Willard pipe

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ranger

Starting to Get Obsessed
Jul 2, 2011
198
4
I've been smoking this Willard straight apple day and night for several days now, (between 4 to 5 bowls a day), and I put this pipe right up there with the best of them.
With the stinger in place it smokes cool, no gurgle...(although I had to clean the pipe out very, well at first)

the tobacco burns all the way to the end with only an occasional relight, most of the time a relight has not been necessary.
The pipe is very light in weight due to the briar being well aged, therefore it is very comfortable to hold in the mouth.

Also the fact that it was made in Sparta N.C. is another plus.
This has now become my favorite pipe, and I haven't had the desire to smoke any of my other pipes at all, nor do I see myself smoking any other pipe either, except for maybe on a whim.
Out.

 
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mlaug

Part of the Furniture Now
May 23, 2010
908
1
Iowa
Its alway nice to have a good one.
Not much in this world can earn the label Dependable, but when its a pipe its special. 8)

 

colorduke

Part of the Furniture Now
Mar 5, 2011
775
0
You can't beat Sparta quality,the fellows over at the dgcf are touring the grabow plant this week.

 

teamhavoc28

Can't Leave
Nov 10, 2010
498
0
Never smoked a Willard but it sure sounds like a grand smoker. Congrats on the pipe. Nice to know pipes can still be smoked consistently without a hiccup.

 

ssjones

Moderator
Staff member
May 11, 2011
16,532
6,052
Maryland
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I bought an ashtray on Ebay and the seller included a Willard billiard. It was in pretty rough cosmetic shape, but after a while on the buffer, the pipe came out looking pretty nice. Sadly, it's not a great smoker (too big a draw?) but it looks pretty sitting on our antique piano in the living room. Interesting history on those Willards.

Polished:



When I rec'd it:


I couldn't get the stem off, but a few hours in the freezer and it screwed right off. I removed the stinger, maybe I should have kept it?

 

ranger

Starting to Get Obsessed
Jul 2, 2011
198
4
ssjones: I at first didn't have the stinger intact in the Willard, and I found a stinger 'insert'? from an old Whitehall Grand National that slipped right into the pipe as if it had come from the same factory....and the difference in the smoking was like night, and day.
I like stingers anyway as my favorite pipe before this was an old Kaywoodie (with the stinger of course).

I have a Kaywoodie sans the stinger and it is horrible!....I don't know why so many people remove the stingers,

perhaps because it is easier to get a pipe cleaner through?...Although that is not a good reason to my way of thinking.

But to each his own.
To me this Willard blows the Kaywoodie out of the water.....although in all fairness I have a connection to this Willard that transcends merely smoking tobacco.

 

ranger

Starting to Get Obsessed
Jul 2, 2011
198
4
Nice to know pipes can still be smoked consistently without a hiccup.
Teamhavoc28....What do you mean by that?.....you don't mean an actual hiccup do you?
As far as smoking one pipe all day long, that is how I've always been, I don't understand the thinking behind smoking one bowl, and then the pipe needing a good cleaning and 'rest'?...rest from what....one bowl??

 
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ssjones

Moderator
Staff member
May 11, 2011
16,532
6,052
Maryland
postimg.cc
Some buddies advised me to immediately remove and discard the stinger. Now, wish I had kept it.

It must be a "Willard Day". I rarely see someone smoking a pipe. But today at a rest stop in PA a gentleman was at yep, it was also a Willard just like mine! I'll have to look around for an old stinger to give this one another try.

 

teamhavoc28

Can't Leave
Nov 10, 2010
498
0
Ranger by hiccup I meant gurgle, clogs or being slow drying. i.e. any problems that distract from a good smoke.

 

ranger

Starting to Get Obsessed
Jul 2, 2011
198
4
Ranger by hiccup I meant gurgle, clogs or being slow drying. i.e. any problems that distract from a good smoke.
teamhavoc28....no, I hardly ever have a gurgle problem as I draw very easy, I actually got more of a gurgle with my Kaywoodie, (which was only once in awhile), with this Willard I did at first, until I cleaned it out real well, now I can smoke it all day long, and no gurgle at all....I think I did get a very small gurgle the other day, hardly noticeable, and didn't take away from the smoke at all....I just drew the smoke a little bit easier.
I just got the tiniest hint of something that perhaps may resemble a gurgle just now, but believe me I really had to pay attention....and as that started, I just draw the smoke easier and it goes away.
As far as drying, I don't recall ever having that problem, never noticed it anyway even if I did....I've always been a one pipe smoker for the most part since the 60's, so I never noticed that to be an issue of any kind for me.
I'm on bowl 5 right now, and it is smoking perfect, cool, and dry and so far not even one relight needed, and I'm almost done with the bowl.
The only thing I do is to run a pipe cleaner through the bowl, and set it down for about an hour or so before smoking it again....normal, I don't think anyone chain smokes a pipe anyway.

 

jasongone

Part of the Furniture Now
Mar 23, 2011
511
0
I like the less expensive OTC pipes anyway, I just cant see the need to spend a small fortune on a pipe
i agree completely ranger. i also love taking them and making them unique. the two most exspensive pipes i have (bought them 8 years ago when i first got into pipes) are the two that never get smoked. i should probably trade them out for some cheaper ones to revamp and smoke. ha

 

ranger

Starting to Get Obsessed
Jul 2, 2011
198
4
jasongone: as soon as I can figure out how to take pictures with this new fangled contraption called the computer, then I am going to sell off my other pipes, and only keep two.....my Willard, and my '47 Kaywoodie....as the rest of the bunch are only dust collectors anyway.
Not only that, but this willard is just such a damn good smoker, and the tobacco just plain tastes good in that pipe.

