Golden Age of Pipe Making

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craig61a

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Apr 29, 2017
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It does seem that artisan pipe makers are more plentiful now.
I guess I’d argue that... there were a lot more in the past than there are now. They weren’t necessarily called “artisans” back in the day, just pipemakers. And many shops (which were more plentiful back then too) usually had a guy who could turn pipes.

Matter of fact, there were a couple of teachers who turned pipes when I was in grade school. One demonstrated his skills in wood shop one day. Of course, we couldn’t knock out a pipe as a wood shop project. I still have the shelf I made... somewhere.
 
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craig61a

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Apr 29, 2017
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There are good and bad pipes from the past and in the present. I would say that each of these eras have to work with the materials available to them.
With the exception of modern plastics, the materials available over 100 years ago are available today. Nobody’s making Gutta Percha anymore.

Skill of the maker doesn’t really apply; although the artistry of some late 1800’s high end Meers won’t likely be duplicated nowadays.
 

FurCoat

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Sep 21, 2020
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With the exception of modern plastics, the materials available over 100 years ago are available today. Nobody’s making Gutta Percha anymore.

Skill of the maker doesn’t really apply; although the artistry of some late 1800’s high end Meers won’t likely be duplicated nowadays.
The meer industry has had its issues with cheap knock offs and more recently substandard pipes from China are flooding the market thru the internet. This doesn't help our hobby one bit.
 

mso489

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Feb 21, 2013
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There was a golden age back when pipe smoking was widely accepted and practiced when various pipe makers hit their apex in craft, quality, and price. Today the golden age is a combination of availability online of a huge variety of pipes and blends, and in separate categories, an advanced artisan market of superb original one-off pipes, and an online enabled estate (used) pipe market. That was one golden age, this is another. But the pipe smoking demographic is much smaller, as is the factory pipe industry.
 

sablebrush52

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Jun 15, 2013
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The answer to that question depends on one's metric for defining a "golden age". Therefore there is no correct answer that isn't a personal one.
If your thing is classical British and French shapes, the golden age is no more. If your thing is artisan made pipes, the golden age is now.
If your thing is population density, the golden age isn't now. And so on and so on.

There are less highly skilled pipemakers, but the most highly skilled are easily equal to pipe carvers from any era, or at least of the past 140 years, based on the pipes I have. On average the level of skill required to turn out an artisan made pipe is less than that of the British or French factory carver when that industry was in its heyday. An artisan can make whatever shape she/he wants, but the factory worker had to turn out flawless pipes that were on model.
 

cigrmaster

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May 26, 2012
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In my over 20 years of smoking a pipe I have never seen a time when there were so many crappy pipes being made and many with price tags that are a complete joke. We could easily loose a 100 plus makers and never even notice. You have these new guys being told by other new guys how nice their pipes are when in reality they are shaped like crap, ,look like crap and sell for hundreds of dollars.
The sheer amount of dog shit pipe makers is amazing but as with all things in the markets, the good ones will last and the crap will dry up and blow away.
 

edger

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Dec 9, 2016
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For the factory pipes, sure seems to have been in the past. It does seem that artisan pipe makers are more plentiful now. Whether or not they are thriving in any numbers is something I don't know. But, if you want a great pipe and, are willing to spend the money, they certainly are more plentiful now. IMHO

Mike S.
I would guess that the artisans have been benefited by the internet. As for factory pipes, I think better equipment and cadcam has improved them. The quality of the ebauchons, however, may not be as good.
 

peregrinus

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Aug 4, 2019
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The answer to that question depends on one's metric for defining a "golden age". Therefore there is no correct answer that isn't a personal one.
If your thing is classical British and French shapes, the golden age is no more. If your thing is artisan made pipes, the golden age is now.
This is generally how I see it. Like much in life, there will be no definitive answer, and besides, it is a question of personal perception in the end with endless overt and subtle preferences guiding the individual answer.
Still, it is interesting to see how various people arrive at their decision on preference.
For me I see the “golden age” of pipe making as roughly falling somewhere from the late 40’s to the late 70’s. A time when journeyman craftsmanship, superior materials and steady demand created a unique outpouring of quality, availability and affordability.
But it’s just an opinion based of my preferences.

This relates to pipe making and not smoking in general... that’s another question entirely.
 

wayneteipen

Senior Member
May 7, 2012
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I agree with Sablebrush. It's like comparing apples to oranges. The pipemaking industry has evolved significantly. In some ways, the old days of pipemaking is far superior and in others, the quality and artistry of pipes made today have been pushed by some to far exceed many of the pipes of the past. To me, the golden age of pipes was in the past and in the present for very different reason that's hard to put into words.
 

anotherbob

Preferred Member
Do you feel the golden age of pipe making is in the past, when the great marquee names were at their prime and churning out hundreds, if not thousands, of superb smokers?
Or is it in the present, with the artistry, craftsmanship and attention to detail offered by the artisan carvers of today?
present. It's way easier to get a decent pipe that smokes great in what ever price range you can bare.
 
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