Since the early days, pipes were made from anything that could hold plant leaves to be smoked. The developent of pipe brands may be linked to the introduction of pipes to Europa which raised the demands for pipes.
Since then, pipe manufacturers (including individual carvers) has come and go due to factories sold to other pipe manufacturers and the passing away of notable carvers and economic trends. However, many pipe brands has managed to overcome the financial difficulties and the "fight" against smoking, and are still producing pipes. Fortunately, many offspring of good carvers also have learned the trade from their fathers and continued the art of carving beautiful pipes.
This page will be updated continuosly because of the many pipe brands which are available. I will however, start with these I know well. Bookmark this page for future updates.
Greek Hand-Made (AS Pipes)
AS Pipes is a Greek Craftsman, Anthonis Salas, who makes pipes. He calls himself an (Amateur Pipe Maker) from Agia Paraskevi, Greece but I think it is safe to say that he is quite professional.
The company was founded around 1950 by Vigo Nielsen and continued through his sons until 1975 after which it was sold to Van Eicken Tobaccos. One of the pipe production heads, Helmer Thomsen bought the company in 1993 and re-naming it to Bari Piber Helmer Thomsen. He was a meticulous pipe maker who only believed in the best material for his pipes.made pipe.
Bari successfully adapted the "new Danish design" (referring to Stanwell's desicion to return to the Ivarsson-style op pipe design which Sixton Ivarsson introduced) of Stanwell for its own pipes. Since its founding, Bari's were pre-worked on machines and then finished by hand, giving a solid reliable pipe. The Wiking was its "blasted" range.
Bari offers a range of pipes of which the lighter coloured pipes usually represents the higher quality materials. The pipes are glossed with carnuba wax, uses acrylic stems and some have a filter bore.
All in all, most Bari owners are happy with their pipes. Good value for money too.
A very good site for the history of Danish Pipes can be found here.
The French Chacom pipe brand started in 1825 in France by the Comoy family. Soon afterwards, the production of their pipes were moved to London. As a prisoner of war in 1870 circa., Henry Comoy meets his cousins, the Chapois in Switzerland and joined up in re-establishing pipe manufacturing. He moved to London while the Chapois cousins supplied him with briar. After Henry's death, his sons continued and as they were now able to produce pipes on their own, the France production, in 1925, was named Chacom, taken from the first three letters of each surnames. In 1971, Chacom became independent from Comoy in London. Since then, Chacom has produced excellent pipes and is well-known across the world. For many years, Chacom was the sole distributed of pipes in many European countries.
The Charatan pipe brand was founded in 1870 circa. by a Russian immigrant to the UK, Frederick Charatan. At first he produced Meerschaum pipes but later produced briar pipes for the Russian market. He is known to produce exquisite handcrafted pipes. Dunhill acquired his business in 1907. After Frederick's retirement, his son, Reuben took over the production and followed his father's tradition of handmade high quality pipes. After Charatan's acquaintance with Herman Lane, Lane became the sole distributor of Charatan pipes in the US. Lane later bought Charatan after Reuben's death and saved the company from its struggling business. Again Dunhill stepped on the seen by buying the London production of Charatan. The company with its policy of handmade exquisite pipes effectively seized to exist when an American company bought the name in 1988 and mass produced pipes. When this company, James Russel closed in 2002, nothing was left of the famous Charatan pipes of old.
