Dr. Grabow Pipes:

The Dr. Grabow as an identifiable brand of pipes began in 1931, as the brainchild of Louis B. Linkman and Dr. Paul Grabow. Linkman was owner of M. Linkman & Co., which had been making pipes since 1892 under the MLC brand. The Grabow family history is that Linkman and Dr. Grabow used to meet for a smoke and bull session in Brown’s Drug Store in Lincoln Park. During one of their discussions, Linkman told Grabow he had an idea for a new line of innovative pipes, and he wanted to use Dr. Grabow’s name and endorsement. We don’t know Linkman’s new idea behind these pipes, but suspect it was the 2-scoop aluminum cleaner, featuring a saliva trap and a nicotine trap, which also functioned as a scraping tool to remove residue from the bowl.

The Dr. Grabow pipe was only one of several pipe brands made at the Linkman plant on W. Fullerton Ave., but they must have earned the public’s approval, because a 1937 Linkman publication shows sales of their Dr. Grabow pipes increased by approximately 8-fold in their first six years.

Dr. Grabow pipe sales continued to increase and in October of 1944, the Dr. Grabow Pipe Co. was formed and incorporated. Its founding incorporators included Richard J. Dean, Angelo Pinasco, and Harry A. Shapiro. The corporate address remained in the M. Linkman building on W. Fullerton. We have found no evidence showing that anyone other than M. Linkman produced the Dr. Grabow pipe for the Dr. Grabow Pipe Co. of Chicago.

In February of 1953, the Dr. Grabow Pipe Co. filed corporate dissolution papers. The next month in March, Henry Leonard and Thomas of Greensboro, North Carolina announced they had acquired the Dr. Grabow and M. Linkman business. The Chicago factory continued to produce Dr. Grabow pipes for a few months until manufacturing equipment could be moved from Chicago to HL&T’s factory, Sparta Pipes, in Sparta, North Carolina. In December of 1953 the Dr. Grabow Pipe Co., corporation of Chicago finally dissolved.

HL&T continued to produce the Dr. Grabow pipes under their previous model names for the first few years, but with new shapes HL&T had developed for their Royalton brand of pipes. By 1956, the Dr. Grabow Pipe Co. advertised their new line of Savoy pipes for $2.00, and throughout the rest of the 1950s and in the early 1960s the Dr. Grabow Pipe Co. announced new lines of pipes – the Riviera and Regal in 1957, the Starfire in 1958, the Viscount and Eldorado in 1961. Also during the 1950s, the Dr. Grabow Pipe Co. introduced their filtered Duke line of pipes using the new Duke paper filters.

Sparta Pipes wasn’t the only factory involved in manufacturing Dr. Grabow pipes for HL&T. Until 1984, So La Res Spa of Livorno Italy produced “little” Dukes and Larks. Missouri Meerschaum produced Dr. Grabow corn cob pipes. Italian and Greek makers such as Gigi produced meerschaum lined Dr. Grabow pipes.

In 1969, US Tobacco acquired Sparta Pipes and rights to Dr. Grabow. This acquisition infused the company with new capital and secured its future. A new factory was completed in 1978, and the old cramped quarters were abandoned. US Tobacco bought out Henry Leonard & Thomas in 1982, and closed the Greensboro sales office.

In 1992, Lane Ltd. acquired the Dr. Grabow property from US Tobacco. Lane Ltd. came under ownership of RJ Reynolds and British American Tobacco in about 2000. James Burns of BAT purchased the Dr. Grabow/Sparta business in 2006, and it is now under his sole ownership. More here.

 

Kaywoodie Pipes:

Kaywoodie was the name a pipe offered by Kaufman Brothers & Bondy Company (KBB), first appearing in February of 1919. The Dinwoodie pipe, also by KBB, appeared in November of 1919. Sometime before 1924, the Dinwoodie had been discontinued and the Kaywoodie name was beginning to be used on an extensive line of pipes that ultimately would be the name of the company. The origin of the name Kaywoodie is a combination of the K from Kaufman and wood, as in briar. Not much is known of the original KBB company other than it was started in 1851 by the German born Kaufman brothers when they opened a small pipe shop in the Bowery section of New York City. In the back room of this shop, they made their first pipes. From this meager beginning, the Kaywoodie name and organization was to emerge.

