Seconds and Sub-Brands

wgstraub

Junior Member
Jan 31, 2021
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Silver Spring, MD
This may sound like a silly subject but I'm curious. Poking through Pipedia, as I sometimes do, I came across Royal Danish, described as a sub-brand of Stanwell. Then checking out Comoy, it has a list of what they called seconds, like Townhall and Trident.

So, are sub-brands and seconds the same thing or is there some sort of differentiation?
 

F4RM3R

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Nov 28, 2019
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I think much of the time they are the same thing. The sub or seconds brand usually having some minor cosmetic issue that they wouldn’t want to sell as a higher end pipe. They are a great deal in my opinion and often are drilled the same as the high grades and sometimes have quite nice briar. All depends on the brand though.

I have a really nice dr boston(butz choquin sub) and it’s drilled well and the stem and bit are a nice saddle style. It has some pits in the briar which they hid by pounding with a rough hammer to give a spotted rusticated sort of look. Great pipe. Also just picked up a bijou pipe(old Stan well 2nd). Excellent pipe but the stem doesn’t not fit perfectly flush to the shank.
 

jewman22

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Apr 2, 2021
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Depends on the company, some use a sub brand to market pipes that may not have as nice of grain or maybe the stem is a bit off. Where as seconds tend to have faults, such as a higher than normal amount of fills or poor drilling.
Not saying some companies dont use a sub brand to get rid of seconds, but they tend to be two different ideas.
Take Savinelli and their sub brand Rossi, now by no means are Rossis a second, they just aren't quite as ornate or pretty as the pricier Savinelli, but the drilling and fit and finish is bang on.
Also happens when one company buys the other, they might keep it around as a lesser brand.
IMO.
 

OzPiper

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Nov 30, 2020
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I have a made in Denmark Royal Danish pipe which I've just pulled out to have a look at on reading this post.
The grain is not great, but there were only 2 small fills that I really had to search hard to find. Fit and finish is as good as all my Stanwells (Danish made)image.jpg
 
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Briar Lee

Briar Lee Expert Extraordinaire
Sep 4, 2021
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As I understand pipe making, all the care in the world can be used in the selection of briar, and a sand pit appears when the bowl is turned.

For the artisan maker, he might keep on removing briar to get past that pit, or blast it, but in the larger pipe factories there’s only two options, filling or filling and branding it as something else, a sub brand.

One of my fascinations with Lee Star Grade pipes is that the customer (just like Kaywoodie customers in that day) picked a shape and then paid $5, $10, $15, or $25 for the star grade (they began at two stars after 1946).

You can cheat a customer occasionally, but usually only once, and it’s risky.

Kaywoodie had a raft of sub brands that sold for as little as fifty cents. Kaywoodie also sold rusticated pipes, carved pipes, and within the Kaywoodie line they created a Standard and “500” to preserve their Drinkless, Super Grain, and Flame Grain grades as premium products.

Lee had only two sub brands I commonly see, Pipe Maker and Briarlee. There also was a Stroller sub brand, not often encountered.

A Pipe Maker will be a Lee with a dark stain, maybe some quirky looking briar, or some fills, maybe some carvings. I’d like to think they were Two of Three Star Seconds.

A Briarlee will be magnificently grained, but with a fill or two.

I think the Briarlee series were Four and Five Star seconds.

In any event a Briarlee is the best kept secret within the secret society of Lee pipe aficionados.:)
 

Ahi Ka

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Feb 25, 2020
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Orlik seconds (Royal sovereign) often have a nicer grain than the lower grade firsts. They also sometimes have hand moulded stems. The most collectible Comoy’s I have is a sub-brand, and even still is definitely a first.
 
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mso489

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Feb 21, 2013
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Iwan Ries recently had a sale on GBD sub brand Medley pipes starting at $30 and as low as $20 per pipe if you bought three. I visited those things about 25 times, but couldn't find a size or shape that I didn't already own in a better version, so I finally abandon the shopping. I own two Rossi's and they are as good as Sav's for smoking, though they don't have as elegant finishes. I'd say, sub-brands are great rotation builders and good deals, but shop selectively and don't just buy the low price.
 

OzPiper

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Nov 30, 2020
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Seconds can be really good buys. I can't comment on American brands as I don't have any.

I've picked up a few pre-Cadogan Comoy Special Straight Grain and Select Straight Grain pipes for a fraction for the cost of a Blue Ribbon. To my eye, they have superior grain compared with my one and only Blue Ribbon. Not surprising as they are Supreme Straight Grain rejects that failed the grade usually because of one of two (often very tiny) fills.

Of course looks don't translate into smokeability, but I have not come across many adverse criticisms of pre-Cadogan Comoys on that score.
 

sablebrush52

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Jun 15, 2013
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As I understand pipe making, all the care in the world can be used in the selection of briar, and a sand pit appears when the bowl is turned.

For the artisan maker, he might keep on removing briar to get past that pit, or blast it, but in the larger pipe factories there’s only two options, filling or filling and branding it as something else, a sub brand.
Actually, that’s not exactly correct. Major manufacturers have more options, like sandblasting a pipe that won’t work as a smooth. In the heyday of the British factory pipe making industry, the better manufacturers, when confronted with a sandpit during final polishing, would attempt to reshape the pipe by hand, in what was termed a “cut down”. If the pipe could be carefully shaped to be a flawless smooth while still conforming to the overall proportions of the model’s pattern, it would leave the factory with the same model number. If not, it could be sandblasted, or it could be rusticated, reshaped and be output as a quaint. Sometimes a billiard would be reshaped as a pot. There were a number of options.
Companies like Comoy and Sasieni had established a system for downstreaming wood that they decided did not represent the quality of their top lines. They had seconds, thirds, fourths, fifths, and sixths. In addition, they made pipes for tobacconists using shop names that the tobacconist ordered.
Most of this was a matter of cosmetics and the pipes are often fine smokers.