The grading of Charatan pipes was only applied after the 1930's circa. The Rough had a rusticated shank and a sandblasted bowl finish dating from about 1930. Rarity were pipes with otherwise good grain but some tiny flaws. Perfection pipes were always cross-grained and were so named because Dunhills were most always cross-grained and was the lowest of the upper grade pipes. Belvedere had straightish but weak grain. This was Charatan's lowest class of smooth pipes. Special pipes were generally unstained or lightly stained. They had better grain, but it was not perfect. Distinction pipes had better grain than the Specials and were often given a light stain to bring out the grain. Executive were made for the executive market and had a better grade than Distinction. After Hours pipes had a selected-quality grain. The design of the After Hours allowed the use of smaller ebuchauns due to the horn (later plastic) section screwed to the truncated shank. Selected pipes had even better grain and the Supreme pipes had the best straight grains they made at that time. I managed to buy a probably 1960's Charatan because of the ODC inscription, dating to the time it was produced by Dunhill. The pipe also had the so called "double comfort" tapered stem, which was introduced in 1960
Charatans can be dated according to these guidelines:
- Charatan family eras (1873 - 1962) Frederick designed a simple logo combining the initials of the words Charatan Pipes; “CP” with the P slightly lowered and the bottom part of the C linking with the P on the stem. On the pipe, CHARATAN'S MAKE LONDON ENGLAND" was engraved. His son, Reuben (1910 - 1962) continued with the same markings. During this time, a L (indicating Lane imported, distributed in USA) was sometimes added. 4 grades were indicated from the lowest: Belvedere, Executive, Selected, and Supreme.
- Lane initially managed the company, but took it over in 1962. The "Lane Era" (1962 - 1976) can be dated with the dubious double comfort (DC) stems; Stamped DC and/or X. On the pipe, the words “CHARATAN'S MAKE - LONDON ENGLAND" was engraved. The grading was continued but Lane added some addition grades (from the lowest): Belvedere, Executive, Selected, and Supreme + Supreme S, Supreme S100, S150, S200, S250, S300, Coronation, Royal Achievement, Crown Achievement, and Summa Cum Laude
- Dunhill Era 1977 - After Dunhill re-acquired the Charatan brand, it kept the "CP" logo on the stem and the "CHARATAN'S MAKE LONDON ENGLAND” was displayed in three lines on the pipe.
The Comoy brothers started making pipes in France in the 1825. Francois Comoy's son moved to London in 1879 where he continued making pipes until the H Comoy & Co was officially established in London on circa 1914. Until 1980, Comoy was owned by the Comoy family. In 1980 it was taken over by Cadogan Investments. It seems as if the brand has lost its high reputation after the 1980's.
Dr Grabouw pipes are American made pipes since the 1940's. The story goes that an owner of a pipe factory, Louis Linkman from Chicago, joined Dr Grabow and a friend while sipping on a pipe and fly fishing. Linkman later promised to make Dr Grabouw a pipe and named the pipe "Dr Grabouw". This name stuck and eventually Linkman kep the name as it would "sound better" for a medical dr to "endorse" pipe smoking. Dr Grabouw pipes do fall in the cheaper price range and are mass-produced pipes from non-aged briar - good pipe for a beginner. Grabow pipes usually has a shellac finish which cause for a hot smoke as the wood cannot breathe.
Erik Nording is a Danish pipe maker from Copenhagen, Denmark. He was originally an engineer and experienced as a blacksmith, but due to his love for woodworking, ventured into pipe making. Since then, his pipe making business has expanded (approximately 20,000 pipes per year) and became known for high quality pipes. Pipedia has this story which I found interesting. He started smoking at 15 and, ...
"his mother had thought she could dissuade him from this new activity by providing a large enough dose to make him never smoke again. She said to me, 'You want to smoke? OK, here, smoke this pack of cigarettes.' She thought I would get sick. But I smoked one, then another, and as I reached for another one she said, 'Never mind. That's enough.' And it was decided that I could smoke one bowl of tobacco each day, but only at home."
Its worth the while to click on the Pipedia link for the full story. Suffice to say, the became renowned for excellent pipes, both in smoking and design.
GBD as a company was established in Paris in 1850 by three men (Ganneval, Bondier & Donninger), dedicated to make Meerschaum pipes. Ganneval probably came from the area of Saint-Claude where he had learned making wooden pipes. Bondier was from Paris but emigrated to Geneva in 1789. Donninger was an Austrian or Swiss who worked in Vienna, the world's center of the Meerschaum pipe at the time. They agreed on the acronym GBD. During the 1900's, GBD pipes were produced in both the UK and France. Some dating info on the France GBD's are the words "Xtra" and "Speciale" markings.
