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Classic Tin-Same Great Taste

Posh pipes

have you ever bought a costly pipe ($200+) and did it smoke better?


  • I have only two pipes that new, full retail would have sold for above $200. One of them smokes as good as anything I've ever tried. The other smokes as well as my Grabow and Pete seconds, which is still pretty darn good. Mostly above the $150 range you are paying for looks and really nice stems. Beyond that you are paying for a piece of wood with 2 holes in it that connect. As long as those holes are properly aligned it will smoke good. Although briar selection may affect taste and longevity.
    If it looks good to you, buy it. A pipe that you like looking at and smokes well will impart a enjoyment of smoking it and you will get much use from it. In the $200-$500 range you can get really great pipes from an "artisan" maker that will 99.9 % of the time outsmoke a Dunhill or any other factory pipe.
  • Hmm. My "poshest" pipes are two old 1920s Dunhills, although I paid about 120 for the pair and had fully restored. They are good pipes, but not so dramatically better than some others I paid a lot less for. I don't really believe that there's a big correlation between price and quality of function. Aesthetics is another story.
  • Pipe are like cars you drive what you can afford. Volkswagen & Porsche are both well engineered cars. Pipes are a matter of preference. I had purchased thousands of $ worth of pipes. Most of my favorite smokers are under 150. I also get a great smoke out of cobs and clays. Spend your hard earned money any way you like. If it makes you happy to smoke posh pipes then go right ahead ,life is to short to deny yourself of pleasure.
    Warning once you cross that threshold your PAD will get expensive. I had a laugh when I first hear of the corn cob snob society. But I have a Groucho Marx attitude I DON'T WANT TO BELONG TO ANY CLUB THAT WILL ACCEPT PEOPLE LIKE ME AS A MEMBER".
    My knowledge is worthless if not shared and applied . "Joseph McKenna"  
  • I just bought my first expensive pipe which should be in my mail box today or tomorrow. I sure hope it smokes well enough to justify the $200 I spent on it!
  • n9inchnailsn9inchnails Moderator
    My most expensive pipe is my Vauen Lord of the Rings Bilbo pipe and it is still unsmoked it's more of a collectors pipe, maybe I'll smoke out of it when I'm a retired old man sitting on my porch.
  • bobbob Member
    nope I have two 200+ pipes. Which I got cheap. First one because my tobacconist owed me a favor so he sold it too me for under 50 didn't find out till years later what it retailed for. I have a meerschaum that has a cosmetic flaw that dropped the price dramatically (barely noticable but if you paid full price it'd piss you off at least a little). They both smoke great very noticeably smoother. Anything over that price is going to smoke the same but in my humble opinion be much more garish looking. Though I have to admit that I've enjoyed my cheap pipes as well. The thing to remember when buying a pipe if you take care of it your grandchildren can use it when you're dead and gone, which puts the higher price tag into perspective a bit.
  • stogiestogie Member
    @n9inchnails I have one of those Vauen Lord of the Rings Bilbo pipes that I enjoy often!!!! A great smoker!! Unless you are planning on keeping it for some type of $ investment in future.... Smoke it..... You will like it!!!!!!!!!!
  • smastysmasty Member
    stogie, I do wonder how pipes workout as investments (but admittedly banks stopped paying interest). Like you, I think the point is smoking them.
  • Hmmm… This is a tough call. With the exceptions discussed below; I personally don’t consider that expensive pipes actually smoke any better than moderately priced ones. However, some do look/feel considerably better than other really cheap pipes. I reckon that Dunhill probably make the most attractive looking pipes [to me!] , but they’re prohibitively expensive for most people, you can get Parker pipes (a subsidiary of Dunhill) for a fraction of the price of one with the ‘Dunhill stamp’ on. Some folks seem to favour brand new pipes, I’ve had a lot of good estate pipes off eBay and such like over the years that have been brilliant smokers and handsome pipes, for a lot less that a new ‘un-smoked’ version of the same pipe from the factory would cost.

    The only posh pipes I consider are really worth the money are:
    Artisan ones for aesthetics: my old pal Ian Walker at Northern Briars does some absolutely stunning pieces; likewise David Jones in the US produces some truly fantastic pokers. I’m rather partial to an antique Vienna Meerschaum with a little amber too ;-) There’s something nice about smoking a pipe that is bespoke and unique to you.

    Genuine gourd calabash type pipes are expensive (Posh!!), but in my humble opinion offer a unique and delightful smoking experience that is virtually unparalleled by any other pipe design. Reverse calabash pipes seem to be likewise very pricey (but are starting to come down), I’ve not got one of these in my collection yet, but may add one soon, I’m guessing that they smoke in a similar fashion to the former but do not cause your acquaintances to give you the moniker of ‘Sherlock’
  • fredhfredh Member
    edited May 2015 PM
    The key to the great smoke is a pipe that is made from well cured briar (most of the saps and impurities removed) and drilled well and carved appropriately. Many of the less expensive briars are not drilled correctly and the wood itself is not cured very well. This leads to a slightly harsh, or slightly bitter or otherwise mediocre or poor smoke. Some artisan pipe makers do what is called a "secondary curing" to assure that their pipes will smoke well. However, I have yet to encounter evidence that a secondary curing produces a superior smoke. But I mention it to demonstrate the importance of curing in some pipe makers' minds.

