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 Your Opinions on Pipe Modifications

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Should there be full disclosure in selling a modified or altered pipe?
I rarely buy estate pipes, for this very reason.
3%
 3% [ 1 ]
This is primarily an ebay problem, which is why I prefer to buy my pipes from a reputable dealer, either online or at a B&M retailer.
11%
 11% [ 4 ]
This is primarily an artisian/collector pipe issue, which doesn't concern me. I'm a smoker, not an investor or collector.
19%
 19% [ 7 ]
If I own a pipe, it is mine to do with as I wish, and I don't owe anyone any explaination, even if I have made the pipe available for sale.
16%
 16% [ 6 ]
Some people take the hobby far too seriously.
16%
 16% [ 6 ]
I would never buy a pipe so expensive, that I would have to worry about this issue. Anyone who purchases pipes as investments, need to have their head examined.
5%
 5% [ 2 ]
This is a serious issue, and we as caretakers owe to to the hobby to give full disclosure when making pipes available for sale.
30%
 30% [ 11 ]
Total Votes : 37
 

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Dutch

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Age : 53
Location : On the road.......
Registration date : 2010-11-06

PostSubject: Your Opinions on Pipe Modifications   Mon Dec 10, 2012 5:55 am

In Neill Archer Roan's most recent blog at "Passion For Pipes, he discusses the issue of pipe modifications, or as he prefers to call it "Pipe Remodeling." I am interested in hearing your thoughts on this issue, as some people are of the belief that pipes should never be modified, particularly if they are artisan or high grade pieces.

I am cutting and pasting Neill's blog for your reading convenience However, I encourage you to click on the link at the bottom of this post, and continue reading the comments left by his blog membership. The discussion gives further food for thought, and makes some valid points on the subject.

-


The Perils of Pipe Remodeling for Buyers and Sellers

Pipes are expensive. Some are very expensive, ranging into the five figures. So, if you are inclined towards assembling what once might have seemed to be a modestly sized collection, it is possible to invest a significant sum of money. If you have amassed a large collection, you can have tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars in your pipe collection. This is real money.

When so much money is involved, it makes sense to exercise care and prudence to protect one’s interests. While there is a folksy, hobbyist culture in the pipe world, there’s nothing trivial about the kind of money changing hands. The simple truth is, while you might smoke and enjoy your pipes as a hobby, when hundreds or thousands or tens of thousands of dollars are represented by your collection, the nature of acquisitions to your collection or selling from your collection cannot help but become a more serious and considered set of transactions.

This post is directed mainly at collectors or those who are considering becoming collectors. The pipe world has changed. It is bigger and it has become more international in scope. The size and nature of transactions within the hobby have changed, too. We now see a marketplace where significantly more money is chasing available high grade pipes. The traditional North American - European marketplace has also expanded its borders. With significantly greater numbers of artisanal and rare factory collectible pipes going to China and Russia, prices have risen markedly.

Any marketplace requires trust to function. Trust depends on the accurate, timely, free, and open flow of information between buyers and sellers. Trust also depends on information equilibrium. Buyers and sellers must have the same information about what is being bought and sold. When what is being bought and sold is expensive as are high-grade pipes, the standards to which we hold ourselves necessarily become elevated because more is at stake.

Rising prices, expanding geographies, and more complex marketplaces cannot help but impact what has been a close-knit community of hobbyists mutually pursuing good times in a transactional paradigm characterized by handshakes and giving one’s word. As lovely as that has been, and as much as we value that culture, $800 tins of tobacco and $50,000 pipes cannot help but force us to adopt more formal and rigorous business practices. Yes, it’s sad, but I have no idea how the Mom and Pop culture can survive these changes.

The pipes we buy and where and how we buy them has introduced challenges and complications into the process. eBay, especially, is problematic. There are legions of ignorant and sometimes out-and-out deceptive sellers selling expensive pipes across borders. It has never been easier to be a victim of an honest mistake, or to be deceived or swindled. One’s only defenses are knowledge, wariness, and a diligent, disciplined buying process.



The Root of the Problem

Pipes change hands often. In the chain of ownership, somebody may alter the pipe and significantly degrade its value by rendering it no longer original. That alteration may be disclosed during the first sale. Maybe it’s disclosed in the second sale. By the third or subsequent sales, the disclosure is unlikely, probably because the seller has no knowledge of the alteration or no real competency to use in judging.

We have all encountered those sellers who have bought pipes at estate sales or found them in Uncle Josiah’s attic. These people know nothing about pipes but hope to convert them to cash. These sellers don’t know and don’t care about authenticity and condition. However, they just might be putting a long-sought-after pipe on the market. So, we have to know. We have to care if we’re going to take a gamble on a dodgy pipe.

