Dr. Grabow Models (Series,Line) Names Through the Years

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The following information is the work of Russell McKay, and is from his website DrGrabow-pipe-info.com. It appears on Pipedia by kind permission of the author.

Circa 1960's Dr. Grabow flyer, courtesy Chriskeene.com

What's in a NAME? Pipe Model (Series, Line) Names Through the Years -- info as of 06-19-08.

Photos and information on prices of, and dating of, the various Dr. Grabow Pipes will be included elsewhere at a later date. The information below, newly added, is just the beginning of the information I hope to put up. One has to start SOMEWHERE.

To make it much easier to locate a certain pipe name in this section, I have placed them in simple alphabetical order with a little information about each line or series. Information with more detail about the grade of briar used, the ranking of the pipes in quality from say, best to least, will be added later in a different area.

Furthermore, I have split these pipe names into two groupings of my own definition, "OLD" and "NEW". Roughly that equates to pipes made in Chicago and pipes made in Sparta, North Carolina area after the sale and "move". In a very grey area in between is an era I call the "transition period" when strange things were happening with production and the like, and where, possibly, pipes were being made at both locations at the same time, or may have even been contracted out to yet another place. This is a separate subject in and of itself and one we may never really resolve, but it IS a very interesting time in Dr. Grabow history, even if we affectionately call some of the pipes we suspect from that time, "Dr. Crapos".

"OLD" Pipe Names and First Two-Digit Codes and Symbols:

Circa 1960's Dr. Grabow flyer, courtesy Chriskeene.com
Circa 1960's Dr. Grabow flyer, courtesy Chriskeene.com
  • COURTLEIGH begins with 91 Series 82 = “The Antique Courtleigh” with an Antique Grain Finish c1937. (Not really a Dr. Grabow) Series 91 = Natural Select Grain Finish, c1937.
  • DE LUXE begins with 92, 97, 98 – Two Dots, Circle or Shield on shank sometimes. Series 92 = Very dark reddish wine, solid looking finish, yet undefined, possibly from 1938 or slightly later era. Series 97 = Natural Variegated Grain Finish, c1937. Series 98 = yet undefined, Dark Brown appearance? Series 99 = Dark Walnut Finish, c1937.
  • DOLLAR DR. GRABOW -- See "SPECIAL" below.
  • DR. GRABOW (C1930 to 1932?) had no series number as in the begining, this WAS the only pipe name for this new Linkman's line of pipes. Most examples have MLC in an ocal stamp and just a TWO-digit shape number.
  • FIFTY GRAND begins with 15, c1937? or later. (Not really a Grabow)
  • HOLLYCOURT begins with 88, c1938 or later. (Not really a Grabow)
  • RINGMASTER begins with 50, c1955+?
  • SELECT GRAIN begins with 84 – Sideways Spade pointed to bowl
  • SUNSET GRAIN begins with 96, c1955? or later.
  • SPECIAL (or Special Italian Briar) post-1937, begins with 43, 49, maybe no number at all; DOLLAR DR. GRABOW 1937 or previous, may not be marked as such, begins with 43, 44, 49 Series 43 = Natural Finish (DG), c1937. Series 44 = Dark Finish (DG), c1937. Series 49 = Walnut Finish (DG), c1937.
  • STANDARD begins with 44 (early Linkman’s?) or has no number at all, may be replacement for Special. Linkman's were push stems, HL&T's were Ajusto.
  • SUPREME begins with 94, 95 Series 95 = one example has lighter reddish stain, yellow stem, c1950?
  • TRU-GRAIN begins with 60, 62
  • VENTILATOR begins with 63, 64, 65 Series 63 = Natural Finish, c1937. Series 64 = Dark Finish, c1937. Series 65 = Walnut Finish, c1937.

"NEW" Pipe Names:

Circa 1960's Dr. Grabow flyer, courtesy Chriskeene.com
Circa 1960's Dr. Grabow flyer, courtesy Chriskeene.com
Circa 1960's Dr. Grabow flyer, courtesy Chriskeene.com
Circa 1960's Dr. Grabow flyer, courtesy Chriskeene.com
Circa 1960's Dr. Grabow flyer, courtesy Chriskeene.com

Before I get started in this section here is a great piece of trivia that I learned from a devoted and caring Dr. Grabow employee recently. You have probably wondered, as I have, just where these names originated or what inspired them. Maybe you have even guessed the connection, but I sure didn't! When this employee mentioned this to me, he brought it up like a riddle: "THINK CARS!" Now, see if you came up with what I did:

