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