If you are a collector, you are probably buying collectibles. Some collectibles are almost problem-free. For example, if you are buying brand new artisan-made pipes directly from a well-known and well-respected artisan, your problems are few. On the other hand, if you are buying patent Dunhills or Comoys, or estates of any kind, it is important to educate yourself so that you can be prudent in your acquisition efforts.

Although pipe hobbyists prefer to think of the pipe world as an island of integrity and bonhomie, it is foolhardy to act like this is how it always is. The pipe world is no better or worse than any other part of society. I’ve learned this lesson the hard way, having been misled and burned several times. So, what I’m trying to do is to share what I’ve learned for your benefit.

Modified Dunhill Shell BilliardI love buying estates, especially valuable old treasures like Comoy Blue Ribands and patent Dunhill Shells. However, I’ve been burned in the process. Imagine how I felt when I spent almost $600 for a birthyear Dunhill patent Shell, only to discover much later that the pipe had been opened up and the smokehole had been modified, rendering the value of the pipe I bought a fraction of what I paid.

The pipe is now only a marginal smoker, More important, the pipe is worth less than a third of what I paid for it. When I bought that pipe, I was enamored by the quality of the sandblast finish, the shape, and the fact that I had finally found a birthyear pipe. I let my excitement get the best of me, and I didn’t know enough to ask the right questions. If I had, I would never have bought that pipe. Had the pipe been completely original, I still would have over-paid, but at least I would have what I sought: an original Dunhill Patent Shell. Don’t repeat my mistakes.

Later on in this article, you will read about civil and criminal penalites for bad behavior. I thought long and hard about addressing the issues inherent as fraud when words like right and wrong seem so much more comfortable and culturally appropriate. I am aware that using a word like fraud is inflammatory. I have no desire to inflame anybody. However, after consulting several lawyers and a judge – and reading the applicable statutes and definitions, myself – I decided that the stakes had sufficiently risen and the issues were of sufficient gravity to justify serious treatment. To any of you whose sensibilities I bruise, please be aware that I have tried to be sensitive.



Tastes and preferences differ.

Not everyone smokes their pipes with the same technique. So, as pipe-smokers, we may have different preferences when it comes to particular engineering features.

The prominent pipe collector and auther, Rick Newcombe, finds that his pipes smoke much better for him when the airway or drafthole dimension is 4.3 millimeters so he either makes that specification when ordering pipes or has his pipes’ airways modifed to that dimension after the fact. Rick has written extensively on this subject; his perspective is well-known.

Although I respect Rick’s point-of-view on airway dimensions, I prefer a 4.0 millimeter airway dimension, personally. More importantly, I believe that pipes should be left in their original configuration and not modified because alteration degrades a valuable object. I feel more strongly when the pipe in question is an historically important pipe like a Sixten Ivarsson, a Jørn Micke, a rare Barling, Dunhill, GBD, Comoy, or BBB. For me, whether the pipe smokes better or not is beside the point; these historical pipes have intrinsic value as historical objects. I recognize that this is just my opinion, however, and that more than a few people might disagree with me.

There is one principle where Rick and I absolutely agree, however. Any alteration made to a pipe must be fully disclosed when it is sold.



Are alterations on the rise?

A typical tapered drill bit. These are used to modify airways.I see evidence that an increasing number of pipe smokers are making after-market alterations to their pipes to improve their smoking quality. These alterations include removing bowl coatings, redrilling airways to open them up, and changing the airway opening profile at the smokehole.

Others are making more radical alterations, such as topping or refinishing pipes. These alterations are usually made in the restoration process. For the purposes of this post, however, I’m focusing on changes to a pipe’s bowl and internals.

Airway modification is usually referred to as “opening up a pipe.” My sense is that an increasing number of people are opening their pipes, perhaps because Rick Newcombe has been such an effective advocate of the results. People are either having their pipes opened up by makers and repairman or doing the opening, themselves.

Different people bring differing skill levels to these “pipe-remodeling” efforts. Some are successful and some are undoubtedly less so. While any pipe-owner has the right to make alterations to his pipe to achieve his smoking goals, if that pipe owner anticipates ever selling that pipe, he also has responsibilities to disclose to any and all potential buyers that the pipe is no longer in its original condition. He has a duty to disclose alterations made to the pipe.



Modifications or alterations are fine so long as they are disclosed.

