Social Media has given us the opportunity to experience the pipe world in a new dimension. Not only can we meet with and discuss pipes with the carvers online and in private message. We can also discover, commission and acquire pipes and indie blended tobaccos directly from the source. Which is a good thing.
It also has given many entrepreneurs a new marketplace whereby to sell their wares.. First it was the online message boards, which evolved into the impersonal ebay and now includes online merchants and vendors.
Be wary in your dealings with these merchants. Granted many amateur merchants are in the business for the money and quick turnaround so you may get a Dunhill or Nording for far below market value because the merchant doesn’t know what they are selling. To them a pipe is a pipe. To the experienced piper these deals are great.
Yet there are others out there who do this as a serious business. These merchants scour the internet, local yard sales and estate sales buying up pipes for pennies on the dollar and reselling them at significant mark up.. Sometimes they refurb them themselves, sometimes they send them (farm them out) out for refurb. Sometimes they don’t.
While most of these merchants are quite honest and straightforward, there are the bad apples. Treat your dealings with them online as you would treat a used car salesman.
A few interesting tidbits from others pipe-buying online:
I’ve had stems that were “shined up” with shoe polish. Yes, the thick, nasty, black shoe polish.
I’ve had bowls that were “cleaned and deodorized” with perfume. God-awful old lady perfume. Think Avon, circa 1970.
I’ve had pipes that were painted with enamel to cover up the discoloration from tar.
I’ve gotten stems that were superglued into the shanks.
And last but not least, I’ve had a few switcheroos–wrong stems on inferior bowls.
It is a caveat emptor when buying from ebay or an online merchant. I’ve learned to establish a dialogue with the seller for any pipe over a few bucks that I may have questions about, and ask as many questions as possible, even requesting more pictures via email if they’ll oblige..I would also ask if the merchant does his own restorations or if he farms them out and to what extent he monitors that Quality Control. If he seems hesitant or defensive than find another merchant.
If its an online or in a group seller than also inquire as to what other members experiences have been with the vendor. This can accomplished thru Private messaging or email. People online are for the most part very vocal about their experiences with in group merchants and online sellers. Both on the postives and negative experiences.