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Talbert 'Old Sea Captain' #1613T 

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 Price: $SOLD
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Note for the curious - I got experimental with the photography here. Solid black pipes sometimes look better on a white background instead of using the darker background and more direct light. Out of curiosity, above I've presented to you both, white shots and dark shot. Feel free to write in and let me know which you prefer!

Someone recently asked me, "What shape is an Old Sea Captain?" and on reflection, I regard OSC's more as a mood than as a specific shape. My guidelines are - Straight, classical shape, very unusual stem, and a black blast that's so extreme it looks like it's been weathered by sea winds for a hundred years. That fits this pipe perfectly. I wanted something more unusual than a normal straight Dublin so it has a pencil-stem and a bit more bowl cant, in the style of traditional clay pipes from the 16th century to current day - Very suitable for the sort of pipe to be smoked by the captain of a ghost ship.... At the same time, however, at heart it's a straight Dublin - About as conventional & classical a shape as one can get. But I don't think anyone will ever call this pipe "conventional"...!

The stem is handcut from a small stock I have of 1930's-era swirled vulcanite rod - I bought them back in France and have been trying to stretch the stock out as long as possible. I'm guessing I have maybe 6-8 more stems' worth of this material and then it's all gone for good. It's beautiful stuff, and different in color and swirl from today's cumberland-type rod stock. It's a blend of three colors, black, tan/orange, and yellow/sand in delicate streaks, and it polishes to a beautiful gloss. The ring is zebrano wood, capped at each end with polished brass rings.

*BTW, speaking of the stem, someone was asking if I could snap a pic of the slot ends of my stems, and I've finally remembered to do so in the photo below. I favor a nice wide V that can easily accept a fluffy pipecleaner from bit to bowl.

The bowl and the blast, however, are the real stars here. Sandblasting an Old Sea Captain is an afternoon's work, using seriously high pressure and aggressive media, and has taken many years of practice to get good at because the blasting is so strong that I can essentially shape the bowl with the blaster. This allows for some amazing surface texture but also can go badly wrong in a heartbeat if I'm not careful. I think the results are well worth it, though, when they look like this - The gnarled age rings look as if they've been mummified, almost... Weathered to a nearly burned, horror movie level that exposes the bare skeletal structure of the briar that's hidden beneath the surface. It's about as close as I get to a Halloween Pipe version of a classical shape and it's a positive joy to hold, as it feels like a piece of worn ocean coral.