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 The Price of Artisan Pipes

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PostSubject: Re: The Price of Artisan Pipes   Sun Mar 24, 2013 10:14 am

Art is possible because of a common vocabulary of concepts and applications of them that are effective.

The obsession (from the later 19th Century on) with "originality" (as if this were a touchstone separating the "great artist" from the "mere copyist") has been one important factor in virtually guaranteeing the the production of works (and schools) which, absent effective promotion, have the lifespans of insects.

Special effects aside, what great improvements in cinematic art have surpassed the accomplishments of Wells, Hitchcock, Liebenthal or Eisenstein ?

Does GLP's standing in the blending world depend on him having invented an entirely "new" genre of pipe tobacco ? Or on how accomplished he is at making surprisingly "new" blends out of the common vocabulary of components ?

The Bach Mass in b-Minor is a catalogue of every compositional procedure that existed from 1550 up to the time it was written. What puts it over the top is that no one has ever done any of them better.

What a Face
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Sasquatch

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PostSubject: Re: The Price of Artisan Pipes   Sun Mar 24, 2013 10:38 am

As a guy who has added absolutely nothing original to the world of pipe making, I tend to agree with Yak on this one.
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PostSubject: Re: The Price of Artisan Pipes   Sun Mar 24, 2013 12:13 pm

Has anyone in the last 4,000 years "invented" a new and "better" way to put Tab "A" in slot "B" ?

Or is the point of that exercise excellence at the familiar ? Laughing

What a Face
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Kyle Weiss

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PostSubject: Re: The Price of Artisan Pipes   Sun Mar 24, 2013 3:37 pm

Well, since Greg gave you the credit, Veet, I'll just do the "borrowing." Twisted Evil Laughing That is a good line and concept.

Also, points to Yak for those who do something best. Personal pride legacies be damned if someone picks up the baton and continues the race and the effort...makes sense to me. Originality is a farce. Otherwise we'd be still driving "horseless carriages" rather than allowing all sorts of people to have their way with an engine and some wheels.
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Kyle Weiss

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PostSubject: Re: The Price of Artisan Pipes   Sun Mar 24, 2013 3:39 pm

Yak wrote:
Has anyone in the last 4,000 years "invented" a new and "better" way to put Tab "A" in slot "B" ?

Or is the point of that exercise excellence at the familiar ? Laughing

What a Face

Side thought: no, but we've invented a few artificial "analogs" to kill the downtime between tabs and slots. They still generically approximate the real thing--which there are not many replacements. Laughing
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PostSubject: Re: The Price of Artisan Pipes   Mon Mar 25, 2013 1:59 pm

We're in an area where "stealing" isn't the right word, I'd say.

Far as I know, pipe design isn't subject to patent or copyright law, unless you've developed some functional twist, like, say, the Pete multi-chamber system.

The applicable idea seems to be well articulated by Harold Bloom, a lit crit from Yale. He often writes on "the Western canon," -- i.e., Western classics -- an idea the politically correct are hostile to, but bear with me a moment. Bloom admits writers to the canon based on their influence. Influence is not synonymous with popularity or copies sold. To Bloom, influence is the impact an author has on other authors.

Pre-Shakespeare, serious fiction was regarded as earning its place on its ability to teach. (See Plato's Republic.) But post-Shakespeare, fiction was about character and plot. Big change. But not the kind of thing that The Bard could have copyrighted. In fact, he borrowed all (I think) of his plays from historical sources, his characters were familiar to his audience, but what he added was uniquely his own and couldn't be "stolen."

If you buy into the metaphor, a maker of "classic" pipes (individual or group) is one who pruduces designs that influence other carvers, implying that copying is a compliment to the original master carver.

Another way the literary metaphor can apply to pipes is that -- with plays, particularly -- the final product isn't the work of a single person. It's presented through collaborating directors, actors and techies, all of whom have their hands on the final product. So you have different "versions" of Hamlet, just as you have different versions of a simple billiard.

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PostSubject: Re: The Price of Artisan Pipes   Mon Mar 25, 2013 2:21 pm

Yak wrote:
In historical context, the notion that there is "Intellectual Property" in any art is absurd.
Point crystallized.

