Biz News – I’ve just added a new natural, unstained smooth Ligne Bretagne to the LB catalog, the first of what I hope will be a steady stream over the next few weeks. It’s the rear pipe in this week’s photo. The billiard may already be sold, before ever reaching the catalog…

In a recent conversation with a collector/friend (Well, actually not “recent” by most people’s standards… I think it was something like five or six months ago, but that’s the sort of lag time I write under), he expressed the opinion that classical shapes were coming back, and would be the Big Thing this year. He feels the market is over-saturated with high-end Danish shapes and organic designs in general, and believes the buying public will start turning back to billiards and bulldogs.

I think he may be right.

We’ve had a HUGE explosion in the number of pipemakers over recent years, and everyone seems to be determined to shoot for the horn/blowfish/Danish styling theme. I always feel just a bit awkward making such pipes, as if I’m trading on someone else’s blueprints, and I think (with the best objective view of my own work as I can manage) that I do my best in schizophrenic poles – either completely fantasy-oriented, original Talbert shapes, or my renditions of the classics like pokers and bulldogs. I don’t know… Others might not agree. But I can posit one observation I’ve drawn over the past six to eight months – Our classical shapes here are selling FAST. Much faster than freehands. While a swooped and curved fantasy piece that would have been an instant sell a year ago might sit for a week before finding a buyer, every classical-shape Talbert that I’ve put on the site has sold within the first hour, often the first few minutes of sending the email notice.

The same phenomenon seems to happen with the Ligne Bretagnes too – We can’t keep any inventory of straight bulldogs and billiards, and our only stock now are some more unusual pear shapes. LBs have seen a rather startling sales explosion this year so it may not be a related factor, but it’s still odd. I won’t mind if this does become a trend, since I very much enjoy doing classical shapes. It’s funny how my preferences have changed with time – These days I find just as much creative satisfaction in subtle details like the shank-to-bowl length, or the silhouette view (Being able to see the departure of the stem from the shank lines in silhouette is a crime against elegance, IMO).

Perhaps it’s my imagination. Perhaps it’s the phase of the planets. Perhaps collectors are responding on some inner level to our current global financial uncertainties by yearning more towards the familiar shapes of the nostalgic past. Maybe our ten billion Baby Boomer buyers have gotten tired of splashy pipes and want the styles they remember dad smoking in the 50’s. It doesn’t really matter to me either way – I’m happy making any sort of pipes, really – but I’ll be curious to see if 2008 marks the start of a classical shape renaissance in the world of the pipe.

Categories: Pipe Blog

10 Comments

Anonymous · March 25, 2008 at 8:36 pm

While enjoying one-off shapes- organic, geometric, and freehand, the classic shapes provide a long history of pipe consciousness in the minds of the general public and pipe collectors. This history creates a frame of reference, thus familiarity and comfort.

Adding to what Trevor says about the recent plethora of new pipe carvers following the more Danish-style, and some wondering out load where all the one-off shapes are going in the long run, I do think classic shapes interpreted by carvers such as Trevor are headed for a certain equality to those pipes produced by more well-known northern European makers.

I concur with the prediction for a favorable market for well-finished, very smokeable classic-shaped pipes.

My favorite Talbert Briar is a billiard owned by Cliff. A splendid pipe I “covet”.

Anonymous · March 25, 2008 at 6:45 pm

Not me also, Trever.

I actually not even sure that the term “classical” is that appropriate. Why are we calling them classical? Just because they happened to be on the Dunhill chart some 80 years ago? There were pipes made long before then.

I do believe, however, that simple shapes form a basis (point zero) for many pipemakers and each one of them is a perfect opportunity for modifications and improvements and just variations. It’s the interesting variations that I, personally, find appealing and telling about the carver’s creativity.

A perfect simple shape makes a good smoking pipe in most cases, I agree. But a machine can make it too, not?

Respectfully,
Naum

Unknown · March 25, 2008 at 5:30 pm

Billiards can be beautiful. Not all billiards : many of them leave me indifferent.
I, for one, revel in Dunhill’s LBs (Large Billiards, not Ligne Bretagne). I am sure I could draw the same enjoyment from Talbert’s interpretation of the shape.
The same quest, and the same talent, can be witnessed in a so-called classical shape as in an unprecedented one.

Anonymous · March 24, 2008 at 2:51 am

Trever, I really like the new look and feel (loads much faster on my dial up) of your blog!

I must be out of phase with the buying public but I still prefer med. large pipes and more adventurous takes on classic shapes and beyond!

Ed Anderson

Jean André · March 23, 2008 at 9:22 pm

It’s maybe symptomatic of a current and punctual phenomenon.
I do not believe in a sort of “revolution”, as such where the smokers tired by the Danish classicism for example would not swear more than by Billiards or Bulldogs to the last century, but effectively in a false return to basics where smokers and collectors would feel reassured by acquiring classic models.
I think that the “classics” forms have never stopped existing for 150 years, they maybe became more ” popular “, ” democratic ” in the sense where they found refuge, often, too often (?) among the industrial brands.

Great work on the new blog.

Bonne pipe
J.A.

Trever-T · March 23, 2008 at 6:47 pm

I do believe that eventually I’ll be at least setting up more info on Facebook. The overwhelming votes so far have been that Facebook doesn’t matter and no one knows what Twitter is, but I keep thinking back to the late 90’s when I was setting up my first pipe website and all the pipe shop folks were telling me that was a complete waste of time too, that people would never buy a pipe off the internet! 😉

sethile · March 22, 2008 at 2:07 pm

Nice work on the new blog, Trevor, looks great!

I’m also sorting out what kind of presence to keep on FaceBook and/or Twitter. So far Facebook wins–it seems more mainstream and very compelling to College Students. Seems to be lots of pipe groups and I’m just starting to explore those. Twitter seems more compelling with techies, and perhaps it’s more controllable, in terms of taking over ones life. I like the idea of adding a feed on my web site. I’ll be interested in what you end up doing.

My problem is I have a foot in several different camps. Professionally I have pipe making, music, and piano work. Then there are other interests, like literature, theology, family and friends. I’m not sure if and how to integrate them all into a unified presence on Web 3.0, or if that will even be productive.

Fumeurs de Pipe · March 20, 2008 at 9:30 am

Ayant été tagué par Peintre, j’ai le regret de t’ annoncer que tu as été tagué à ton tour. Tu es “invité” à raconter six choses sans importance à ton sujet. Libre à toi d’y donner suite… et de taguer à ton tour six blogueurs 😉

Bonne Pipe
Guillaume

Anonymous · March 20, 2008 at 4:11 am

Trevor I would agree with your observations. I love the classics. I love the fact that artisans like yourself are adding your own style to them.

Anonymous · March 19, 2008 at 10:46 pm

Tired of splashy pipes? Not in this household (and I hope not in yours). Those are the shapes I admire most. Keep on cranking them out.

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