Basket pipes are literally pipes that are sold in bulk at tobacconists in a basket placed by the cash register. They may be stamped or carved with any number of markings but in reality they are generic. Sometimes they may be rejects made by a famous pipe brand that didn’t meet their strict quality standards. Or they might be pipes made by any number of people working in a small cottage industry that copies the designer, name brand pipes. Some basket pipes are absolute garbage. Many are okay quality. Sometimes you find a great smoker. The key is picking the right one. But you have to know what to look for….
Basket pipes inevitably cause derision amongst many more seasoned pipe smokers. But fact is they remain a popular entry into the world of tobacco pipe smoking. Many will argue corn cob pipes are a better value for the money, but no one wants to be Popeye when they could be Sherlock Holmes or Captain Ahab smoking a cheap briar pipe instead. I’ve got a great rusticated burl pipe that smokes great. I don’t worry about going outside or traveling with it as there is little consequence if it gets dropped or broken or lost. One day I’ll step up to a fine estate pipe (generally meaning a high-quality name brand pipe that was previously owned and enjoyed by a guy who died and was subsequently sold by the decedent’s estate) but I just can’t afford $300+ for a new pipe from one of the fine pipe makers. I respect what they do but it’s simply too rich for my blood given pipe smoking is only an occasional hobby of mine.