Sunday, August 10, 2008

changes to the Countryman Line

Some of you know that I've got three distinct grades of pipes that I offer:

  • Countryman Line:
    The Countryman line is the most affordable line of pipes I offer. These are fully rusticated, using any number of different methods from carving to sandblasting, and are made from plateaux or ebauchon block. The stems are typically factory molded stems. Shapes in this collection are of the typical "catalog" shapes such as billiard, dublin, Bulldog, etc.
  • Cityman Line:
    Partially rusticated, sandblasted, or smooth. These pipes are made from both plateaux and ebauchon with good grain structure, and largely free from flaws that would require rustication. Stems in this line are either hand-cut from rod stock, or are factory stems that have had their shape modified. While still affordable, this collection of pipes represents a step up in finish quality.
  • Nobleman Line:
    Always smooth finish, and always cut from the best plateaux available, these pipes represent the pinnacle of fit, finish, and materials. Usually of a unique shape, absolutely flawless, and wonderful and vibrant grain. Only hand-cut stems are used in this line.
Well, changes are happening. I've managed to secure a deal with a supplier for factory turned pipe bowls at a very attractive price. This will allow me to continue offering these pipes at low prices, which was becoming increasingly difficult making each one by hand. Before securing this deal, I was left with a choice of discontinuing the Countryman line, or raising the price considerably. It also has the side benefit of allowing me to offer many more of these pipes, since I'll have a ready supply of stummels to use instead of having to hand make each one.

What does this mean as far as smoking quality? Absolutely nothing will change. The stummels, though shaped, still need to be drilled. This means I still have control over the airway, and can continue to ensure that these pipes have a smooth and open draw that people have come to expect of my work. I also have to continue fitting a stem individually to each pipe, and ensure that everything lines up exactly. Net result? Same quality, continued low price, more pipes available. Sounds like a good deal, eh?

Now, clearly, this isn't an original idea. Other pipe makers already have offerings like this. Trever Talbert, for instance, has his Ligne Bretagne line which is very popular. In fact, credit really goes to Trever for suggesting to me that I find a source of pre-turned stummels to use. I was so impressed by the samples that I got from my supplier, that I decided to use them in my regular offerings.

So, what do they look like? The very first of the new Countryman line can be seen by clicking here. It's a nice, classically proportioned rhodesian with a saddle stem and sandblast finish. This particular shape is very comfortable, the one I made for myself as a tester pipe is excellent for ribbon cut tobaccos like Margate. There's lots more waiting in the wings as well, so keep an eye on the Countryman page.

Every once in a while you'll find me insert something into the countryman line that's a little different. Maybe a handmade piece, or something with a shank adornment or stem ring, or even a fully handmade pipe. These will still be graded as Countryman, but will have an additional grading of "afficianado". By and large, however, anything fully handmade will be graded as a Cityman from here on out.