When one of the men from the New York office got “gold fever”, he carried a large supply of pipes with him to California that he sold along the way. This early “national distribution” did much to build the reputation of KBB. By the late 1800’s, branches of KBB were opened in Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco and St. Louis with family and friends acting as agents. The trademarks, for the inlaid cloverleaf and the cloverleaf with the KBB initials inside, were issued in 1881. KBB’s pipes became more popular and were in constant demand by the end of the century. Orders were streaming back east and KBB needed to move to larger manufacturing facilities. By 1915 the move was made to larger facilities in the old Union Hill section of Union City, New Jersey. The salesroom offices were located at 33 East 17th. Street, New York. When the Kaywoodie pipe was first introduced by KBB it came with a hand cut rubber mouthpiece fitted with an aluminum Inbore Tube. This device was to “assure a clean, cool smoke.” Other KBB pipes such as Ambassador, Heatherby and Melrose also had the Inbore tube. The early Drinkless Kaywoodies from 1924 through 1931 had push bit stems. In 1931, after three years of research, the new Drinkless Kaywoodies with the synchro-stem, (threaded drinkless screw-in mouthpiece) were introduced. The drinkless attachment was advertised as cooling the smoke from 850 degrees in the bowl to 82 degrees when it entered the mouth. By the mid 1930’s, all Kaywoodie’s came with the screw mounted Drinkless attachment. (Export Kaywoodies, available briefly from 1950-1955, had push bit stems and were available in all the same shapes and finishes as the drinkless versions.)

Again, demand for KBB pipes and especially Kaywoodie prompted another move for both the manufacturing facilities and the corporate offices. In 1930 the corporate office moved into the Empire State Building on Fifth Avenue in New York. By 1935, the manufacturing operations moved from Union City to 6400 Broadway in West New York, New Jersey which, at the time, was touted as the largest pipe making facility in the world. At the height of production, there were 500 employees producing up to 10,000 pipes per day.

The corporate offices were relocated in 1936 to the International Building, Rockefeller Center, 630 Fifth Avenue, New York. The invitation to visit the new office reads, “Kaywoodie is now on display at the world’s most famous address – Rockefeller Center. Here Kaywoodie takes its place among the leaders of industry and commerce.” The move to Rockefeller Center coincided with The Kaywoodie Company’s emergence as a subsidiary of KBB. All of the pipes manufactured by KBB including the Yello-Bole line were also on display here. By 1938 Kaywoodie had opened an office in London to meet worldwide demand. Kaywoodie of London was jointly owned with another famous pipemaker, Comoy’s of London.

The Yello-Bole line was introduced in 1932 and was an outlet for lower grade briar not used in Kaywoodie production. Yello-Bole’s were manufactured by Penacook, New Hampshire subsidiary, The New England Briar Pipe Company. Advertising from the 1940’s, pictures the Yello-Bole “Honey Girl” and urges the pipe smoker to smoke the pipe with “a little honey in every bowl.” Honey was an ingredient of the material used to line the inside of the bowl. It was said to provide a faster, sweeter break-in of the pipe.

Reiss-Premier Pipe Co. was also a pipe making concern that was part of the Kaywoodie organization. Pipes made by this company had the pipes name stamped inside an elongated diamond on the shank of the pipe. KBB, Kaywoodie and Reiss-Premier were all located in the West New York manufacturing plant. Rudolph Hirsch, the first president of The Kaywoodie Company from 1936 until at least 1950, was also president of Kaufman Brother’s & Bondy when Kaywoodie was formed and was a vice president of Reiss-Premier.

During World War II, getting briar imported into this country was not easy. Italian and French briar couldn’t be had until very late in the war. Kaywoodie was able to import 1400 5-gross bags of briar (about 1,000,000 blocks) out of North Africa in 1943 after the German army was defeated there. Early in 1941, Kaywoodie embarked on a project of domestically grown briar wood, called Mission Briar or manzanita. This wood is botanically the same as Mediterranean briar. The Pacific Briarwood Company, a KBB subsidiary, began harvesting the burl type wood growing on the slopes of the Santa Cruz Mountains of California. However, the smoking characteristics were not quite as good and the project was abandoned after the war. After the war, pipe production returned to new heights with many new pipe smokers coming out of the armed services.  More info from here.

