Ed's Hand Made
Ed's Hand Made pipes were made by Edward Kolpin, Sr., a true legend in the world of pipe smoking. Born Edward August Kolpin March 9, 1910 in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Mr. Kolpin began life as a pharmacist working for his father, earning a degree in the field from USC and working at his father's drugstore for 17 years. As he told the tale, however, he hated it, and pipes and tobacco were his way out.
In 1927 Mr. Kolpin converted the soda fountain in his father's drugstore into a smoking bar, and as a hobby analyzed tobacco and sold it to pipe shops. Soon he was making $21.00 a month as a pharmacist and $25.00 selling tobacco, and his choice was clear. Around 1930 later he opened Ed's Pipe Shop on Santa Monica Boulevard. He continued to build that business, but suffered a setback in 1947 with a divorce which left him penniless. Instead of giving up, Mr. Kolpin borrowed enough money to travel overseas, where he began a pipe collection that eventually grew to over 5,000 pieces.
After his return, in 1948, Mr. Kolpin borrowed $2,750.00 and opened his own tobacconist on his family's land on Wilshire Boulevard with the name The Tinder Box, built in the style of an old world cottage. The Tinder Box sold Bing Crosby his pipes. George Burns bought his cigars there, and was said to buy $0.99 cigars for himself, and $10.00 stogies for friends. Cary Grant, Clark Gable, Jayne Mansfield, the list goes on.
In 1959, The Tinder Box opened its first franchise in Hawaii, soon to be followed a dozens of others. Mr. Kolpin credited the fast growth with the release of a Surgeon General's report which caused a great many cigarette smokers to turn to pipes as a way to quit. In 1967, however, Mr. Kolpin turned the corporation over to his two sons, Karl and Ed Jr., and they ran the business for five years before selling it to a Canadian conglomerate, which took the chain up to 200 stores by 2007.
Mr. Kolpin, at this time, returned to his roots, and to making Ed's Hand Made pipes. He left the corporate world behind and opened Ed's Original Tinder Box in Santa Monica, at Wilshire and 26th Street. Pipes produced by Ed's Original Tinder Box were still marked Ed's Hand Made, but instead of a stamp, were hand engraved with the name, and often the year and name of the customer.
Mr. Kolpin sadly became a broken pipe at 97 years of age in 2007 at his home in Santa Monica, California.