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Old Wood – New Pipe

March 31, 2009

I was very fortunate the other day. I found someone selling some very old pipes. Nothing new in that you might say, there are a thousand of them on Ebay every day. And you would be right. The difference here is, that these pipes are unsmoked. Which makes them new. From 1920 odd. How about that? Talk about air dried briar. These pipes are nearly ninety years old. And I still haven’t gotten round to filling them up and smoking their first charge of tobacco in that long and pristine life. They were found in an attic in Germany after the death of a tobacconist. They have been in that family for a long time. I assume, it was a family business.

Pair Both pipes have a French feel about them. I believe they were made in St. Claude, the home and birthplace of briar pipes. One is marked “Racine Bruyere Extra”. There was a pipemaker, Olivier Racine. This could be one from his workshop. I have a hard time with this though, as racine is also French for root. But I like to think it is a Racine, with a capital “R”. The second is not stamped in any way with a name. Merely “Bruyere Garantie”, which is absolutely French and supports my St. Claude theory. The pipe makers of St. Claude were a humble lot. Everyone was in on the business. The entire village population was involved in one way or another. No need for a carvers name, as just the town’s name was enough. At that time, the “Bruyere Garantie” stamp was its own passport and absolute credential.

Racine2 The larger “Racine” pipe is fitted with an aluminium inner tube, much like the Dunhill pipes of the same name. Inner Tube. This was designed as a channelling device for the smoke, allowing any tar or other goo to collect in the shank. One has to boil these inner tubes occasionally to free them from carbon and tar build up. Both pipes have horn stems and, what I believe to be, bone tenons. There are no marks or damage on either pipe. The airways on both pipes are wide open. The engineering is a little naive but very good. Solid handiwork all the way through. Both pipes are decorated with low grade silver rings which have taken on a copperish hue after the long years in the attic. I will not be trying to polish these rings to a silver shine. They appear almost golden to the naked eye. Please note, I have not needed to polish these two at all. They are as new.

I may part with one of them at a later date. I am not sure yet. I believe that I will definitely keep the Racine. It is large and heavy enough to be interesting and I will probably end up loving the old thing to death. Horn between the teeth is a new feeling altogether and cannot be compared easily to vulcanite or acrylic stems. I absolutely adore the old buttons on the stems. Large enough to be comfortable but without being so large as to make me salivate uncontrollably. The old pipe makers obviously knew their stuff.

Enough said, I will leave you with the pictures. Enjoy them as much as I do.

Now then, where do I find some ninety year old tobacco…?

Racine4 Bruyere1

9 Comments leave one →
  1. highstump permalink
    April 2, 2009 00:50

    Congratulations on acquiring these “new” pipes. They are fine looking pieces indeed. I look forward to reading about the first smoke in these pipes, assumeing you plan to share the experience of course.

    Of course I will. How could one not share that unique experience?

  2. July 20, 2009 07:54

    Thank you for a great blog, I will be sure to bookmark your site and check later… Usually I don’t leave a comment but I wanted to let you know that I really like your site 🙂

  3. Anthony V. permalink
    August 30, 2009 21:36

    I really like this blog. Good job.

  4. September 10, 2009 17:44

    You were very fortunate to find such great pipes of that age, in that condition – and unsmoked. Enjoy your first smoke, I look forward to reading about it.

  5. May 6, 2011 11:06

    Great blog!
    feel free to visit my Norwegian blog:)

    Thank you Sir!. I will indeed visit.

  6. Xtian permalink
    May 8, 2011 00:58

    Amazing blog sir, and excellent choice of topic. I have a few question about a very old pipe carved from a grey material like stone, but it feels brittle. She has a metal stem, that I cannot determine its compound, possibly white gold or silver. The head and bowl are one piece, and is carved into an elephant that I believe to be indian in design,still it is very tribal looking…could you guide me to an identifier or site that someone knows? I could email a picture to you if that would help.

    I’m afraid pictures wouldn’t help me much. It probably is a stone pipe, but I have no idea when it comes to geology! I would also expect it to be Indian or Indonesian in origin. To narrow it down to “maker” would be impossible. Enjoy it for the curiosity it is and, if possible, enjoy smoking it.

  7. March 19, 2012 16:33

    I just purchased a Bruyere Garantie & it’s beautiful with a knarrly wood marking on the bowl. Stunning smoke after having it salt cleaned. Polished to perfection. It’s one of my better pipes.
    Thanks for your post

    And thank you for reading it Sir. Congratulations on finding a nice pipe.
    I’d love to see a picture..??

  8. January 12, 2013 18:18

    Good day! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be okay. I’m undoubtedly enjoying your blog
    and look forward to new updates.

    Sorry but no, I don’t use twitter. If I have anything to write about, I do it here. Glad that you enjoy the blog and now that we’ve turned the corner into a new year, I’ll get cracking on the updates.

  9. lizzyanne permalink
    April 13, 2013 19:10

    me and my son found an old bit of a pipe on the beach ( looking at the pics on here it is like the whole bottom bit or bowl as you call it its is a brown colour but think is made from some kind of clay looks like something i have only ever seen in a museum ) how would be determine the age of this and if any worth ?

    I fear there is no way of dating it. Some clay pipes do have makers marks on them and that may give you a lead but fragments are generally undatable unless they are found in connection with something archaeological. The brown colouring could well be the tobacco oils that stained the clay. Strangely, if one places a stained clay in hot coals, it turns white again. Treasure it for what it is, a remnant of a past life. Commercial value? Doubtful, at best.

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