The Curriculum:
Study Notes:
• If you are interested in pipe smoking I suggest reading Why You Should Smoke A Pipe.
• If you want to try pipe smoking for cheap I suggest reading How To Start Pipe Smoking.
• If you got a pipe and tobacco but don't know what to do next, read Instructions For Use.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Buying an Estate Pipe - Part 3: The Market

Here are a few resources, some direct buying advice and price suggestions.

Advice and Resources:
First, you might want to familiarize yourself with some pipe shapes:
 I like this page: Pipedia's Pipe Shape Page.
 You will also want to use the Pipedia - Pipe Brands and Makers (mentioned later).

You might have to hunt a little longer to find your style within your budget, but that's what finding a deal is all about.

Next, you should look at the market.  I suggest eBay for its number of estate pipes and its search filters. Please refer to the reasons to pass up a pipe listed in my last post!

 Search eBay in the Collectibles or Tobacciana section first.  Many deals are to be found on mis-categorized auctions, though - look for them later.

 Don't use the price filter at first - get a familiar with top-end brand names, styles, and simply what a good expensive pipe looks like.  Later you might set a $30 or $50 limit though.

 Search for pipes by the same maker to compare price against.
 Any pipe that has cracks in the wood or stem, do not buy.
 Look at the bit for tooth marks/holes too!
 Sometimes a "no-name" pipe looks good and is at a great price.  Take a gamble, maybe it will smoke great!

Use the Pipedia - Pipe Brands and Makers page to find out more about pipes that interest you.  Some pipe makers are notable, some are mediocre, and some are "no-names" or unmarked.  With experience you will come to know the market.

As a very loose idea of what I will spend on estate pipes (including shipping!):
 No-Name Estate Pipes < $15 each
 Mid-level Makers < $25 each (GBD, Kaywoodie, Mastercraft etc)
 Notable Makers < $50 each  (Savinelli, Peterson, Ben Wade, etc)

The further the price is under the numbers I listed, the better deal you are getting...hopefully.  (FYI, these numbers are VERY subjective to the specific brand and quality of the pipe.  Furthermore, churchwardens are always more expensive)

When bidding on a Pipe Lot (multiple pipes in one auction), follow the same guidelines but scaled up for the number of pipes in the lot.

Final wisdom: 
Until it's in your hands, you have cleaned it, and are successfully smoking out of it, nothing is certain.

Good Luck!


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Buying an Estate Pipe - Part 2: Rejection

In my last post I argued reasons to buy your first briar pipe second-hand (an estate pipe).  Some online pipe retailers sell estate pipes, but at premium prices.  Although, if you buy an estate pipe from a private seller, ala eBay, etc, you will need to be informed or you will spend too much money and buy crappy pipes.

A Few Words of Wisdom:
  Some estate pipes are WORTHLESS!
  Most are NOT collectible or worth antique value
  But some are worth buying for the right price to smoke with
  Buy a few to compare between them
 (pipe "lots", or multiple pipe auctions, are great for this).

I buy my estate pipes from eBay, as many others do too.  I use my knowledge and resources to pick and choose pipes that are worth their price.

Some pipes are simply junk and I pass them up for various reasons:
 Some are not estate pipes at all, but crappy new pipes made in China or eastern EU
 These crappy pipes often have titles like "Estate New Vintage Pipe"
 Some are made with inferior wood, such as ebony or cherrywood, and
 Inferior wood pipes are typically brand new too (see the first point)
 Many others are just simply over-priced
 Some are in awful shape, or worse cracked or broken
 Some are made by crappy makers - drugstore brands, etc.

I don't mind if it is dirty, has a few LIGHT teeth marks, or has lots of cake - this means it was well enjoyed, and I will clean it before I use it.

A few more points:
  Be VERY skeptical until you have some experience
  Look for Pipe Lots - you can often save money
  Shape, Condition, Brand, and Price are the four major considerations

You will need to consider the shape, brand, and condition, versus the price plus shipping to determine if it's worth buying.  Many are not.

In order to determine this you will need to become familiar with brands and their estate market prices, as well as what styles are available and, of course, what your tastes in pipe shapes are.

More on that to come in Part 3!  To Be Continued...Again.


Buying Your First Estate Pipe

So you want to smoke a briar pipe?
Briar pipes take a lot more work than cob pipes.  They are less forgiving to smoke, are more expensive, can have moisture issues, should be rested in between smokes, and require more cleaning and care.  But with proper techniques they can also give a most pleasurable smoking experience...and they look more impressive in public than a cob does!

Buying a new briar pipe leads quickly to a few problems:
 •  Cheap briar pipes (like drugstore brands, etc) are usually poorly constructed
 •  Pipes by well known makers, such as Dunhill and Peterson, get quite expensive
 •  Breaking-in new briar pipes takes some expertise and a bunch of time.

Buying a GOOD estate pipe (used pipe) will mitigate all of these problems.
 An experienced piper has already selected the pipe and smoked it for some time, so it should be a good-smoking pipe (good construction/materials, minimal moisture issues, etc).
  Many quality brands are available on the estate pipe market for affordable prices, including the popular brands of today and yesteryear too.
  And most likely the pipe will already be broken-in with ample "cake" in the bowl.

There are TWO WAYS to go about buying an estate pipe:
1.)  By going to an online pipe retailer's site and seeing what estate pipes they have.  They will have cleaned the pipe and will tell you all the details you wish to know about them.  You will also pay handsomely for this, with pipes starting around $50 and going up very quickly.

