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Mr. Don Travis of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, custom-ordered the two pipes pictured above. After receiving them, he wrote the following review:

On the efforts of Misters Vollmer and Nilsson

I had the two pipes made for me on the model of a 1930’s Comoy Grand Slam - simply because like them I do find the design elegant and different than anything else in my pipe cabinet. Size: (1.5 x 6 & 1.6 x 6.25 inches) About an older scale Dunhill group 3.5 and 4 in capacity.

As you can see  they have very handsome briar which they handle carefully, indeed perfectly. What you can’t see is the borings are also spot on - and I don’t mean that in the eBay sense but like Heeschen or Hedegaard -perfect. As you see the mouthpieces are long and elegant, they are also just right in my  mouth, and all lines are held without deviance - not uncommon but not common either. Now a point of difference, the insides of the mouthpiece  (which matches up with the draw hole dead on) have this visual tapering going on. The only other pipes I have with this, so far and smoothly into the mouthpiece, are by Garbe and Barbi. Of course they talk about this tapering on their site. The insides are polished and note: you will not find any hint of a transitional ridge - not always so with high grades. In writing this I start to see that the fit, finish and execution is, to me, the equal of any of the best I know of and better than some other high grades. Does all this fussy concern translate into a good smoke?

Extracting the pipes out of their shipping I am struck and anxious about the ‘size’; they seem tiny to me, there is very little wood here, way less than any other pipes I own. Also, the blast is very gnarly with, to my experience, very thin walls. Of course I remember many pipes used to be this way in the early 1900’s, so... who knows about heat build-up and such...

I have smoked each four times in parallel with high grades I know and love. Both pipes have very much improved with the break-in; I don’t know why some pipes are like this. Both pipes have been notable from the beginning with how ‘soft’ the smoke is and easy on the tongue (I know, I know, how vague is that, but still notable). The blast has stuck to VA/Perique and the last smoke was equal in flavor to the Balleby it was against. Actually I preferred it, but there are differences. As with most of my pipes, the Balleby’s large bowl diameter and drawing characteristics easily produce more burn, more air and more smoke - and perhaps, more intensity of flavor. Yet these V&N pipes just smolder along as if they smoke themselves,  a  quiet smoke which I really enjoy. They make pipes with chambers of .8” and pots with .9” inches which maybe are quite different than these with .7” - I’ll get one, so time will tell. The smooth pipe has been with Squadron Leader and now I judge equal to the Matzhold I know and respect with this blend. The smoking characteristics are near identical with the blast, as you would expect.

On yet more personal notes: I didn’t think it worth noting that I compared these pipes with those having retail values roughly twice as much. No gurgle, bad fitting parts, fills, etc... are here either.  I suppose when I have thought I liked only big pipes that I mean only long ones (5.9”+). These pipes have also firmly falsified the idea that a lot of lumber means a cool smoke, I have had lots of way bigger pipes that smoke hotter and harsher on the tongue. Further, the wood on these doesn’t get hot! Engineering vs. quantity of wood wins out.

The silver band is just put on, not rabbeted in to be flush with stem and mouthpiece. I have come to like it that way, its more ‘strait forward’, (more honest?). Flush is easy to get anywhere, Stanwell does flush fast, cheap and well, its not what I’m looking for.

If you ever wanted an old english pipe, get these lads to make it, I doubt anyone, anytime in Britain made them with the care and foresight as these. (and I like Upshall) Get one with a 1.5"+ stem, I think the mechanics here may have something to do with the success of these two.

Did I mention how damn fine these mouthpieces are? The only other ‘aesthetic’ I will mention is that I notice the beautiful Balleby, with its very slender, minimum amount of vulcanite around the tenon has opened up a crack there. (No I didn’t drop it and the delrin? tenon goes in pretty easily) So I am particularly happy today with the conservative and robust design of these two pipes! Yes, I just like them too. They are small capacity but, unlike Heeschen, they are comfortable and friendly to the hand and the sitting position.

I have been gushing. I worry that any pipes you buy will not be as perfectly executed as these. No maker can always pull this off.

-Don Travis