This is one of those rare occasions I agree wholeheartedly and passionately with What a Face
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PostSubject: Re: The Price of Artisan Pipes   Mon Mar 25, 2013 9:58 pm

Copped this from UberHuberMan :

Frederic Chopin wrote:
Simplicity is the highest goal, achievable when you have overcome all difficulties. After one has played a vast quantity of notes and more notes, it is simplicity that emerges as the crowning reward of art

This ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^This

What a Face


Last edited by Yak on Mon Mar 25, 2013 10:33 pm; edited 2 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: The Price of Artisan Pipes   Mon Mar 25, 2013 10:10 pm

Fantastic rap on the topic, found bopping around :

http://www.pipemakersforum.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=6978

What a Face
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PostSubject: Re: The Price of Artisan Pipes   Tue Mar 26, 2013 12:11 am

That ramble actually ties into this conversation as well:

http://www.pipemakersforum.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=6293&start=0
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PostSubject: Re: The Price of Artisan Pipes   Tue Mar 26, 2013 12:28 am

And for anybody who actually bothers to read either of those, my frequent denigration of Ernie Markle is part of a running joke between he and I. It makes him feel notorious. pirat
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PostSubject: Re: The Price of Artisan Pipes   Tue Mar 26, 2013 7:22 am

Sasquatch wrote:
And for anybody who actually bothers to read either of those, my frequent denigration of Ernie Markle is part of a running joke between he and I. It makes him feel notorious. pirat

Laughing I was wondering about that.
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PostSubject: Re: The Price of Artisan Pipes   Tue Mar 26, 2013 8:46 am

Naturally, I had to google Ernie Markle. Found one I kind of liked & read the Smokingpipes sales pitch. (Always entertaining & instructive to read those).

" . . . the bakelite stem . . ."

People seriously make stems out of plastic ?????

Somebody buy me a clue from Vanna here scratch

What a Face
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sisyphus

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PostSubject: Re: The Price of Artisan Pipes   Tue Mar 26, 2013 8:50 am

Bakelite was the standard stem material after amber and before vulcanite if I'm not mistaken. The old KB&B (pre-Kaywoodie) pipes had Bakelite stems.
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PostSubject: Re: The Price of Artisan Pipes   Tue Mar 26, 2013 8:59 am

Thank you.

I'm familiar with it as a long-since superceded plastic formulation.

What I don't get is why anybody'd go back to using it again ? For one thing, it was brittle. Which, for stuff like radio knobs, didn't matter.

What a Face
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sisyphus

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PostSubject: Re: The Price of Artisan Pipes   Tue Mar 26, 2013 9:25 am

same reason someone might want an amber, horn or briar stem, tradition, the novelty, looks
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Rad Davis

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PostSubject: Re: The Price of Artisan Pipes   Tue Mar 26, 2013 9:29 am

Yak wrote:
Thank you.

I'm familiar with it as a long-since superceded plastic formulation.

What I don't get is why anybody'd go back to using it again ? For one thing, it was brittle. Which, for stuff like radio knobs, didn't matter.

What a Face


It's because all Bakelite is antique and therefore very cool. Smile

Rad
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sisyphus

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PostSubject: Re: The Price of Artisan Pipes   Tue Mar 26, 2013 9:31 am

Quote :
In fact, if I had a steady stock of black bakelite, I'd prefer using it to vulcanite because I find it to be far easier to work and finish. -J. Alan

Quote :
Bakelite is fairly hard compared to the hardened rubbers, but softer than Lucite. -S. Downie

There's an answer right there. If it's softer than acrylic that's bonus enough, although I really don't see why anyone would use anything but vulcanite except for the maintenance issues putting some smokers off.
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PostSubject: Re: The Price of Artisan Pipes   Tue Mar 26, 2013 10:04 am

I actually think acrylic offers a better tasting pipe. Rubber stems influence the taste of a pipe in any number of ways (from the sulphur component of the oxidation process, for example). I think even a clean and waxed rubber stem has an influence (carnauba has a taste too come to think of it) whereas acrylic puts no flavors at all in the smoke or on one's tongue. I think the rubbery tastes are things that pipe smokers get used to and forget about. It's no big deal (and I'm now fully prepared to be told by 50 people that THEY have rubber stems and THEY have never tasted anything), but to me a clean acrylic stemmed pipe smokes purer than a clean rubber stemmed pipe, particularly if there's wear on the rubber.
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PostSubject: Re: The Price of Artisan Pipes   Tue Mar 26, 2013 10:08 am

the mouth feel of acrylic is awful compared to vulcanite
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PostSubject: Re: The Price of Artisan Pipes   Tue Mar 26, 2013 11:05 am

Yes. Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: The Price of Artisan Pipes   Tue Mar 26, 2013 11:16 am

Quote :
acrylic offers a better tasting pipe.

THIS.

Period.

First trip around the block in a pipe with a new-to-me lucite stem moment of illumination :

Hey -- my tobacco doesn't taste like Stem !!!!!

First day of the rest of my life there.

What a Face
HAND SMOKER
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PostSubject: Re: The Price of Artisan Pipes   Tue Mar 26, 2013 12:13 pm

Sasquatch wrote:
to me a clean acrylic stemmed pipe smokes purer than a clean rubber stemmed pipe, particularly if there's wear on the rubber.

Exactly!
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PostSubject: Re: The Price of Artisan Pipes   Tue Mar 26, 2013 1:03 pm

Pull up a chair & light a pipe, guys. The Yakster's about to hold forth with some wisdom here.

Comfy ? OK then. Here we go.

