RJR Grabow information
Dr. Grabow / R.J. Reynolds Briar info, originally appeared on Frency's Pipes website, and then on DrGrabow-pipe-info.com. It appears here courtesy of Russell McKay at DrGrabow-pipe-info.com.
RJR Grabow information
by K. Maxwell Graves Jr. Attorney At Law
"…The executives at R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company were well aware that it was not very easy in those days for the average working man to acquire a quality Briar pipe. Remember pipe smokers have always been a strange breed and some of the executives at R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company were probably a part of that strange breed themselves. Whatever, R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company in a good old capitalist American fashion set out to supply the need. It sent its representatives to the far corners of the world to acquire an unlimited amount of Briar of the highest quality, as well, causing to be produced pipe stems of an equal quality to vulcanite and far more durable for the day to day affairs of the working man and at some point arrangements were made with the Dr. Grabow Pipe Manufacturer in North Carolina, and a cartel was entered into that would become a part of America's everyday life for well over thirty years and the finest pipes ever produced for the American market or any other market anywhere else in the world were presented to America's pipe smokers in a most unusual fashion.
R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company had two other pipe tobaccos which were George Washington and Carter Hall that shared a good hunk of the pipe tobacco market left over from Prince Albert and Sir Walter Raleigh. Thus sets the stage for a coupon to be placed in each package or can of these tobacco products. The pipes presented to the American public were the very finest mass produced pipes ever created by man, or in all probability will ever be created by man. Pipes were presented with either a metal filter or a paper filter. The highest quality pipes were presented with only a metal filter. The Westbrook model came either in a rustic or matte finish and had metal filters along with the Berwyck that presented the same choice with paper filters. These pipes could be purchased only by mailing five coupons and three dollars to Sparta, North Carolina. The classic of the series was a natural grain Emperor with only the metal filters and its cost was five dollars and required twenty five coupons. About half way through the duration of the offer the Sculptura was introduced as demand was high for a quality sandblast grain pipe. So, R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company set out to produce the perfect sandblast grain pipe and boasted that no finer sandblast pipe had ever been produced by man nor ever would be produced by man than its Sculptura that could only be purchased by collecting five coupons and sending that along with four dollars to Sparta, North Carolina.
Each order that was filled for every pipe ordered throughout America came in a neat box with a full set of literature including a shape chart that actually gave a pipe smoker an immediate choice to choose from far greater than any pipe store or other outlet that America has ever seen or probably will ever see.
This mail order offer that began sometimes in the early 1950's would end in 1987 when R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company sold its tobacco products to John Middleton, Inc. At that time it was announced that this mail order offer was the longest running mail order offer in duration of time of any mail order offer of any product on the American market. Thus, an era ended eighteen years ago or so and as each year turns over these pipes become less available and thus more valuable.
The argument about a good smoking pipe so prevalent today among pipe smokers is not applicable to these pipes for the simple reason that they all smoke good and they all smoke just alike with no discernable differentation that any one pipe is any better or worse than any of the others. These pipes came from the top twenty percent of Briar obtainable and were constructed with the quality control standards of a Zippo lighter. The only difference was in the shape and this was presented in a very large number of choices. The Dr. Grabow pipe is clearly stamped as such, but was never ever retailed. It was admitted by all that these pipes were superior to the retail Dr. Grabow pipe. Those with the metal filter are no longer obtainable from any source. Those with the paper filter, although similar to the present Dr. Grabow, is of a superior quality. Since those with the paper filter were not nearly so popular as the metal filter in those old days it is rather difficult to find one these days. There will not be many days until those with the metal filter are gone forever never to be replaced and it is likely that anyone who possesses such a pipe has a very valuable piece of Briar or to become such in not very many years. One other point, also like a Zippo, these pipes are virtually indestructible…
K. Maxwell Graves Jr. Attorney At Law