How to buy a Good Estate Pipe

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Briar Lee

Lifer
Sep 4, 2021
4,836
13,904
Humansville Missouri
I don’t believe anyone believes or is arguing that the above pipes are defective: However, the argument can not be made that they represent a significant level of quality comparable to “high end“ pipes. A stepped stem not withstanding, quality is measured in terms of fitment, material perfection, finish, and design as well as other variables Such as drilling and bit to stem finish. A lower quality pipe can and many times is highly functional and capable of delivering a high quality smoke. I think you may be confusing functionality with quality. Marxman pipes are highly functional. They are not high quality. Does that possibly clarify the misconception many perceive in your argument?

I don’t believe anyone believes or is arguing that the above pipes are defective: However, the argument can not be made that they represent a significant level of quality comparable to “high end“ pipes. A stepped stem not withstanding, quality is measured in terms of fitment, material perfection, finish, and design as well as other variables Such as drilling and bit to stem finish. A lower quality pipe can and many times is highly functional and capable of delivering a high quality smoke. I think you may be confusing functionality with quality. Marxman pipes are highly functional. They are not high quality. Does that possibly clarify the misconception many perceive in your argument?

Marxman pipes were every one expensive. So were Lees, and Kaywoodies, and Webers, and let’s also count LHS Sterncraft.

If that $7 pipe had a Lee, Marxman, Kaywoodie, Weber or LHS it wouldn’t be $7.

Out of the 30 million briar pipes a year made and sold in the USA 75 years ago in 1949 a lot of them were a dollar or less.

Few marked Algerian briar were cheapies.

Nor Lovats with stepped, tapered stems.

This is to help sort out the bottom end of the used pipes on eBay.
 
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telescopes

Pipe Dreamer and Star Gazer
Marxman pipes were every one expensive. So were Lees, and Kaywoodies, and Webers, and let’s also count LHS Sterncraft.

If that $7 pipe had a Lee, Marxman, Kaywoodie, Weber or LHS it wouldn’t be $7.

Out of the 30 million briar pipes a year made and sold in the USA 75 years ago in 1949 a lot of them were a dollar or less.

Few marked Algerian briar were cheapies.

Nor Lovats with stepped, tapered stems.

This is to help sort out the bottom end of the used pipes on eBay.
I believe rather than focus on a single aspect such as tapered stems or what the prices cost at the time
of sale, look for signs of burn outs, cracks, stem condition, ie chew marks, oxidation, fills, scorching, lava, as well as being aware of the history of the brand.
 

Briar Lee

Lifer
Sep 4, 2021
4,836
13,904
Humansville Missouri
This is my only pipe that is marked Algerian Briar. Although I bought it for the logo and not for the Briar. Buying estate pipes is not for everyone. Yes, you can find good pipes, but the possibility of finding a high end one is low.
View attachment 280468


The odds are Edward’s of Florida contracted that Disney pipe.

BTW a clear lucite Lovat is a step up, from a stepped tapered vulcanite Lovat.

How Edward’s got a forty year stash of the last true Algerian briar is one of the mysteries. But that is the real coin, and there won’t be any more.
 

Briar Lee

Lifer
Sep 4, 2021
4,836
13,904
Humansville Missouri
I believe rather than focus on a single aspect such as tapered stems or what the prices cost at the time
of sale, look for signs of burn outs, cracks, stem condition, ie chew marks, oxidation, fills, scorching, lava, as well as being aware of the history of the brand.

Good point.

Dunhill Shell Briar or Roger’s (another Algerian sleeper brand) pipes must be sound and smokeable.

All that old Algerian briar tells is that a French colonial briar inspector approved a distinct grade of briar for export. Dunhill and Marx never marked them Algerian.

Any black mark on or around the bottom of a bowl is incipient burn out.

This might be coloring if the pipe is Algerian. But this is bad. I own a patent pending early 30s Kaywoodie with a worse black spot that’s not burned out yet, but it’s bad.

IMG_6821.jpeg

And we don’t want to see “bald spots”
A bald spot will get hot.

