Where are all These Ukrainian Pipes Coming From? (A Tale of Mundane Mystery)

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oklansas

Can't Leave
Apr 16, 2013
441
0
DC
You've read about them on this forum, maybe even smoked one yourself. Yes, it's those mysterious "Ukrainian" pear wood pipes.
Sold under a variety of different names - typically Ukrainian Souvenir (Amazon), Fashion Pipes (Amazon/eBay/Etsy), and Decor Pipes (eBay) - they offer a tempting value. But, outside the fact that they are "beautiful handmade from the Ukraine," product info on these pipes is few and far between. As an owner (a happy one at that) of a Ukrainian Souvenir 'Volcano,' I pulled up my pants and struck out into the wilds of the internet to figure out where these damn pipes might just be coming from.
My searches quickly uncovered.....well....nothing.
Information on these little pear was elusive. There were snatches of information here and there on different forums, but nothing really helpful. Then, I was caught in a swirling round robin of Ukrainian pipe aliases. While a pipe was a Fashion Pipe on eBay, the very same pipe was being sold under the Ukrainian Souvenir on Amazon...... Frustration. But, maybe the problem was that I was searching in English. After a quick trip to Google Translate to try and better my chances gave me the Russian and Ukrainian translation for "pipe" - I was finally ready to uncover this mystery.
My searches quickly uncovered.....well....nothing.
Well, that is not exactly true. I uncovered quite a few articles profiling the continued pipeline disputes between Russian and the Ukraine. Sure, they discussed "pipe" but it was the kind that carried oil, and you definitely don't want those to smoke. Back to drawing board I went. I decided to take a different tack with what search terms I was using, instead looking for a "factory" or "manufacturing." These searches were not helpful either, instead introducing this intrepid researcher to the surprisingly diverse world of Ukrainian plumbing manufacturers. Growing a bit despondent, I decided to switch back to English and try the factory/manufacturer tact.
My searches quickly uncovered.....wait....something?!?
Two pages caught my eye. The first, a french pipe smoking website with English articles (?), had a profile of emerging Russian and Ukrainian freestyle pipe artisans. After I finished ogling the - frankly gorgeous - pipes, I happened across a section covering factory made pipes in the region. Immediately, my eye caught sight of the producer Golden Gate, headquartered in....wait for it... Kiev. The second page was the international list of pipe makers on Pipedia - which confirmed Golden Gate as a factory pipe maker in Ukraine. Not only that, but it was the only large scale maker listed. Quickly I searched for Golden Gate on Google - Nothing. I switched to a search in Russian/Ukrainian...
My searches quickly uncovered.....huh...MORE FREAKING (not the word I used) PLUMBING SUPPLIERS!!!!!
As I scrolled through the pages, wondering at the seeming Ukrainian fetish for high-quality plumbing pipes, I hit a stroke of luck. One of the links was to an Armenian Russian-language pipe smoker forum. The thread I happened upon was discussing the merits of Golden Gate's line of hand-carved pear wood pipes - Eureka! But, why did my search only turn up a single hit on a random Armenian pipe forum? But then I remembered a little tidbit from my random searches of forums in the beginning of my search.
It was a random entry, discussing the history of Golden Gate Pipes. The post was poorly translated, in a way that made it clear the poster was using a translation program. At the time, I hadn't thought much of it, but upon reflection, I remembered that a quirk of the program had translated all the references to "pipes" as "tubes" in English. So..."tubes" was the direct litteral translation of the Ukrainian (and incidentally Russian) word for "pipe." Back to the search in Russian!
My searches quickly uncovered.....well....lots of Russian and Ukrainian pipe smoker forums.
I did a fair bit of reading and discover that Golden Gate had a line of pear wood pipes sold under the name "Decor Pipes." Ah-ha! Finally a correlation between Golden Gate and the Amazon/eBay/Etsy offerings for sale. The evidence mounted as several pictures began to show up on these forums. These Russian and Ukrainian pipe smokers were posting pictures of their pipes, and ta-da, they looked exactly like those for sale in the U.S.
So, to you, the lurkers and posters of the PM forums, the slightly more than probable makers of those Ukrainian pear wood pipes....
Трубы Золотые ворота or Golden Gate Pipes (literally translated 'Tubes Golden Gate')
Epilogue and Closing Thoughts

Unlike some of those who've had bad experiences with their Ukrainian pears, mine is still going strong and I still love using it for Aromatics. Also, Golden Gate produces briar pipes under the Golden Gate label, three models of which I've seen for sale in the U.S via eBay and Amazon. Russians/Ukrainian free-handers are doing some really exceptional work and I'm more than a bit bummed that their fine work is not exactly easy to obtain here. Google Chrome's built in webpage translation function made this search possible! Finally, if you want to catch an excellent read about the emerging pipe artisans of Russia and Ukraine - check out that English article on the website I mentioned above, or get to it HERE
Enjoy those Ukrainian Pipes and smoke cool.

