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Grabows: new vs. old

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Sweatsack

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Member
#1
So throughout my reign of terror on these forums I've had one burning question: is there something about old Dr. Grabows that makes them significantly better than new ones?

I know people buy old Grabows off eBay, and I thought that was a good diea, but I have a hard time finding any "steals". I'd say maybe $20 would be a good price for one shipped. I can go to CVS and get a brand new Grabow for $30.

So that is what has led me to my question. Is there something about "vintage" Dr. Grabows, other than maybe someone else having caked them up for you, that would make them good enough to drop $20 when you can just go to the store and get one for $30, that's never had anyone's slobber in it, and you can have it right away?
 

ruffinogold

Ruffinogold-Mayor, I.R.G.E.--At Large.
Mayor
#2
The break in thing is pretty cool for any pipe . I've had two Grabows in my life . A lark , which is off the map and a riviera , which was a big bent arthor shape . I refinished them both cause I dont like anything other than wax . I noticed a diffrence though some will say it dosent matter and thats fine .I havent purchsed a new Grabow in many years [ thought I got my eye on another lark ] but they seemed good enough for what they charge for sure . Bri2k is a big fan and Ted worked for them so these guys would know better than me . After all I'm a kaywoodie dude that has two killer Grabows . The other thought I have is everybody seems to make things as cheap as they can these days ... maybe they did " back in the day " as well but I always give new stuff a good look
 

woody

Admin
Staff member
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#3
I have a few Grabows and all of them are good smokers. The older ones have better stems, with the newer ones using plastic instead of vulcanite. But even the plastic stemmed pipes smoke good.
 
#4
There was greater availability of top notch briar in the 1950's and 60's overall. The big dollar makers took the best available but the briar available to makers of lower priced pipes was still generally pretty good.

Today, the top notch briar is not as widely available and the briar available to low price makers is thereby of lower quality.

That doesn't mean you can't still obtain a excellent smoking Grabow, it is just that the odds were more in your favor in the past.

Anyone remember when every Grabow came with a little piece of paper in the bowl telling that your pipe had been pre-smoked to make the break in easier? That was Grabow's big advertising point for a good many years.
 
#5
The older ones had better briar and better stems as has been stated and many of the older ones also did not use filters but had stingers. Then the really old ones, the Linkmans, are really nice pipes with much better quality. I have a bunch of them.
 

Bri2k

Active Member
Member
#6
I've been lucky to have smoked a vintage Emperor as well as new Larks, Dukes and Grand Dukes. To me, the differences are very slight. The Emperor was a shade lighter and the bowl thinner than the new Grabows, but all of them smoke wonderfully. At first, I thought the whole "pre-smoked" thing was a gimmick, but right out of the box, Grabows are very smooth with none of that off taste other pipes can have before they get broken in.

You can get Grabow Larks, Dukes and Grand Dukes for under $25 dollars here. The saddle-bit Larks are on sale for $19.99. WV Smoke Shop is an excellent e-tailer and they've got good prices on OTCs too.

Grabows, Kaywoodies, Yello Boles...I love drugstore pipes!
 

jpberg

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
#7
I've been lucky to have smoked a vintage Emperor as well as new Larks, Dukes and Grand Dukes. To me, the differences are very slight. The Emperor was a shade lighter and the bowl thinner than the new Grabows, but all of them smoke wonderfully. At first, I thought the whole "pre-smoked" thing was a gimmick, but right out of the box, Grabows are very smooth with none of that off taste other pipes can have before they get broken in.

You can get Grabow Larks, Dukes and Grand Dukes for under $25 dollars here. The saddle-bit Larks are on sale for $19.99. WV Smoke Shop is an excellent e-tailer and they've got good prices on OTCs too.

Grabows, Kaywoodies, Yello Boles...I love drugstore pipes!
I've been trying to turn Brian into a briar snob, he is still resisting, my struggle continues....
 

jayf

Member
Member
#9
I prefer the older Grabows because more shapes were available to choose from. That, and I am a believer in "old briar".
IMHO Dr G's are a great pipe. I have 5 of them and more will be forthcoming. I remove the varnish finish on the bowl with steel wool, toss the filter and puff away.

I too would guess the older briar is better and more shapes. They sell about 2 million of them per year so they ain't too bad.