 

Savinelli

In 1876 Achilles Savinelli Sr. founded the brand which bears his name in Milan, Italy, with one of the world’s first specialist tobacco shops. Today the Savinelli name is known across the globe as one of the most venerable, popular, and most productive providers of premium tobacco pipes, cigars, and smoking accessories. They’re also the only marque in their league which maintains full control of their pipe production from the sourcing of briar to the finishing touches, with every single Savinelli pipe originating from their own factory in Barasso. While the original Savinelli pipe and tobacco shop, located near the famous Piazzo Duomo, remains in operation to this day, it is now but one small part of the business led by Chairman Giancarlo Savinelli, the great-grandson of Achilles Sr., and guided by CEO Sonia Rivolta.

The final transition of responsibility for Savinelli’s USA distribution to Laudisi Distribution Group took place effective October 22, 2012.

Peterson

1865 was the year in which Charles Stewart Parnell entered the British House of Commons, Andrew Johnson, 17thPresident of the United States died and Gilbert & Sullivan’s first operetta had it’s first production.  It was also the year in which Charles Peterson, a master pipe-craftsman from Riga in Latvia, joined the Kapp Brothers in their retail shop at 55 Grafton Street, Dublin.  The result of this partnership of talent and resources rapidly became a household name, a prestige product whose lustre, over a century later, is brighter than ever.  Just as certain branded products are renowned for top excellence in their respective spheres, in the world of the pipe-smoker that is the role of the Peterson pipe.

Charles Peterson was a master craftsman with a feeling not only for the subtleties of the materials with which he worked, but also for the tastes and preferences of the discerning pipe smoker.  He believed that a fine pipe is not only a source of lasting pleasure but the expression of a man’s personality.  And since every man is an individual, a good pipe will reflect his individuality in the character of the briar and the skill with which it is fashioned.  Mr Peterson understood this essential principle when he began making pipes in Dublin in 1865.

Peterson invented his System pipe in 1890 and his Patent Lip mouthpiece in 1898.  Peterson’s Patent Pipe went on to receive several industry awards, advertisements confidently proclaiming it to be the pipe of the century.  It was not long before the Peterson name was to hang literally on the lips of thousands of sophisticated smokers around the world.  The Peterson pipe was embraced by politicians, business leaders, members of the clergy and armed forces, sportsmen, artists and writers.  In fact once author Conan Doyle had fashioned super-sleuth Sherlock Holmes complete with curve-stemmed Peterson, the pipe’s popular image as the ‘thinking man’s smoke’ was here to stay. Also in 1898, Kapp & Peterson became a public company. In 1974 Kapp & Peterson became part of the newly formed Peterson Tennant Group which in turn was taken over by the James Crean Group in 1982.  In 1992 the company was sold again and is now owned and run by Tom Palmer who has added a superb range of Pipe Tobaccos, Cigars, and Accessories to the Peterson portfolio.

Kapp & Peterson export all over the world and have done so for over a century.  Approximately 90% of their production goes to some 60 countries.  The main export markets being U.S. China and continental Europe.

To sell successfully on such a scale is remarkable in itself but this is not the whole of Kapp & Peterson’s achievement.  They are makers of an excellent and elegant product turned out by skilled craftsmen guided by traditional values and obeying the highest canons of quality, utility and design, – – – – a standard- bearer for Irish merchandise in markets throughout the world.

Peterson pipes are hand-crafted today in the Company’s premises at Sallynoggin, Co Dublin, where the thrust of their original motto have never been more discernible, “The Thinking Man Smokes a Peterson Pipe”

 

Erik Nording

Having originally been schooled as a machinist and engineer, took up pipe carving as a part time hobby during the 1950s. By the mid-1960s he began professionally carving hand-made pipes in Slangerup, Denmark. Along with a number of other carvers during the 1960s, Erik Nording worked in the new Freehand style that emphasized organic flowing shapes and aesthetically unified stems and bowls.

The Freehand is Erik Nording’s signature shape, though the brand also crafts traditional shapes as well. Most pipes feature preform vulcanite stems, though some feature stems of colored acrylic. Finishes for these pipes vary from smooth to rusticated, partially rusticated, or even carved designs that resemble pine cones.

 

Willard Pipes:

The Willard pipes were made by Sparta Industries in Sparta, N.C from 1963 to 1975. Some were distributed by the Post and Base Exchanges that serviced the military during the Vietnam War. Others were produced for R. J. Reynolds Tobacco.  The following is the best history I have on Willards from a fellow poster on Pipesmagazine here.

