Antique smoking pipes were made from a variety of materials ranging from meerschaum (a easily-carved mineral found mainly in Turkey) to wood, terra cotta and porcelain. The carvings and shapes of many of these pipes are intricate and imaginative, almost like miniature sculptures. Collecting vintage and antique pipes will require you to become knowledgeable about the types of pipes available, how to search for them both on and offline, and how to join pipe collecting associations and clubs.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Books and articles about antique pipes
- Internet access
- Club memberships
- Antique stores
- Estate sales
Read as much as you can both online and in books about pipes. Read recognised authority Ben Rapaport's books, which include "A Complete Guide to Collecting Antique Pipes" (1998) and "Collecting Antique Meerschaum Pipes: Miniature to Majestic Sculpture" (1999). Old pipe catalogues are also useful sources of information.
Join pipe collecting clubs to learn from more experienced collectors. Subscribe to any newsletters that the clubs offer, which will give you helpful collecting tips as well as inform you of meetings and conventions that you can attend.
Determine what sort of pipes you want to collect. Briar wood pipes or elaborately carved 18th and 19th century meerschaums, are just a few examples of popular collectibles. Also decide whether you want to collect pipes that you can actually use. Many collectors have a small number of vintage pipes they use to smoke tobacco, and they keep the rest pristine.
Search the Internet for antique sellers who carry pipes, and pipe and smoking accessory stores, which may have a section devoted to vintage and antique pipes. Visit estate sales, second-hand stores and antique stores in your area to look at and purchase old pipes.
Tips and warnings
- The more highly carved and decorated the pipe bowl is, the more expensive and valuable it tends to be.
- Consider expanding your collection to include smoking paraphernalia such as humidors, tobacco tins and tobacco and pipe advertisements.
- It can be difficult to price antique pipes accurately, since there are so many variables such as condition, quality, age, colour, material and workmanship. In addition, there are few antiques appraisers who specialise in pipes.
- Check carefully to see whether there are any replacement parts on an antique pipe.
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- "Pipes Magazine";The Meerschaum Pipe Experience; Fred Bass; 2010
- Pipesmoking.net: The Pipe As Hobby
- Ramshornsutudio.com: Pipe Collection
- "Auctionbytes-Update"; Collector's Corner: Tobacco Pipes; Michele Alice; 2006
- Antiquesandthearts: The Art of the Antique Pipe
- The Antique Pipe Co: The Antique Pipe Co. Recommends