R.J.'s Dr. Grabow Pipe Information Page

Visitors to this page:

This page still under construction -- actually just getting started. Hopefully, when I finish, this page will be a place where you can find a lot of Dr. Grabow and Linkman's history, photos and information in one convenient place, plus some links to other places of interest.

First of all, although I didn't start out with it in mind, I would like to dedicate this entire work to the CURRENT AND PAST EMPLOYEES OF DR. GRABOW, BOTH IN CHICAGO AND SPARTA. I can only hope my feeble attempt at capturing and recording just some of the colorful history of this American icon will help tell their story and honor them.

Second, I would like to thank my good friend and partner in this for over three years, David Bridges, for his friendship, knowledge, research and patience, not to mention his inspiration! His contributions are enormous and largely uncredited. I also would like to thank a more recent addition to the "team", Tom Martin, for not only being a "mover and shaker" that gets many things done at once, like the Dr. Grabow Collector's Forum, but for also being a big inspiration to me and above all, a motivator that prodded me off my lazy butt to get some things going that had long stalled! In just a few hours, Tom did things I have tried to do for years and some things I never even dreamed of!

Finally, my thanks (or more properly OUR thanks) go to several Dr. Grabow employees who devoted their time and knowledge as well as their patience when they were interviewed for information. My personal, heartfelt thanks goes to one Dr. Grabow employee in particular who has not only shared vast knowledge in employment spanning almost THIRTY YEARS, but had become as good a friend as can be had without meeting someone face to face, AND HAS BECOME A EVEN GREATER FRIEND SINCE WE HAVE MET IN PERSON! An INCREDIBLY WONDERFUL person, who at the moment shall remain anonymous, but certainly will know who it is when these words are read. If you find information on this website that is factual and accurate, there is a high probability it came from this employee -- any errors would be mine in misunderstanding or misquoting it! The greatness of this person is shown in a simple but concise statement he made to me, "I'm not going to write a book. You are doing what I wish I could. Remembering Grabow. The employees deserve this rememberance. They were the finest ever!" {emphasis mine}

The background for this page is a Dr. Grabow pipe shape "chart" gleaned from a magazine advertisement circa 1949. There were 57 shapes listed at that time.

The information that will eventually be placed on this page will be primarily the results of research done by fellow Texan and Dr. Grabow collector/enthusiast, David Bridges, and myself. We were both amazed at just how little information there was available about such an American icon as "Dr. Grabow" and actually shocked at how much well-intended misinformation there was out there. Of course, we are always trying to learn more about the history of the pipes, their manufacture and the men behind them. Fellow fans, EMPLOYEES of Linkman's and Dr. Grabow, FAMILY of the principals behind the company at various stages of its history, please contact us and share what you know.

This site IS NOT AN OFFICIAL COMPANY RELATED DR. GRABOW SITE. It is simply a labor of love from a Dr. Grabow pipe fan. This site is not an endorsement of pipe smoking (though it's the ONLY classy way to smoke tobacco other than perhaps, the cigar), nor an endorsement of tobacco products or their use (although I see no problem whatsoever with the MODERATE enjoyment of said products in pipes and cigars, and neither does my Doctor). If you must know, I HATE cigarettes -- especially ready-rolled -- and I despise chain smoking. Moderation is due in ALL things, whether it be smoking, drinking or eating.

I would like to acknowledge the immense contributions in research and information of my fellow members of the nonexistent Dr. Grabow Pipe Coterie, David Bridges (DRB) and Tom Martin (TM).

Old Dr. Grabow Ad/Pamphlet, The Professor's Pipe Page

NEW!!! -- Link to some of my Dr. Grabow pipe related photos!

This new addition is something that I have wanted to do for some time. A recent trip to SPARTA, NORTH CAROLINA and a TOUR OF THE DR. GRABOW PIPE FACTORY is the inspiration for finally getting something like this done. Also a prod and suggestion from friend and fellow "Grabower" Steve Riddler was a big, big help -- thanks, Steve!

And speaking of the Dr. Grabow Pipe Factory Tour, clicking on the link below will take you to most of the photos that I took that day. Like this entire website, it needs some work and editing, but at least you'll be able to see a lot of interesting stuff right away! I CANNOT SAY ENOUGH GOOD THINGS about the folks of Sparta and the Dr. Grabow employees. I HIGHLY recommend a visit to the factory if you are in the area, or a diversion to Sparta if you are not in the area. For one thing, they have some pipes there on display in the lobby that will knock your socks off -- AND THEY ARE FOR SALE! They are some of the best looking pipes I have ever seen, no matter of the brand -- I sure bought some of them myself.

