Ryszard Kulpinski ranks among the exceptional pipemakers of the city of Przemysl. He started as an apprentice in the workshop of the Walat brothers in 1956. Here he learned the craft and how to grapple with the economic and political adversities of communist Poland - e.g. the lack of good raw materials (esp. briar!) and the various and enduring attempts of the state to socialize the pipecrafters. For decades Polish pipes were produced mainly from the wood of pear and walnut trees. Some Polish pipemakers still fall back on these materials today – rather for sentimental reasons, though.
Things got a little better after 1970 and in the years from 1971 to 1981 Kulpinski conduced a lot to the large success of Walat pipes, the so-called "Walatówka". After Ludwik Walat’s death, he joint together with another of Walat’s students, Ryszard Filar – today an icon of the Polish pipemaker scene himself. They established a firm but separated already in 1983 and Kulpinski went on to work alone now. His workshop was ready for operation in early 1984 and from the very start he offered both series pipes and numerous and extraordinary freehands. In 1985 he was honored with the special title "Master of Arts and Crafts". This national nomination awarded by the Polish Ministry of Arts and Culture was of significant importance at that time because it raised the Polish pipemakers to the rank of artisan craftsmen.
Glasnost and perestroika - the downfall of the Warsaw Pact was of immense importance to the pipemakers there! Finally they had unhampered access to briar – the indispensable precondition to make their pipes competitive on international markets. Ryszard Kulpinski introduced his work on numerous fairs and shows in Poland and foreign countries. He was one of the first to attract attention among pipesmokers outside eastern Europe. Since 1997 Kulpinski receives his wood mostly from Portugal, Spain and Albania.
Buying a Kulpinsky (By TseHa)
It was sometimes in Spring of 2003 when I found the first Kulpinski pipe being auctioned on e*** by a pipetrader from Munich. Nice pipe, really! So I googled for "Ryszard Kulpiński" and it wasn't a problem to find his homepage. But to my dismay it was only in Polish and other than "fajka" (pipe) and "fajki" (pipes) I didn't understand one single word.
Well, talking a little Pipish, I understood that Mr. Kulpinski makes really fine pipes, which might be distinguished into groups and described as
- (cheaper) machine-made standard shapes
- hand carved scultural or figural pipes (Autograf) and
- hand carved freehands (Autograf) in a more common sense.
I e-mailed Mr. Kulpinski in German and English about his pipes and within two days I received his answer - presumably very kind and polite - in Polish and Russian...
Uhh, not too good. And a repetition didn't turn out a better result. For the moment I quit it.
Now, in December 2004 my sister-in-law Sabine married Richard. Richard (or Ryszard), his father a German and his mother a Pole, speaks both languages perfectly. In June of 2005 I dodged Richard to the phone and made him ring up Mr. Kulpinski. It was a nice and friendly talk between Ryszard and Ryszard in Polish and afterwards I was told that Autograf 0185 was in stock, Autograf 0099 could be made within 4 weeks and Autograf 0104 within 2 weeks depending on suiting stummels.
25 days later Mr. Kulpinski notified my brother-in-law the pipes were ready for shipping and asked for payment. 270 Euro all in all. I was a little bit shocked because Mr. Kulpinski’s German distributor had answered my information request saying these three pipes would cost about 860 Euro!
As it had been preconcerted my brother-in-law took the money to Poland and transfered it to Mr. Kulpinski’s bank account from a Polish bank at his holiday resort. Vice versa Mr. Kulpinski sent the pipes to Richard’s hotel. This to avoid the special adventures one might undergo transfering money from a German to a Polish bank and waiting for a parcel from there. Well, things have improved significantly since 2005.
On July, 27th 2005 I finally received the pipes and the very next day I made Richard (or Ryszard) ring up Ryszard (or Richard) Kulpinski once again to express my thank for these beautiful pipes.
Autograf 0099 is a 1:1 conversion of a Meerschaum Pipe carved for a Polish count around 1800. Mr. Kulpinski took the dimensions from the original in Przemyśl pipe museum.
Fajki Przemysl Ryszard Kulpiński PL - 37-700 Przemyśl ul. Kochanowskiego 85 Homepage: Fajki Przemysl