Peace,

Jayf
 

Puff The Magic

Active Member
Member
#10
I have only older Grabows (mainly Authors, and Bulldoggies) and those shapes aren't available currently. Great smokes and have devoted those pipes to "Dad's Rack" since they were available when he was into piping. I've seen the Grabows available today on drugstore displays and they appear to be satisfactory smokers for the price asked. I'd pay $30 for them. I'm sure they smoke well (they wouldn't have the Grabow name on 'em if they didn't). I'm sure there's a few losers in the group but not many negative words out there on old or current Grabows.


:velho:
Ed Puff!
cogito ergo puff
 

Sweatsack

Member
Member
#13
I see now. At the store around here they're all kept behind the counter so a person would have to ask the clerk to see a few different ones to get an idea of what they have, and I've never been in a position to possibly buy one from them so I just haven't asked and had no idea about the shapes. To me, it's often worth a few extra bucks to get something new (vs. used) and also have it in my hand as soon as I pay.

So from what I gather there's really no reason not to pick up one from the store if I happen to like what they do have, but if they don't, there may be an estate that suits my tastes.
 

Unforgivin

Active Member
Member
#16
I have a few Grabows and all of them are good smokers. The older ones have better stems, with the newer ones using plastic instead of vulcanite. But even the plastic stemmed pipes smoke good.
Same here. I just like the feel and the "bite" so to speak of the older vulcanite stems. It almost feels like I have a better hold on the vulcanite.
 

Edlj

Member
Member
#17
I have a bunch of Grabows,too many really,according to my wife. Although I smoke mostly the filtered pipes I collect them all. All except one are estate pipes. I ordered a Golden Duke from the factory a few months back. I have heard several people say that the lacquer on their new Grabows bubbled or peeled .Mine hasn't yet but if it does some 0000 steel wool and the buffer will take care of that.

As others have said I prefer the vulcanite stems simply because of the "mouth" feel. They are usually thinner and more comfortable and hold up better although they can be more work to keep looking nice. ABS doesn't oxidize. Now that I have dentures I don't mark up the ABS stems like I used to,especially if I leave the teeth in the bathroom!. A file,sandpaper and a buffer takes care of the thick bite.

I prefer the older pipes because of the name lines, shapes and finishes that are no longer made. Today you cannot buy a bulldog with the cut beads,or an Author shape. You can't buy a new Emperor or Westbrook or Viscount or Silver Duke or a dozen other lines. I don't know that's there is any difference in the quality of the briar they use today.They always used good quality briar,maybe not Dunhill finish quality but good smoking quality. A Grabow without fills is a rare piece,like 99% of all other "drug store" pipes.
 

Edlj

Member
Member
#18
How long does that usually take? Any specific grade of wool?
Takes about 5 minutes Chad-to remove the lacquer. Use 0000 steel wool and if you have or can get some Micro-Mesh(or very fine--800 or higher sandpaper) go over it with that,taking care around the stampings.

You will notice a couple of things after you remove that lacquer. First the color may change some. The lacquers were often tinted. Also you may see fills that were not visible before, and you will see that the factory did not sand it very smooth,most likely there will be sanding scratches visible. The factory sands to about 360-400. The lacquer hides those scratches and makes it shine.

Going over with the mid grits Micro-Mesh or very fine sandpaper will remove SOME of those sanding scratches and give it a better shine without removing all of the original stain. If you really want a nice shine start with 400,work up to 800 or 1000 and buff or work it up through the finest grit of the Micro-Mesh which will give it a decent shine also.
 
#19
All of the Grabow’s I own are old wood from the late 50's, 60's & 70's, many were inherited from family members who were pipe smokers before me, I love the old wood and shapes of yesteryear and the vulcanite stems are very comfortable. I have a lot of old wood Kaywoodie's too, come to think of it; all my pipes are old and well used, like me.
 
#20
I have five Omegas. Some newer, some olderer, none bought brand new. They all are great smokers. I have older Grabows and enjoy them all. Probably my favorite next to the Omega is the slim Dublin Westbrook. The Omega is a paper filter pipe. I smoke it without the filter. The Westbrook has the stinger. I'd say for ease of smoking the Omega comes closest to the MM Pride cob. Doesn't taste quite as good though as the cob :groucho:
 
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