1. This forum section is for discussing pipes, it is not for advertising in any fashion.

Danish Free hands

Discussion in 'Pipes' started by RP McMurphy, Mar 30, 2011.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. RP McMurphy

    RP McMurphy Member

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2011
    Messages:
    351
    I'm new here but not completely new to pipes. I love collecting and the occasional smoke.
    My favorite pipes are the Danish free hands of Preben Holm, Ben Wade, Karl Eric, etc. I don't hear much here about them and I was wondering why ( Am I missing posts?) Most I've heard about were Sav's which are a very nice pipe indeed also and I wish I could afford one. I also here a lot about Dr, G's which is a bit puzzling to me. I don't look at them as a quality pipe but I may be wrong. But back to my main question, why don't I hear more about the free hands, are they not a quality pipe to some?
     
  2. t-bear

    t-bear Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2009
    Messages:
    5,010
    Pipe shape popularity is a fad thing, like many other hobbies. At the moment, they are not "in style" though I'm doing what little I can to revive them. I enjoy taking a chunk of briar, examining the grain carefully, and then shaping a pipe to fit that particular piece of wood...rather than forcing it to be a billiard or a Dublin, or whatever shape the carver decides it "should" be. I think that's what those crazy Danes had in mind when they started the fad years ago. You're not missing anything....the rest of "them" are! :groucho:
     
  3. RP McMurphy

    RP McMurphy Member

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2011
    Messages:
    351
    Well, I reckon I should be a little grateful that some out there don't see the beauty in them as we do, all the more for us!
    I'm not saying I don't like the traditional shapes, it's just that most seem a bit boring to me. And fall into "You seen one, you seen them all" category. But If there combind with a beautiful light fire or birds eye grain I can't refuse them either but, I do shy away from the dark seemingly grain-less ones altogether. Not saying they don't smoke just as well I just need good looks too.:groucho:
     
  4. ruffinogold

    ruffinogold Ruffinogold-Mayor, I.R.G.E.--At Large. Mayor

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2009
    Messages:
    25,499
    A freehand is a cool thing . Theres thought that goes into following grain and letting " nature " guide the carver . I remember Wiley using the term " organic " in refering to freehands and some of the shapes that occur . The Ben wades and the like from back in the day are collectable and are pretty good quality overall . Afterall it was the 70's man ... feehands were cool and diffrent so why not . That being said the flip side is that , imo , the mass produced freehands of the day were just that ... cranked out for demand , which is fine , though not to the scale of the better carvers of Denmark , Sweden etc .. which developed the style . Kinda like a willard Billiard isnt a Dunhill Billiard . Certain retailers were tripleing their cost on the better freehands in the 90's to create a buzz and the carvers werent getting any more .. which is a drag . Anyway , That probably didnt help and since then .. we've had all kinds of carvers pop up ... some being a joke imo and others being better than have ever been . These new masters like Mike Parks from Canada are just the limit . These new guys seem to be doing both .. watching grain and keeping a shape of sorts and comming up w/ new shape ideas that are unreal . The textures of late are just killer from these guys as well . The 70's freehand shapes really arent that hard to make mostly and I think people have figured that . It's all in the mechanics for a pipe to smoke well no matter the shape so enjoy whatever youre into .
     
  5. Sasquatch

    Sasquatch Sales Account

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2009
    Messages:
    8,335
    I think another thing operating against freehands is that it is a little tough for the average pipe smoker to make a judgment about the quality of one, and in a sense, because of that, some makers took/take advantage and produce ugly, heavy, poorly made pipes under the "freehand" moniker, and at prices that make a 400 dollar freehand seem like an awful lot of money for "the same thing".

    Good well done freehands are works of art, and smoke wonderfully. Bad ones are... bad.

    And it's kind of a phase thing as T-bear mentioned, and right now, the market is not huge because we're still on the downward side of the curve (1970s?) where these things peaked out.
     
  6. RP McMurphy

    RP McMurphy Member

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2011
    Messages:
    351
    Well, Thankfully I seem to have an eye for a quality made pipe and don't get trapped into fades or gimmicks. I like what I like and sadly it usually costs more even when buying vintage experienced pipes which is what I buy mainly. I do thank you all for your feedback on this subject. If any of you have some free hands that your proud of I would be very interested in seeing some photos and I will reciprocate if you wish?
     
  7. jpberg

    jpberg Moderator Moderator

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2010
    Messages:
    11,045
    Yeah, but I think T-bear still fits into his leisure suit.
     
  8. Old Ted

    Old Ted Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2010
    Messages:
    4,883
    Over here ( UK ) pipesmokers (what few are left!) tend to be more conservative and traditional, and smoke just for enjoyment and satisfaction in an inconspicuous manner. I appreciate skilled and unusual workmanship, but will not smoke a strangely shaped pipe, with a jagged top that looks like a hole saw....even if it is modern art - YMMV of course!....now where's that smooth, straight, Barling billiard got to.. :whistle:
    Cheers, OT
     
  9. RP McMurphy

    RP McMurphy Member

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2011
    Messages:
    351
    And I wont smoke anything that looks like it should have been a putter or driver. But, all joking aside.
    To each his own I say and I wont stand and argue about who's truck is prettier or better either.:cheers:
     
  10. ruffinogold

    ruffinogold Ruffinogold-Mayor, I.R.G.E.--At Large. Mayor

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2009
    Messages:
    25,499
    That just reminds me ... I used to have a dunhill shaped like a golf club driver . Kinda wish I kept that one :[
     
  11. ArtisanArcher

    ArtisanArcher Member

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2011
    Messages:
    617
    As to answering your question about Dr. Grabows... You're from Texas. Tell me, what do you see more of on the highway Fords or Lamborghinis? A Dr. Grabow is like a Ford to the pipe world. Cheap, economical, decent looking, and a good smoker. In my case, a Lambo would be wonderful and I plan to own a few some day, but there aren't any dealers where I'm at so I got the most practical thing on the lot. :)

    Happy Smoking
    Arty
     
  12. RP McMurphy

    RP McMurphy Member

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2011
    Messages:
    351
    I understand. Although your comparison I'd have to change to Ford trucks and Peterbuilt's, being an retired truck driver.
    Was never a sports car fan, had to fall into it and fall out of it to get in and out of one. ;)
     
  13. sorringowl

    sorringowl Purveyor of PAAD

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2010
    Messages:
    1,348
    Sooo...what are you saying? Leisure suits are out of style? :|

    But not white loafers, right?...right?
     
