be in the top 3?

    For me,

    1. Dunhill
    2. pre-war BBB
    3. pre-war Orlik

    My short list of artisans,

    1. Michael Parks
    2. Geiger
    3. Paolo Becker
    4. JT Cooke
    5. Alexey Kharlamov

    Posted 4 years ago #
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    For affordability--Savinelli. No Irish pipes because they dip the bowls into the stain. Castello is not a factory. I don't know French pipes at all. Don't know if any of the Japanese pipes are made by machine. Dunhill is overpriced and I want to know where their briar comes from. Does not leave much.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  45. sablebrush52

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    This would be my short list.

    Tom Eltang
    Jorn Micke
    S. Bang
    Jess Chonowitsch
    Bo Nordh

    All of which were purchased at the pipe concession in Bejing Disneyland.

    Woods, I've heard very good reports of the Danish made Reynolds Wrap. It's rolled on the smooth thighs of statuesque Viking women. As for pencils, the best come from Russia where they don't worry about the lead content of the paint. Firing up a few of those should disable enough synaptic connections to ensure rapturous bliss before the tremors begin.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  46. sablebrush52

    sablebrush52

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    If we were going to make a short list of factory pipes, who would be in the top 3?

    Family Era Barling

    Comoy

    Castello

    Posted 4 years ago #
  47. sablebrush52

    sablebrush52

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    Would be my top three. If you asked who were the best pipe makers in the world or who had the most impact that might be a different list, not to say these guys would be out of the running but many of the classic "greats" certainly deserve their spots in history.

    On the basis of "most impact" the answer is easy.

    Sixten Ivarsson

    He's like J S Bach. Just as Bach's invention of the well tempered scale freed composers to write in any key, Sixten's approach opened a world of design possibilities beyond the classical shapes.

    Posted 4 years ago #
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    Knudsen, Chonowitsch, Ilsted, Former, Barbi, Eltang, Parks, Cooke, Becker, Castello, Ser Jacopo, Butera, J Alan. Overall quality and beauty.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  49. pitchfork

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    All of which were purchased at the pipe concession in Bejing Disneyland.

    So what? Huge Stone Pipe Castle give certificate of authenticity with every pipe.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  50. warren

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    Best of the best? What's the criteria? Best smoking? Best shape(s)? Best finish? Best price? Best briar?

    In my limited experience my Millville is the best smoking pipe I've owned. My cobs are the most practical when running a chain saw? My lower priced Pete's are the best value. My best looker is a very plain, only a decorative band carved on the stem, meerschaum.

    So, since I buy pipes to smoke . . . my Millville is the best of the best in my collection.

    A man without a shillelagh is a man without an expedient.
    Posted 4 years ago #
  51. bigboi

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    Pretty long list. If I do say so myself.

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

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    Warren, That is the rub, isn't it? The subjective nature of the question is part of the fun, though. I imagine most of us are trying to balance exceptional smoking qualities, aesthetics, and engineering in our assessments.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  53. buroak

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    The leader boards of factory pipes seem to be favoring the English, albeit in an extremely small sample. I wonder where Sasieni would come in if we expanded beyond the top three or increased the sample size. The money they fetch may not correspond to their place in the rankings of factory pipe makers.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  54. sablebrush52

    sablebrush52

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    I wonder where Sasieni would come in if we expanded beyond the top three or increased the sample size.

    Good question. I would probably rate Kaywoodie, Ser Jacopo, Charatan, and Dunhill above Sasieni from my experience. Now I don't own any of the post family product and my Sasienis are 1940's and earlier. All of them were lightly smoked when I bought them (one eBay buy brought me a number of 4 and 8 Dots in one fell swoop) and all went through a thorough restoration. I've found them to be pretty uneven, with an unpleasant, almost vegetal taste until broken in. I'm also not wild about the stem material on these old pipes and that unpleasant (for me YMMV) mouth feel keeps me from smoking them too often. Their reputation for being dry smoking pipes is well deserved.

    My favorite Sasieni is actually a Mayfair, which is a Sasieni 2nd and which is a really excellent pipe. That said, a lot of collectors love their Sasieni pipes.

