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Are high end pipes really worth it?

This is a discussion on Are high end pipes really worth it? within the General Pipe Forum forums, part of the Pipe Smokers Forums category; Originally Posted by Jeff10236 OK, first on the "if you don't buy the most expensive it isn't really a hobby, ...

  
  1. #46

    Snuff-hound steinr1's Avatar


     

    Re: Are high end pipes really worth it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff10236 View Post
    OK, first on the "if you don't buy the most expensive it isn't really a hobby, just an addiction" theme...
    I sense that behind things, we are somewhat in agreement. The question isn't whether you can afford a very expensive thing or not. It's whether you lust afer it. That's what, for me, defines the enthusiast. Few take on a hobby with the veiw that they will buy below their personal budget for the hell of it - at least after the initial "I wonder if I like this" period. The fact that you know the prices of the high end rifles makes me think that you've perhaps considered them and if budget were really no issue, those rifles too would be in your rack. Even though it won't (necessarily) shoot any harder or straighter. Budget is indeed key. I'm a vintage motorcycle enthusiast. I'd dearly love to have a Vincent Black Shadow. But I can't. The prices for these are way beyond my budget. But I still would get one in a heartbeat if I didn't need to justify the expense. There are many examples of high price for the sake of it, but I'm certainly not promoting a pipe with a heavy gold band as being intrinsically "better" than one without. (Just struck me that tour T-shirts are a great example where utility is secondary to the overall experience. A plain shirt will cover your nakedness just as well as a Rolling Stones (TM) branded one. And probably will be better quality. Are all those fans that buy them idiots? Who isn't an idiot in the name of their "hobby" on occasion?)

    As for the "addiction" theme...
    Addictions are complicated. Jonesing for nicotine simply isn't strong or long lasting enough to explain "I've tried to give up smoking and I can't." We get addicted to the overall act of smoking for a great variety of reasons and I'd say that the physical is probably one of the least valid. Heroine addicts sometimes inject water when they have nothing else. I don't deny that many smokers have no real physical addiction and so by that measure are not "addicts". But recidivism is very high after any physical addiction is long gone. Weeks, months or years. Once a smoker, always a smoker. Those who give up drink, drugs or smoking are all equally one shot, fix or puff away from their "problem". Oddly, as the much hated smoker, we are probaly given the most leeway in this by the general public. Few would say that the occasional hit of opiates for an "ex-addict" is just fine. Ex-alcoholics must NEVER drink. But the occasional smoke for an ex-smoker? Probably won't attract the same lack of approbation.

    As for my original question, I did not yet buy a higher end English pipe...
    I'll amend my original answer (actually, I'll take the opposite view).

    For a pipe smoker with an "Average Joe" budget (which includes me, sadly), high end pipes are simply not worth the money. A carefully selected pipe of moderate price is just as good. Artisan pipes in particular are poor value. They trade on name, uniqueness of design and excusivity. None of which add to the actual smoking experience.


    But I'll still get a kick out of the few Barling's Make pipes I have and hope for a lottery win (unlikely as I've never played) so that I can affort my Vincent. Maybe a Black Knight.
    "Never keep up with the Joneses. Drag them down to your level." - Quentin Crisp

  2. #47

    Sot-weed Bohemian freestoke's Avatar


     

    Re: Are high end pipes really worth it?

    "As for the "addiction" theme..." I'd add that the word "addiction" itself has suffered a rather odd redefinition, even "officially", to include many activities we once would never classify as addictions, for instance, persistent uncontrollable urges for gambling and sex. One cannot become addicted to gambling or sex according to the definition I learned in college, which was the medical definition at the time. (And that's medical definition, not psychological witchcraft definition.) Nicotine would barely fit the low rung of that scale, in there with caffeine and cocaine as substances with low addictive action. Of the three, cocaine is probably the least addictive, since addiction requires measurable physical withdrawal symptoms, and cocaine has almost none. Heavy duty addictive substances are things like opiates, alcohol and barbiturates. The redefinition of "addiction" was needed for political and commercial purposes.
    Vegetarian -- that's an old Indian word meaning "lousy hunter". -- Andy Rooney

  3. #48

    Leading Puffer Fish Jeff10236's Avatar


     

    Re: Are high end pipes really worth it?

