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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Why have grading? - The Pros



Biz stuff - I've posted a variety of new pipes to the site, both Talbert Briars and Ligne Bretagnes, and we still have a single Talbert Morta remaining. In relation to the discussion of grading, I urge anyone interested in the subject to click the Talbert Briar link and go check out the grade 5 smooth - the second such grade that I've made in my career.

Today's photo is another multiple exposure, this time of the 2000 Halloween pipes. I have got to use some of these pics as backgrounds for something..!

So, what is good about grading? Mark Tinsky once summed up the concept (and indeed, the nature of pipemaking as a business) by saying, "Pipemaking isn't like most craft businesses, it's closer related to gold mining." It's true. You can't count on getting money back equal to the labor hours put in, because of the randomness of the material in use. A lot of times, you'll have to throw something away after investing time in it. However, there is a positive flip side - The pipe collecting world spins on the concept of rarity... The more rare a piece is, the more desirable. Everyone wants the one of a kind, or the limited set, and the hardest thing of all to obtain are those perfect pipes blessed by Lady Luck with no visible surface flaws. So, this helps balance the scales a little - Sometimes you strike out, other times you get extremely lucky.

And it's here that grading comes in very handy both for the maker and the buyer, because grading, well applied, helps single out those rarified pipes that are worth their weight in gold. Like the pipe I just posted! Without some handy way of ranking the pipes this way, the onerous task would fall on the buyer (and many still do this anyway) of minutely examining every pipe to determine for themselves what they thought the pipe might be worth.