by Richard Carleton Hacker
Pipes are shaped either by hand or by machine, with the individually crafted briars costing substantially more than the machine-made versions. But they both can smoke equally as well. The trick is in knowing what to look for. First, check the overall appearance of the pipe. Make sure the stem (mouthpiece) fits flush with the shank (the wooden shaft protruding from the bowl). Next, check out the bowl itself. Are the walls of an even thickness all around the entire circumference, or is the tobacco hole bored off-center? If one side of the pipe wall is thinner than the other, you have a good chance of burning through the briar after smoking a few pipe fulls of tobacco. Look for an even thickness. A thick pipe bowl is preferable to a thin one, as this is normally insurance against a burnout. While you‘re peering into the pipe bowl, make sure that the airhole enters from the very bottom of the bowl. That way you‘ll be able to smoke all of your tobacco, without leaving a residue in the heel.
Look at the Mouthpiece of the pipe. It will be made of either vulcanite or lucite. Vulcanite has a little bit of a "give" against the teeth and can generally be shaped thinner, which many pipe smokers find more comfortable. But it can be bitten through and, if not kept polished, will oxidize in time. Lucite is harder in texture but will not dull with age and is less apt to break. Frankly, if you find an overall pipe shape that you like, whether it comes with a vulcanite or lucite mouthpiece is almost academic.
Now let‘s talk about brands and countries of origin. England has long been thought of as the pipe-smoking capital of the world and there is a certain panache to having a pipe that bears one of the great British names. Dunhill certainly heads the top of the list and adds to its Rolls Roycian image by also being among the most costly of all briars. Comoy‘s is another great old British name that is substantially less expensive. Likewise Charatan‘s, although now made in France, is still a classic English trademark. And still keeping within the United Kingdom, the Irish-made Peterson‘s is one of the most popular pipes available today. ... to be continued
Prossimo articolo: How To Pick The Perfect Pipe - part V