 

ranger

Starting to Get Obsessed
Jul 2, 2011
198
4
A condensed history of Willard pipes:
Gang - Here's a Willard story I wrote that was published in the latest edition of The Pipe Collector:
Estate Pipes

By Dave Whitney
Willard, the Pipe That Went to War
A top bid of $55 on eBay for a Willard estate pipe I had listed in New Old Stock condition for $19.95 sent me scrambling to the research files a few months back to see just what fascination these rather plain-vanilla old pipes held.
There is not much information on them in the public domain.

Herb Wilczak and Tom Colwell didn’t list them in “Who Made That Pipe?”

Likewise, José Manuel Lopes makes no mention of them in his “Pipes.”

There is nothing about them in Pipedia and only a few references to them via a Google search, most with little information.
R. J. McKay’s “Dr. Grabow Pipe Pages” (http://drgrabow-pipe-info.com/) turned up the most information on them and led me to the Dr. Grabow Collector’s Forum (http://drgrabows.myfreeforum.org/) where Willards had been occasionally discussed but basically circumvented in favor of the more popular Dr. Grabow and Linkman pipes in which those particular collectors are mainly interested.
It turns out that most of the Willards we find today were made by Sparta Industries in the plant in the North Carolina town of the same name, a pipe factory that routinely used to turn out a million or more pipes a year.
Tom Douglas, a retired president and chief operating officer, of the Dr. Grabow operations said he first encountered the Willard in 1966, when he was busy disposing of the Mastercraft pipes the Dr. Grabow/Sparta partnership had obtained when it bought Mastercraft and Marxman pipes.
Douglas said Willards could have been in production a few years prior to that and there is some indication that they might have been produced as early as 1963 in a special deal in which R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. bought the pipes from the Sparta pipe makers.
RJR was packaging the Willard pipes as premiums with two bags of either Prince Albert, Carter Hall or George Washington tobacco to promote its pipe blends.
At about the same time the Sparta pipe makers landed a contract to supply military Post Exchanges and Base Exchanges with pipes and the Willard went to war throughout the Vietnam conflict.
Sparta was producing as many as 60,000 Willards a week to meet the RJR and wartime military exchange demands up until production of the Willard-branded pipe ended in 1975.
Willards were produced in most standard pipe shapes and both smooth and rusticated or carved finishes. They were made from the briar Sparta was buying at a time when Dr. Grabow was the largest buyer of briar in the world. With all that briar at hand the Willard gave the company an outlet for the lower-graded briar stummels on hand – 50-percent or less graining for the smooth Willards and blocks that needed fills for the rusticated and carved pipes.
Sparta was charging RJR $1 per pipe and the military exchanges 95 cents per pipe for the finished product at the time.
Well over a million of the civilian Willards were produced and at least that many or more of the military ones.

There are plenty of the civilian versions of the wartime Willards surfacing on the estate pipe market today.

The military ones seem to be missing in action.

They evidently never came home from the war.

The only way to tell them apart is that Willard used three lengths of shank extensions – an aluminum ring on the mortise, a ¼-inch one, and one just a little over 5/8 or an inch long. The longest one was used only on those pipes supplied to the military, which enabled Sparta to use up its over supply of shorter stummels.
Almost all Willard pipes had the patented Adjustomatic stem that enabled the smoker to turn the stem clockwise as much as he wanted until he had it positioned just right for his preferred style of smoking.

I have run across a couple Willards that have simple push-style stems but they appear to be very rare and one looks to be a pipe that walked out the back door of the factory because it probably didn’t meet final inspection standards.

It is a nice billiard but part of the bowl rim was carved out of the plateau side of the stummel, giving it a rough and unbalanced appearance.
Willards were Dr. Grabow/Sparta’s first venture into plastic stems and with a rare exception most Willards will be found to have a relatively soft plastic mouthpiece.
By 1982 Dr. Grabow/Sparta had converted its pipes from vulcanite to ABS plastic stems and those later stems are a bit harder than those you will find in the Willards.
Over the past few months I have found and purchased a couple dozen Willards in the course of researching these pipes and have come up with a couple of interesting observations.

One pipe I purchased is a fine Rhodesian with no fills and a little larger than the typical Willard. Likewise it is equipped with a larger Adjustomatic stem and drinkless mechanism suggesting it could have been made before the 1963-’75 big runs of Willards hit the market.
Speculation is that Willard pipes could have been made by Henry Leonard & Thomas (HL&T), which eventually became part of the Sparta amalgamation of pipe makers, in HL&T’s Ozone Park, NY, pipe factory as early as the late 1940s.

Or it may have been, with its Adjustomatic stem that was introduced in the late ‘40s, a product of Van Roy pipes out of New York, which, like HL&T eventually ended up in the Sparta pile where the name was revived to meet the RJR and military pipe demands.
That this particular Rhodesian has the typical Willard yellow-dot logo on the top of the stem would indicate it was an early Willard.

It seems that Dunhill, with its white-dot logo on the top of its stems, took offense to Willard using its yellow dot in the same position and a letter from Dunhills legal beagles to Sparta eventually saw the yellow dot slip around to the side of the Willard stem.
The second observation I have made of the current offering of Willards pipes on the estate pipe market is that many of them are unsmoked, albeit a bit dirty and dusty from age.

Many of them have lain in drawers and on closet shelves for up to a half-century while the briar in them has continued to cure with age.

Most Willards you will find today are comparatively light for their size attesting to decent aging of the briar. For the most part they are very easy to clean up and smoke.
At least nine of the two dozen Willards I acquired off eBay were in NOS condition, explaining in part why one brought an astounding $55.

There seems to be a small, but growing group of Willard collectors out there looking for them, not to mention those who have found them to be respectable smokers.
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