There’s nothing wrong with altering a pipe so long as you disclose it and recognize that alteration has consequences. This is why the eminent collector Rich Esserman suggested in a past issue of The Pipe Collector that any altered pipe be stamped so that its altered condition can be readily determined by a buyer. If this is done, I have no problem with someone making alterations to an object they own.

However, any collector who orders an alteration, e.g. opening up a pipe, should know that there are two costs associated with it: 1) the cost of the work done and; 2) the reduced value of the object resulting from a second-party alteration which renders the object no longer original. The impact of altering – and in my opinion degrading – a valuable collectible object is several orders of magnitude greater than the cost of alteration.

If the pipe is sold, the sales price should reflect the marketplace value of the altered pipe, which experience tells me will be less, in most instances, than an original-condition price. It follows that the only reason anyone would conceal alteration is that concealment results in a higher valuation in the event the pipe is sold.

While a pipe may have a maker’s mark stamped into its shank, when someone else makes alterations to a pipe, it is no longer what that stamp says it was. It’s original condition has been materially altered beyond changes in condition brought about by its envisioned use, i.e. wear and tear resulting from smoking. It is the seller’s duty to disclose the pipe’s altered state.



Smoking, itself, alters the pipe.

In his note to me, Rick Newcombe made a series of good arguments supporting the premise that continued smoking alters a pipe:


“Nothing alters a pipe more than continued smoking. It wears down the lip end of the mouthpiece. It alters the diameter of the tobacco chamber — either with a cake or (typically) with careless reaming. It alters the diameter of the shank because a cake builds inside the shank over time. It alters the color of the pipe. It alters the fit of the stem to the shank.”

Rick is correct, of course, but only to a point. A good cleaning regiment and care will preserve a pipe considerably. Over-reaming does not have to occur, if one reams correctly. I use sandpaper and dowel and have never so much as touched wood on a bowl interior. However, many people do over-ream. Color changes will happen, to be sure.

An unsmoked and pristine Comoy Blue Riband Saddle BilliardI believe that there is a difference between an originally configured pipe that has been smoked and an altered pipe that has been smoked. In both cases, smoking will change the pipe. If someone will over-ream one, then they are likely to over-ream the other. In both cases, the original is the most valuable and is also the most conventionally sought-after.

This argument about use underscores the importance of condition.When we see a rare and desirable old Dunhill or Comoy or GBD in unsmoked condition become available, the price is inevitably much higher than it would be were the pipe smoked. This is because buyers know that the condition will be pristine and the configuration authentic.



Dimensions of Value

Wouldn’t it be great to own Mark Twain’s pipe? It would also be valuable because he owned and smoked it.Some pipes are just pipes; there’s nothing remarkable about them. Others, however, are collectibles, and their value is not driven by how they smoke. While collectors may purchase collectibles for use, their value is not purely functional. There are other dimensions of value that apply to pipes: 1) maker; 2) date of manufacturer; 3) quality of condition as compared to brand new; and 4) provenance (who owned it beforehand, e.g. Mark Twain’s pipe).

In the world of collectibles, regardless of category, the signal values of any collectible are 1) authenticity, 2) originality, 3) rarity, and 4) condition. When something has been altered or is no longer original, its worth is diminished.

What steps can a buyer take to ensure original condition?

It is absolutely in any buyer’s best interests to ensure original condition if it is important to you and the price of the pipe justifies taking care. Buyers have a duty to their own interests to exercise diligence. Here are suggested questions and actions you can take to ensure that you are purchasing an original-condition pipe:

Questions for the Seller:
1.Did you purchase the pipe new?
2.(If it is an estate) From whom did you purchase the pipe?(This may seem like an invasive question, but I think that as the cost and rarity of a pipe exceed $1,000, the buyer has a right to ask this question. The answer goes to provenance of the pipe.
3.(If the previous owner bought it new) Did you ask the seller of the pipe whether he made an alterations to the pipe? Remove bowl-coating? Open up airway? Modify the smokehole?
4.Did you make or have anyone else make any alterations to the pipe of any kind?
5.(If someone else made alterations) Who did the work to the pipe?
6.(If the seller collects pipes from this maker) Does this pipe differ in any noticeable way from other pipes made by the same maker that are in your collection?
7.Have you measured the airway dimensions? If so, what are they?

Pin gauges are used to measure airway diameters.If you don’t know the original airway dimensions, if the maker is still producing pipes, I recommend contacting the maker to determine the specifications to which he works. Ask the maker whether or not different airway dimensions can be specified by a buyer. It’s always a good idea to send the maker a picture of the pipe. My experience is that makers almost always remember the pipes they make.