  • Eldorado -- Cadillac
  • Viscount -- Dodge (Car built by Chrysler Corporation of Canada Ltd, for Canadian Markets only ca1959.)
  • Starfire -- Oldsmobile (The original Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Starfire, named after the Lockheed F9413 Starfire fighter jet, was first introduced as a show car in 1953 at GM's Motorama along with the Buick Skylark and the Cadillac Eldorado.)
  • Regal -- Buick
  • Savoy -- Plymouth (by the way, my friend at Dr. Grabow didn't say, but there was also a Plymouth BELVEDERE!)
  • Riviera -- Buick, I think first produced for model year 1963, which would have made it known in 1962. The pipe name precedes that, but maybe I missed something.
  • Lark -- Studebaker

All of these cars had roots or beginnings in the 1950s and early 1960s I believe, and perhaps I should do a little more research along those lines to get more accurate facts. If anyone finds better info, just let me know.

I never thought of a "car" connection, but had looked at some sort of Royalty thing, what with the DUKEs, VISCOUNT, ROYALTON AND SAVOY, etc. I haven't checked to see if they were also car names or not.

OK, for starters, to be updated and corrected as time allows, below is a list of most "newer" Dr. Grabow pipe names:

  • ALPHA (c2005) -- At least some made or imported as outlined in the article, "Dr. Grabow: Pre-smoked Tradition" that appeared in the Spring 2005 issue of PIPES AND TOBACCOS magazine. NOt sure if any where actually retailed.
  • BARD (c1950s?) -- Name seems to have derived from a Van Roy pipe line. Have only seen ONE example to date.
  • BELVEDERE (c1955?) -- One of the early RJR pipes. Some, perhaps the earlier ones, have #76 cleaner ("Rook" shape). Others use the #72b cleaner ("spoon" shape on end). Eventually, this pipe was dropped from the offers.
  • BERWYCK (c1964? or later) -- Another RJR pipe, a filter pipe and later addition.
  • BIG PIPE (Lane Ltd era) -- Later model after at least 1991. Hopefully, more information later.
  • BUCKO (c1985-91 to ??) -- Bucko was a shot to get the most profit from the smallest, cheapest bowls. It was only "so/so".
  • CARDINAL -- (Lane Ltd era) -- Another model introduced post-1991.
  • CDL (1975 to 1983) -- "Cooler, Drier, Lighter". Only test marketed in selected areas of which Dallas, Texas might have been one. First appeared in the RTDA Annual in 1976.
  • COLOR DUKE (1975?)
  • COLOR VIKING (1975?)
  • COLOR VISCOUNT (1975?) -- Used "D" and "H" grades of grain (see "Briar" section to be added).
  • COMMODORE (c1964) -- First appears in a magazine ad for $7.95 as early as 1964. Like the Sculptura, later models were sandblasted in a "big" blast circa 1967-69 (See "Sculptura" for details.)
  • CROWN DUKE (c1964?)
  • DUKE (c1964?) -- From 1964 to 1984 the "Little Duke" and the Lark were imported from Italy. Later made at Sparta to increase production at the facility.
  • ELDORADO (c1960?) -- First appears in a magazine ad for $10.00 as early as November 1961, but might go back earlier than that. No proof as yet, but there was a ten dollar pipe as early as 1956. "A" and "E" selections of briar were used -- more about that in the "Briar" section to be added later.
  • ELDORADO RUSTIC (1976) -- Just a rustic version, but was listed separately in the 1976 RTDA Annual for the first time.
  • EMPEROR (19xx) -- The best availabale -- no finish, full grain and no flaws.
  • FREEHAND (c1985? to ??) -- Freehand was a copy of an Israeli pipe called Masterson. Masterson was a manmade freehand used by Brown & Wiliamson as a coupon pipe in Sir Walter Raliegh tobacco. Mastercraft had an Anderson that was the same as the Masterson. Dr. Grabow Freehand came from these.
  • FULL BENT -- (Lane Ltd era) -- Another later addition. Not really a series or line and perhaps created to use up materials that were not going to be a part of any other line. Packaging had "Full Bent" on it, but do not know if any pipes were actually stamped with that name. Most just have "Dr. Grabow" and "Imported Briar" stamps.
  • GOLDEN DUKE (c1964?) -- First appears in a magazine ad with Ajustomatic stem for $4.95 as early as December 1964.
  • GRAND DUKE ( c1964?)