IMG_6823.jpeg

And while a little chatter on a stem is only a sign of use.

A hole bitten through is bad.



Cake and lava on rims—-we don’t like it—but if it’s Algerian briar it flakes off like powder, in seconds, all of it.

The problem with cake and lava is the pipe can be ghosted or filthy inside and need work.
 

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cynyr

Part of the Furniture Now
Feb 12, 2012
646
113
Tennessee
There is a LOT of great knowledge on this thread. Two things stand out:

- Being aware of the history of the brand. That means study, a lot of it. For some reason, pipe smokers seem to love research, and thrive on sharing arcane facts. As a result, there is plenty of good knowlege out there. Be willing to learn.

The second is like unto the first:

- Buying estate pipes isn't for everyone. Without knowlege, you can buy a lot of hard-to-get-rid-of junk. (Don't ask how I know this.)
 

alaskanpiper

Enabler in Chief
May 23, 2019
9,370
42,525
Alaska
Yes, you can find good pipes, but the possibility of finding a high end one is low.

Maybe if you don’t know how to look, but many high end pipes are perpetually readily available on the estate market, up to and including on ebay.

The key is knowing what you are looking FOR and/or knowing/finding out what you are looking AT.

And also, as evidenced by this thread, what your definition of “high end” is. Case in point, I would identify every pipe that @Briar Lee has posted in this thread as “low end”

Eyes of the beholder and what not…
 

Briar Lee

Lifer
Sep 4, 2021
4,836
13,904
Humansville Missouri
Maybe if you don’t know how to look, but many high end pipes are perpetually readily available on the estate market, up to and including on ebay.

The key is knowing what you are looking FOR and/or knowing/finding out what you are looking AT.

And also, as evidenced by this thread, what your definition of “high end” is. Case in point, I would identify every pipe that @Briar Lee has posted in this thread as “low end”

Eyes of the beholder and what not…

Yes of course, a Pre War Kaywoodie was a machine made gadget pipe made in a huge factory, by the millions.

Even a Marxman “Big Boy” (extra large above size C) was a bench made in a factory pipe, all you could afford for fifteen bucks, when the average pipe was a dollar, or less.

IMG_6618.jpeg

For $7 today you get a factory smoker.

First look and see if they could stamp it Algerian.

IMG_6824.jpeg

I understand most briar comes from Spain, just across the Mediterranean from Algeria.

Ever see one stamped Geniune Spanish Briar?.:)

Would you please stop posting photos of that horrible pipe? It turns my stomach.
 
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cynyr

Part of the Furniture Now
Feb 12, 2012
646
113
Tennessee
Imported Briar means post WW2
This is because of pipemakers experimenting with "mission briar" during the war. It wasn't popular, for several reasons, so the post-war buyer wanted to be sure.
The key is knowing what you are looking FOR and/or knowing/finding out what you are looking AT.
Clearer and more succinct than I was able to say it.
Make sure they have GOOD pictures...
The more pictures, the better. Four crappy pictures means, at best, an amateur seller - at worst, a crook.
 
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alaskanpiper

Enabler in Chief
May 23, 2019
9,370
42,525
Alaska
Yes of course, a Pre War Kaywoodie was a machine made gadget pipe made in a huge factory, by the millions.

Even a Marxman “Big Boy” (extra large above size C) was a bench made in a factory pipe, all you could afford for fifteen bucks.



For $7 you get a factory smoker.
Yeah. Nothing “wrong” with them at all. For mass market factory pipes they may well have been “high end” at the time.

Simply put, for me, older mass market factory pipes are simply not comparable in quality to an expertly crafted pipe made by a skilled artisan (especially in today’s world), particularly when it comes to stemwork.
 

Briar Lee

Lifer
Sep 4, 2021
4,836
13,904
Humansville Missouri
Yeah. Nothing “wrong” with them at all. For mass market factory pipes they may well have been “high end” at the time.

Simply put, for me, older mass market factory pipes are simply not comparable in quality to an expertly crafted pipe made by a skilled artisan (especially in today’s world), particularly when it comes to stemwork.