One reason that checking with the maker is important is that sometimes makers are inconsistent in their drillings. Thus, just because a pipe has an atypically large airway does not mean that the pipe was altered by a second party.

In researching this article I wrote to Rick Newcombe about airway modifications. In his note back he wrote:


“I have noticed that many pipes by the same makers are not always uniform. For instance, when I spent a day with Franco Coppo at the Castello factory, he told me that all Castello pipes are drilled out at 4.5mm in the shank, and I have seen many where this is the case. But I also have seen others with a more narrow draft hole.”



Estate Market Challenges

The growing estate pipe market – which has been fueled by online sales on eBay, pipe forum sites, and by online sellers – has complicated the buyer-seller transaction. In these marketplaces, buyers don’t buy pipes, they buy pictures and descriptions of pipes. They can’t inspect the actual object until well after the sale when the pipe is delivered. So, the whole caveat emptor (let the buyer beware) principle doesn’t work because a buyer cannot exercise diligence if he can’t inspect what is being bought.

A savvy buyer might know to inspect the drafthole dimensions or compare the smokehole profile to other pipes by the same maker, but he is just as likely to not know that he should carefully inspect the pipe to make sure that the pipe he bought is what was promised. In any event, in almost all online pipe-sales transactions, inspecting the pipe is not feasible and likely impossible.

In terms of transaction design when immediate inspection of the object isn’t feasible, the best remedy for all parties is to allow for a return of the item if the buyer is unsatisfied. This remedy makes it possible for the buyer to inspect the item for issues about which the seller may not have knowledge or of which the seller may not have disclosed.

Given the challenges presented by online sales environments, the burden of full disclosure rests with the seller, especially with online pipe-resellers who either have or claim to have sufficient product knowledge to accurately describe a pipe’s original state and condition. Because pipe resellers and expert collectors are presumed to possess superior knowledge when compared to pipe buyers, a misleading statement or silence with respect to a material issue may be treated as a fraudulent statement. For this reason, it is critically important that airway dimensions be measured by sellers and communicated to potential buyers.

To be fair to resellers, those pipe smokers who make their own alterations should feel duty-bound to report any and all alterations they have made to a pipe when it is sold or traded. If you modify a pipe, and fail to communicate any information pertinent to authenticity, originality, and condition, you are subject to liability.

If you know a pipe has been altered and you say nothing, you may likely be guilty of what is called “constructive fraud.” The law is clear on this point: when a seller has a duty to speak, silence may be treated as a false statement. This can arise if a party who has knowledge of a fact fails to disclose it to another party who is justified in assuming its nonexistence.

Further, if you should have known or failed to take affirmative action to know, you may also be liable. People who may be construed to possess superior knowledge or competency are held to a higher standard. To conclude, it is probably a good idea to exercise reasonable care and diligence to disclose all possible conditional issues if you benefit from a reputation as a competent and trustworthy seller.



Why does original condition matter?

Some years ago, my friend Neil Flancbaum told me why he purchased Bo Nordh pipes. He said he did not want to be the guy in a conversation at a pipe show saying that Bo Nordh pipes smoke no better than other pipes without having smoked one, himself. So, he bought one so that he could state his opinion based on actual experience, not conjecture.

What if the Bo Nordh he bought had been altered? Then his opinion would still be conjecture, because he would not have smoked a Bo Nordh-drilled and engineered pipe. He would have smoked something else. So he would have paid a lot of money and not accomplished the purpose for which he purchased the pipe.



Ultra-High Grade Estate Pipes

I have great respect for Rick Newcombe, but I personally do not like to smoke pipes that have been opened up, having tried pipes with larger airway dimensions. I do not take issue with Rick’s preferences, but I do take issue with anyone who opens up a pipe, then sells it with that fact undisclosed. I believe that any modified pipe should be stamped as such with their initials as I understand Mr. Newcombe does.

There is a big difference between modifying the internal engineering of a basket pipe or an inexpensive new factory pipe, and drilling out or otherwise modifying a Lars or Sixten Ivarsson or a Bo Nordh. One is a smoker and the other is an object that represents the pinnacle of pipe-making.

Presumably, those makers that have accomplished near-legendary status know how to engineer a pipe. It is well-documented that Sixten Ivarsson was fanatical about proper engineering. I assume that his standards were passed down to his son, Lars and to his granddaughter, Nanna.

It is hard for me to believe that a pipe that costs $4,000 -$15,000 should require “tuning up” to smoke properly. Is the presumption that Sixten, Lars, Jess, Bo, etc., really can’t make a good smoker? I doubt it, but if so, they are a gang of frauds and everybody should know it.

