Becker pipes were started by Fritz Becker, but were later exclusively made by his son, Paolo, who had been carving pipes since the late 1970s in Rome, Italy. The brand launched with their names stamped on the shank in 1979, as prior pieces were unmarked. Fritz was a very talented artisan and Paolo absorbed knowledge when they began carving pipes together. Prior to Fritz's death in 1991, each Becker pipe was worked by both men.
Stylistically, Becker pipes are unique in the world. Absorbing some aspects of Italian design and natural-born artistry, many pipes from this maker can be easily recognized from a silhouette. While the pipes are either smooth or sandblasted, their features remain rather constant. Bowls are often standard and set against a very delicate, pencil shank or have the transition turned to a very small diameter around the airway like a Victorian lady's dress. The separation of mass adds delicacy that is often a defining characteristic of Paolo. Unusual for many Italian artisans, Paolo worked with both acrylic and vulcanite rod for the stems and refrained from heavy accent materials. Instead, he would grace a shank with a delicate wafer of boxwood or silver. While briar was the most common material for Paolo to use for much of his career, he became an early adopter of sandblasted morta and strawberry wood, each with very unique and desirable characteristics - eventually both materials would become as common as briar in his work. Paolo graded his pipes similar to playing cards and the better the hand (and stamped to match), the more rare and exclusive the creation.
Paolo Becker passed in late 2014, and though the Becker name came to be synonymous with Paolo in the minds with most of us (understandable considering the great, distinct evolution in shaping and varied mediums he created), to Paolo himself Becker remained as it had begun - a family brand.
2 Becker pipes in this category.