GBD produced consistently well made pipes, almost entirely of Algerian or Grecian briar. In the late 1960's to late 1970's, they introduced the "Collector" and "Unique" lines, made primarily by Horry Jamieson, who had carved for Barling for many years, and was skilled in freehand design.
<p">Through the 1960's and 1970's some pipes were fitted with moulded stems. Before the amalgamation of GBD and Comoy (late 1980's), the GBD rondelle was a silver or brass insert (see the top GBD) in the stem. After GBD and Comoy amalgamated, the GBD rondelle became a painted or black logo and the linear "London England" stamp became the round "Made in London England" stamp.
Known lines in the 1970's were
- Virgin: Best grained briar
- Century: golden finish, celebrates over a 100 years of manufacturing
- New era: Also fine quality briar with a double finish
- Prestige: Similar to virgin quality briar but with perspex stems which will not colourise due to oxidation.
- Other lines like Pedigree I, II, III, Prodigy, Prestige, Jubilee, Universe, Tapestry will also be found under the GBD name pre Comoy.
- "Oom Paul" with a brass rondelle logo, circa 1970's.
- a Bull Dog, also pre amalgamation but after the brass insert as the "London Made" is not yet replaced. Other markings are RJ X, shape number 687 - Rhodesian / poker.
- Straight flame grain Century, Canadian shape, dated circa 1973.
- Post amalgamation with the marking of "popular".
Older GBD pieces are excellent smokers and unique in design. Pipe smokers are of the opinion - you might not get the highest quality of briar, but you can never go wrong with a pre amalgamation GBD.
George Jensen was another Danish pipe maker. Unfortunately, not much is known about Georg Jensen pipes, but Georg Jensen himself told a news reporter that the Georg Jensen pipe factory was founded in 1954 by PG Jensen. In 1980, PG Jensen and his sister Lis took over from his father. The factory was then closed in 2001 when PG was hired by Mac Baren Tobaccos (what a lost to GJ / Danish pipes).
Ranges that were distributed was (in order of quality) Danish Sand, Achat / Amber, Red Flame / Red Skin, Sunrise / Orange extra / Starline, Contrast / Bicolour / Harmon, Excellent (probably spelled Xcellent on the marking) / Masterpiece. I can't confirm this information, but seemingly the cheaper ranges were marked GJ in red on the stem while the special edition pipes were marked "Handmade in Denmark" and GJ in white on the stem. The most expensive ones had Georg Jensen in full and in italic (Manfred Arenz). (E)Xcellent was not the "top of the range".
Charl Goussard (Goussard pipes) is a local hand-made pipe maker from South Africa. He only creates quality hand-made pipes and is already world re-known for his craftsmanship pipes. Beautoful pipes and smokes exceptionally! I can recommend his pipes - if you're looking for quality hand-made pipes, made with passion, look no further. The briar and shape is exquisite; the technical design is perfect. His pipes can be viewed here.
Parker from London is a pipe company, formed by Alfred Dunhill in 1922, apparently to market the "Dunhill" pipes which did not make the quality cut, renowned of Dunhill pipes. Parker then merged with Hardcastle. This close relationship between Parker and Dunhill was evident until after the second World War. It appears as if this close relationship came to an end during the post war years, to an extent that Dunhill apparently deny any relationship with Parker or that Parker was dubbed Dunhill "seconds". To this date, Parker remains an independent pipe company and does create good pipes. They were very popular in the US for many years, but for some reason "disappeared" from the US market during the early 1960's. Parker remains popular in Europe though.