Ask any pipemaker, “Do you want a reputation for producing a good-smoking pipe?”

I have yet to hear any pipemaker tell me “Oh no, I prefer to be known for making beautiful pipes that sell for a lot of money to people who have to pay somebody else make them smoke properly after the fact. Oh, and by the way, I’m counting on their desire to hide the fact that my pipes are bad smokers because if their fellow pipe smokers discovered they spent thousands of dollars on non-smokeable pipes, other pipe smokers might think they were suckers.”



Ultra-High-Grade Pipes are bound to be sold sooner or later.

The sort of person who buys and owns ultra high grade pipes will show them as assets. Given the value of the super high-grades, it is inevitable that these pipes will be eventually be sold given their value.

When an altered ultra-high-grade pipe is sold, if there is no written disclaimer informing the buyer that there is no expressed nor implied warranty of the pipe’s original condition, and if the buyer is not made aware of any second-party alterations, then the buyer will pay a lot of money for an object in an altered condition when he presumes he is getting another: an original pipe.

Who among us wants to unwittingly purchase an altered ultra-high grade like a Bo Nordh, a Jess Chonowitsch, or a Lars Ivarsson? I most emphatically do not.



This issue impacts the average pipe buyer, too.

For those who think this is just a rich pipe collector’s problem, think again. It also affects the average pipe smoker.

Many of us stretch to buy pipes selling in the $300 to $500 range – say a Jack Howell, a Peter Heeschen or a Rad Davis, etc. An estate pipe by one of these artisans might sell for $200 to $250. We may have read and heard wonderful observations about the craftsmanship and smoking qualities of pipes by one of these makers. So, we scrimp and save to put together the money to buy an estate because that’s what we can afford.



It can also impact the pipemaker.

If that estate has been altered, and it is a bad smoking experience, we’re going to assume that all pipes by this maker are poor smokers. We’re unlikely to buy another. We’re also likely to report our disappointment to our friends and fellow pipe-smoking acquaintances. Here we understand how pipe remodeling can hurt not only us, but the innocent pipemaker whose reputation suffers as a result of sombody else’s actions.

This actually happened to a friend of mine who bought a Peter Heeschen pipe that smoked terribly. He took the pipe to Peter who, upon inspecting it, informed my friend that the pipe had been drilled out and ruined. My friend didn’t know the pipe had been altered when he bought it. What is he to do? Sell the pipe to some other unsuspecting pipe smoker? Knowing that it would not be what he would have to represent it to be in order to sell it? This is not an acceptable alternative for an ethical person. The only acceptable option is to seek a refund from the person who sold the pipe in an undisclosed, altered state.

We all know that a replacement stem on a pipe diminishes its value, no matter how well-done the replacement is. The pipe’s reduced worth is because the pipe is not original. A pipe that has been modified is not original, either. Whether it functions better or not after alteration is a matter of opinion. It’s state of alteration is a matter of fact.



This is a serious issue with potentially serious consequences.

In a sales transaction, representing something as original when it has been altered is not only wrong, but fraudulent. For definitional purposes, fraud must pass five tests. It must be: (1) a false statement of a material fact (This pipe is in original condition) (2) knowledge on the part of the seller that the statement is untrue, (I altered it so I know it is not original) (3) intent on the part of the seller to deceive the buyer, (I’m not telling the buyer about the alteration) (4) justifiable reliance by the alleged victim (the buyer) on the statement (buys because he believes it is original), and (5) injury to the alleged victim (the buyer) as a result (he pays more than the object is worth).

A seller has an ethical, if not legal, obligation to inform a buyer that a pipe is not original. A person who intentionally fails to accurately and completely disclose the known state of a pipe acts in bad faith and may, in fact, be committing a fraudulent act.


http://www.apassionforpipes.com/neills-blog/2012/12/6/the-perils-of-pipe-remodeling-for-buyers-and-sellers.html
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Kyle Weiss

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PostSubject: Re: Your Opinions on Pipe Modifications   Mon Dec 10, 2012 3:52 pm

Too long, couldn't read.

I have a habit of improving pipes, but not modifying them. If they smoke like shit, and weren't drilled properly or the stem needs work, I do it. I don't care. I smoke my pipes as part of their enjoyment.

If pipe collecting becomes a matter of "don't take them out of the package and play with them, that ruins the value," well, I'm a pipe smoker, then, before a collector.

What I do is like taking a classic car and original engine, port and polishing the insides, cleaning the outside and making it look as good as it can perform stock. Not putting hydraulics on the wheels, chroming everything but the sun visor (oh hell, chrome the sun visor)...and $40K in stereo equipment.

