And Then There Had been Three

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The late Invoice Unger, long-time secretary/treasurer of the North American Society of Pipe Collectors and editor of the Pipe Collector e-newsletter, was typically quoted as saying, “You probably have one pipe, you’re a pipe smoker. You probably have two pipes, you’re a collector.” 

The query of what makes an combination of pipes an precise “assortment” is one thing that I’ve typically struggled with, and each try and pin issues down has discovered me within the weeds. Collectors of most objets d’artwork are likely to have some kind of focus, and to take the stance that my focus is on “pipes” has at all times felt a bit like an affordable approach out. I’ve buddies who acquire a sure form, or a sure maker’s work, or pipes from a selected nation or period. One makes a speciality of straight grain, at all times searching for the following incremental step in the direction of perfection, whereas by no means accumulating too many items. I, alternatively, have by no means been a specialist, however the time period generalist doesn’t adequately describe my proclivity both. Over time, as my tastes have modified and advanced, I’ve chased many various types of pipe, leading to an embarrassingly giant gathering of briars that vary from probably the most conventional to the frankly bizarre. Is it actually a “assortment” when the one factor that ties its parts collectively isn’t a thread however a mooring rope? 

As soon as, I used to be most taken with bulldogs, particularly the squat bowl variant. Certainly one of my first good pipes was a GBD on this form; so early alongside my gathering journey, I didn’t even know what the form was referred to as, however I used to be attracted by its virtually UFO-like styling – I simply discovered the form partaking, Studying extra about basic shapes, I started to take a look at different bulldog variants, and located myself gravitating in the direction of the bent variations, particularly rhodesians, with their spherical shanks, squat, voluptuous bulldog-esque bowls, and that splendidly snug half-bend. I gathered fairly a couple of of them, ranging in measurement from small to fairly giant, and thought I’d discovered my area of interest. 

After all, this wouldn’t  final without end, and shortly different shapes caught my consideration. The prince, lengthy and stylish, with its wider bowl and mild curve appeared like possibly it was the right form. Its slender shank and lengthy stem end in a light-weight pipe that retains the smoke out of your eyes. I’ve additionally typically posited that there isn’t a higher “pointing pipe” than the prince. 

Then got here the lovats. Their compact form, brief saddle mouthpieces and capacious bowls gave the impression to be my very best. And, talking of compact shapes, the little “brucianaso,” exemplified by the Castello #10, was so interesting, I discovered myself chasing them at a time once they have been exceedingly uncommon. 

The billiard, at one time, appeared kind of boring to me, however it’s such a basic form, and when reduce actually properly, has its personal magnificence and attraction. Now, I’ve fairly a couple of of them.  And there are the apples, with their thick, curvaceous bowls that really feel so good within the hand. And the Castello #55 pot, considered one of Carlo Scotti’s private faves. Get the image? Like a butterfly, I’ve at all times flitted from form to form, extracting the nectar of no matter type appealed to me in the mean time earlier than transferring on to the following flower. Nevertheless it was at all times the extra basic shapes, the pipes from England, France, and to a level, these from Italy that held my curiosity. 

Then, within the late Nineteen Nineties, one thing modified, and I turned interested in among the Danish types, not a lot the wild “freehand” shapes, however the modernist interpretations of basic pipe varieties that got here from the minds and palms of the early masters. The route of Danish pipe making was born out of a functionalist design aesthetic, the place minimalism and performance, class and nuance held precedence over the ornate. These makers took acquainted varieties and rendered them with sleeker strains, softer curves, and a extra minimalist method. Some have been moreover impressed by nature, bringing new phrases to the vocabulary of pipe shapes. I used to be intrigued, and as extra of those shapes discovered their approach into my group, they scribbled one other web page of an more and more disorganized ebook. They didn’t displace my beloved classics, however expanded my appreciation in one more route. 

Oh, and people loopy freehands? What can I say; a few of these shapes are so wildly conceived, how might I ignore them? The butterfly finds flowers wherever they’re.

Largely, I’ve simply accepted, or ignored my slightly mercurial tastes, however on occasion, one thing occurs to carry my “technique” into query. The opposite day, I used to be enticed by a fantastic piece by American maker Ryan Alden. I’ve recognized Ryan for years, and have purchased a few his items, however this pipe lived outdoors of his norm, and mine. I needed to have it. (It’s the sandblast piece within the accompanying pictures.) I’m not even positive I do know what to name it. Urchin-esque? Squat apple? Cinnamon bun? Tomato? Nothing fairly matches, however, as quickly as I had it in hand, I spotted {that a} couple different items I’ve bear comparable profiles, just like the pictured Bengt Carlson rusticated and bamboo-shanked piece by Taiwan’s Jerry Zenn. Will these three pipes turn out to be the cornerstone of a brand new route, a brand new sub-collection? I’m undecided, however in the mean time, I sort of hope so. 

I actually have a couple of pipe, so in deference to a pricey departed buddy’s reminiscence, I’ll simply attempt to settle for his definition and discover peace inside my capricious nature. 

I’m a pipe collector.

Pipes by Ryan Alden, Bengt Carlson, and Jerry Zenn (Photo: G.L. Pease)
Pipes by Ryan Alden, Bengt Carlson, and Jerry Zenn (Photograph: G.L. Pease)

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