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Estate 2001 Talbert 'Alt.Smokers.Pipes' POTY

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 Price: $335
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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!

While this particular pipe HAS been smoked, it's been well cared for and I've given it an end-to-end restoration that has returned it to 95% new. The restoration involved a thorough alcohol cleaning of the bowl and airhole and shank, a drillbit reaming of the airhole, a full sanding of the bowl chamber with a new bowl carbonizing applied, and an exterior re-sandblasting that's removed the bowl rim char. There are a couple of *very* light toothmarks left in the bit but they're pinprick-sized, and I've carefully sanded the bit to a freshly smooth and glossy state, as well as widening the bit slot interior and improving the draw.

But what IS it? Return with me now to a time before time, when the internet was still forming and one of the chief benefits of an ISP subscription was access to Usenet, the vast text messaging board where there was a subject for every interest... much like Reddit today, really. It was all very Wild West, there were no mods or censors, but it was more civil than one might think, and in the middle of that ocean of chatter was the newsgroup Alt.Smokers.Pipes. Like so many human endeavors, it started out marvelously and later died an ignoble death as traffic either moved away to moderated forums or was driven away by the increasing troll infestation. But, for many years, ASP was a genuinely nice place, full of good pipe and tobacco chat and more or less civil and polite, even. The downfall didn't really set in till 2003 or so, and back in 2001 the board decided to ask a number of the resident pipecarvers to do a Pipe of the Year set. They designed a round logo and had a bunch made, and a vague shape was settled on and then all the carvers went and made their own individual interpretations of it. I think I did three or four of these, I can't remember now.

Looking at it today, it's a great example of the sort of egg-bowl, looooong stem aesthetic that I preferred back then. The re-blasting of the bowl has really helped the unstained briar show off its deeply crappy age rings, and the bird's-eye-covered bottom is as pretty as ever. The swirled cumberland-style acrylic stem has a beautiful subtle brown and red and black color blend, and being acrylic, still looks brand new. The most interesting bit of trivia on this is the logo, though. The flat disc logos presented a problem for us carvers because this is a very round pipe shape, without any obvious places to mount a flat disc. My own solution was to drill a recess into the stem, set the logo into it, and learn to mix and pour clear resin to fill in the recess and allow me to sand and polish the clear logo covering level with the rest of the stem. I'm REALLY pleased to see that this has held up perfectly over the past 17 years. Also, this was the first time I'd worked with resin, and that experience spurred me to go onward and learn to blend and cast my own stem rods.

All in all, a fun piece of internet pipe history and Talbert workshop educational history, rolled into one!