Not reading all of that, concerning "modification," I'd be curious to know if what I do is "bad" for my more collectible pipes. Whether or not I care is another matter.

Cool
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monbla256

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PostSubject: Re: Your Opinions on Pipe Modifications   Mon Dec 10, 2012 4:06 pm

I read the whole thing and found it to be interesting for sure. I don't agree with all of it, but since I have not engaged in more than stem replacement with any pipe iI own, ( usually keeping the OEM stem along with the box etc.) what I own and smoke are mostly "original" and when they are sold when I'm dead, can be sold as "original". If the pipe is not to my liking, I usually don't buy it. But I've not bought ANY from the 'prey, and those I got from mail-order were from makers I was familiar with and knew usually how they would smoke so adjusted my smoking accordingly. Some interesting thoughts for sure .
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MisterE
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PostSubject: Re: Your Opinions on Pipe Modifications   Mon Dec 10, 2012 4:17 pm

I say take 'em to court, dammit! Evil or Very Mad

lol!

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Wet Dottle

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PostSubject: Re: Your Opinions on Pipe Modifications   Mon Dec 10, 2012 4:26 pm

Like Kyle, tl;dr

However, I do not buy used pipes, neither do I sell them, therefore I suspect most of it wouldn't apply to me.

I would not hesitate to modify a pipe if I saw the need. I have opened shanks and stems in a couple of pipes that had them too tight. I have also worked the mortise-tenon fit of some pipes that did not pass a pipe cleaner all the way. I can remember some that were altered, but forgot most. By the way, they were all expensive pipes, such as Castellos, Beckers, at least one Dunhill, etc. I had to alter every single Tinsky I ever bought (well, I only bought two, so my sample is small).

The above does not count the ones I had altered by professional repair men. Not counting repairs, I had a number of mouthpieces custom made.
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Wet Dottle

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PostSubject: Re: Your Opinions on Pipe Modifications   Mon Dec 10, 2012 4:50 pm

Dutch wrote:
“I have noticed that many pipes by the same makers are not always uniform. For instance, when I spent a day with Franco Coppo at the Castello factory, he told me that all Castello pipes are drilled out at 4.5mm in the shank, and I have seen many where this is the case. But I also have seen others with a more narrow draft hole.”
I opened up at least the shank in one Castello (at least one that I can remember). Opened it up to 9/64", therefore it had a shank drilled smaller than that. I have one other Castello that does not take a drill larger than 9/64" to the shank; a few others do not take a drill larger than 5/32". I really don't think I have any Castellos with a shank as large as 4.5 mm, but can't say for sure without measuring it.

Dutch, I'm reading you post little by little. Smile


Last edited by Wet Dottle on Mon Dec 10, 2012 5:06 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : After reading the whole thing, I voted #4 (but I could also have voted #3).)
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PostSubject: Re: Your Opinions on Pipe Modifications   Mon Dec 10, 2012 4:59 pm

Absent in that whole ponderous rap is any apparent inkling that

1) A modified pipe can smoke so dramatically better than an un-modified one that improving it's a near no-brainer. (That's why people modify them).

2) An El-Cheapo can smoke every bit as well as an Artisan. One former BoB whose handle I refrain from mentioning to avoid setting the cigar-smoking fish off lived a couple blocks from Iwan Riese & collected Danish uber-expensives ; he reported that there was no performance difference he could find (taste, smoking characteristics) between them and his Stanwells.

But appreciation of a great pipe because it's a great pipe seems to be off the guy's chart. (Or maybe just off topic). It's all about Rarity, Condition and -- ultimately -- money.

In that respect, pipes join guitars (a 1959 Les Paul with original crappy stock tuners is worth way more than one with the Grover replacements people routinely put on them so they'd stay in tune) and violins (the sound a violin produces has zero bearing on its value. "Collectable/Investment" [Speculation-grade] violins are valued as furniture. Period).

And with the money factor, I suspect the real crux of the matter is reached.

Since anything I'd say beyond that would annoy someone, genug.

cat What a Face study


Last edited by Yak on Tue Dec 11, 2012 10:10 am; edited 1 time in total
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MisterE
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PostSubject: Re: Your Opinions on Pipe Modifications   Mon Dec 10, 2012 5:27 pm

Okay, seriously.