Anyway, please take a look at the photos:

Dr. Grabow Photos

Dr. Grabow Pipe History -- a Brief Overview

by Dr. D.R. Bridges, last update 12-08-2008.

The Dr. Grabow as an identifiable brand of pipes began in 1931, as the brainchild of Louis B. Linkman and Dr. Paul Grabow. Linkman was owner of M. Linkman & Co., which had been making pipes since 1892 under the MLC brand. The Grabow family history is that Linkman and Dr. Grabow used to meet for a smoke and bull session in Brown’s Drug Store in Lincoln Park. During one of their discussions, Linkman told Grabow he had an idea for a new line of innovative pipes, and he wanted to use Dr. Grabow’s name and endorsement. We don’t know Linkman’s new idea behind these pipes, but suspect it was the 2-scoop aluminum cleaner, featuring a saliva trap and a nicotine trap, which also functioned as a scraping tool to remove residue from the bowl.

The Dr. Grabow pipe was only one of several pipe brands made at the Linkman plant on W. Fullerton Ave., but they must have earned the public’s approval, because a 1937 Linkman publication shows sales of their Dr. Grabow pipes increased by approximately 8-fold in their first six years.

Dr. Grabow pipe sales continued to increase and in October of 1944, the Dr. Grabow Pipe Co. was formed and incorporated. Its founding incorporators included Richard J. Dean, Angelo Pinasco, and Harry A. Shapiro. The corporate address remained in the M. Linkman building on W. Fullerton. We have found no evidence showing that anyone other than M. Linkman produced the Dr. Grabow pipe for the Dr. Grabow Pipe Co. of Chicago.

In February of 1953, the Dr. Grabow Pipe Co. filed corporate dissolution papers. The next month in March, Henry Leonard and Thomas of Greensboro, North Carolina announced they had acquired the Dr. Grabow and M. Linkman business. The Chicago factory continued to produce Dr. Grabow pipes for a few months until manufacturing equipment could be moved from Chicago to HL&T’s factory, Sparta Pipes, in Sparta, North Carolina. In December of 1953 the Dr. Grabow Pipe Co., corporation of Chicago finally dissolved.

HL&T continued to produce the Dr. Grabow pipes under their previous model names for the first few years, but with new shapes HL&T had developed for their Royalton brand of pipes. By 1956, the Dr. Grabow Pipe Co. advertised their new line of Savoy pipes for $2.00, and throughout the rest of the 1950s and in the early 1960s the Dr. Grabow Pipe Co. announced new lines of pipes – the Riviera and Regal in 1957, the Starfire in 1958, the Viscount and Eldorado in 1961. Also during the 1950s, the Dr. Grabow Pipe Co. introduced their filtered Duke line of pipes using the new Duke paper filters.

Sparta Pipes wasn’t the only factory involved in manufacturing Dr. Grabow pipes for HL&T. Until 1984, So La Res Spa of Livorno Italy produced “little” Dukes and Larks. Missouri Meerschaum produced Dr. Grabow corn cob pipes. Italian and Greek makers such as Gigi produced meerschaum lined Dr. Grabow pipes.

In 1969, US Tobacco acquired Sparta Pipes and rights to Dr. Grabow. This acquisition infused the company with new capital and secured its future. A new factory was completed in 1978, and the old cramped quarters were abandoned. US Tobacco bought out Henry Leonard & Thomas in 1982, and closed the Greensboro sales office.

In 1992, Lane Ltd. acquired the Dr. Grabow property from US Tobacco. Lane Ltd. came under ownership of RJ Reynolds and British American Tobacco in about 2000. James Burns of BAT purchased the Dr. Grabow/Sparta business in 2006, and it is now under his sole ownership.

Recent correspondence with Dr. Paul E. Grabow's grandson, Paul W. Grabow, has allowed me to present, exactly as he sent it to me, his

"Legend of Dr. Grabow"

letter with his permission. This is the same letter, with updates, that can be found in various other places on the Internet. THIS IS THE BEST, MOST CONCISE HISTORY THAT CAN BE FOUND, SO IS AN EXCELLENT STARTING PLACE -- as a matter of fact, it stand alone good enough, THAT IT MAY BE ALL ONE REALLY NEEDS TO KNOW! In the future I hope to add "clickable" footnotes to this letter that will "zoom in" to additional information, pictures, etc., that will help to more fully illustrate things discussed in the letter. Stay tuned, as this will be an ongoing work in progress!