    Posted 4 years ago #
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    moriarty

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    From my experience I would definitely bracket the following with the best pipemakers listed so far. I haven't seen these mentioned:

    Sergey Ailarov
    Rolando Negoita
    Maurizio Tombari
    Michael Lindner

    Posted 4 years ago #
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    moriarty

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    Oh, and I would cross Baldo Baldi off the list. I really don't see the quality in Baldi pipes I've viewed (or the one I owned) but they are certainly priced along with the best pipes. Apologies to anyone who feels strongly otherwise, and I would be interested to hear why, without wishing to take the discussion off track.

    Posted 4 years ago #
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    France
    David Enrique

    Let's not forget Pierre Morel...

    And his legendary Fleurs (flowers)....

    Posted 4 years ago #
  58. buroak

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    sablebrush52, Thanks for weighing in on Sasieni. I was not sure what all the hype was about. I had heard they are dry smokers, but otherwise it seemed people were paying for dots. I know they are not paying for dazzling grain.

    Posted 4 years ago #
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    Let's not forget Pierre Morel...

    Holy crap... that first pipe is amazing. Thanks for sharing those pics!

    Posted 4 years ago #
  60. klause

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    What Sparks said...times 10.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  61. mso489

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    Out of my league, but I'd second on Becker, and maybe add Mummert for his challenging and
    advanced designs. Definitely Ser Jacopo (I'm in on that one) and Ferndown. I'm not sure these
    will make a rarified list, if you are going for name recognition and market value, but they are
    definitely up there for quality. Some of the old Kaywoodie's, but I don't think that's what you are
    going for here. Jokingly I say, you have to go for some inner contentment here, or you'll chase
    the pricey pipes to the end of the world. I don't go for the tin foil and pencil approach, but there
    are some exquisite smokers in the Savenelli, Stanwell, and Joh's lines, though they won't make your
    list.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  62. misterlowercase

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    Oh,
    I forgot all about Mike Messer!

    http://handmade-briar-usa.com/Pipes.htm

    A master?

    Yes,
    ...of something.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  63. pitchfork

    pitchfork

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    mlc, you bad bad man!

    If it's still posted, if you ever find yourself with 2 or 3 hours to waste, you should seek out the "stinky ebonite thread" on pipemakers forum. It's simply amazing.

    BTW, the prices for those (still unsold) pipes continue to rise. It's like some kind of elaborate, multi-year performance art.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  64. misterlowercase

    misterlowercase

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    "stinky ebonite thread"

    It does sound amazing!

    Gotta look it up now.
    I love the frank and open (and often funny) discussions on that forum!

    Oh,
    btw
    I failed earlier to denote LOL at something you said,
    because I actually did laugh out loud,
    and rolled on the floor too,
    when I read this:

    So what? Huge Stone Pipe Castle give certificate of authenticity with every pipe.


    Well done, sir, well done!

    Posted 4 years ago #
  65. User has not uploaded an avatar

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    Posted 4 years ago #
  66. misterlowercase

    misterlowercase

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    Good call Timothy!

    I love their logo stamp:

    I have one in my collection, except that it's blue, but it only seems to like German-made seifenblasen,
    other bubbles made elsewhere just don't taste as good!

    Posted 4 years ago #
  67. cosmicfolklore

    Cosmic

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    One name that isn't mentioned, probably because he has slowed down making pipes these last few years is Skip Elliot of The Briary. He has had an influence on many of the makers mentioned. I've also had the privilege of meeting them through his store and heard them bestow many thanks to him for their start. You don't see his pipes traded in eBay often, and his pipes don't stay on display for very long either, gone in seconds of his posting them. His latest will be the featured pipe in the latest Pipes and Tobacco Magazine. I have one of his, and as soon as he finishes one at a point when I have cash in hand, I won't hesitate a second in buying it.

    Michael
    Posted 4 years ago #
  68. User has not uploaded an avatar

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    Puste Pipes have my vote as best of the best.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  69. bigvan

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    Nate, which pipes can you recommend that you actually own? I'm less interested in what people have heard are good pipes and more interested in first hand knowledge.

    Just curious.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  70. maxpeters

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    The best of the best? How can you tell what it will smoke like unless you try it. Over time. And compare it to what else you have tried?
    Just buying a pipe because it's expensive means nothing. Unless you just want bragging rights to owning an expensive pipe.
    I think a pipe should be smoked to determine if it's a good pipe or not. Here is my best of the best. It's always smoked great.

    GBD Conquest Prehistoric.

    I don't think dropping several thousand dollars for another pipe will change my mind. If it delivers everything you want a pipe to deliver, how can a more expensive pipe change that? Good luck on your quest.

    Posted 4 years ago #

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