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Mastro de Paja

June 16, 2009

Milano 005 (1) That should be all the introduction necessary for this pipe. Even if you don’t speak Italian. I was in Milan for the weekend and visited Cosimo and Leonardo at Al Pascia at Via Torino 61, very close to the magnificent Duomo Cathedral. I spent a glorious hour there, looking at a collection of pipes that boggles the mind and makes one wish one was a millionaire. My wife, understanding my passion for this sort of thing, tactfully left us to get on with it.

Mastro de Paja 2Alas, I am not a millionaire, but I can feel like one while I smoke this gorgeous Mastro. Perfectly engineered and beautifully decorated with the faux spigot, this delightfully grained pipe is a joy to own and use. The pipe is stamped on the left hand side with “Mastro de Paja” “Fatta a mano” (Hand made). The underside of the bowl is marked “Per Al Pascia”.
On the right hand side of the bowl is stamped “Pesaro” together with the sought after Sun stamp. The silver on the shank is also stamped with the Mastro signature and the stem is further decorated with a round silver badge.

Mastro de Paja 1

This pipe is so well balanced that it will hang by the button on the mouthpiece from my lower teeth without my having to bite down on it with the upper dental equipment. The mouthpiece is 20 mm wide and 8 mm thick at the button.

The maker of this pipe decided not to give it a full spigot and opted for  a traditional stem fitting and placed a silver sleeve to give the impression of a spigot pipe. A beautiful piece of intelligent camouflage, as true spigots have a nasty habit of shaking loose during use. The effect of that happening with a bent pipe is obvious. Imagine dropping this magnificent piece of briar onto a hard surface.

IMG_3167

I took the first opportunity I could to smoke this masterpiece and filled it for the first time in the late afternoon on returning to our hotel. I sat in the little garden with a cup of coffee and enjoyed my new pipe in the shade of a creeping vine, which covered the pergola around me, offering some protection from the sun and the 28 degrees heat of the late afternoon. I shall never forget that simple experience in the heart of Milan. “Black Mallory” never tasted so good or smoked so well. The pipe smoked to the bottom of the bowl and returned nothing more than a fine grey ash.

And, for the guys at Al Pascia, many thanks for a memorable hour in your company, the pipe and your kindness. This pipe will be the pride of my collection. I truly hope that we meet again.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Highstump permalink
    June 20, 2009 16:34

    A beauty of a pipe indeed. I have two Mastros in the rotation and both are great smokers. Enjoy it good health.
    Jim

    Thanks Jim.
    Exile.

  2. Kypros Christodoulides permalink
    June 20, 2010 23:55

    There is something about these Mastro pipes that when you look at your pipe rack they invite you to have a go at them, every time.
    I only have one and always try to look the other way so i give it a rest of at least one day in the rotation order.
    Lucky me, yesterday i was serfing through e-bay and instead of typing mastro, i accidentally typed maestro, and there it appears, a beautiful mastro hardly ever smoked with a buy it now price of 39.99 pounds. A beautiful full bent with the most excuisite rustication. You’ve guessed it, i couldn’t have acted fast enough and now I’m the proud owner (if it arrives) of a second mastro that will also look at me in the eyes every time i want to fill a pipe up, but now i can put both of them on rotation and do away with the guild that i smoke my mastro too much.

    How lucky can you get? Congratulations on a second Mastro. I hope it’s a delight to smoke. Mine are!
    Exile.

  3. Kypros Christodoulides permalink
    June 28, 2010 17:23

    This morning a notice of arrival came from the post office and as i was expecting various things i didn’t know what to expect.
    Well there it was my beautiful second mastro with an excuisite ring of rare wood at the end of the stem, right before my very eyes.
    I inspected it right there and it is in near perfect condition save for two tiny teethmarks on the bottom side of the stem which one barely notices if one doesn’t know they are there. I cleaned the little accumulation of cake right there outside the post office , went home sterilised the stem and gave it a go . First impression is that it smokes cool and dry never goes out but there is a persisting ghost in there and as i don’t smoke latakias i did the professors’ exorcising treatment.
    Now i now what to expect in the first few smokes, so no more complains from me untill the mastro had a thorough breaking in period and according to Keiths’ prophetic wisdom, PATIENCE PAYS OF.

    Indeed it does Kypros. Good luck with your new pipe. I’d like to see a photo..?
    Exile.

  4. Kypros Christodoulides permalink
    July 9, 2010 00:53

    Hello everyone in owr pipe smoking fraternity, Hi Keith, I’ve got news about the new Mastro. As expected, it is now a great smoker, even better than my first Mastro. I’m so pleased with it that I gave it the place of honour, sitting on its own on an individual stand next to my first Mastro. It hangs nicely from the mouth without ripping any teeth out or dislockading necks, it does hold an appreciable amount of tobacco which makes it smoke for an hour or so. I have e-mailed the seller to thank him, a British gentleman Who promptly directed me to his e-bay sale of an other Mastro which I dutyfully bought on the spot. It’s not as excuisitely looking as my other two, or as cheap, but described as a great smoker nevertheless.( I’ll send a picture as usuall).
    Now I think I have enough Mastros to enjoy, but i have just remembered that the old Caminetto business pipes (pre 1978) are the best or so smokers in the world. The ones that were made by Ascorti and Ratice, not the current ones), I have placed a bid on one ending later tonight, a peculiarly attractive shape,( I’m sure Keith will like the shape) It will be a good comparison in case I won.
    I do not want to be coming accross as a pipe freak collector, but I only have about 30 pipes and I need to build up my collection to about twice as many in order to have an adequate rotation choice.

    Having seen the pictures I can understand your interest in the Caminetto. That will probably be a good pipe. I didn’t realise you liked full bent pipes. Or is this a “one of a kind” for your collection?
    Congratulations on the Mastro. I have never heard anything negative about them.
    Exile.

  5. Kypros Christodoulides permalink
    July 9, 2010 23:32

    Both my Mastros plus the one I bought two days ago are bent but not as much as this caminetto business, which by the way i have won at about $60 plus $25 for shipping. At some strange coincidence i opened my eyes at 5.00am this morning and having nothing better to do i followed the auction. There was a second bid $5 higher than my starting bid five seconds before closure, but my reserve was higher than that , so i won. I wouldn’t normally choose a full bent pipe given the choice, but on the other hand i find them convenient if they are not heavy and can hang from the mouth while my hands are full doing something .
    Caminettos of that particular era are considered to be the best smoking pipes in the world, although I would take this statement with a pinch of salt, but I’ll put this statement to the test when and if the pipe arrives.
    Of-course you can expect a full report on it.

    Thanks Kypros. I’ll look forward to your report.
    Exile.

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