If you choose to go this route, here are two sites you can start with:

2.)  By buying from a private seller, on eBay, Craigslist, Goodwill, antique shops, or any other means.  The seller normally has NOT cleaned the pipe, they will have no idea about what type or brand it is, and will often mis-price them...sometimes in your favor!

The SECOND route will be discussed in detail in my next post!

To be continued...


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Part 3: Instructions For Use

(originally posted by The Mad Professor on CigarGeeks forum on 10-3-2011, modified for audience)
Now that you got a pipe, tobacco, tamper, pipe cleaners, and matches, you need to know what to do with it all: (if you don't have these yet read my first two posts!)

Instructions for use -
Push a wad of tobacco into the bowl, do not pack too hard. The draw should be easy, not encumbered. You can use the tamper to pack it harder if needed later.

Lighting will take several matches. Light evenly across the bowl. Relight as necessary, it will go out.

Use the tamper to help the ember burn into the tobacco, with very slight pressure. Drawing while tamping helps

Also use the tamper, especially the poker on the 3-way, to keep the tobacco burning evenly across the bowl -- keep it flat.

Only "pack" with the tamper if you initially packed too lightly -- try relighting first.
 Did I say relight as necessary? Some smokers think relighting is bad, I don't know why.

 If it gurgles (you will know), stick a pipe cleaner in the stem for a few seconds, then continue smoking.

 If your bowl is uncomfortably hot in your hand, you are smoking too fast - pace yourself there, hoss.

 Smoke until its all ash or leave some dottle behind (tobacco remains). Smoke until you had enough and dump it, or smoke some and save it for later. The choice is yours, remember this is for YOUR enjoyment.

 Run a pipe cleaner through your pipe after every smoke to keep it clean and tasty.

 You should let a cob rest (and dry out) for a couple hours after emptying. Briars should rest a day. Meerschaum and clay pipes need no resting.

 Have patience and keep trying and you'll get the hang of it quickly.

What next?
 Now, if you liked it, or even if you didn't, try some other blends (Carter Hall, Half & Half, etc.) for about the same price.
 Visit a good local B&M and sample their pipe tobacco blends.
 Look at some websites at different pipes and tobaccos to get acclimated. Read some reviews to get a sense of what flavors are out there.
 Look at eBay for a possible estate pipe purchase, but that's a whole 'nother post.

After doing all the above, THEN you might want to think about buying tins from online suppliers

Happy puffing!


Next Post: Purchasing Your First Estate Pipe!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Part 2: How to Start Pipe Smoking

(originally posted by The Mad Professor on CigarGeeks forum on 10-3-2011, modified for audience)
How do you start pipe smoking?
So if you read my prior list of reasons to take up pipe smoking you MUST be asking yourself:  "Now how can I begin such a noble craft as pipe smoking for the super-low-introductory price of under $20?!"

Just get yerself:
a "Missouri Meerschaum" Corn Cob pipe = $5 - $8
Matches = $2
a 3-way pipe Tamper = $2 (or a nail or golf tee for free)
Pipe Cleaners = $2
1.5 oz Prince Albert pipe tobacco* = $3 - $8

Go to a tobacco shop with pipe stuff or an online retailer for the MM corn cob and the tamper. The rest can be found at most Rite-Aid, CVS, or other drugstores.

* (Disclaimer - Prince Albert is my recommendation for a first pipe tobacco. Others will have their own recommendation.)

Prince Albert (PA) is good old school American tobacco, without much flavorings and chemicals. It packs easy and burns easy. Its cheap and available everywhere (know as OTC or drug store tobacco). And it tastes pretty good too - slight overtones of hazelnut to me. All of these reasons combined is why I think this is  a good place to start.

 More to come...Next Post: Instructions For Use!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Part 1: Why You Should Smoke a Pipe

(originally posted by The Mad Professor on CigarGeeks forum on 10-3-2011, modified for audience)
Picking up pipe smoking is cheap and easy, and quite rewarding. Like most endeavors, mastering it takes practice and time, but it's a lot of fun along the way. Don't be discouraged if you read how complicated some advanced smokers can make it, that's how they keep their hobby fun - you should start simple. So….

Why should you smoke a pipe? 
First, it is WAY cheaper per smoke than cigars (or even cigarettes)
You can start smoking a pipe for $10 to $20
Storing pipe tobacco is easy and doesn't need to be humidified (just mason jars)
Many pipes are works of art too
You can mix your own blends
Some pipe blends (Virginias) age very well, similar to cigars but easier
There are nearly as many types of pipe tobacco as there are cigars or beer to chose from - therefore something for everyone
You can relight a pipe long after it went out without affecting the flavor of the tobacco (some smokers will take 2 days to finish a bowl!)
Therefore, you can set your pipe down if you need to cut your smoke short (unlike a cigar or cigarette)

Also, less serious but still true...
Most women love the aroma of aromatic tobaccos
Your wife might let you smoke indoors
A pipe rack looks really impressive on your desk (or in your living room)
It's a good excuse to always have Everclear on hand (used for cleaning)
Your kids will love making crafts with your pipe cleaners
And lastly, pipe smokers are kind and wise... so if your a dumb a%#hole then it will help with your character

There are a few reasons against it too:
PAD and TAD (Pipe Acquisition Disorder/Tobacco Aqc. Dis.) can be ridiculous. Look at an old pipe smokers cellar/collection!
Pipes can cost a lot, and you get what you pay for (within reason) with a new pipe. (Start with estate pipes, don't buy new!)
And maybe one or two more, but you can think of them yourself… I'm trying to get you to smoke a pipe, not quit!

More to come...Next post: How to Start Pipe Smoking!