Before I begin, I need to address an issue that’s affecting bloggers such as myself. I am, or was, a Photobucket user, and had been for about ten years. I used it for posting images on forums, and later blogs like this one. Unfortunately, Photobucket decided to change their services overnight, and blocked all image sharing for free members. So many of my former posts no longer have images on them.
That’s fine; they can do that if they want. If the price to upgrade to a paid user were affordable, I’d go ahead and do it. However, $399 a year to upload photos to my blog is outright ridiculous.
Needless to say, I will no longer use Photobucket for this blog, or at all. I’m not sure when I’ll be able to fix my older posts, but I’m unhappy with how Photobucket handled this. Like knocking the dottle from my pipe, I’m ridding myself of their services and going somewhere else.
Summertime has reared its head once again, much to the dismay of pipe smokers everywhere. While people are out with barbecues, sports, and other activities people who love the sun get to do over these next few months, I’m here in my garage with my fan blowing at full blast. Even as a young lad, other than time off from school, I never cared for summer. Humidity, mosquitoes, wasps, spiders, bugs, and the heat? Blech!
So how am I beating the summer heat? By staying indoors as much as possible during the day. While I don’t get to smoke my pipe as much in the summer, I do think of my pipes and stare at the upcoming forecast, praying for decent weather so I’m not melting in my garage.
In the meantime, I’ve taken up a new hobby to help pass the time: visiting antique stores. When I was younger, my mother would take me along for trips to the local antique stores. While other kids might’ve found this boring, I actually enjoyed going to these shops and looking at old items from the past. Back then, I was more interested in searching for old action figures and comics, but every now and then I’d find an old set of pipes and study them when no one was looking.
Since taking up pipe smoking, my memories of antique shopping as a teenager gave me the idea to go back to those musty shops and see if I could find a hidden gem. On pipe forums, you’ll hear about the occasional score lucky pipers have made, such as some piper snagging an old Dunhill for $10. Now that’s a rare case, but if you don’t look, you won’t know what you’re missing. Where I live, there are tons of antique stores, so every few weeks I’ll go explore a new shop and see what I can find.
So far, that $10 Dunhill is my personal Loch Ness Monster. In fact, if I can find an old pipe or two, then I consider that a success. Most of the time, the several pipes I find are not worth a second glance. I’ve even found one old corncob pipe at one store that sells for $50! Ha! Good luck selling that one.
Last year, I happened to come across a charming old Chacom Billiard with a tall bowl for $30. I debated long and hard about purchasing it, but decided to spend the money towards commissioning a pipe. When I came back a few months later to pick it up, the pipe was gone, snagged by another lucky piper. Sometimes I regret passing it up, but it’s a reminder to me that if you find something worth buying, then buy it before someone else does.
One’s mileage will vary when going to an antique shop. Not only is there the possibility that you won’t find a pipe hiding somewhere, there’s also the price issue. While there are hidden $10 Dunhills out there, more often than not, I’ll run into the old, chewed up Dr. Grabow for $50, or that cob I mentioned earlier. The antique shopper is at the mercy of the shop owner, and some think their old, dirty pipes are worth their weight in gold. Keep that cell phone close at hand, so you can make sure you’re not getting ripped off from an ignorant seller.
Though I’ve yet to find a deal on a neat pipe, I don’t regret my time searching them. Venturing into a new antique store is an exciting adventure, with countless nooks and crannies to pick around in search of a hidden gem. I’m like an explorer in an undiscovered territory, and it’s waiting for me to jump in and find that forgotten pipe that has to be somewhere next to the jar of discarded buttons.
One object that I can always count on finding is the old, discarded pipe rack. More often than not, I’ll find at least two pipe racks in each store. Most are the plain, boring pipe racks that hold six pipes. If I’m lucky, I’ll find one with a humidor jar in the middle, with the scent of Prince Albert still lingering in the jar. Most recently, I found a wooden train, with two pipe rests sitting in the middle two cars. While I don’t have room in my shelves for such an object, I can’t deny how cool it is.
Even when I don’t find a pipe in an antique store, I’ll still find various pipe related objects and paraphernalia. Pipe tobacco tins are common, featuring such classic blends as Prince Albert and Kentucky Club. Sadly, many of these tins are priced a bit more than I’d like to pay. Why spend $20 on an old Prince Albert tin when I could put that money towards tins with actual pipe tobacco in them? Still, there’s no denying that they’d look nice displayed next to my pipes.
Other neat objects I’ll find are little figurines or books with characters that have pipes in their mouth. They’re a reminder of days long past, when pipe smoking was much more common than our ragtag group of misfits today. Take for example Cycling Daddy (pictured above). You’d never see a toy today featuring a pipe smoker. Yet there’s Cycling Daddy, with a creepy doll happily riding around with a pipe in his mouth. Let’s hope he’s not possessed like one of those dolls in a horror movie.
Even though not every trip is a success, exploring old antique stores is a ton of fun. While you’ll find a lot of junk in an antique store, you’ll still see many old and long forgotten items from the past. There are so many items you’ll find that aren’t in production anymore, or old toys you’ve forgotten about. When you step in an antique store, you’re leaving the modern world and entering a museum of the past. As pipe smokers, we have an appreciation of all things old and out of place, and the antique store is a perfect place for the piper to spend an afternoon.
Stay cool out there, and happy piping to you!