    Of course, a "posh" pipe for one guy is a cheap pipe for others. It's all relative. For example, I know some collectors for whom a "posh" pipe would be anything over $2000 while from what you wrote @smasty, your "posh line" is around $200. I know guys whose collection focuses on pipes that exceed $7000 retail.

    I own many pipes that would be considered "posh" pipes by many collectors. And I have long ago traded or sold most of the "posh" pipes I have owned. Once again, if they are well drilled and the briar is well cured most of them smoke very well indeed and taste very nicely.

    Remember that a pipe that smokes well does not necessarily taste good. Some pipes need to be broken in properly before the greatness of the TASTE of the smoke is realized. This could be from 5 to 20 smokes before break-in happens. Some pipes break in on the first or second smoke but I have seen some break in after 20 smokes and then taste better than the pipes that break in right away. I recently wrote in a thread here on Snuffhouse about a Castello pipe I had that cost $1500 retail and smoked very well in terms of performance but tasted like a sewer--just horrible. And my friends smoked it as well and we all agreed! But Castello is a great brand and that pipe was definitely the rare exception. Some believe Castello makes the best smoking and tasting pipes out there. I don't think that they are THAT good but Castellos are certainly great overall. But if you are thinking about buying one get an older one that is 5 or more years old. Many Castello fans have told me that quality has fallen off in recent years.

    Having said all that, the likelihood of getting a great tasting pipe and a great performing pipe from a so-called "posh" pipe is higher than from cheap pipes. But there are a good number of cheap briars (under $150) that will provide great smokes as well. If you want a "posh" pipe, I would recommend you get an estate pipe of a "posh" brand as many of these can be great bargains. Right now, Italian pipes are not retaining their retail unsmoked value as much as Danish pipes, for example. So these can be good values. Also, if you can find a "second" pipe of a "posh" brand (say, from Comoy or Charatan), this can also be a wonderful smoking experience. The "second" pipes use the same briar as the "firsts."

    If you want a new briar pipe brand that gives great taste and a great smoke most of the time, try Moretti. I have owned many, many of these and they are great value for the price. You can find them on eBay quite easily and the pipe maker, Marco Biagini, a great guy, sells many of his pipes on eBay. And most of them are under $150.

    As I say in my book (The Perfect Smoke), when it comes to getting a great smoke, "It's the briar not the brand" as long as the pipe is well cured and well drilled and well constructed. Most of the rest of the story is aesthetics. And a pipe's beauty does NOT mean it is a great smoker, of course. We all know that.

    This is all just my opinion and I do not have the final word on any of this. But I do have over 40 years of experience with "posh" pipes so I am not entirely ignorant either.

    I hope this helps.
  • Also, if you can find a "second" pipe of a "posh" brand (say, from Comoy or Charatan), this can also be a wonderful smoking experience.
    Sage advice from @fredh there; I'd rate both these makers, very good quality for reasonable money...
  • smastysmasty Member
    MisterPaul, good points and I agree utterly on the noble calabash! Fredh, what is your opinion on the performance of Petersons nowadays? Good enough briar, etc? Your views will be taken to heart! Meanwhile, thank you all.
  • MisterPaulMisterPaul Member
    edited May 2015 PM
    @smasty - I think that care has to be taken here; as the general option among pipe smokers generally seems to be that quality has fallen with regard to the actual briar.

    Now as you know, Peterson's have always been consider to be respectable; a lot of old boys swear by them. I think that there may be a bit of 'rose tinting' on the part of older pipe aficionados with regards to this. It's a bit like how you often come across people bemoaning modern Dunhill tobacco blends that used to be made by Murry's. In my view this isn't really fair as you're not really comparing apples with apples in that instance; you can't properly contrast a reality against a memory [particularly an emotive one!]. Plus, a sealed tin of tobacco that been resting for potentially years is almost bound to be a better flavour than a brand new tin.

    I personally don't consider that Peterson's are 'bad' for the money, estates seem to smoke better to me than the new ones (but this could be said to be universal - All new pipes take a bit of breaking in don't they?). Though for my tastes, I prefer a Parker, Charatan, Comoy or even a Butz-Choquin over Pete's; and as a bonus they're slightly cheaper! :D
  • smastysmasty Member
    Thank you, Mr Paul. When the elderly complain that anything tasted better long ago, they have considerably fewer tastebuds than when they were young - and so for them it is true. Meaningless for us, but true for them! ("Now, when Alfred made me my first Dunhill, just before I went to the Somme...").
  • @MisterPaul, maybe nostalgia plays a part - but I still maintain that the old Dunhill 965 was the best tobacco I ever had, and the stuff they sell now is barely mediocre.
  • @JakartaBoy - My Mix 965 is probably the only one I would concede to be fair, to my memory (as above... I'd agree that nostalgia may play a part here!!) the Murry's blended one was a bit nicer. Not that the current version is 'bad' per se, but yes, it is definitely different. Having said that, I'd still maintain that some of the blends are equal or better; EMP, Deluxe Navy Rolls, Royal Yacht - As good as they've ever been I reckon.

