In the heyday of the factory pipe, each brand would have flagship offerings in the form of multi-pipe sets. The idea of a matched set of briars, elegantly packaged in a presentation case, has been the Holy Grail for many a collector of classic pipes. One idea that has been bouncing around at Quality Briar headquarters was to replicate that experience with the artisan pipe. Our first attempt at this was displayed last year in Chicago, where Nick had an amazing set of Billiards that had been assembled from different artisans. These pipes came with an innovative and beautiful wooden display. Unfortunately for those not in attendance, they were purchased immediately and were never photographed, thus very few got to experience the set before it made its way into a private collection halfway around the world.
This set from American artisan Rad Davis represents our second effort at producing an elegant multi-pipe presentation. And I must say, I am completely floored by the results. The first thing that strikes you is how stunning and well made the display box is. The interior was conceived by designer and pipe aficionado Scott Stultz, and the box was made by the renowned woodworker Ray Jones. It has been cut from a particularly beautiful and densely grained piece of Cocobolo, and assembled using the finest attention to detail. Seriously, the workmanship alone will floor you, if you can even get past the rich and heavenly graining of the wood. The display case is so nice that it almost steals the show entirely. Almost.
Then there is the pipes. My personal favorite matched sets are ones that have a single shape that is presented in different finishes. That is exactly what we have here: three Rhodesians, all with Boxwood trim rings and Cumberland stems, varying only by finish. Rad Davis own the Rhodesian shape, to the point where we now call them "Radesians." There have been countless varieties over the years, and the shape presented here represents one of his very best. It is a study in proportions- they are simply perfect, hailing back to the era when making the perfect Billiard was the ultimate in pipe artistry. The lines are mostly classic, with a touch of Danish elegance thrown in for good measure. These are very smokeable pipes, comfortable in every way that a pipe can be. One thing that will strike you is how identical the three pieces are to each other, despite the fact they were completely made by hand. A lot of care was put into their creation to ensure that they were truly going to be a matched set. Each, in their particular finish, displays a lovely grain profile. Individually, each pipe is remarkable. But together, packaged in their elegant display case, they become part of a much greater whole, something that is truly special and unique. In my opinion, this three pipe set represents one of the most exquisite offerings we have ever had here at Quality Briar.