It turns out that most of the Willards we find today were made by Sparta Industries in the plant in the North Carolina town of the same name, a pipe factory that routinely used to turn out a million or more pipes a year.

Tom Douglas, a retired president and chief operating officer, of the Dr. Grabow operations said he first encountered the Willard in 1966, when he was busy disposing of the Mastercraft pipes the Dr. Grabow/Sparta partnership had obtained when it bought Mastercraft and Marxman pipes.

Douglas said Willards could have been in production a few years prior to that and there is some indication that they might have been produced as early as 1963 in a special deal in which R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. bought the pipes from the Sparta pipe makers.

RJR was packaging the Willard pipes as premiums with two bags of either Prince Albert, Carter Hall or George Washington tobacco to promote its pipe blends.

At about the same time the Sparta pipe makers landed a contract to supply military Post Exchanges and Base Exchanges with pipes and the Willard went to war throughout the Vietnam conflict.

Sparta was producing as many as 60,000 Willards a week to meet the RJR and wartime military exchange demands up until production of the Willard-branded pipe ended in 1975.

Willards were produced in most standard pipe shapes and both smooth and rusticated or carved finishes. They were made from the briar Sparta was buying at a time when Dr. Grabow was the largest buyer of briar in the world. With all that briar at hand the Willard gave the company an outlet for the lower-graded briar stummels on hand – 50-percent or less graining for the smooth Willards and blocks that needed fills for the rusticated and carved pipes.

Sparta was charging RJR $1 per pipe and the military exchanges 95 cents per pipe for the finished product at the time.

Well over a million of the civilian Willards were produced and at least that many or more of the military ones.
There are plenty of the civilian versions of the wartime Willards surfacing on the estate pipe market today.
The military ones seem to be missing in action.
They evidently never came home from the war.
The only way to tell them apart is that Willard used three lengths of shank extensions – an aluminum ring on the mortise, a ¼-inch one, and one just a little over 5/8 or an inch long. The longest one was used only on those pipes supplied to the military, which enabled Sparta to use up its over supply of shorter stummels.

Almost all Willard pipes had the patented Adjustomatic stem that enabled the smoker to turn the stem clockwise as much as he wanted until he had it positioned just right for his preferred style of smoking.
I have run across a couple Willards that have simple push-style stems but they appear to be very rare and one looks to be a pipe that walked out the back door of the factory because it probably didn’t meet final inspection standards.
It is a nice billiard but part of the bowl rim was carved out of the plateau side of the stummel, giving it a rough and unbalanced appearance.

Willards were Dr. Grabow/Sparta’s first venture into plastic stems and with a rare exception most Willards will be found to have a relatively soft plastic mouthpiece.

By 1982 Dr. Grabow/Sparta had converted its pipes from vulcanite to ABS plastic stems and those later stems are a bit harder than those you will find in the Willards.

Over the past few months I have found and purchased a couple dozen Willards in the course of researching these pipes and have come up with a couple of interesting observations.
One pipe I purchased is a fine Rhodesian with no fills and a little larger than the typical Willard. Likewise it is equipped with a larger Adjustomatic stem and drinkless mechanism suggesting it could have been made before the 1963-’75 big runs of Willards hit the market.

Speculation is that Willard pipes could have been made by Henry Leonard & Thomas (HL&T), which eventually became part of the Sparta amalgamation of pipe makers, in HL&T’s Ozone Park, NY, pipe factory as early as the late 1940s.
Or it may have been, with its Adjustomatic stem that was introduced in the late ‘40s, a product of Van Roy pipes out of New York, which, like HL&T eventually ended up in the Sparta pile where the name was revived to meet the RJR and military pipe demands.

That this particular Rhodesian has the typical Willard yellow-dot logo on the top of the stem would indicate it was an early Willard.
It seems that Dunhill, with its white-dot logo on the top of its stems, took offense to Willard using its yellow dot in the same position and a letter from Dunhills legal beagles to Sparta eventually saw the yellow dot slip around to the side of the Willard stem.

The second observation I have made of the current offering of Willards pipes on the estate pipe market is that many of them are unsmoked, albeit a bit dirty and dusty from age.
Many of them have lain in drawers and on closet shelves for up to a half-century while the briar in them has continued to cure with age.
Most Willards you will find today are comparatively light for their size attesting to decent aging of the briar. For the most part they are very easy to clean up and smoke.