One thing leads to another and it wasn’t long before I ordered another pipe from Blakemar Briars. Well, I say another, make that 2! I thought I’d give the very reasonably priced Aristocrat range a go and emailed Mike Billington to see if there was available stock. Mike replied in the affirmative and told me that the current stand-up bent pipes on his website were actually smaller than the sandblast I previously received and would I prefer the larger version as he had a few in stock but not displayed online. I agreed that the larger sized pipe (Peterson 306 size) would suit my needs than the smaller shape (basically the size of a Peterson 304).
Blakemar Briars is a pipe making company based in Northamptonshire, England. The business was established in the 1870’s by Thomas Martin, and has remained in family hands to this day. The current owner Mike Billington has worked there since 1970 – guided by his uncle, Richard (Dick) Martin until his passing in 2003, using lathes, hand tools and knowledge only gained by experience. The end product is a hand made pipe with great smoking characteristics and charm. From time to time Dick’s early pipes appear on ebay which maybe worth checking out if you fancy a slice of history?
Despite not owning a Blakemar, I had for some time been eyeing their wares online. One thing that always struck me was even the most expensive pipes seemed quite reasonable and the more affordable range almost give away. On the face of it the quality looked consistent across the board and it is fair to say each Blakemar pipe is as good as the next regardless of cost, only superficial grading of briar and its finish really dictates the final price.