Dr. Grabow Pipe History Timeline: I am adding at this point a sort of simple, condensed "timeline" of significant events in the Linkman/Dr. Grabow pipe history. A lot of this is not necessarily "etched in stone", and is basically a "working copy" of notes Mr. Bridges and I have put together highlighting things that we have found, observed or speculated on. Hopefully this will prove to be of interest and at the least, will be a good starting point for further research, comments and feedback:

Chronology, as of 09-17-2006.

  • 1892 Louis B. Linkman (22 years old?) founds M. Linkman & Co. (for comparison, Dr. Grabow would have been about 24). (DRB)
  • 1914, July 21st. Linkman’s first(?) Patent (No. 1104203) for an aluminum reinforced push-stem. (RJM)
  • 1922 Linkman builds 3-story factory at corner of Fullerton and Racine, Chicago.
  • 1924, March 25th. Linkman’s Patent No. 1487867 for a first “tool” type stinger/nicotine collector. (RJM)
  • 1930 Linkman (59 years old?) begins using Dr Grabow (62 years old) name (DRB) (or in 1931?)
  • 1932, April 13th, Linkman applies for his spoon/tool/nicotine-saliva trap stinger, Patent #1896800.
  • 1932 Paul H Minton applied for paper pipe filter in 1932. Improved it and applied for a 2nd patent 1,967,585 04-12-1933. (DRB)
  • 1933, February 7th, Linkman (62 years old) receives patent #1896800 for threaded stem (Stinger Type L1 & L2) (DRB)
  • 1933, November 18th. Albert L. Vogel files for “Hollycourt” patent, Patent 2073663 (Stinger Type H1), registered March 16th, 1937. (DRB)
  • 1937 Linkman begins calling his pipes “Pre-Smoked” (DRB) (date of DRB’s catalog?)
  • 1938, May 31st. HL&T incorporates in Queens, NY (DRB)
  • 1941, October 13th “C” cut stinger (Stinger Type III?) and PLAIN BLOCK style printed logo as supported in LIFE ad. (RJM)
  • 1942 (or 1943) Yellow and orange “plastic” bands and non-metallic stingers (1943 steel penny era) as shown in ads. (RJM)
  • 1942, December 5th First time I know of that “Ripley’s ‘Believe it or not’” appears in ad. (RJM)
  • 1943 David P. Lavietes moves his D&P Pipe Co. to Boone, NC in 1943 for the mountain laurel. (DRB)
  • 1943, October First BLOCK LETTERING for names on pipes w/o Linkman’s, except for Select Grain based on appearance in ads? (RJM)
  • 1943, October First SHIELD emblem on DeLuxe shows in ad – last time I see it in ad is 1946, although ads don’t always show DeLuxe. (RJM)
  • 1943 Two-digit postal zones begin in larger cities. (RJM)
  • 1944, late- “Slanted Blocks” printed logo first appears in ads. (RJM)
  • 1944 Postal Zone “14” appears in both Linkman’s and Dr. Grabow Pipe addresses given in ads. (RJM)
  • 1944, late- Name change to “Dr. Grabow Pipe Co.” appears in ad. (RJM)
  • 1944, late- Perhaps in concert with name and logo change, SPADE emblem first appears in ad that I can tell. (RJM)
  • 1945 Linkman now about 74 years old. (DRB)
  • 1945 Van Roy ad shows it was AJUSTO that year.
  • 1946, January 25th. David P. Lavietes files for AJUSTOMATIC patent stem to shank threading system, later Patent #2461905. (DRB)