    Quote Originally Posted by steinr1 View Post
    I sense that behind things, we are somewhat in agreement. The question isn't whether you can afford a very expensive thing or not. It's whether you lust afer it. That's what, for me, defines the enthusiast.
    I figured that what you meant was more nuanced that it seemed at first blush. I still don't totally agree, unless we slightly modify your statement. While I like several aspects of my hobbies, and I do lust after some more expensive examples of each, there are those who don't who are definitely hobbyists. Take guns, some people like the historical value and have no desire for the $2000 M1a or Anschutz. It wasn't too long ago that many old mil-surp rifles could be had for under $100, and it was within the last decade that many collectable models could be had in the $200-300 range. An entire collection of WWI and WWII rifles could be had for the price of one or two M1a's. Different things attract different people. Some pipe smokers might love their first Dr. Grabow so much that they want one of each, and then start going after examples from different times in the company's history (see the Dr. Grabow pipe forum for examples of people who are quite obsessed over Dr. Grabow). Actually, I was going to say that I would amend your statement from price based to some kind of collectable quality based "lust", but now that I think about it, "obsessing" over some aspect of the hobby/collection would probably better define many of us (me included).

    Addictions are complicated. Jonesing for nicotine simply isn't strong or long lasting enough to explain "I've tried to give up smoking and I can't." We get addicted to the overall act of smoking for a great variety of reasons and I'd say that the physical is probably one of the least valid...
    I got my bachelors degree in psychology, once planned on becoming a psychologist, and I once worked in a psychiatric hospital. I would agree that addiction is much more than just the physical addiction (I've seen it). Though, at least within the psychiatric/psychological/medical community the definition of the word has long ago changed to include psychological addiction (as freestoke eloquently put it, though I take issue with the "psychological witchcraft" part ). Many aspects of what hooks us is habit, and at a higher level of addiction a psychological/emotional craving which can be tougher to fight than any physical dependence.

    I'll amend my original answer (actually, I'll take the opposite view).

    For a pipe smoker with an "Average Joe" budget (which includes me, sadly), high end pipes are simply not worth the money. A carefully selected pipe of moderate price is just as good. Artisan pipes in particular are poor value. They trade on name, uniqueness of design and excusivity. None of which add to the actual smoking experience.
    Like I say, I am on the fence on this issue. Though, having bought 3-4 higher end pipes (depending upon how you define the more expensive Peterson Sherlock Holmes series), one of which I bought a couple days ago, I guess personally I'm not that much on the fence. I am on the fence as to whether higher end pipes are objectively or across the board worth the extra expense. With the quality and enjoyment I get out of my Hardcastles, Savinellis, and other mid-line pipes, I'm not so sure. For example, last night I smoked my Invicta Canadian and my older Ser Jacopo back to back. Both were great smokes. The Ser Jacopo was a little better, and the workmanship, feel and looks are definitely a lot better. However, the Invicta was a terrific smoke and it is a nice pipe so I'm not 100% sold that the Ser Jacopo is $100-150 better (which is enough to buy two more Invictas or Hardcastles).

    As for the artisan pipes, I'm not sure I'm ever going to go with one of the $1000+ artisan pipes. I can see getting a fully handmade pipe, and I can see buying a less expensive artisan pipe from a newer carver (where they are still somewhat affordable), but never those priced as works of art. However, as a teacher, I do not have my sights set on the $500-1000+ end of higher end pipes, but rather the $170-300 more affordable end of high-end pipes (i.e. Northern Briar, Ashton, Ser Jacopo, some cheaper and estate Dunhill, etc.). I have a few already, and I probably will buy a few more. However, it took 20 years of pipe smoking to get here (until about 2 years ago my most expensive pipes were ~$100 Petersons and two from Karl Erik), and I'm never going to fill my collection with them. My everyday pipes will continue to be from makers such as Peterson, Savinelli, Hardcastle, Ben Wade, etc.
    Last edited by Jeff10236; 05-05-2013 at 09:53 AM.

  4. #49

    Sot-weed Bohemian freestoke's Avatar


     

    Re: Are high end pipes really worth it?