  • HALF and HALF (circa post-1991?) -- Have seen quite a few examples, but little is known about them.
  • HILLCREST (c1985-91 to ??) -- Created to make use of poorer briar. Included new shapes and carvings.
  • LARK (19xx) -- From 1964 to 1984 the Lark and "Little" Duke were imported from Italy. later they were produced at Sparta to increase production at the factory.
  • Meerschaum Lined (c1985-91 to ??) -- Meerschaum Lined were originally imported from M. Gasparini in Italy for Dr. Grabow. Sparta finally figured out how to do them and only imported the "plugs" later. Early Dr. Grabow Meerschaum Lined were stamped "Italy" with no Spade. After 1989, Sparta got rid of Italy and added the Spade.
  • MOBILE MARINE OILS (c19xx?) -- A limited run of perhaps 100 dozen pipes done as a special promotion for Mobil. Have only seen one example to date.
  • OMEGA (1975?) -- Omega was a copy of a well pipe imported from Italy.
  • REDWOOD (Lane Ltd era) -- Post 1991 pipe. More information later as it becomes known.
  • REGAL (c1956) -- First appears in a magazine ad for $2.50 as early as November 1956. #3 grade of briar (needs filling) was used in this line.
  • RIVIERA (c1956-57) -- First appears in a magazine ad for $1.50 as early as March 1957.
  • ROYAL DUKE (C19xx) --
  • ROYALTON (1988) -- NEW Dr. Grabow Royalton came out in 1988 using old HL&T pipe line name -- and even employed the old stamp with "HLT" in a shield just because they had it on hand.
  • SAVOY (c1956) -- First appears in a magazine ad for $2.00 as early as October 1956.
  • SCULPTURA (c1967-69?) -- Newest of the RJR special offer pipes. These were sandblasted in a "big" blast. The operator stood with his hands in heavy rubber gloves and blasted away grain. He could only do about 50 pieces an hour. Prior to this, most "sandblasted" pipes were tumbled in a contraption like a cement mixer using walnut shells as the media. Dr. Grabow really never got into that, but waited until they could do it "right" using glass shot.
  • SILVER DUKE (c1964?) -- The Silver Duke line was later discontinued.
  • STANDARD (c1954 or before to about 1956) -- Appears as early as March 1954 in magazine ad. Also appeared in 1955 RTDA Annual. In both the ad and the Annual it was a HL&T product, HOWEVER, I have a cardboard dislay and a pipe with four-digit shape number that indicates that it was also "Fashioned by Linkman", so the line name is sort of a mystery.
  • STARFIRE (c1956) -- First appears in a magazine ad for $3.50 as early as December 1956. "E" selection of briar was used on both the Starfire and Westbrook.
  • UNIQUE (pre-1966) -- Was never actually a "line" for Dr. Grabow. Unique was the first effort by a US manufacturer to make a freehand. I have not located one, but supposedly there was an advertisement for them. "Someone" hoped they would "take off". They were easy to make.
  • VAN ROY (c19xx?) -- Another old HL&T name that was resurrected at a later time, probably to get rid of poorer quality briar. Under HL&T it was an Ajustomatic, but as a Dr. Grabow line it was a push stem.
  • VIKING (c1960 or earlier?)
  • VIKING PACER (1976) -- Was another attempt to get the most bucks from a N/V piece of briar.
  • VISCOUNT (c1956-57 to ??) -- THE favorite of the web page editor (of the "new" pipes, anyway) First appears in a magazine ad for $5.00 as early as December 1957. "A" and "E" selections of briar were used on this line (see "Briar") section on web page to be added later). "Our Viscount was as good as any pipe on the market, because it was perfect in quality and grain", says one Dr. Grabow employee.
  • WESTBROOK (c1955? to about 1985 or so) -- One of the earliest RJR pipes and very sought after even today, long after the special offer program stopped.
  • WHITE VISCOUNT (1975?) -- Actually listed separate from the Color Viscount.

LINE AND SERIES NUMBERS:

TED provided me with the following on line/series numbering, 07-06-2008. The pipes were NOT stamped with these numbers.

ELDORADO 3900
COMMODORE 7900
VISCOUNT 3500/3500(BANDED)/3500R/ 3500RB
STARFIRE 3400/34OOB/3400R/3400RB
WESTBROOK 3400W/B/R/RB (TELL YOU ANYTHING?)
REGAL 3300
SAVOY 3200
RIVIERA 3100
LARK 2400
GOLDEN 5900
SILVER 6300
ROYAL 6200
CROWN 6000
GRAND 6100 (YES THATS RIGHT)
DUKE 6400
OMEGA 6600