Every now and then I come across what I can only describe as a truly interesting cutty pipe. Mostly I find my cutty pipes on Ebay or Etsy and occasionally through the various pipe forums I belong too. On even rarer occasions these days I stumble into pipes at 'Car Boot Sales' when visiting the UK although with the advent of Ebay every piker wanting to make a pound from garbage picking has an Ebay account so flea market finds in the UK are getting rarer. I was very pleasantly surprised when I stumbled across this pipe which surfaced on Ebay with a $50 price tag and no bidders. This really didn't surprise me since the carry case had certainly seen better days and the pipe was missing its amber stem and the bone tenon that connects the bowl to the stem was totally mashed up. What interested me was the silver work on the bowl cap and the stem that had been added either as reinforcements or an effort to make the pipe more appealing to the Victorian buyer. The shank band as can be seen contains the dedication 'Xmas 1881' and whilst I am unsure if the bowl cap was added at the same time or as a later repair the end result is quite visually pleasing. In common with all pipes of this age the bowl contained the predictable 'butt plug' in the form of a shirt button wedged at the bottom of the bowl to act as a filter and coloring device. Attempts to extract this were frustrated by the 1/8 inch carbon build up inside the bowl that I started to remove with an iron blade and then decided to leave to the wonders of Mr. Rick down at Briarville and his team of miracle workers.
Moving on I have now sent the pipe off to Briarville to have the bowl reamed out and the offending button removed which I will then add to my 'butt plug' museum of crap I find in old pipes. After a new tenon has been fitted along with a faux amber yellow stem as opposed to the tortoise shell ones that I usually favor the pipe should look tip top. The case I am afraid will have to be sent to a gentleman in Turkey who is now helpfully making cases for my pipes. I am optimistic thatI can get him to advertise his services here on my blog as I am forever being asked where to get old cases mended or redone. The Chicago pipe show has come and gone which may have been the last one in its current pre-FDA form but I will blog about this later in the week work time permitting. The new FDA regulations arrived this week which certainly have won the Kim Jong-Un award for the most undemocratic set of regulations ever combined with the 2016 Boris Yeltsin Crony Capitalism Award for handing over the whole e-cigarette business to Big Tobacco. I will look at this in greater detail in the coming week and give you my views on the unfolding nightmare that is about to engulf our peaceful hobby.