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1999 Talbert Briar Yule Pipe - UNSMOKED 

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 Price: $SOLD
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The quick story - I've recently gotten hold of a large cache of my older pipes as part of a generous gift to help us pay my wife's cancer surgery expenses. Over the next weeks, I'll be gradually posting them as I get them cleaned, inspected, etc. Many of these pipes are NEW and UNSMOKED and have been part of a display collection, sometimes for as much as 20 years!

This was a shock to take out of its bag. This was one of two 1999 Yule Pipes I received that were BOTH unsmoked - They've simply been living in collector showcases for the past 19 years. It's kind of amazing to me to see them now, still in original condition... A bit like finding a 1999 Mazda RX-7 sitting in a forgotten warehouse somewhere, unsold and never driven. Except, thankfully, pipes don't gradually break down and disintegrate when not used - Instead, the briar arrives with 20 more years of age on it!

So, an old pipe new... It was fascinating and strange to examine the thing and re-encounter my pipemaking techniques of 20 years back, when I'd only been in the business for a year. I made the immediate decision to improve a few aspects of it, and ended up making that the basis for my latest Pipe Blog article, "Reworking the Flashback". Changing original designs and functional details can be controversial but in this case I considered it important for bringing the pipe "forward in quality"...and particularly in improving a few functional aspects.

These Yule Pipes were my first big project as a fulltime carver. I made three in 1998 as basically a funtime project - They varied a lot and I ended up selling them to friends and early collectors. The '99's, though, were a different story. Here, I wanted to test myself to create ten Yule pipes that were generally similar, each fitted with a handmade brass shank cap that we cut form solid brass rod, drilled out, and then meticulously carved the runic "YULE" letting into in between blocks of rusticated brass. It was a monstrously difficult project for someone of my experience level at the time but I did manage to pull it off, albeit not without rough edges here and there (most of which I've cleaned up here).

The funniest thing about it for me was the stamping. When I got started in the biz, I had the most ridiculously complicated stamping coding ever, courtesy of a childhood of D&D most likely. But on the up side, I can still get the basic info from it. This is stamped "Talbert Pipes 99 AG2B 6", with 99 for the year, AG2 for the finish (AG=Sandblasted) and grade within that finish (2=nice), B for Banded, and 6 to signify that this is the sixth pipe of the ten pipe set of Yules for that year.

So, to whoever ends up buying this, I envy you a bit - You'll be getting a first and last. First big Talbert Pipes project after going fulltime, and last Talbert Yule Pipe of the 90's. May it bring back happy memories of the days when you could still smoke in public!