A couple of
Rainer Barbi started with the production of pipes in 1974. He can therefore be seen as the "senior" of the German freehand pipe makers as one, although he´s really of the spirit of a young person. I meet Rainer first in 2001, when he have had a presentation of his pipes in the city of Bünde, at the place of Otto Pollner, who was the grand-master of pipe-turners in Germany.
There is no doubt, Rainer is one of the very best pipe makers of the world today, what is very remarkable for somebody who started as an autodidact. Barbi can be proud of his work, these are part of the most popular pieces worldwide.
I like the pipes of Barbi very much without any exception, a style of one's own is unmistakable and the re-reconnaissance value of a Barbi is large. Many of his pipes are finished very brightly, the grain more and more stands out during the use of the pipe.
It should be pointed out that Barbi, despite his successes honored with an prestigious award in the USA, maintains quite consciously the German market and also makes pipes with 9 mm filter drilling. However, these are exactly as beautiful and delicate like as his pipes not fitted for filters.
Barbi uses different decorating materials and finishes. Cumberland mouthpieces were apparently very popular with early pipes. Barbi is a strong advocate of the use of bowl coating (charcoal/graphite/tumbler), and there is no doubt, his coating is great.
Barbi makes smooth and sand-blasted pipes. I have already seen meerschaum pipes of his brandname too.
Barbi has carried out different identifications of his pipes within more then 30 years of pipe making. I saw older pieces of (6 mm filter drilling) with the stamp "Styled by Barbi" (without grades) and a golden signature stamp "R. Barbi" at the stem.
The current pieces are stamped "r. barbi -handarbeit" and a delicate "r.b." at the stem. This sign on the stem is designed raised. As this is done, is a secret which other carvers envy him.
Barbi uses a cryptic letter code for the production year. His grading system is structured logically but not very intuitive. It starts (ascending): CC, CB, CA, BC, BB, BA, AC, AB, AA, C, B, A, A0 .....The highest grade I ever saw is a gorgeous "A 5" -graded straight grain-monster of more then stately size.
It is always (emotionally) difficult for me to accept that a pipe which is graded "AA" is established more lowly than a "C"-graded pipe!
The prices of Barbi pipes are always reasonable and there are pipes (and all are masterpieces) in a very widespread price range.
Rainer Barbi has passed away on 23rd of May, 2011. We will never forget him as a great fellow, outstanding artisan pipemaker and teacher.
Many thanks to Uli Wöhrle fot the pictures of Rainer´s workshop
Any copying, publication or reproduction of the papers and / or pictures published herein in printed or electronic media is strictly prohibited without the explicit written consent of these pages' owner. (c) Pipendoge, 2009
Nicely grained, contrast stained pipe
A nicely grained horn with interesting stemwork
All the pipes with a Cumberland stem
Barbi likes to use sunny bright finishes.....
.......and the grain becomes living under use
A blasted Barbi