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What Makes A Highgrade Expensive?

Help Support Brothers of Briar:

Dock

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I received an e-mail from a fella here that's been smoking a pipe for a short time and wanted to know why certain pipes are so much more expensive than others.

In short I responded that the carver's reputation had alot to do with it along with other factors such as thin handmade stems, an amazing sand blast (ala' JT Cooke) , the scarcity of a perfect straightgrain and how much a certain pipe maker's pieces are in demand at that time. The old "hot pipe of the moment" perception is very real!

This fella's question is one that I've been asked a hundred times and everyone's answer to it is so totally individual. It would be very neat to hear how some of the folks here would answer it....

What do you think makes an expensive pipe expensive?
 

Puff Daddy

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A carver takes (often) years to perfect his skills in making an exceptional pipe. As in other professions, when you obtain a product or service from a skilled craftsman or practitioner his skill and expertise level will affect the price of his product or service. Quality high grade pipes are built using many, many steps the average smoker wouldn't even be aware of, minute details that you won't find in cheaper pipes but things that make the pipe so much finer in many different ways. All of this means that the carver puts in a lot of hours and his hourly time put in needs to be compensated at an acceptable rate. Just as a very good mechanic won't be found working for 10 bucks an hour, a pipe carver must justify a living wage for the work he puts into his craft at such a high level and with such intensity and attention to detail.

Then there is the material and equipment overhead. Certainly the costs of a shop setup must be factored into the sale price of the number of pipes leaving that shop each year, and then the cost of the highest grade briar (often $80 a piece just for the raw wood alone) and finest rod stock is built into the price of that pipe.

For example, you buy a Balleby for $1,000 and you're paying for cost of goods, a fair wage for the carver, part of his overhead, often a middle man (the dealer who sold you the pipe), import duties, etc.....

Like anything else, it's a product. Sure, you could drive a Yugo for 10K and it would get you from A to B, but wouldn't you like to be driving a Porsche? 8)
 

Dock

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Puff Daddy":gh8g8lbq said:
A carver takes (often) years to perfect his skills in making an exceptional pipe. As in other professions, when you obtain a product or service from a skilled craftsman or practitioner his skill and expertise level will affect the price of his product or service. Quality high grade pipes are built using many, many steps the average smoker wouldn't even be aware of, minute details that you won't find in cheaper pipes but things that make the pipe so much finer in many different ways. All of this means that the carver puts in a lot of hours and his hourly time put in needs to be compensated at an acceptable rate. Just as a very good mechanic won't be found working for 10 bucks an hour, a pipe carver must justify a living wage for the work he puts into his craft at such a high level and with such intensity and attention to detail.

Then there is the material and equipment overhead. Certainly the costs of a shop setup must be factored into the sale price of the number of pipes leaving that shop each year, and then the cost of the highest grade briar (often $80 a piece just for the raw wood alone) and finest rod stock is built into the price of that pipe.

For example, you buy a Balleby for $1,000 and you're paying for cost of goods, a fair wage for the carver, part of his overhead, often a middle man (the dealer who sold you the pipe), import duties, etc.....

Like anything else, it's a product. Sure, you could drive a Yugo for 10K and it would get you from A to B, but wouldn't you like to be driving a Porsche? 8)
I couldn't agree more PD! One of the most eye opening expeiences of my life was watching pipe maker and friend Tim Hynick make an entire pipe from block of wood and acrylic rod to a finished pipe! The process took eight hours and I watched every minute of it. Before this I routinely asked for a reduced price from various pipe carvers at shows. After seeing the amount of time and expertise that went into crafting a pipe I never did this again!
 

LL

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Those ^^^^ are the deconstructed components. The answer to the question posed by the thread title is in how they fit together. Much study has been made of that fitting-together process in recent years by the cogsci guys. They've turned their brain mapping searchlights on the purchase decision itself and discovered it's almost entirely emotion-driven.

Meaning in the case of pipes it is how the wood density, wood grain, finish color, size, shape, craftsmanship, the carver's name, the carver's reputation, who they (maybe) once saw smoking a similar pipe, previous experience with the seller, etc. etc. etc. (ad infinitum) all come together to create a "net reaction" of either want or don't want.

When a particular pipe happens to score highly in many of those ways, and its existence becomes known to a significant number of prospective purchasers, an expensive pipe is the result.
 

thomas james

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Little white dots on stems seems to drive prices up.

Also, price seems to correlate with how many "C's" a pipe has.

Straight billiards, being inherently better, cost more.

All I know bout it.
 

Justpipes

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Never forget that one man's junk is another man's treasure and as with any collectible it is only worth what the collector (buyer) is willing to pay. Some folks are willing to pay more than others.
 

Hermit

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vaperfavour":bnbu7d21 said:
let's not forget artistry,either!
That's what I was thinking.
Rembrandt didn't pay any more for his paint than
the guy who painted Dogs Playing Poker on velvet.
 

Puff Daddy

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I guess you could call my response a justification for cost rather than a reason for pricing.........
 

Justpipes

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Puff Daddy":mzia2hij said:
I guess you could call my response a justification for cost rather than a reason for pricing.........
Yours was a good response PD. Naturally, the more skilled the craftsman, the possibility that his wears will be more in demand. I also think that much of it also depends on the marketing. There are many starving artist whose skills are superior to others but just don't have the marketing skills of less talented but more demanding artist. Thus why many are more well known and sought after once they have passed on.
 

Hermit

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Puff Daddy":4sqm34uy said:
I guess you could call my response a justification for cost rather than a reason for pricing.........

I didn't mean to discount your point.
Certainly high grades use higher grade materials.
But if Buzzjack had the best hunk of briar ever
grown, he would still carve a butt-ugly pipe. ;)
 

JJPHOTO

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So, educate a noob here. What is it that you look for in a pipe that makes it so nice? I mean, I look at some high end pipes and all I can say is, (insert Elvis accent here) "man that's purty". Not being a smart ass - I really want to know what to look for.

P.S. - I understand the higher cost of supporting a private business and all that... I own a photography business plus have worked in advertising/marketing for mom and pop stores for 10 years so I understand that completely. That's not what I'm asking. Just wanting to know what people judge high end pipes by.
 
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