Mastercraft

From Pipedia
Jump to: navigation, search
 Bing Crosby smoked Mastercraft pipes and can be seen in their magazine ads from the fifties.

The above isn't a lot of info so I went looking and found a thread with posting by "Ted" -- the former Exec VP of Grabow/Mastercraft http://drgrabows.myfreeforum.org/viewtopic.php?t=155&start=0

It doesn't appear it was ever a manufacturer and bought pipes from multiple factories -- mostly French and English. It survived briefly the post war recovery and then was acquired by Grabow.

The following is quoted from the thread: First a confession. From 1974 till 1984 I had several positions with Mastercraft including Executive Vice President. I also worked for Grabow From 66 till 74 and from 84 till I retired in 91. In 91 , with retirement, I was President and COO for the corporation that was called "Sparta Industries". I have seen both sides of the "fence", and even though I never left the "employ" of Grabow, My loyalties for 10 years were with M/C.

United States Tobacco(UST)(Skoal and Copenhagen) bought Grabow in 69' from the Lavietes family. In 74' they bought M/C from Bernard Hochstein and moved it into the EXACT facility Grabow occupied. I was named "operations manager" and we were in the basement of a 4 story building in Sparta, NC.

M/C was STRICTLY an importer of pipes and pipe related merchandise. In 74' when M/C moved from NYC to NC the inventory of finished goods was stored in a facility in Winston Salem, NC. Lentz Moving and Storage. Stacked 10 feet high the inventory covered 180,000 square feet....FINISHED. In my time at Grabow I had never seen that much finished stock, and the shapes, manufacturers,finishes. Heaven for a pipe smoker.....Damn right. You would have had to slap me really hard to get the grin off my face.

I'll just list a few Manufacturers/names of the inventory.England....Parker/Hardcastle(Dunhill)..Orlick...France..Jeantet...Jima...Cherrywoods....Italy..GIGI pipe...Radica....Rossi...Federico Rovera....Emilio Rovera....Santambrogio.Brebbia..Meerschaums from Austria....Strambach....Lighters from Japan....Pouches and accessories from Hong Kong...and the Israeli pipes from Mr. Hochstein's sons. Trust me...This is only a small sample of the things M/C had, and bought into inventory.

Now the connection. Since M/C and Grabow shared a building, and I was an employee of Grabow we compared notes. Grabow copied a BUNCH of M/C items fully with my help and some skills I had developed.

First was Omega...A copy of a well pipe made by Federico Rovera(FERO.com)....Freehand by the Alpha/Shalom factory..Meerschaum Lined from M. Gasparini, and later GIGI PIPE. These were originally imported by M/C for Grabow and stamped Grabow, but also stamped ITALY. Later models..better finish were made in the USA. Bucko...copied from M. Gasparini...(Gasparini, to my knowledge is the only maker of leather covered in the world) If you buy a leather covered pipe it was, most assuredly covered by M/G. And you thought the wood in the Grabow COLOR was bad.....outta unrap one of these scrappers. There is a lot more. Questions will be answered following the presentation.

Now the other way. Grabow to Mastercraft. M/C never really had a source of continuing supply. The foreign manufacturers would make a line for a while and then quit. Never do it again, no matter how well it sold, no matter the demands we put on em'. Grabow gave M/C a source of stability, and a nice profit for both companies. A lot of these you will not have heard of, but maybe....Seville, for M/C all smooth, for Grabow all rustic Hillcrest.... Freehand, For M/C Andersen and (a few Mastersen), for Grabow, Freehand with a DRB tampon. New finishes...New shapes, New bits.....Mastercraft showed Grabow how to use LUCITE for stems....Royalton....Again, these are just examples.

Ted also said: Several years before UST bought Mastercraft, M/C had aquired Marxman Pipes. A wonderful kind man, Bob Marx was still working as a salesman in NYC, and I was fortunate to make a few sales calls with him. You all remember Charles Atlas? Bob Marx was about 76 and had just been awarded the (I think) Atlas Award for being the finest speciman of manhood over 70 years old in NYC, or maybe the state.

M/C had some inventory of Marxman stuff, but not a lot. I know very little about Marxman. Did they make, import, or both?

M/C was included in all the major Christmas catalogues...Sears...Spiegel....Penney...Ward..Aldens. This was from about 70' till 80'. We usually would have a 2 pc. Massa (pressed) Meerschaum set from Robert Strambach, A water pipe from Brebbia, a huge Well pipe (saw one on e-bay a few days ago), and various odds and ends to fill about 6 - 8 spaces.

Let me also say one more thing about the 180,000 sq. ft. That wasn't all pipes. It included display cases for our sets, which were made in England, and took up lots of space. Regular boxes, bags, and display material were a part, and pouches and accessories took up quite a bit.

In about 78' UST put together a "premium products" salesforce. They sold, mostly to pipe shops, products that UST owned. Tobacco from a plant in Richmond, Don Tomas cigars from Hohduras, House of Windsor cigars from Red Lion PA., and M/C pipes. I think the force was 11 or 12 men and this was the heyday for M/C. What we had what EVERYONE in the pipe business wanted.

After the salesforce was disbanded, M/C struggled some. This is about the time that Grabow and M/C realized what an asset we were to each other. Sales stayed pretty good for a while because of the relationships Judy Weinberger (NYC sales office and VP Mastercraft) and I had developed with the pipe shop owners. -TED-

Most of the Mastercraft pipes I have seen/bought at the bid place have an Algerian Briar stamping which makes them an attractive buy in this era. They are very reasonable and every one has been well made with a nice draw and fine centering.