Peterson pipes are well known and popular. Tons of articles on the Internet about Peterson pipes from Ireland. Petersons are producing pipes since the 19th century. Two Kapp brothers immigrated to the UK in 1866. After they parted a few years later, one brother moved to Dublin and opened a briar and meerschaum shop. Charles Peterson, a Latvian crafstman was hired to make pipes. After the business was inherited by two minor sons, Charles Peterson bought their share and established the Kapp & Peterson brand. In 1891 the System Pipe patent was awarded to Charles Peterson. The famous p-lip patent from 1898 originated from this period. After the death of the original partners (Kapp & Peterson), the company went through different owners. Since 1995 it belongs to Tom Palmer.
The most famous Petersons pipes in my opinion, is the "System Pipes", originating back to the registered patent since the 1890's. Other than the System pipes, Petersons has many different varieties, designs and quality pipes, which can be seen on their website. The 'Dry System' pipe has a small reservoir which collect moisture before it reaches the smoker. This ensures a cool, sweet and dry smoke with minimal to no tongue bite. The Peterson Lip (p-lip) patent is designed with the whole on the top of the mouthpiece to direct the smoke to the roof of the mouth, thus avoiding tongue bite.
Whether you like them or not, Petersons are good pipes, good value for money. The only possible drawback of the patented "systems" of Petersons are; the directed smoke prevents tongue bite, but can cause tender mouth at the "roof" of the mouth where the smoke arrives due to the p-lip. Also, it can be difficult to clean a Petersons due to its system - pipe cleaners easily et stuck in them. The p-lip does however make clenching much more easier.
I have heard of the famous Pietenpauw pipes, a local pipe maker in South Africa. As with Goussard Pipes, Piet-en-Pauw pipes are exquisite pipes; well known pipe carver. You will not be disappointed.
In 1876 Achille Savinelli Sr. opened one of the first shops in the world selling exclusively smoking accessories and pipes in Milan. His two brothers followed him soon afterwards with a similar shop in Genoa. Both shops were successful and were quickly known because of their good quality and service. In 1920 Carlo Savinelli, son of Achille Savinelli took over his father's shop. He began to collaborate with pipe craftsmen and started to sell the first pipes which were branded "Savinelli". But it was only the next generation, Carlo’s son, Achille Savinelli Jr who expanded the brand and started to produce under the name of Savinelli. Soon afterwards, Savinelli began gaining a reputation as some of the most unique and liked pipes world wide. Today, Savinelli is one the biggest pipe factories in the world and is now owned by Giancarlo Savinelli, son of Achille Jr. Many pipe collectors will have at leat one Savinelli not only for the historical value of the brand, but also for the design and function of the pipe. The original Savinelli pipe shows a remarkable similarity with pipes from Dunhill pipes (specifically the Punto d'Oro series). The shape is classical and mainly based on the English briar pipe shapes.
The De luxe Milano sits under the Giubileo and the Punto Oro, but above the Oscar, Extra, Sherwood, and Capri series. Apparently, this series was "Fancy" designs, which was mainly brought on the scene by the Danish pipe design style, which took off from the mid 1980's. With a Milano, you can always count on a great grain and finish, but with a couple of minor fills. The brass bar inlay on the stem is also characteristic of those days
Another range is the Primo Fumo. The Primo Fumo translates to the “first smoke”. This pipe is an excellent pipe for a beginner, stepping up into quality pipes like Savinelli. This pipe show lots of hardwood and have a filling on the bowl with an acrylic mouthpiece. It comes with a 6mm Teflon peg, which can be removed for a Savinelli balsa filter. It is a really nice light pipe for a quick smoke, not in the same quality as the other two but a typical good Savinelli.
After much trial and error, Savinelli introduces their "Dry System" in 1981. This system ensures a cool dry smoke by combining the trap and balsa filter and enlarging the smoke hole. It has also the famous Petersons "smokehole on the top" mouthpiece which not only ensures that moist is not deposited into your mouth, but also directs the smoke away from the tongue, preventing "tongue bite". These pipes can also be smoked without the balsa filter in which case the moisture will condense and collect in the trap. Obviously, the balsa filter assist in absorbing the moisture.
