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Estate 2002 Talbert Briar, Smooth #2002-1tb 

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 Price: $405
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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 pipe, alas, is not in unsmoked condition though it's pretty darned close - when I received it, it looked as if it had had perhaps a bowl or two max smoked in it. Even the interior bottom of the mortise looks clean, and that's normally where the "Barely smoked" ebay pipes betray themselves, once you see that blackened mortise bottom. I don't know why it was virtually never smoked in 16 years, though possibly the draw was on the tight side - I opened it up and took the bit V cut deeper into the stem and generally massaged the internals to help it smoke considerably better.

It's a wild looking piece. When I first got it out I half-winced and thought, "So LONG", but as I've had it here it has worked its charms on me and now looks weirdly lovely, like some curvy half-churchwarden rendered in earth tones instead of white clay. The unstained briar is beautiful all around, and I haven't altered it at all other than to give it a fresh polish and wax. Style-wise, it's a nice example of my fascination with the S curve in pipes. The stem is one stretched S as it runs from bit to bowl in profile, but it's also an S looking down from above as it curves out from a tight join at the bowl, thickens at the stem and shank join, curves inward down the long stem, and flares out again as the bit widens. It's a simple shape with a lot of subtle details packed into it.