From the day I received my first pipe, I have had little money to spend on new pipes. Most of my pipes have been gifts. Also, most of them are estate pipes. For those who don’t know still, an estate pipe is like a pre-owned car. Whether it was used or not, doesn’t make a difference, someone owned it before.
Some of the pipes I have, I’ve had the pleasure of buying myself. I sometimes sit and study the pipe as if I’m trying to get an answer, or a clue to what kind of life it had with the original owner. Take for example, a pipe I found at an antique store close to the Appahalacian mountains in the northern state of Georgia. This pipe, I think, has potential to come back to it’s glory. It’s an EA Carey, magic inch billiard. The stem at the mouth piece is broken and so is the tenon. After doing some research, I found that many of these little guys were sent to soldiers in WWII. Does this pipe have that kind of history? What kinds of things did it’s smoker experience throughout life? War tragedies, children being born or growing, graduations, or possibly weddings?
Unfortunately, these things are usually lost just like the person’s life who would sit and smoke this wonderful piece of art, contemplating life. There is something that a trained eye and a trained nose can find out, though. That is the type of tobacco used. Aromatics vs. an English blend and so on. You can sort of tell how the pipe was valued by how well it was cared for. I have found a couple of older Savinelli pipes where you can tell that the owner appreciated the briar they would smoke from. The stampings are almost rubbed off from cleaning and buffing. The cake isn’t overwhelming, but to a nice consistency.
Then, after thinking about all of this, I then wonder about the life of the gentleman who would smoke this pipe and what his life had been like. If I have any notion to this, though, I will probably find the person patient, intelligent, and a warm spirit. I can imagine him being either the type with many stories, or the type who would prefer to sit and enjoy a good smoke in peace and quiet. Letting the day roll past, slowing down a small portion of our busy lives.