  • 1946, December 16th. Address still shown as 1150 Fullerton in Chicago per an actual invoice with that date. (RJM)
  • 1947 M. Linkman & Co. registers “Dr Grabow” as trademark (DRB)
  • 1947 M. Linkman & Co. registers “Pre-Smoked” as trademark (DRB)
  • 1947, October 11th First appearance of “Slanted Block and Oval” printed logo in ads? Is this what trade mark was registered? (RJM)
  • 1947 Mastercraft Pipes incorporates in Queens, NY (DRB)
  • 1948 Dr. Grabow was registered as a trademark by the M. Linkman & Co.
  • 1949, May 28th Dr. Grabow UNIONIZES as shown in ads up to November 12th, 1949 – May be only for a few months. (RJM)
  • 1949 RTDA Almanac lists Dr. Grabow pipes as Dr. Grabow of Chicago product (DRB)
  • 1949, January 7th. Sparta Industries incorporates from previous Sparta Pipes Inc., in NC (DRB)
  • 1949, February 15th. David P. Lavietes gets patent for AJUSTOMATIC stem to shank threading system, Patent #2461905 (DRB)
  • 1949 Van Roy pipes still selling as AJUSTOS, then, before Dr. Grabow becomes exclusive pipe w/Ajustomatic.
  • 1950s Sparta begins making Dr. Grabow Filter pipes? (DRB)
  • 1952, February 7th. HL&T (relocates?) incorporates in NC (DRB)
  • 1952 Linkman (82 years old?) retires as president of M. Linkman & Co., or maybe in 1953-54? (DRB)
  • - Dr. Grabow relocates to North Carolina - (DRB)
  • 1954, March 16th. Early non-finned Viking US Patent No. D171,694 by Jerome Gevirman.
  • 1954, September POPULAR MECHANICS ad shows a STANDARD -- . 1st year STANDARD name appears? Ad from Mike Leverette.
  • 1955 RTDA Almanac lists Dr. Grabow pipes as HL&T of North Carolina product. (DRB)
  • 1956, June 12th. Later multi finned Viking US patent No. D177,972 by Jerome Gevirman.
  • 1957, January 14th. Linkman (Aged 86 years) dies in Evanston, IL (DRB)
  • 1957 “Westbrook” introduced by HL&T (DRB)
  • 1965 Trademark for “Westbrook” filed by HL&T. (DRB)
  • 1965 Dr. Paul E. Grabow dies in 1965 at age 97 from natural causes.
  • 1967 “Sculptura” introduced, HL&T registered it in 1972. (DRB)
  • 1969 RTDA Almanac lists Dr. Grabow pipes as Dr. Grabow of North Carolina product (DRB)
  • 1974, July 29th. Mastercraft Pipes incorporates in NC (DRB)
  • 1976 Dr. Grabow Pacer (Bent Viking) introduced based on ad in RTDA Almanac. (RJM)
  • 1976, February 23rd. HL&T changes address. (DRB)
  • 1984, December 27th, Lane (New York) Limited incorporates in North Carolina. Annual reports available to 2007 BUT all after 2004 same. (RJM)
  • 1985, July 19th. HL&T and Mastercraft Pipes merge with Sparta Pipes in NC as Sparta Industries (DRB)
  • 1987 Dr. Grabow trademark being assigned by Henry Leonard & Thomas, Inc. to Sparta Industries, when they merged.
  • 1995 Sparta Industries making both Mastercraft and Dr. Grabows as late as this date? (DRB)
  • 1997 Sparta Industries, Inc. merges with Lane Ltd., Annual reports for former available from 1991 to 1997. (DRB)
  • 1999 Lane merges with RJ Reynolds Tobacco, Annual reports available for former from 1992 to 2004. (DRB)
  • 2006, January 26th. International Pipes & Accessories buys Dr. Grabow and Sparta Industries (DRB)
  • Revised as of May 19, 2008 by RJM.