    The recent re-releases of the past few years are all good blends to my mind too. Aparitif, Durbar (again, not the same, but very good in it's own right, and improving in the cellar all the time), and especially the very recent 1938BB mixture, which to my taste is excellent (though I didn't try it's previous incarnation).
  • fredhfredh Member
    edited May 2015 PM
    MisterPaul, good points and I agree utterly on the noble calabash! Fredh, what is your opinion on the performance of Petersons nowadays? Good enough briar, etc? Your views will be taken to heart! Meanwhile, thank you all.
    @smasty-- I have not smoked a Peterson in years, although I understand that they are still good smokers. HOWEVER, once again, I must repeat myself as it is hard for people to understand sometimes. For me, it is not the brand (Peterson, Dunhill, artisan, etc) that makes the difference in the smoke, it is the briar itself--the taste of that particular piece of wood. Some briar blocks taste better than others, and this is true for the pipes of the same brand. Making generalities about this brand smokes this way and that brand smokes that way is all of a load of bullshit (as long as the pipe is well made and the briar well cured). I have learned this in my long (35 years) experience and experiments with this phenomenon. Famous artisan pipe makers such as Bo Nordh, Jess Chonowitsch, Rainer Barbi, Poul Ilsted, Rad Davis, Bill Ashton Taylor and many others have personally told me that they agree with what I have been saying for years. It's not the brand. It's the briar.

    It can be explained by a subject in psychology and philosophy called "phenomenology" which is the study of human experience in the context of consciousness and how our awareness becomes biased. The lesson here is that the symbol (in this case the brand of pipe stamping) is not the thing itself (in this case the briar) and we humans often tend to confuse the two. I have a couple of no name but clearly Danish made pipes that are absolutely magnificent smoking and tasting and they both out-smoke some very expensive pipes I have owned. They have no brand but they are magnificent. They were clearly rejects but in terms of their smoke produced and their beauty, they should be worth 4 figures. Go figure. It's not the brand, it's the briar. ;)
  • With my snuff stash down to the last kilo or so, I'm smoking a pipe more and more, maybe two bowls a day. Funny, the test for me is: Which pipe would I reach for if they are all clean, lined up in a row, and none smoked for the past week? I find I don't actually reach for either of the two Dunhills in my collection much. The ones I'm most likely to reach for are one of two estate pipes from the 1960s, both made by small, artisan producers in the US before people thought that a pipe could possibly be an objet d'art. One is a John Bessai, the other is a Malaga. Both brilliant pipes, both cost under $50 on eBay, although they took some work to restore.

    The two aristocratic Dunhills? I admit that I'm most likely to use them when I go out with pipe smoking friends. I like the slightly envious look in their eyes.

    I don't own many luxury objects, expensive cars, watches or clothes, so forgive me that one vanity.
  • posh pipe for me are the majestic churchwardens of the 18th century
  • I have less than a dozen pipes in total, all of them bought brand new, and my most expensive pipe cost 25 Pounds. All of them work well enough for me, and I don't see the appeal of spending more than maybe 50 Pounds (maximum) on a pipe. Each to their own, but this particular rabbit hole has no appeal to me.
  • I will second @fredh about the briar if all other stuff is the same like construction of the pipe.
    From what I understand, higher end pipe makers are more picky about the briar they use.
    The best smoking pipe I used was my friends pipe who later on divulged that the pipe was a 5000 dollar pipe brand new. I sure as hell am not going to get a 5000 dollar pipe.
    For nicer end pipes I always buy estates since your money goes farther and they are already broken in. I have a few pipes that would have retailed for over 500 dollars, but because they were Estates and needed a bit of work I spent less than 100 dollars on them. They smoke well. I also have brand new pipes that cost me less than 100 dollars and smoke great
  • There must be somewhere around 60 to 70 pipes in my collection ... half cobs and half briar.  Of the pipes that are briar, I own half a dozen or so that were in the $300-500 range.  While they are obviously more aesthetically pleasing to the eye, not a single one of them smokes any better than the Cobs.  Believe me, I wish they did for the price!  When I tell people that Cobs are some of the best smokers, it's not because of some bias or lack of experience with "posh pipes" (LOL) but rather an honest, realistic opinion. 
  • I agree cobs smoke great. Especially for the price. Certain blends like burly blends are best in cobs.
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