In the glory years a cheap block of briar was under two cents and the best grown through the cracks in a rock 300 year old Algerian was not twenty five cents a block. Hard rubber sold by the ton.

But at 30 million a year just in the USA a brair pipe was a commodity the same as a man’s cotton dress shirt.

Today my Tilsdale, is as huge as any Marxman “Big Boy”. It is stained but not filled. The stem is chewy and the work is all flawless.

It cost $75 on eBay.

But look what $30 buys!

IMG_3526.jpeg

Or $10.

IMG_6783.jpeg

Manufacturing has improved for every article under the sun in 75 years, just immeasurably.

When is the last time you needed a starter or an alternator for your car, or a new muffler?

The craft pipes today are better.

They have to be better.:)
 
May 2, 2018
3,847
29,493
Bucks County, PA
Thanks Briar Lee, here’s a streamlined version of the process, although I do appreciate your thoughts on most things…

1. Narrow down what you’re looking for (brand, shape, style, etc.).
2. Make sure your seller has a good rating with testimonials & significant sales history.
3. Make sure the pictures are clear & crisp (most reputable sellers won’t provide 💩 photos).
4. Clearly inspect the listing & photos and make sure what you’re looking at is legitimate. Check for flaws, fills, cracks, burnouts, unreasonable chatter, sloppy fitting, false stamping, etc.
5. Does the price jive with the product?
6. Feel free to reach out to the seller for questions.
7. Assure that they have a reasonable return policy.
8. Make your selection with confidence knowing you’ve adhered to the above listed. ☕
 
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alaskanpiper

Enabler in Chief
May 23, 2019
9,370
42,525
Alaska
Thanks Briar Lee, here’s a streamlined version of the process, although I do appreciate your thoughts on most things…

1. Narrow down what you’re looking for (brand, shape, style, etc.).
2. Make sure your seller has a good rating with testimonials & significant sales history.
3. Make sure the pictures are clear & crisp (most reputable sellers won’t provide 💩 photos).
4. Clearly inspect the listing & photos and make sure what you’re looking at is legitimate. Check for flaws, fills, cracks, burnouts, unreasonable chatter, sloppy fitting, false stamping, etc.
5. Does the price jive with the product?
6. Feel free to reach out to the seller for questions.
7. Assure that they have a reasonable return policy.
8. Make your selection with confidence knowing you’ve adhered to the above listed. ☕
I would add to also check the shipping cost, and where it ships from. Sometimes you want to buy a $30 pipe and the shipping is $45 😂.

Not often, but it happens.

And regarding number 4, inspecting the listing, MAKE SURE TO READ THE COMMENTS! On the mobile app its a small link and easy to miss for someone new to it. But comments often have things that are not visible in the pictures such as cracked shank, after market repair band, recently restored, broken tenon, holes in bottom of bit, nomenclature unreadable, I actually don’t know wtf this is, etc.

This is also most often where weight and dimensions are specified, which is important info. Nothing like seeing a nosewarmer and having a hog leg show up.
 

Briar Lee

Lifer
Sep 4, 2021
4,836
13,904
Humansville Missouri
Thanks Briar Lee, here’s a streamlined version of the process, although I do appreciate your thoughts on most things…

1. Narrow down what you’re looking for (brand, shape, style, etc.).
2. Make sure your seller has a good rating with testimonials & significant sales history.
3. Make sure the pictures are clear & crisp (most reputable sellers won’t provide 💩 photos).
4. Clearly inspect the listing & photos and make sure what you’re looking at is legitimate. Check for flaws, fills, cracks, burnouts, unreasonable chatter, sloppy fitting, false stamping, etc.
5. Does the price jive with the product?
6. Feel free to reach out to the seller for questions.
7. Assure that they have a reasonable return policy.
8. Make your selection with confidence knowing you’ve adhered to the above listed. ☕

The only caveat to that, is that I can see all the photos and the seller has a 100% rating and he doesn’t take returns.

I sold about 150 pipes in 2018 (my, they seem to have been like cats, and came back home.:) ) and my best customer was this guy in downtown New York City. I clearly listed NO RETURNS.