    We hope that you find the above information helpful or interesting and would enjoy hearing from you if, in fact, it has been or if you can offer corrections, additions or leads. I especially need copies of Dr. Grabow information from the RTDA Almanacs (copies or scans are fine!) for all years available!!!

    Most recent news I have found regarding sale of the Dr. Grabow line of pipes and accessories to International Pipes & Accessories, LLC. An additional news article can be found at New Owner takes Over Pipe Factory.

    And speaking of recent news -- and for delightful reading of the experiences of a typical Dr. Grabow pipe smoker, take a moment to read TOM MARTIN's great article at: Diagnosing Dr. Grabow: It's Elementary My Dear Watson.

    The Principles and Personalities Involved

    Future location of more detailed biographical information on the people behind Linkman's Dr. Grabow pipes through the years. Hopefully, some photos of the people will be included.

    Louis B. Linkman, revised 12-19-2008

    -- For a long time, I had very little information on Mr. Linkman or the M. Linkman & Company. I finally learned of an early Dr. Grabow history that was published in the old and now defunct, PIPE LOVERS magazine. I could not secure a copy, so a friend has helped out considerably by sending me a copy of the article -- unfortunately it was a photocopy of a photo copy, so the quality was lacking and some passages were hard to read. Regardless, I am happy to add to this site that article, transcribed verbatim. Highlights in BOLD and comments in {brackets} are mine. Please enjoy the following addition!


    the Story of an Idea

    Louis B. Linkman, Co-founder of the Pipe Company of that Name, Invented the Idea Of Pre-Smoking Pipes Before Selling Them

    by J. Harte,

    {This history comes from the June 1946 issue of PIPE LOVERS magazine, for which I thank Terry Carpenter profusely for getting me a copy of!}

    BACK IN 1898, two ambitious young men reached the momentous decision to go into business for themselves. They were Louis B. Linkman and August Fisher. From the time they were in knee pants they had worked for a pipe jobber in the mid-west.

    Diligently saving a portion of their earnings, they accumulated a few hundred dollars, and in 1898 formed a partnership under the name of M. Linkman & Company. They opened a small shop on Lake Street, Chicago, employed two additonal people, and started to manufacture pipes. {The article never mentions what the "M" stood for, or the reason for the name chosen.}

    In 1890 {? -- 1899, perhaps?} another young man, Anton Burger, who had also been employed by a pipe jobber in the mid-west, approached them and was taken in as a partner. M. Linkman & Company proceeded as a partnership; the business developed rapidly through the untiring efforts of these men in producing quality pipes and rendering good service to their customers.

    The business continued to grow, and in 1907 M. Linkman & Company was incorporated with Louis B. Linkman as president, August Fisher, vice-president, and Anton Burger, secretary and treasurer. In 1914, Richard J. Dean, who had joined the firm in 1911 was appointed general sales manager.

    The business was growing and expanding rapidly, and the executives soon realized the quarters in the Wells Street Bridge Building were inadequate, so in 1922 Linkman built a modern three-story reinforced concrete building at the corner of Fullerton Avenue and Racine, housing one of the most complete and modern pipe plants in America.

    (Editors Note: This is the sixth in a series of historical articles describing the early growth and development of the leading pipe and tobacco manufacturers. Another will be presented next month.)

    THE COMPANY continued to grow, turning out quality pipes that were recognized wherever good pipes are appreciated, and the continued success of the organization was due in no small measure to the foresight and sound business principles of Louis B. Linkman's leadership.

    Linkman himself kept abreast of the times, studying the pipe smoker carefully, trying to analyze what the pipe smoker most needed -- what he most wanted in a pipe as well as what was least desired.

    Linkman soon learned that one drawback to increased pipe enjoyment was the unpleasant breaking-in period. Many smokers, he found, hesitated to buy a new pipe because they dreaded those first few puffs.

    Why not, thought Linkman, smoke those first few puffs for them? If a pipe could be put on the market that would be already broken in smokers would not hesitate to purchase it, and increased sales would be the result.

    Linkman gave the problem much thought. Believing he was on the right track, he wondered how pipes could be "pre-smoked" in the necessary quantity to fill the anticipated demand.

    He considered many ideas, such as chemically treating the inside of the bowl which would reduce the unpleasantness of the breaking-in period, but smokers, he found, did not accept this method. Pipes must, he concluded, be actually pre-smoked with tobacco -- no chemical or artificial process would do.

    Early in the 1930's he experimented with an automatic machine which would smoke the pipes mechanically, and in 1933 he made pipe history by introducing the first pre-smoked Dr. Grabow pipe. {Interestingly, no mention is made in the article as to why the pipes had this name!.}

    Pipe smokers, both beginners and veterans, found in the new pipe something they had long wanted -- a new pipe that had been pre-smoked for them, thus eliminating to a large degree the unpleasantness of smoking those first few pipefuls.

    The pipe became popular ad the company soon found they could market all they could make.

    A LUCKY break in the way of newspaper publicity helped immensely in publicizing the new pre-smoked pipe. Bob Ripley, artist who draws the famous "Believe It or Not" cartoons, felt the new automatic pipe smoker was worth mention in his feature, and he included it in one of his sketches a short time later.

    Newspapers also saw the human interest appeal in this novel method of pre-smoking pipes, and several articles appeared, which resulted in very favorable publicity for the Linkman Company and its products. So great was the interest in these pipes that the company inaugurated a national advertising campaign on a grand scale.

