The Collectible Smoking Pipe


Since the smoking pipe that was once quite common has now become more of a unique sight, it has become quite the collector?'s item. To be specific, not only is the smoking pipe a collector?'s item, but the various accoutrements that go with the pipe have become collectibles, too. Not only are these items collectible, but functional, and can be both simultaneously. It is a pleasurable note that pipes can easily retain tremendous value even after being smoked through for numerous years. This is not the proverbial uncirculated coin or pristine Beanie Baby; the smoking pipe is a functioning work of art that?'s meant to be used for what it is made. But there are a few things collectors should know when considering creating a pipe collection or adding to it.

·         Certain pipe maker brand names are more valuable than others. Like many name brand collectibles, pipes have certain names recognized with collectible value, while others rarely are. Steadfast names such as Dunhill, Peterson, GBD, Caminetto and a list of others are proper to watch for, while a new Dr. Grabow fresh off the corner store rack may not be worth much. However, an old and unique Dr. Grabow may be worth more than a beaten and damaged Dunhill, so age and condition do matter.

·         There are more pipe makers than most could easily count. There are so many individual pipe makers, artists really, that precious few serious collectors would dare claim they know of them all. Not only are there innumerable amounts of the artists, but their works are so unique to them. Some pipe makers create simple, functional pipes while others create amazing works of fantasy meant to delight virtually all the senses. A search engine query for pipe makers or smoking pipe artists would produce hours of enjoyment for the pipe aficionado.

·         It isn?'t just the pipes that are collectible. There are all those pipes out there, but they don?'t function alone. Part of the fun in smoking a pipe as well as collecting them is all the stuff that goes with it. A search engine query for the pipe tamper would surely surprise all but the most experienced pipe collector. The tamper is merely a tool that compresses the tobacco in the pipe bowl; a simple broad-headed nail could do the trick and often does. But the creativity of so many artists has been captured by the possibilities within the tamper, with a stunning work of artistic beauty being the result. Pipe lighters also have a broad range of choices and styles, including the historic pipe lighters popular before the invention of the match. They were iron or brass bowls of various shapes and sizes (referred to as the smoker?'s brazier), coming with a pair of tongs so the smoker could pick glowing coals from a fire and keep them within these bowls in order to use them to light their pipes. One of these pipe lighters in fine shape would fetch a fine price, providing the collector of today recognized the antique pipe lighters for what they were.

·         The tobaccos are at least as varied. What with the various Virginia Burleys, the Black Cavendish, The Oriental Mountain Latakia, the Brocken and the Perique along with subtle and gracious hints of cherry, walnut, whiskey, vanilla, and even blackberry, combined with cut assortments nearly as sundry as the flavors, styles, origins and even methods of growth and harvest, pipe tobacco surely offers the smoker the broadest assortments. What are mentioned above are mere hints all the various sorts of pipe tobaccos out there. For the serious collectors, tobacco jars run the gamut in terms of styles, materials, and ranges of luxury. Some have found the various one ounce tins many high-end tobaccos come in to be either collector?'s items, or perhaps a mere place to store pins, paper clips, and other small doodads.

·         The pipe furniture. Pipe furniture, which can range from a simple pipe rest for one pipe to elaborate cabinetry designed to hold perhaps dozens of pipes in slots and racks designed specifically for the smoking pipe (usually limited to the classic shapes) can be practical but also stunningly beautiful. Pipe stands are often made of the finest woods and stained perfectly, often featuring carving skills of experienced artists and craftsmen. Pipe furniture, much like the pipes and all the other accessories, run a seemingly endless string of choices for the collector.

This sort of collecting can provide so much joy and satisfaction to the collector, but for those just starting out, be warned. Like coins, stamps, and so many other collectibles, pipes and their accessories can prove to be daunting in price. A new Dunhill can easily approach four figures in price, and so could an old Dunhill that?'s been smoked through for years. Used pipes (often called Estate Pipes) are also heavily sought by collectors as mentioned above, so they?'re something to be watched for by the serious collector. Also, for those new to the world of pipes and their ways, please take note that the white pipes often seen carved into beautiful shapes are NOT made of ivory. Instead, these are made from a white, soft mineral known as Meerschaum. While most pipes are made of briar, many are also porcelain, brass, steel, and as you know, corn cobs, among other workable materials. All of these facts and so many more make the smoking pipe a great way to enjoy a passion for collecting.

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