He bought two or three, one time five at a time.

And he demanded I refund him $12 on a three hole Kaywoodie 500 Dublin, said it was a bad smoker at the bottom.

The world is a dangerous enough place without a man in New York pissed at you over a $12 pipe, so I had him mail me the pipe back, and sent him another three hole Dublin Super Grain , same shape number, all my cost, including the shipping.

He was right. I had so many pipes I’d forgot to break that one in all the way down. Tasted like ass, got hot, bad pipe, very bad pipe. After a couple of dozen smokes it’s good, now in my rotation.

For the low money an old factory smoker brings I don’t want to sell to a newbie who wants to test smoke an old pipe.

By the way if you sell, smoke it awhile first and sell it clean as a whistle and don’t even sell “problem” pipes. A replacement is sooooo cheap.

I spent a year of Sundays in church when I was a kid, three times a week.

What if it’s true, and He sees every cracked mortise when it snaps?

Ain’t worth the risk.:)
 
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Alejo R.

Part of the Furniture Now
Oct 13, 2020
841
1,683
48
Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Maybe if you don’t know how to look, but many high end pipes are perpetually readily available on the estate market, up to and including on ebay.

The key is knowing what you are looking FOR and/or knowing/finding out what you are looking AT.

And also, as evidenced by this thread, what your definition of “high end” is. Case in point, I would identify every pipe that @Briar Lee has posted in this thread as “low end”

Eyes of the beholder and what not…
When I mean find, I mean getting good pipes for the price of what a coffee costs. Paying $250 for a Dunhill from the year you were born is not finding a estate pipe on the market, it is buying. As for High end, I am referring to, for example, a Dunhill Bruyere from the year of my birth for 5 dollars, a Dunhill Canadian ES from 1924 for less than 20, An unused Dunhill Patent inner tube from the 40s listed as an English pipe by 10 among other things I have found. obviously I'm not referring to Danish artisan pipes or anything similar. I think one of the best finds was paying about $100 for a Stanwell POY 1989, a Comoy's Extraordinaire shape chimney and a Castello Época, all three together.
 
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Briar Lee

Lifer
Sep 4, 2021
4,836
13,904
Humansville Missouri
Buying online at auction also provides morning amusement.

IMG_6825.jpeg


I just sold a Lee Three Star and packed it up and I’ll ship it this morning to a friend on the forum.

You can use boxes or padded envelopes or I’ve got them in wrapped in old newspapers.

Four ounces for five dollars or less is a bargain. The average old factory smoker weighs about an ounce to ounce and a half.

And you get to watch them go, you know?
 
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Choatecav

Starting to Get Obsessed
Dec 19, 2023
110
338
Middle Tennessee
I have really been enjoying this thread on estate pipes and eBay. I have bought a few over the past few years, but still learning the game.

One thing I would like to hear comments on is regarding those where the seller will accept "best offer" vs. a fixed amount. I have actually bought a couple where I came in with a considerably lower amount than the "asking" price and the seller let me have them at that cost.

Is there any correlation between general quality of those pipes with fixed cost vs the best offer price or am I just dreaming?
 
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alaskanpiper

Enabler in Chief
May 23, 2019
9,370
42,525
Alaska
When I mean find, I mean getting good pipes for the price of what a coffee costs. Paying $250 for a Dunhill from the year you were born is not finding a estate pipe on the market, it is buying. As for High end, I am referring to, for example, a Dunhill Bruyere from the year of my birth for 5 dollars, a Dunhill Canadian ES from 1924 for less than 20, An unused Dunhill Patent inner tube from the 40s listed as an English pipe by 10 among other things I have found. obviously I'm not referring to Danish artisan pipes or anything similar. I think one of the best finds was paying about $100 for a Stanwell POY 1989, a Comoy's Extraordinaire shape chimney and a Castello Época, all three together.
Ah, ok, so you meant finding a high end pipe “for a steal” then, not in general. Got it. Yes, finding amazing deals is of course fewer and further between, but as you said, it can and does happen!
 
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