Grading Estate Pipes
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09 August 2011

Grading Estate Pipes
 An attempt to shed some light...

Establishing the estate 'grade' is something of a challenge. It's a somewhat subjective process and there are dozens of possible factors involved. We get questions about it a lot, so in addition to his recent blog series, Adam, with the help of Ted and Pam organized some of his thoughts, and we rolled it into an estate grading guide of sorts.

Additionally, this would be a great place for us to field questions on the subject. Please do post comments questions in response to this post!

Posted by sykes at 3:25 PM | Link | 5 comments

Re: Grading Estate Pipes
How much does it affect the value of an estate pipe if it has been smoked, rather than being unsmoked? By "smoked," of course, I simply mean used as intended to smoke tobacco, not damaged by mishandling or abuse.

Posted by jamesphillips on August 9, 2011 at 10:37 PM

Re: Grading Estate Pipes
It doesn't affect it much. If it's been smoked, say, once or twice, it moves it to perhaps 4.98/5 if there are no condition problems. Since the system really exists to contend primarily with smoked pipes, the basic assumption is that it is smoked.

Posted by sykes on August 9, 2011 at 10:57 PM

Re: Grading Estate Pipes
After reading scores of articles (opinions!) online and in print, the issue of cake build-up seems to be a bit contentious. Some estates I've bought in the past definitely required extra cleaning, reaming, etc. to remove the previous owner's flavors. It would be helpful to know if any cake is present in an estate offering. Has any thought been given to removing all cake before sale?

Posted by richard mason on August 10, 2011 at 8:15 AM

Re: Grading Estate Pipes
This is one of those balancing act things. On a smoked pipe, in the interest of protecting it, we generally think it's a bad idea to remove every last bit of cake. Naturally during the smoking process, there's some light charring of the wood that takes place-- that's normal. If you remove all of this, you're removing the protective barrier and that 1/8th or 1/16th of an inch of char needs to happen again on virgin wood, thinning the walls.

What we do is take the cake down to very little to where it can still protect the pipe. That presents a clean, ready to smoke pipe for the customer, but it also lets us get under the thick layer of cake and check for any problems before it gets to the customer.

Have you felt like you have to do extra cleaning to estate pipes you've bought from us? If so, we definitely don't want that to have been the case for you. Can you let us know (here or in email) about it?

Posted by sykes on August 10, 2011 at 9:24 AM

Re: Grading Estate Pipes
I agree with what's been said about cake. It'd also be useful to know details such as how the tenon fits. I've bought estates and then found the tenons were so tight that I worry about cracking the stem or shank when I take the pipe apart to clean it, and I've bought estates where the fit is very loose. You can search on "tenon" in Pipedia and find tips on how to address both these issues, some of which may work but could also affect the re-sale value of the pipe, if that's of concern to you.

Posted by James Phillips on August 11, 2011 at 7:03 PM

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