    "Costly thy pipes as thy purse can buy, but not expressed in fancy; rich not gaudy; for the pipe oft proclaims the man." -- William Smokespeare
    Vegetarian -- that's an old Indian word meaning "lousy hunter". -- Andy Rooney

  5. #50

    Snuff-hound steinr1's Avatar


     

    Re: Are high end pipes really worth it?

    Quote Originally Posted by freestoke View Post
    "As for the "addiction" theme..."
    I think the difference here is between addiction and physiological dependence. Many of the "modern addictions" have little or no element of dependence. There are no adverse physical symptoms of withdrawal. I feel this makes little difference if harm is caused by these addictions. An addiction is very often to a mood altering activity (or maybe the mood altering chemicals produced naturally by our bodies in response to the activty) rather than any ingested substance. Nicotine's potential for physical dependence is low; smoking is highly addictive. (When I gave up cigarettes, I dangled a one out of my mouth almost continuously for about a year; I just didn't light it.)

    I'm addicted to smoking a pipe (and snuff, my various collection madnesses, and, to a lesser extent these days, cigars). I don't think it serves our purpose to deny this. I believe I could stop anytime, but I don't. My addictions cause little harm to me or the outside world. Some, like gambling, where there is definitely no physical dependence, can destroy lifes and damage those around the "addict". I'm happy with my (relatively) harmless addictions.

    On Jeff's points, again, I pretty much agree. However, I think that the point about some collectors not being interested in ALL high end variants of what what would seem to many to be the same genre is to miss the irrational nature of collecting. Collecting is a form of madness to the outsider. I collect Ropp pipes. Pretty ordinary factory pipes and even the best hardly warrant the soubriquet "High end". But show me a mint, unused La Roppitsch and I'd probably pay Dunhill prices. This is clearly irrational. The gun collector not being interested in certain weapons just demonstrates the narrowness of their particular madness.

    Or perhaps re-reading the post, the point was indeed made, particularly with reference to those whose particular madness is for Dr Grabow pipes... Cost isn't the issue; the Collection is whart matters.

    Still gets us no nearer to answer the real question of whether high end pipes are "better" and "worth it". Still, the thrust and parry of this debate is most diverting. Mulled it over while smoking that near full bowl of Rich Dark Flake in that Ropp Altesse. Not as good a smoke as that "high end" Barling's Make I use more often for that blend...
    Last edited by steinr1; 05-05-2013 at 10:55 AM.
    "Never keep up with the Joneses. Drag them down to your level." - Quentin Crisp

  6. #51

    Sot-weed Bohemian freestoke's Avatar


     

    Re: Are high end pipes really worth it?

    "No, I will order no more. In such a night
    To log me out? Browse on; I will click.
    In such a night as this? O Sasieni, Dunhill!
    Your old estates, whose makers' hearts gave all—
    O, that way madness lies; let me shun that;
    No more of PAD." -- William Smokespeare
    Vegetarian -- that's an old Indian word meaning "lousy hunter". -- Andy Rooney

  7. #52

    Elder Puffer Fish Leader MarkC's Avatar


     

    Re: Are high end pipes really worth it?

    Okay, I get the drift. But if psychologists needed a word to describe something they are studying, they should have coined one rather than ruining a perfectly understandable medical term. Any psychologist who thinks a habit is the same thing as an addiction should be injected with opiates every day for a month or so.* Then we'll revisit the issue...

    *today's word: hyperbole. I understand satire is hard to get on the net, but apparently hyperbole is as well, so just in case...
    ********.com

  8. #53

    Sot-weed Bohemian freestoke's Avatar


     

    Re: Are high end pipes really worth it?

    Quote Originally Posted by MarkC View Post
    Okay, I get the drift. But if psychologists needed a word to describe something they are studying, they should have coined one rather than ruining a perfectly understandable medical term.
    They already had "habituation?" (also the process of becoming desensitized, in a stimulus-response context, but what the hell, right? ). The problem with making the distinction between addiction and habituation is that it confused the public. Hard to get them riled up over a bad (or even unpopular) habit, but the word "addiction" summoned up all those scenes from The Man with the Golden Arm, so that anybody with a bad habit could be labeled as an addict and either jailed or treated, either of which makes somebody some money. Even keeping people from enjoying their habits makes money, so everybody's happy except the one with the habit. There were a few other terms that applied, but damned if I can remember them. Been fifty years since I studied this stuff.
    Last edited by freestoke; 05-06-2013 at 08:39 AM.
    Vegetarian -- that's an old Indian word meaning "lousy hunter". -- Andy Rooney

  9. #54

    Snuff-hound steinr1's Avatar


     

    Re: Are high end pipes really worth it?

