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1997 Talbert Saruman 

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 Price: $975
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Click the currency icon at left to calculate estimated price in your currency. Taxes and shipping costs will be calculated during the check-out process. Non-US buyers are responsible for all customs fees incurred in their country. "Out of Stock" messages during check-out mean that the pipe has already sold, but I have not yet updated the catalog page to reflect its "Sold" status. Shipping costs for items over $400 automatically include the cost for full insurance of the item during transit.

And here we are at the end of the refurbished old pipes, with the one that's probably the most "historic" of the bunch. I've had a terrific time going through all of these older pipes, and they've made all the difference for our ability to pay the bills throughout my wife's surgeries. It's sad to come to the last one! But, I've been saving this one till the last, as it's got the most "weight" in terms of being a foundational part of the start of Talbert Pipes. It literally started the business.

Way back when I made the pipe in '97, I decided to see if I could make a bit of side income with this pipes thing, and had a local B&M shop put it in their display case for sale. It sat for one week and they called to ask me to take it back home, that it "wasn't selling." I was undeterred because I really felt like there was a market out there for more fantasy and fantastical pipe styles, if I could just reach them... and coincidentally, there was this new "internet thing" getting popular. All the traditional pipe people hated the internet because it was new, and there was always talk that no one would ever buy a pipe they hadn't handled in person first... BUT. I was confident that posting a lot of photos and giving a moneyback guarantee would make a few sales and I sat down and wrote up the first version of the Talbert Pipes website in HTML, in a text editor.

When it was ready, I posted this pipe and two others to the website and advertised it on Alt.Smokers.Pipes, and all three sold within the first few hours. I realized really quickly that I was onto something, and that was the start of Talbert Pipes as a brand, which has continued these past 22 years to today. So, whoever buys this pipe will be buying the first commercial pipe I ever sold (I made some prior to this but gave them away as Christmas gifts to friends).

Regarding the styling, I was working in a vacuum - There was nothing like the profusion of exotic and wild styles online to refer to as there is today, so I was largely on my own to decide what I liked, stylistically. I really liked the look of cutting the pipe to match the grain, and I also deliberately employed a good bit of visual trickery - I wanted it to look unlike any other pipe I'd seen before, ergo the joined shank and bowl, and also the crazy assembly of curves and angles - There is not a straight line on the entire bowl & shank, and even the central axis is an optical illusion caused by the curved bowl rim. To put the stem in straight and have the bowl point upward instead of being tilted, the stem needs to be aligned to the centered airhole in the bowl bottom, as shown in the diagram pic above.

All of the above was born from the literary inspiration for the pipe, that most shifty and suspicious wizard Saruman from the LOTR trilogy. It wasn't anywhere close to becoming a movie yet, and it was long before everyone and their brother began cashing in with "wizard" pipes copied from the movies' designs. I was simply making pipes that I felt suited the characters who inspired them, like my Hobbit pipe which was solid, round, and simple, with nary an offset curve or pointy bit in sight... just like the Hobbits themselves.

I realize this is a long description, but wait, there's more! Bringing this pipe back to smoking health became a much more elaborate project than I'd intended - So elaborate, in fact, that it got its own complete Pipe Blog entry detailing the process if giving this pipe a stem that would work properly.

The pipe comes with the original signed scroll I made to go with it (A minor miracle that this has survived with the pipe all these years) along with a printout (from Netscape Navigator of all things) of the first Usenet posts by the happy buyer back in 1998. Also, a pipe stand, which is needed because this bizarro shape doesn't like most round-bottomed pipe stands.

Whoever buys it will be getting a foundational piece of Talbert Pipes history!