Rafael Martín Oltra was born in Valencia on May 9, 1960. His father, originally a cabinetmaker, opened a tobacconist shop in the town of his birth, passing down to Rafa all his passion and devotion for the tobacco world. As a result of his father's influence, Rafa founded his own pipe-making workshop in the back room of their tobacconist shop, which is currently operated by the third generation of the Martín family.
Since the end of the 19th Century, the pipe-making industry, particularly relating to briar pipes, has undergone constant evolution in terms of shapes, finishing, brands and artisans.
The philosophy that inspires Martín Pipes is to offer exceptional pipes providing long and pleasant smokes, thereby satisfying both the most discerning smoker and the highly specialized collector.
Rafa Martín carefully selects the best briar from several Mediterranean regions, paying special attention to the quality of raw materials. He is devoted to producing freehand pipes, avoiding any traditional shapes that he reserves for machine-made pipes.
The shapes emerge directly from the briar plateau, with skillful interpretation of the grain pattern suggesting the final result. He never uses any kind of filler, preferring to maintain the wood in its natural condition. The result varies from spectacular straight grains to rusticates, culminating in totally handmade pieces in natural finish without any kind of stain.
The care and dedication that Rafa invests in every phase of the pipe-making process necessarily makes his annual production very limited
The history of this family-operated business began at No. 9 Tres Forques Street, alongside the bar-bodega operated by my parents at the same address. Having received tobacconists' license number 143 for the province of Valencia, my parents began the arduous process of running two businesses simultaneously. Imagine the work this entailed, in addition to cooking and serving meals, tending bar, and overseeing the bulk distribution of barrels of wine.
Having insufficient capital to purchase the necessary quantities of tobacco, they saved all the empty cartons, eventually creating the appearance of a formidable inventory on the shelves. Problems arose, however, when a customer would come into the shop asking for a particular brand of tobacco, apparently in ample supply. Imagine the look on the customer's face when my father explained that the cartons of tobacco were for "decoration only." (Ha, ha!)
As I am certain is the case with many of your families, my parents worked diligently to provide a secure future for their children while tending to the needs of their business. In keeping with their philosophy of providing first-class customer service, they finally realized the long-planned relocation of their shop to its present site, offering improved presentation of an expanded selection of products and services for smokers of all types.
It has been our desire to impart to this, your shop, a classic ambience in which the smoker is surrounded by fine hardwoods and sculpted cedar - a shop in which the accumulated knowledge of generations is combined with today's technology and service to provide the ultimate smoker's destination. The Cigar Vault of Señor Martín is one of the jewels of this remodeled establishment, and is dedicated to my father, who was unable to witness the completion of his project. Inside is a carved cedar dedicatory plaque inscribed with his signature which, at the shop's inauguration, was unveiled by his two grandsons, Rafa and Iván Martín.
Website: Pipes Martín Email: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
Add: Jan. 2011, their website is closed. It seems to have ceased production. Another craftsman missing in action?
Add: Jun, 2013, his website is alive and kicking and Rafa Martin too.