The Savinelli Sigla (Autograph series) has brought an entirely new look and feel to the Savinelli brand. The Sigla series pipes are one of the high-end lines produced by Savinelli. These freehand pipes are meant to be slightly abbreviated versions of the Autograph series, putting them in a more affordable price range. They are made from the finest briar and some of the most impressive pipes made by Savinelli. These pipes are created according to the characteristics of the raw material: the briar, and as a consequence their shapes are affected by the necessity and the creativeness. The Autograph series are imprinted with the “Savinelli” signature and has the removable balsa wood filter. The free hand pipes (Autograph, VIP, Artisan, Sigla and Briar) are created according to the characteristics of the briar, and as a consequence their shapes are affected by the necessity and the creativeness. They are therefore quite unique.
The Extra Dry 603 as the inscription (Savinelli) on the left in an oval and "Extra Dry" with the classic symbol of Savinelli. The mouthpiece is coloured meth acrylate.
Stanwell is a world-renowned Danish pipe brand. Stanwell was started by Poul Nielsen after WW II, using beech wood (due to unavailability of briar) to make pipes for Danish customers. He later adopted "Stanwell" to compete with the English pipes (in contrast to "Nielsen" pipes). Nielsen also used well-known Danish designers (like Ivarsson) and built a reputation of creative and exquisite Danish designs. They have built up a worldwide reputation of consistently producing great pipes! Taking into account that they are factory made pipes, Stanwell is arguably the best factory produced pipe in the world because Stanwell combines modern factory technology with unique designs. Stanwell's goal is to consistently make high quality pipes at a price everyone can afford and they are achieving that to this day.
Stanwell did however, closed its manufacturing plant in Denmark and moved to Italy. Now, Barontini is producing the pipes but the brand is managed from their head office. It looks like the main reason for this is the "anti-smoking" campaign as there pipe sales have dropped from 125,000 units in the 1995's to 60,000.
Some Stanwell pipes are stamped on the underside with “Stanwell Regd. No. 969-48 Bench Made in Denmark 11”. This particular stamping was used from 1948 until the early 1970's. The indication of the Stanwell trademark registration number (Regd.Nr.949-48) was terminated in the early 1970s. The pipe has the stalk white "S" logo with the crown. This marking is only found after 1960 which was later replaced by copper, and silver. Up until the early 1960's only the top pipes, e.g. “Hand Cut” had the stem/mouthpieces stamped with the Stanwell logo of a crown over “S”. The standard pipes may or may not be stamped with the “S” logo without the crown. Further, the “Stanwell” stamp in script dates to the 1950s. The Stanwell logo progressed from:
- “S” in white paint;
- crown “S” in white paint;
- brass crown “S” and finally;
- silver crown “S”.
The Stanwell Royal Guard is a series of pipes that follows a more sober traditional design but in quality, first class! They have excellent grain and polished to accentuate the quality and contrasts of the grain.
The OSS series from Stanwell is seeminlgy designed for Stanwell by Tom Eltang. . This is a very scarce pipe with non-standard markings like B and V.
Like Italian and Danish pipes, I'm interested in French pipes because of the rich history of French pipes - somehow I got the impression that the tradition of pipe making in France has a similar rich in tradition than those in Italy and Danish pipes. But, contrary to Danish & Italian pipes, it seems as if French pipes are not that popular or well-known. Henri Vuillard started his manufacturing operation in St.Claude, France, about 1887. At first, he was manufacturing boxes for matches and spectacles. It was only later that pipes were being manufactured. For the following 100 years, the shop was passed down through the family line until the Cuty-Fort Group (Chacom, Lacroix, Jeantet and Ropp pipes merged under one roof) took over control of the company in 1988. Over the years, Vuillard became one of the most popular French pipe brands. It is said that Vuillard pipes were even issued to French army troops during the first World War. Like all pipe makers, Vuillard pipes come in many shapes and sizes. They have earned a reputation for being some of the best quality of French pipes, made from the best briar around and is till today, distinguished by the distinctive white “V” nomenclature. Memoirs of his son is available here.