Ser Jacopo (provided by Marble Arch Ltd., US importer and distributor of Ser Jacopo)
Smokingpipes.com has an excellent concise history available on their website Ser Jacopo History at Smoking Pipes.com
Ser Jacopo, better to say Ser Jacopo dalla Gemma, was started by Giancarlo Guidi in 1982 upon leaving Mastro de Paja.
Giancarlo Guidi and Bruto Sordini broke away from Mastro de Paja in 1981 in pursuit of their own company. Ser Jacopo was named after an Italian nobleman. Guidi and Sordini, having taken part in creating the now infamous Pesaro "school" of pipe making, wanted to expand further. To accomplish this, Ser Jacopo focused their efforts on the pairing of the briar with a seemingly endless variety of mounts. Through the use of precious metals and stones, horn, and exotic woods Ser Jacopo pipes are given unique characters that many collectors find quite aesthetically pleasing. Although Ser Jacopo pipes borrow heavily from classical shapes, they are indeed quite unique in style.
In addition to creative mountings, Ser Jacopo is also well known for making themed pipes, and the most famous of these themes is perhaps the Picta Series, where pipes are modeled after pipes seen in pictures by and of famous artists, such as Vincent Van Gough.
Ser Jacopo makes multiple grades of pipes, with the "entry" level being the Geppetto brand, and the highest grade being the "Gem" series.
The small Ser Jacopo shop produces approximately 6000 pipes per year. The pipes are known for using outstanding Italian briar, which is well seasoned. The pipes have earned a well-deserved reputation for having excellent smoking qualities, equal or better than any other fine Italian pipe maker (or, for that matter, any other pipe maker in the world).
Giancarlo Guidi passed away on August 6, 2012, leaving behind a great legacy. He was 64 years old.
The standard nomenclature found on Ser Jacopo pipes is as follows:
Ser Jacopo Fatta A Mano In Italia Per Aspera Ad Astra
Fatta A Mano translates to "Made By Hand". Per Aspera Ad Astra is a Latin phrase found on Ser Jacopo pipes and is the Ser Jacopo motto. It translates to "To the Stars Through Travails", meaning that success comes through hard work. In the Summer 1997 Pipes and Tobaccos article Giancarlo Guidi translated this as "through a difficult way until the stars are reached".
Ser Jacopo Pipes are generally found in one of three finishes (rusticated, sandblast, smooth) designated by a letter and number code:
R1: Rusticated, dark brown or plum finish. R2: Rusticated, light brown finish. S: Sandblast, black S1: Sandblast, dark brown S2: Sandblast, light brown S3: Sandblast, tanshell L: Smooth, red, usually with silver trim L1: Smooth, flame grain, various finishes L2: Smooth, straight grain, various finishes L3: Smooth, straight grain extra, discontinued
Gem Series Grades (in ascending order):
Smeraldo - Emerald
Granato - Garnet
Zaffiro - Sapphire
Rubino - Ruby
Brillante - Diamond
In addition to the finish code, oversized pipes are also stamped "Maxima", and giant pipes are stamped "Maxima Maxima".
Dating Ser Jacopo pipes is somewhat difficult, because Ser Jacopo does not generally use date codes (the exception being the Diamond Gemma series pipes, which are dated coded). Early pipes (from 1983 to 1997) featured a red coral dot on the mouthpiece, sometimes found encircled in a silver ring. This was discontinued and changed to a sterling silver letter "J". On the Gemma series of pipes, the mouthpiece logo is a precious stone surrounded by an 18k gold ring.
Ser Jacopo dalla Gemma Giancarlo Guidi 61100 Pesaro (Pesaro e Urbino) Italy Website Ser Jacopo