    Quote Originally Posted by MarkC View Post
    *today's word: hyperbole. I understand satire is hard to get on the net, but apparently hyperbole is as well, so just in case...
    I'm a fan of hyperbole. I use it 'til the cow come home.

    (Not entirely happy with this one. But it will have to do. I'm buried under a ton of work.)
    "Never keep up with the Joneses. Drag them down to your level." - Quentin Crisp

  10. #55

    Leading Puffer Fish Jeff10236's Avatar


     

    Re: Are high end pipes really worth it?

    OK, I need some assistance...

    There is Dunhill Bruyere bulldog in my birthyear on Ebay right now. I love the bulldog shape, one of my two or three favorites. Like many who collect as well as smoke pipes, I'd love a birthyear Dunhill. It is more than I want to spend on my higher end pipes ($315 + shipping), so I need assistance. Talk me out of it, talk me into it, or buy it from under me so you remove the temptation .

    BTW, if it was a Cumberland I would have already hit "buy it now," I would not have been able to resist this long.

    1970 Dunhill Bruyere Oda 837 F T Straight Bulldog Pipe Mint Pfeife Pipa | eBay


    Disclaimer, if you see this post in more than a few hours, I may have already succumbed and discussion may be purely academic

  11. #56

    Leading Puffer Fish Jeff10236's Avatar


     

    Re: Are high end pipes really worth it?

    I placed an offer of $250.

    It will still be on the high end of what I want to spend. I'd like to find a pipe in the $150-250 range, but I doubt that will ever happen on a birth year Dunhill, it is rare on any Dunhill, and to find "the right one" at that price isn't going to happen. I figure at $250, either he'll decline altogether, accept and I'll have a pretty good deal and feel more comfortable paying it, or counter-offer and at least I'll pay less than $315. Hmm, I guess there is the slim chance he'll be offended that I offered $65 under his asking price and he'll blacklist me altogether, but that chance is probably pretty slim

  12. #57

    Maturing Puffer Fish


     

    Re: Are high end pipes really worth it?

    I was lucky, I just recently picked up my birth year Dunhill on eBay. Mine is 1981, not sure if certain years are harder than others. I would assume the older the harder as pipes can break etc... I paid $140 shipped for a Group 5 Bruyere bent billiard so I think I did ok. Much larger than anything else I have so far. I just couldn't resist, another 1981 unsmoked Dunhill went for more than I could pay.






    Last edited by Sniper2075; 05-07-2013 at 04:05 PM.

  13. #58

    Leading Puffer Fish Jeff10236's Avatar


     

    Re: Are high end pipes really worth it?

    He countered my $250 offer with $295. I posted a question about it (almost word for word post number 55 from this thread) on another forum and someone mentioned 1970 as being one of the worst years for Dunhill. Before that post, I had in my head that if he'd go $260-280 I'd bite and I would have probably countered at $270 or $275. After reading that post (from a well-respected and knowledgeable member who is also a long-time member here so I know him by reputation even though I'm new over there), I'm leaning towards letting it go and going back to my search for a Northern Briars, Ferndown, Ashton, or similar bulldog or prince with a Cumberland/brindle stem.

  14. #59

    The Cheese stands alone Commander Quan's Avatar


     

    Re: Are high end pipes really worth it?

    Let it go, and keep an eye out for another. I checked every week, and let many go before I was able to grab my 83 Group 5 for less than $200
    “In my world, everyone's a pony and they all eat rainbows and poop butterflies!

  15. #60

    Sot-weed Bohemian freestoke's Avatar


     

    Re: Are high end pipes really worth it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff10236 View Post
    ...someone mentioned 1970 as being one of the worst years for Dunhill.
    Wow, the 43 year olds are screwed, huh? Sucky birthdate Dunhills. I'd guess it's both a curse and a blessing.
    Vegetarian -- that's an old Indian word meaning "lousy hunter". -- Andy Rooney

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