I personally like to smoke mid-range "collectable" pipes. I don't have any über-grades but I have many Dunhills, Sasienis, Charatans and the like. What I get, usually, is a pipe that works pretty much as-is with no alterations. The only pipes that have been modified have been out of necessity, not preference. A broken stem, slight charring on an estate rim, etc. While I prefer an estate to be pipe in pretty much pristine condition, I don't consider normal use a catastrophic modification. Slight charring of the rim and a few bite marks on the stem do little to affect the quality of the pipe's performance. I consider myself a smoker who enjoys a quality pipe. I'm definitely not a pipe collector who dabbles in smoking from time to time. I have assembled over the years what might be considered a modest collection, but I don't really think of it as such.

NAR almost defines modification/alteration as simply using the thing, which a very serious collector's stance IMO. For someone with that level of commitment, as much information would be absolutely necessary to make a solid investment. For me, however, If I can get a good look at the inside of the bowl, the rim, and the overall appearance, I know what's important for my needs. I have been burned a time or two, but I'm not out $10,000 either, so I don't sweat it. I tend to judge a a pipe by whether it works or not for me. I could honestly care less about the bore size, the original factory dimensions, or how the pipe "should be" to conserve it's resale value. I've never sold a pipe either, btw.

In some cases, a necessary repair or mod had drastically improved a pipe. One case in point were a couple of Petersons which got new lucite stems from LL. Both went from good to fabulous smokers. That for me makes them worth more than to someone with Niell's set of criteria.

I think it just comes down to where you're coming from. I wish Niell luck in getting the estate pipe market to conform to his ideal.

_________________
Many of the greatest pleasures in life are illegal, immoral, or smelly.

-Yak
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Ocelot55

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Location : Columbus, OH
Registration date : 2012-03-28

PostSubject: Re: Your Opinions on Pipe Modifications   Mon Dec 10, 2012 7:07 pm

Two words:

Caveat emptor
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riff raff

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Location : Western Maryland
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PostSubject: Re: Your Opinions on Pipe Modifications   Mon Dec 10, 2012 10:34 pm

I have mixed feelings on this subject. I have opened up a few personal pipes in my collection. One, a Taylor-made Ashton was drilled way to small and smoking it was an exercise in frustration. Now, it is a great smoking pipe that won't leave my rack. But, I suppose one day it will belong to someone else who may not be aware the way I changed the pipe (nee improved). I just sent another Taylor Ashton to George Dibos at Precision to enlarge the bowl cavity (19 mm bowl on a 3X pipe). I just didn't like the way it smoked with that tiny bowl. I did try to sell it before sending it to George, with no takers.

I also suppose that f I were buying an estate pipe from one of my favorites (Ashton/GBD/Upshall/Ferndown), I would want to know if it had been modified; and by whom. On the other hand, as long as that pipe smoked well, it really shouldn't matter.
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KevinM



Age : 75
Location : Connecticut
Registration date : 2012-02-26

PostSubject: Re: Your Opinions on Pipe Modifications   Mon Dec 10, 2012 11:42 pm

The audience might be split into smokers > collectors > investors. It's hard to imagine why a smoker would not attempt to enhance his experience with his own pipe. The collector group holds a wide range of people, and some of them might well reach for a drill, figuring, "I'll be gone one day, so the next fellow can fret about my enhancements." I don't know how a market could track this activity, though. Investors probably should not mess around in the basement lest they diminish their return. I got a very nice price on an Upshall because "the logo on the bit was rubbed off by vigorous polishing." I was shocked -- shocked! -- but gladly bought it anyway. The seller was holding the line, however, on pipes that were fully and clearly original but looked, well, shabby.
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Kyle Weiss

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Location : Reno, NV
Registration date : 2011-09-18

PostSubject: Re: Your Opinions on Pipe Modifications   Tue Dec 11, 2012 4:18 am

So, scratching tribal patterns in Dunhill pipes won't make them worth more? How about tapping them for a 1,000 yard scope? Laughing

These kinds of conversations remind me more of conversations on milsurp gun forums I used to haunt. I'm not sure what the right answer is, I just do what I do with purpose and reason. I doubt many high-end collectible pipes are in harm's way with me, anyhow. Laughing

Meh.

