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1998 Talbert Signature #1998-01TB 

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 Price: $SOLD
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The quick story - I've recently gotten hold of a large cache of my older pipes as part of a generous gift to help us pay my wife's cancer surgery expenses. Over the next weeks, I'll be gradually posting them as I get them cleaned, inspected, etc. Many of these pipes are NEW and UNSMOKED and have been part of a display collection, sometimes for as much as 20 years!

This particular pipe is an estate piece, though it's only been smoked lightly at most - The interior was virtually clean and the only hint of prior use is the faint edge of rim darkening on the bowl rim.

I am, to put it mildly, boggled to see this pipe again. I'm pretty sure this was the first Signature grade pipe I ever made, and it forced me to create the grade because it went so far off the reservation, as they say... I'd been doing a lot of classic shapes, or classic-derived shapes, and with this I wanted to try something very different and pick a briar block with really unusual grain, then shape it TO that grain. In short, to let the natural flow of the grain create the shape of the bowl. The trick was to also keep it functional, with decent bowl design, a straight airhole, etc. It was a scary but exciting project because I literally had no idea what I would get - The shape was unfolding before me as I worked the cutting wheel and kept an eye on the grain flow within the block. This sort of outlook would eventually go on to morph into our Goblin pipes, which are shaped in much the same way.

When I was done with it, I realized it needed some special designation to differentiate it from my regular production of bulldogs and whatnot, so I conceived the idea of the Signature Grade - Pipes that were a lot more time consuming and often far afield in styling from my usual work. The idea originally was that I would hand-sign all of these, and the shank of this pipe has my first hand-signature. It's a fairly scratchy mess, really, and it's pretty much taken me the last 20 years to get halfway good at hand engraving, but it's the first, so it's a little piece of Talbert workshop history.

Looking at it now, I see a dozen things I'm tempted to restyle, reshape, improve, etc, but I've chosen to leave it entirely original on the exterior, only doing a few internal tweaks to the stem and bit for better airflow. This pipe, in itself, carries the original seeds that would eventually become not only our Goblins, but also our Halloween Pipes and twenty years' worth of more exotic and unusual freehands.