    This has been kept up until the present day, and the Dr. Grabow Pre-Smoked Pipe may be currently seen in leading newspapers and national magazines. Many of the advertisements have pictured famous men smoking Dr. Grabow pipes, but most popular have been the messages in cartoon form which have been well received by the general public.

    The ad reproduced with this article {omitted on this web page} was one of those used in the ad series, and was recently selected by Advertising Age Magazine as an outstanding piece of work in its line. Several of the cartoons have been drawn by nationally famous cartoonists.

    Many an owner of a Dr. Grabow pipe has wondered how the robot smoker operates. It consists of long rows of tubes which are fitted with the pipe bowls. Then, by means of a system of alternate vacuum and forced air, the slow, deliberate "puffing" action of the smoker is duplicated.

    A good grade of smoking tobacco is used in the process. {At least some ads say EDGEWORTH.} The bowls are filled, lighted, and slowly smoked to the bottom, cleaned out, filled and relighted again. This continues for several pipefuls, until the pipes are thoroughly and completely broken in.

    The process is essentially the same as the careful pipe smoker gives his pipe, in that the puffing is very slow and even. The pipes are cooled between pipefuls, and all the care that a pipe should receive during the breaking-in period is given the Dr. Grabow.

    Mr. Linkman has never claimed the process to be anything mysterious, secret, or fantastic. It is all very simple and plain to see. The bowl is easily examined without aid of a laboratory or skilled research technician. It's pre-smoked with fine tobacco, and that's all that is claimed for it.

    THE SUCCESS of this concern from its inception is due to a great extent to the personal efforts of its president, Louis B. Linkman, under whose guidance the firm has grown to its present coveted position in the pipe industry.

    The foundation of this business has been firmly built on the policy of fair dealing, quality merchandise and good service.

    Linkman's hobby is his business -- {his?} credo is to give the public better merchandise at lower prices. As with many makes, Dr. Grabow pipes served in {the?} war. A large portion of the factory's production was sent to our fighting forces, causing a scarcity among civilian smokers at home.

    And now, as restrictions on materials and manpower begin to ease, production is being stepped up to meet the demand. And to help meet this demand, the company is presently constructing an additional building which will double the present output of pipes.

    The Linkman Company, now in its 49th year of pipe manufacture, looks back upon this first half century with pride, knowing that these years of experience will enable it to continue to provide pipe smokers everywhere with {added?} smoking enjoyment in the next half century to come. --end--

    Dr. Paul E. Grabow

    -- Paul W. Grabow has also graciously provided me with A PHOTO OF Dr. GRABOW so we all may see the man behind the legend!!! What a GREAT candid shot! Hopefully more photos will surface in the future taken at other points in Dr. Grabow's life.

    When you visit the photo above, you will be taken to a page that not only contains the photo of Dr. Grabow, but also an early day insert included with a pipe that contains his personal endorsement, as well as a comparison of signatures from that document and a similar endorsement contained in a Dr. Grabow catalog circa 1937.

    David Lavietes

    -- Inventer of the Ajustomatic feature that was later incorporated into, and eventually made an exclusive feature of the Dr. Grabow line of pipes.

    Other Facts and Figures

    Future location various elements of the history not inluded elsewhere, such as what the "Ajustomatic" was and why it once was incoporated on other pipes BEFORE, then after Dr. Grabows became the exclusive Ajustomatic pipe and the other lines lost it to become Vulcanite Push Stems or filter pipes.

    What's in a NAME? Pipe Model (Series, Line) Names Through the Years -- info as of 06-19-08.

    Photos and information on prices of, and dating of, the various Dr. Grabow Pipes will be included elsewhere at a later date. The information below, newly added, is just the beginning of the information I hope to put up. One has to start SOMEWHERE.

    To make it much easier to locate a certain pipe name in this section, I have placed them in simple alphabetical order with a little information about each line or series. Information with more detail about he grade of briar used, the ranking of the pipes in quality from say, best to least, will be added later in a different area.

    Furthermore, I have split these pipe names into two groupings of my own definition, "OLD" and "NEW". Roughly that equates to pipes made in Chicago and pipes made in Sparta, North Carolina area after the sale and "move". In a very grey area in between is an era I call the "transition period" when strange things were happening with production and the like, and where, possibly, pipes were being made at both locations at the same time, or may have even been contracted out to yet another place. This is a separate subject in and of itself and one we may never really resolve, but it IS a very interesting time in Dr. Grabow history, even if we affectionately call some of the pipes we suspect from that time, "Dr. Crapos".