Cool
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bosun1

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Location : fly over country
Registration date : 2012-10-23

PostSubject: Re: Your Opinions on Pipe Modifications   Tue Dec 11, 2012 12:41 pm

I have a pipe to smoke. I feel no desire to impress any one. I can appreciate a good looking pipe, assuming it meets my idea of beauty. That said, I smoke inexpensive pipes, no name up to Savinelli/Peterson. Maybe I'll top an inexpensive pipe if it's particularly bad. Maybe run a drill bit down the shank if it seems too tight. Otherwise de-grunge and wax.
The post isn't about me or what I'll accumulate in my lifetime, it's about the 'rarefied' atmosphere of the best of the best. Like watching an upper level car auction. Everything is perfect, including provenance. Pipes I don't think that could be done. Unless there is someone who you can mail a pipe to and they will certify it as being perfect (or a lesser grade) like coins. I'm just glad I don't have to worry about it!
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idbowman

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Location : Painesville, OH
Registration date : 2011-12-19

PostSubject: Re: Your Opinions on Pipe Modifications   Tue Dec 11, 2012 1:39 pm

I've bought estates, but all were inexpensive and purchased because I believed them to be of good value and likely to be quite smokeable - in other words, I buy estates to complement my smoking rotation, not because I believe myself to be a "collector" of fine pipes.

That said, I still expect an upfront and honest description of what I'm purchasing (whether online or in person), and I think that should be equally true for those purchasing the highest grade pipes from the standpoint of a collector. Yes, yes, caveat emptor and all that, but the fact that a buyer ought to bear responsibility for their purchase and the person/company/screenname with whom they are doing business doesn't absolve the seller from disclosing known flaws/modifications/enhancements. I think it's in the best long term interest of the buyer, seller, and the hobby as a whole for this to be a two-way street.
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KevinM



Age : 75
Location : Connecticut
Registration date : 2012-02-26

PostSubject: Re: Your Opinions on Pipe Modifications   Tue Dec 11, 2012 3:12 pm

I still expect an upfront and honest description of what I'm purchasing (whether online or in person), and I think that should be equally true for those purchasing the highest grade pipes from the standpoint of a collector

Completely agree. But, the problem with Mark Twain's comments about honesty and the human race is that they are often unarguably so. If Investor 1 gets the short end of a high-grade pipe deal and has a chance to recoup his loss at the expense of Investor II, he is very likely to do so. This end of thw spectrum demands a high level of expertise and a bit of luck, I'd say.

Another .02 -- back in the '90s a fad of collecting old bottles that had been thrown away in town dumps swept through New England. Guys would get out of work and drive their pickups to the dump and start digging. A relative had an outbuilding installed in his yard to hold his collection. Bottle collectors laughed at conservative money managers who kept their pittance in the bank. And then reality knocked at the door and the bottom fell out of the old bottle market.

If you're going to collect something, I'd say it should be because you enjoy owning it and you probably aren't enjoying it if you're fretting about it.
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shootist51



Location : Indianapolis, Indiana
Registration date : 2007-12-28

PostSubject: Re: Your Opinions on Pipe Modifications   Tue Dec 11, 2012 4:04 pm

It is my feeling that if I buy a pipe it is my right to do whatever makes it an enjoyable smoker. Though I have never sold any pipe I bought, I would feel obliged to note any modifications I might have made to a potential buyer. Having said that, I have never had to make any modifications to any of the pipes I have owned, with the exception that I once had to work the stem inside the bowl of a cob so the the bowl would burn all the way down.
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PostSubject: Re: Your Opinions on Pipe Modifications   Tue Dec 11, 2012 11:13 pm

How many pipes that smoke less than well are there in the world that people really want, knowing that they don't smoke well and not caring ?

Said pipes are collectors items, and probably ought not to be smoked at all.

cat What a Face study
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riff raff

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PostSubject: Re: Your Opinions on Pipe Modifications   Tue Dec 11, 2012 11:41 pm

KevinM wrote:
[i]

If you're going to collect something, I'd say it should be because you enjoy owning it and you probably aren't enjoying it if you're fretting about it.

Well said, the wife just sold off a boat load of Longaberger baskets she swore would "be valuable" one day. She did use most of them and broke even, but a poor investment if that was her aim.
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KevinM



Age : 75
Location : Connecticut
Registration date : 2012-02-26

PostSubject: Re: Your Opinions on Pipe Modifications   Wed Dec 12, 2012 12:50 pm

Longaberger baskets! Forgot about those. The ladies were gaga over 'em and then, well, the bottom fell out, so to speak. But one or two were right handy to keep pipes and their collateral paraphrenalia.
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riff raff

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Location : Western Maryland
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PostSubject: Re: Your Opinions on Pipe Modifications   Wed Dec 12, 2012 5:39 pm

KevinM wrote:
Longaberger baskets! Forgot about those. The ladies were gaga over 'em and then, well, the bottom fell out, so to speak. But one or two were right handy to keep pipes and their collateral paraphrenalia.

I did secure one that has a plastic insert with seal lid, it always looked perfect for tobacco storage...
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