 

4dotsasieni

Part of the Furniture Now
Jan 6, 2013
756
6
Thanks for all that painstaking (and painful) research. I have a nice briar pipe made by Golden Gate, as well as a couple of Ukrainian Decor/Fashion/Souvenir pearwoods. They all smoke quite nicely, although some of the pears are quite heavy in the hand (The bowls seem to be quite thick, probably a plus in that they'd be more burnout-resistant.)
But I hate those crazy fancifully decorated Ukraine offerings you see mostly on Ebay. My nominees for world's ugliest pipes.
Enjoy smoking your tubes. :puffy:

 

oklansas

Can't Leave
Apr 16, 2013
441
0
DC
Yeah, I've been eyeing the Golden Gate briars for a little while now. There is golden stained billard that keeps catching my eye.
As a P.S. to the OP above, the russian smoking forums are about as mixed in their reaction to the pear wood pipes as PM is. Some folks seem to get pipes that have quality issues and split or burn through (my guess is it relates to the mixed quality of the pearwood used). Meanwhile, for those that get pipes that have no issues, they tend to really love them. The one ukrainian pear have is an exceptional smoker - the volcano style is perfect for my favorite aromatic.
Although, Mr. Brog is a better bet if you want an assurance that your pipe will be flaw free (and a great smoker too) - the ukrainian pipes offer a bigger selection of some of the pipe shapes you don't see very often.

 

ggm1

Lurker
Aug 14, 2015
1
0
I read your article regarding Ukranian/Russian sales, and joined the forum hoping you can answer this. I am wanting to buy pipes as gifts, possibly not to be smoked, I'm unsure. I am buying them for their beauty. I saw that you've mentioned etsy, eBay, etc. Are all these sellers and products legit? If you know of any I should stay away from (before providing payment info and) entering into a transaction, please share. Otherwise, please confirm sellers that you recommend as well. Much appreciated!

 

pappymac

Lifer
Feb 26, 2015
3,386
4,562
I've look at the Ukranian/Russian pear pipes but haven't pulled the trigger on any of them. On the other hand the Mr. Brog pear pipes are all nicely constructed and look good. I have several Mr. Brog's and they all smoke great. With Pear, I've learned that these are pipes you have to smoke slowly. If you smoke them like a locomotive, then they get hot.

 

davet

Lifer
May 9, 2015
3,815
330
Estey's Bridge N.B Canada
I have three Church Wardens from Ukraine, all three had very restricted stems, unsmokeable. After obtaining replacement stems and fitting them I'm happy with the pipes. A small bowl, great for a quick smoke. I have a few Mr. Brog pipes and no complaints with any of them.

 

agnosticpipe

Lifer
Nov 3, 2013
3,367
3,613
In the sticks in Mississippi
I have two Golden Gate pipes, one pear, and one briar. I find them to be well made, have no visible flaws, and are excellent smokers. I have no experience with any of the other brands, but if they come from the same factory, I can't see how they would be a bad deal. From what I've seen online though, the Golden Gate pipes seem to look the best, and have a nicer finish, especially the briars. Just my opinion...

 

jpmcwjr

Moderator
Staff member
May 12, 2015
25,130
28,124
Carmel Valley, CA
Are all sellers on eBay legit? Hell no.
If you are new to pipes, best go to a real store where you can see them, talk to a hopefully knowledgeable person.
Asking for a list of good and bad guys is only going to get contentious if not libelous.
Good luck!

 
Jul 21, 2015
41
0
I have several of the "pear/rose wood" pipes from amazon that were under 9 bucks. 2 pear woods were okay but were poorly drilled and dont quite meet the heel at center. Good for Aros as it acts like a juice sump at the bottom. The one rose wood pipe was a peterson system copy and it smokes amazingly well for under 9 dollars, although heavy and not the shape I ordered.
When it is less then 20 bucks im willing to take the chance once and awhile.

 

oklansas

Can't Leave
Apr 16, 2013
441
0
DC
You have to be very careful when buying Ukrainian pearwood pipes. All I wrote in the original post is still true: All these different sellers are likely selling lower-end factory pipes from the Golden Gate factory. Some of them are awesome, but it is important to remember they are mass produced. Fortunately, they are also cheap!
Anyway, I'd recommend that you purchase from seller like Ukrainian Souvenir on Amazon. I've personally had good luck with them in the past, and you'd also have the advantage of Amazon'd return policy. Try to avoid the ones that are elaborately carved and stick with the simple shapes, they'' be your best bet.

 

ben88

Lifer
Jun 5, 2015
1,324
545
Quebec
they are mass produced.
Would you expect something different for $20?

I got recently a pearwood from B&B, Polish factory.

Smokes really nice, a bit hot, but filter cools down smoke very well.

Smoking it right now with chocolate Nightcap.

 
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