I did my best to put a bug in Marty Pulvers' ear a few days ago, suggesting that if he were casting around for some topic to expound on at his home page and coming up short for an interesting one, a LOT of people would welcome a series by him on what, exactly, goes into the way pipes (new and estate both) are valued. Not by the lunatic fringe at Flea Bay, but by the people like him who have been immersed in the pipe market for 30 years and know -- from long experience -- what they're talking about.

He seemed pretty receptive to the idea, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

In the mean time, I'm going to entertain you with a blazing insight into the matter of why guys like certain pipes enough to spend "real money" to acquire them that clarifies everything wonderfully. Not what the dynamic appears to be when considered in marketing terms, where every term is an abstraction standing in for a reality, but what their root motivation is.

I keep pointing out that
What a Face wrote:
Pipes are female.
and you guys either laugh or roll your eyes because you think I'm being an asshat again.

But I assure you, solemnly, that I speak truth here, and nothing but.

Hungry male baboons presented with a choice between either pulling lever "A" for dinner or lever "B" to watch a video of female baboon butts choose to go hungry. Consistently.

Sex sells. If you don't think that's what's driving "buying decisions" in a wide range of applications, buy a clue from Vanna. She knows. Millions of women watched that show. Same basic deal as Chick Flicks ; no women in the movie, no female audience appeal. That's why they put those bubblebrained "reporters" asking assinine questions of the coaches on the sidelines along with the cheerleaders that everybody figures are there for the guys. They draw female viewers.

It all reduces to mass contained and expressed by curved surfaces.. The rest is details.

There has been a long series of multi-millionaire collectors of classic-era Italian violins who can't play a note on one to save their lives. What do you think the root appeal involved is ?

Rather than download a bunch of pictures, check these and you tell me.

Antonio Stradivari :
http://www.bbc.co.uk/radioassets/photos/2007/6/4/21178_2.jpg

Giuseppi Guarneri del Gesu :
http://www.simplyviolin.com/page2/page10/files/Guarnerius%20Guarneri%20del%20gesu%20front.jpg

Matthias Gofriiller :
http://images.fineartamerica.com/images-medium-large/goffriller-violin-f-hole-corner-sam-hymas.jpg

Now switch obsessions for a minute and go to classic-era American Longrifles -- another obsessive high-roller collector fascination. Why do you think they designed and made them to be so awe-inspiringly beautiful that people who can afford to drop six-figure sums for them and count themselves lucky to get them ?

Here's a J.P. Beck from Lebanon County (later 18th Century). Bear in mind that the women there are of Saxon descent -- stocky in build, but extremely shapely as far as curves go :

http://jamesdjulia.com/auctions/327/images/lrg/46877x8.jpg

http://tinypic.com/view.php?pic=n1w76d&s=5

That's mass contained and beautifully defined by the curves that express it.

Here, by contrast, is a William Defibaugh (ca. 1850) from Bedford County, where there was no lack of slender, wiry girls of Scotch-Irish descent :

http://www.cowansauctions.com/itemImages/mm1806.jpg

It worked then, and it still works today. And that's the what, how and why of it.

Shapely butts have a profound effect on hominids. They're wired that way. And artisans with a clue utilise that to advantage.

Using old-brain sexual response programming to sell fine arts is the most direct route to bypass operant conditioning ("the pipe's worth $150 ; the white spot adds $450 of value to it) and get to potential customers "where they live."

OK. Here's the $64,000 question : Why is it that it's so freaking hard to find nice, classic shapes (billiards, apples, princes, &c.) and why do they disappear in a heartbeat when they surface (?) while, at the same time there are pages and pages of the same old same old "contemporary" shapes being made almost by post-hypnotic suggestion sitting there on offer for months on end, gathering dust (which the photographs of them, not being in real time, fortunately don't show) ?

However remote the connexion, and mitigated by after-the-fact considerations, the root of the appeal is -- for the first time here on BoB -- articulated bluntly.

You're welcome. Cool

What a Face
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PostSubject: Re: The Price of Artisan Pipes   Tue Mar 26, 2013 2:18 pm

Classic shapes are very, very easy to make ugly.

It's far harder to cut a really good billiard than a mediocre "Danish inspired" lump of an acorn. Put a Mammoth-Ivory ring on the lump and it's a high-grade?


There's some nice stuff being cut right now in both "schools" but there's also a lot of pretty poor shaping going on and being shined up and sold as high-grade stuff. Or rather, offered as high grade stuff. Rolling Eyes

If you miss a single aspect of the cut on a billiard (or any of the Dunhill-type English shapes - tight, rigid, spare) you get a totally amateur looking pipe. Can't hide it where you can on a more.... abstract shape.


This is not to say that the best of the more abstract shapes aren't just as difficult (or more difficult), but there are only a few guys cutting such pipes right now. The real "high grades" whatever that term is worth.

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