  14. ArtisanArcher

    ArtisanArcher Member

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2011
    Messages:
    617
    As long as it gets the point across. :)
     
  15. Mister Moo

    Mister Moo Normal Cow Moderator Moderator

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2009
    Messages:
    12,155
    interesting question.

    I often smoke Brakners seven days a week. That Danish shop issued a tremendous amount of quality design and briar production pipes in the period 1960-1970. While the trademark "Antique" rusticated finishes were kind of orgainc looking, the designs were conventional or, at most, conventional/danish. Brakners are hanging on in the "affordable collectible" estate category. Collectible for me, anyhow. Nearby, same time, Celius was going way to the freehand side with plenty of classic rusticated finishes similar to Brakner but with a greater focus on smooth grains. Nice Celius pipes, including the wildest of the Fantasy models, still show up more-or-less affordable, many in very good shape. Here are four lovlies for a mere $1750. When I'm talking "affordable" for a light- or heavily smoked 50-year old pipe in good condition, I'm thinking something like $250 or less for all but the nicer of the Celius Fantasy or King models.

    The last few shows I visited had lots of new goll-danged spectacular Danish freehand pieces by Holm, Heerschen and all the usual suspects. I looked, drooled for a few seconds and walked away, barely absorbing the $500-and-up price tags.

    While some of the current big guys may have a few estate pipes in my range (here's a neat little Preben Holm for $155 - a 1960's Celius look-alike, I might add) I guess talk on the genre is light because the prices are so darn high. How many folks can chat up their purchase of new $1000 Danish freehands?

    It seemed like Nording freehands were all the rage a few years ago but that excitement seems to have dropped off. The prices are not bad but - land o' Goshen - even a mother would have a hard time loving some of those faces.

    And maybe assymetrical pipes are on a downslide amongst the masses. Perhaps a bad economy sends people in search of something that looks more uniform, more conventional or believable. If so, great time to start shopping those S. Bangs and Teddy Knudsens!
     
  16. jhe888

    jhe888 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2010
    Messages:
    622
    They are indeed out of fashion. There is something sort of very '70s/macrame/tie-dye about the look that just isn't hip right now.

    In some ways they are both easier and harder to make. Easier, in that any one can make one. There are no rules, so just fire up the belt sander and make a pipe. Harder, because it takes a lot of skill to abandon the "rules" and make something that comes together as a design and really uses the wood to its best advantage.

    I am not a big lover of freehands - my taste has always run to the traditional shapes. I have a bit of the severe, clean, Bauhaus, form follows function in my aesthetics, so simple shapes tend to appeal to me more.

    But like whatever you like. There is no right or wrong about it.
     
  17. RP McMurphy

    RP McMurphy Member

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2011
    Messages:
    351
    [quote 'name''=mister moo]How many folks can chat up their purchase of new $1000 Danish freehands?[/quote]




    Now you've done it! The Soren and the Croci are VERY nice (not to mention the Holm) but, alas way out of my pocket's depth. Now I'll be dreaming of them all night.
     
  18. Kyler

    Kyler Member

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2011
    Messages:
    38
    From my experience there is a pretty good divide in pipe smokers. There are traditionalists that keep to the same style or type they like all the time, and free stylists that go with any particular pipe that strikes them as interesting and cool. Freehand pipes definitely were in full swing early last decade but has now died down. Though some traditional freehand makers are still very popular. Trends also depend regions. Where I worked it was pretty evenly split between traditional pipes & freehands. I have been places where there hardly any selection of freehands and vice versa.

    I find that most Danish freehand pipes are excellent smokes especially for Danish style tobaccos, Cavendish’s, and flavored tobaccos. Most freehand have a thicker bowl then traditional pipes allowing them too stay cooler to the touch of more hotter burning tobaccos.

    As mentioned before, many makers of freehands start carving a pipe with no real intention to one particular (traditional or freehand) style of pipe. When they start carving the observe the grain, weight, & other things of note to make their decision about the pipe. Erik Nording often uses this technique. He told me, he'll start working on a pipe and roughing the shape he wants to produce. If the fines that the briar would be better suited for a traditional pipe or something else he may continue carving or set the piece of briar aside for later use.

    I find freehand to be some of the most beautiful pipes available, and they allow the maker to definitely have more imagination about the eventual outcome of the pipe than a traditional size or shape.
     
  19. Snake

    Snake permanent ankle biter

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2010
    Messages:
    8,361
    I can't add much more to what's been
    said above. However, I do appreciate
    my Bjarne freehand bent dublin that
    has settled in to being a good English
    smoker. Not a big price tag attached
    to it either. I agree that freehand
    sales have levelled off a bit.

    dp
     
  20. RP McMurphy

    RP McMurphy Member

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2011
    Messages:
    351
    As said before, I reckon that's good for me. See'en I cant afford a pretty truck I can at least afford a pretty pipe once in a while.
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.