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Estate Talbert Briar #98-01TB 

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 Price: $SOLD
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This one was a real challenge to price and decide how to handle, because while it's an estate pipe in well-smoked condition, it's also a crucial bit of Talbert Pipes history. In fact, I've only got one other pipe here in these older ones that outranks it in terms of significance, and that one is the first pipe I ever sold. This pipe, however, was one of the first six pipes that I opened the Talbert Pipes website with back in 1998, just a couple months after leaving my old fulltime job and jumping headfirst into the world of professional pipecarving.

Back then, there was virtually no online pipe scene like there is today, and the majority of the hobby chat took place on Usenet. After winning P&T Magazine's first carving contest, I'd started to seriously wonder if it would be possible to make a living at this pipecarving thing, and so I made three pipes and took them to a local pipe shop. There they sat for a week on the shelf, doing nothing, until the owner phoned me to come get them back. I brought them home and put them on the internet and sold all three that day - and kept the full price of each for myself. A potent lesson in the world of pipes, pricing, wholesaling, and the shift from brick & mortar shops. Most people walking into the shop were after $35 pipes and a bulk bag of 1Q, but the internet had introduced me to the world of high grade collectors and it was obvious from the start that that was the kind of work I wanted to do. A lot of guys talked a lot about how they'd never buy a pipe online, about how you had to "hold it in your hands and feel it" to choose a pipe, but I held to my feeling that a tidal shift in online buying was coming and I wanted to be on the leading edge of it.

Thus, rather than call around trying to find distribution and/or shops to place my work, I worked in my office and wrote my first website in HTML text. I should mention that this concept OUTRAGED some of the pipe establishment and I caught quite a lot of flack and hate for it, mainly from pipe distributors who could already feel their business model under threat. Selling direct to buyers just wasn't "The way things were done", but I preferred it, as I liked talking to the customers directly and I felt it gave the whole business a much more personal feel to the collecting community than simply living in a hole and selling a box of pipes to a distributor to wholesale every month.

So... I posted the first version of our website and this was one of the first six pipes that were on it. They all sold quickly, I was able to pay my bills, and the rest was history! Looking at this pipe now, I can see a hundred things wrong with it that I would do better today, but I can't deny that this little pipe is one very huge foundation block for our 20 year old pipe business today.

Now, to its condition... It's been smoked regularly, the bit has teethmarks, and it has a number of light scratches and scuffs across the bowl sides and bottom, most of which are visible in the close-up photos. My impulse was to clean it up completely and refinish it and possibly even make a whole new stem for it, BUT... I know that is absolute anathema to a lot of collectors, who would argue that to retain its value it absolutely must be left in current/original condition, wear marks and all. I've disregarded this and gone ahead and refinished a few of these older pipes, but this one is a little more special than special, and I decided that in this case I would leave it up to the buyer. If you, the buyer, would like the pipe refinished and fully cleaned/reamed/etc, then I can do all of that after purchase for a fee. Contact me and we'll talk about to what extent you would like the pipe refinished. However, otherwise the pipe is being sold As-Is, in original condition plus the scuffs and marks of 20 years of use, which I must admit give the pipe a personality all its own.