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X - SOLD - "Blue Chip" Estate Pipe: Michael Butera "Golden Classic" Straight Grain Bent Dublin

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Product Description

1990 Michael Butera "Golden Classic" Bent Dublin w/Amazing Angel-Hair Straight Grain


Description, Markings, Measurements:

I am going to make a bold statement here.  If it were not for Michael Butera, chances are slim to nil that there ever would have been a pipe carving renaissance in the United States.  It's very simple.  Without Butera, there would be no high-grade American pipe market today.  Back in 1985, when Michael started carving, Michael didn't just create a high grade brand built on the notion that every pipe he made would be as perfect as he could make it.  He created something far more enduring:  The idea that an American could best any pipe carver anywhere.  Those of you who were around back then remember just what an impact Butera's pipes had on the collecting world; it was as though God himself had started creating pipes out of thin air, and they were each glistening jewels, the most incredible objects ever seen.  They had "presence".  They were like nothing anyone had seen before, at least not from an American.  Americans made big, ugly freehands.  Americans fitted clumsy stems to chunky blocks of wood.  Americans could barely breathe without their mouth agape.  And along came Butera, seemingly out of nowhere, and single-handedly showed everyone that an American - from TEXAS - could create art.  It was revolutionary.  

Today, things are a little different.  If you attend any pipe show, you can't swing a dead cat without hitting a new American carver who is charging $1000 for a billiard.  And if you look at Butera's work today, you say to yourself, "Eh, that's a very nice pipe.  But is it really worth $2000?  I could go buy a (carver X) for half that."  I think that if that is your response to a Butera, you are missing the whole point.  To compare, look at any Sixten Ivarsson pipe from, say, the 1950's.  Nice pipe, yes, but worth $3000?  But any number of people could very easily explain why without Sixten's influence, we would not have modern pipe design theory today, why Denmark came to dominate the ultra-high-grade pipe market in the 1990s, why there would be no S. Bang, no Teddy Knudsen, no Jess Chonowitsch.  Hell, for that matter, Stanwell wouldn't even be the same company.  And so it is with Butera and the American market.  Without Butera's shoulders to stand on, we wouldn't have had Michael Frey.  There would be no Larry Roush.  No Jimmy Cooke.  And no one standing on their shoulders, either, because you could argue quite strongly that without those carvers, there would have been no Michael Lindner, no Todd Johnson, no Jody Davis.  And without them, there would be no Adam Davidson, no Jeff Gracik, no John Crosby.  And without them, no Grant Baston, no Pete Prevost, no Bill Shalosky.  And so on.  Every country has had a guiding light, a godfather, that started it all.  England had Alfred Dunhill.  Denmark had Sixten Ivarsson.  Italy had Carlo Scotti.  The United States has Michael Butera to thank for giving future carvers the spark, the desire, and the ability to shine, and shine brightly.

These days, Michael doesn't have the time to carve pipes, although it is still a burning passion for him.  He spends most of his time running a substantial tobacco empire that is responsible for both pipe tobacco blends many of us crave as well as some of the best cigars on the planet.  So what used to be production of 150 pipes a year has now trickled down to a few per year, as time permits.  Because of this, many of the new collectors to join the hobby in the past five years have never even heard of Butera pipes, let alone seen one.  So Michael's influence has been forgotten by some and was never known by others.  But without this one man, and his meticulous pursuit of perfection, the American pipe landscape would be drastically different today.  

This particular Butera is an absolutely gorgeous pipe, one of the most beautiful Buteras I've ever seen:  A Royal Classic, the top of the line for Butera pipes.  The shape is a classic bent Dublin, with a diamond shank, that blends into a beautifully cut acrylic saddle stem with what appears to be a briar stem inlay.  The rim is plateaux, which has been carefully sanded down to expose smoothed 'birds eye' grain just at the tips, and the grain around the bowl is what I would describe as "angel-hair" - thin, fine, tightly packed and straight as a pin.  The heel is birdseye as well, perfectly centered, with straight grain running up the shank.  The chamber is generous, but not too large, and the walls on the pipe are nice and thick.  The thin, comfortable mouthpiece shows only the slightest of toothmarks on the bottom, and sports Michael's solid gold dot logo.  I've seen a number of Buteras over the years, but this one is by far the most impressive when it comes to grain, execution of shape, and design.  It's truly a work of art from the godfather of American high-grade pipes.

Markings read: 90, BUTERA (over) ROYAL CLASSIC, 00J, 5 (in a circle), M.A.Butera (signature). The original stem has the gold dot logo, and is also impressed with GOLD on the underside, by the inlay.  Measurements: 6" long, bowl is just over 1 5/8" wide and 2 1/4" tall. The pipe weighs 63 grams. This one is about a Dunhill large group 5 or small group 6 in capacity, with a chamber that is .86" across and 1.80" deep.


9.25 out of 10.  Excellent overall condition, with only a few detractions here and there.  Stem has one very small, shallow tooth 'wave' on the bottom and a pinprick tooth mark on the button, off to the side.  Nomenclature is plenty deep, but has lost its 'factory crisp' edges.  There are a few shallow, very small dings on the back right top of the bowl, and a couple handling marks here and there, but nothing major.  Finally, there is some darkening in the plateaux around the chamber opening, from smoking.  Was lightly smoked to begin with and received a full restoration and cleaning; it's ready to pack and light.  You would be hard pressed to find a more beautiful example of Butera's work.  An exceptional pipe.



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