Paolo, and the late Fritz Becker

I met Fritz Becker during his visit to San Francisco in 1985 or so. He was a charming and engaging man, full of passion for life, and for the pipes that he and his son, Paolo, created. During his visit, I fell in love with the Oliphant shape. Alas, the one I desperately wanted was already sold to the manager of the shop Fritz was visiting, but a couple years later, Ken called, and said he knew how much I wanted it, and he'd be happy to sell me the pipe. I was thrilled! Since then, I've added two more examples of the shape. The first was the smooth one, with horn ferule and bone stem, shown at the top in the photograph. I thought it made a perfect mate to the other, and a wonderful "Father and Son" pair. (The pipe also came with a black acrylic stem for smoking.) Then, at the Sacramento show in November, 2003, I found the perfect black sandblast to add to the group. I hear a tan blast off in the distance, calling my name, and one of Paolo's unique fluted variations, or a rusticated version... One day, I'll add them to my little collection, and maybe one of Paolo's beautiful silver spigot pieces, and a couple of his elegant, asymmetrical freeform pipes. Does it ever end, this collecting madness?

The Oliphants are great smoking pipes, delightfully light in weight, a pleasure to hold, and perfect for long, gentle bowls of Virginia or light Latakia blends. The shape is so elegant, but the photos show that better than any words I could scribble. Learn more about Becker pipes on Paolo's web page. On Martin Farrent's wonderful Pfeifenbox page, can be found a brief interview with Paolo, in which he says, “The impressions given to me by my father still guide my hand, and it pleases me that the style of Becker pipes can still be traced to Fritz. With the passing of the years, I have developed designs and many solutions of my own, without losing the brand's primary personality.” A true testament to the heritage of this pipe making legacy. The interview is well worth the read for any pipe lover.

Here is my most recent pipe from Paolo, a beautiful Oliphant variation he calls the Unicorn. The scalloping is lovely to look at, and provides a wonderfully tactual experience when holding the perfectly balanced pipe. It's a fantastic smoker, too.

A beautifully rusticated straight bulldog, probably an older piece.