    "OLD" Pipe Names and First Two-Digit Codes and Symbols:

  • COURTLEIGH begins with 91 Series 82 = “The Antique Courtleigh” with an Antique Grain Finish c1937. (Not really a Dr. Grabow) Series 91 = Natural Select Grain Finish, c1937.
  • DE LUXE begins with 92, 97, 98 – Two Dots, Circle or Shield on shank sometimes. Series 92 = Very dark reddish wine, solid looking finish, yet undefined, possibly from 1938 or slightly later era. Series 97 = Natural Variegated Grain Finish, c1937. Series 98 = yet undefined, Dark Brown appearance? Series 99 = Dark Walnut Finish, c1937.
  • DOLLAR DR. GRABOW -- See "SPECIAL" below.
  • DR. GRABOW (C1930 to 1932?) had no series number as in the begining, this WAS the only pipe name for this new Linkman's line of pipes. Most examples have MLC in an ocal stamp and just a TWO-digit shape number.
  • FIFTY GRAND begins with 15, c1937? or later. (Not really a Grabow)
  • HOLLYCOURT begins with 88, c1938 or later. (Not really a Grabow)
  • RINGMASTER begins with 50, c1955+?
  • SELECT GRAIN begins with 84 – Sideways Spade pointed to bowl
  • SUNSET GRAIN begins with 96, c1955? or later.
  • SPECIAL (or Special Italian Briar) post-1937, begins with 43, 49, maybe no number at all; DOLLAR DR. GRABOW 1937 or previous, may not be marked as such, begins with 43, 44, 49 Series 43 = Natural Finish (DG), c1937. Series 44 = Dark Finish (DG), c1937. Series 49 = Walnut Finish (DG), c1937.
  • STANDARD begins with 44 (early Linkman’s?) or has no number at all, may be replacement for Special. Linkman's were push stems, HL&T's were Ajusto.
  • SUPREME begins with 94, 95 Series 95 = one example has lighter reddish stain, yellow stem, c1950?
  • TRU-GRAIN begins with 60, 62
  • VENTILATOR begins with 63, 64, 65 Series 63 = Natural Finish, c1937. Series 64 = Dark Finish, c1937. Series 65 = Walnut Finish, c1937.

    "NEW" Pipe Names:

    Before I get started in this section here is a great piece of trivia that I learned from a devoted and caring Dr. Grabow employee recently. You have probably wondered, as I have, just where these names originated or what inspired them. Maybe you have even guessed the connection, but I sure didn't! When this employee mentioned this to me, he brought it up like a riddle: "THINK CARS!" Now, see if you came up with what I did:

  • Eldorado -- Cadillac
  • Viscount -- Dodge (Car built by Chrysler Corporation of Canada Ltd, for Canadian Markets only ca1959.)
  • Starfire -- Oldsmobile (The original Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Starfire, named after the Lockheed F9413 Starfire fighter jet, was first introduced as a show car in 1953 at GM's Motorama along with the Buick Skylark and the Cadillac Eldorado.)
  • Regal -- Buick
  • Savoy -- Plymouth (by the way, my friend at Dr. Grabow didn't say, but there was also a Plymouth BELVEDERE!)
  • Riviera -- Buick, I think first produced for model year 1963, which would have made it known in 1962. The pipe name precedes that, but maybe I missed something.
  • Lark -- Studebaker

    All of these cars had roots or beginnings in the 1950s and early 1960s I believe, and perhaps I should do a little more research along those lines to get more accurate facts. If anyone finds better info, just let me know.

    I never thought of a "car" connection, but had looked at some sort of Royalty thing, what with the DUKEs, VISCOUNT, ROYALTON AND SAVOY, etc. I haven't checked to see if they were also car names or not.

    OK, for starters, to be updated and corrected as time allows, below is a list of most "newer" Dr. Grabow pipe names:

  • ALPHA (c2005) -- At least some made or imported as outlined in the article, "Dr. Grabow: Pre-smoked Tradition" that appeared in the Spring 2005 issue of PIPES AND TOBACCOS magazine. NOt sure if any where actually retailed.
  • BARD (c1950s?) -- Name seems to have derived from a Van Roy pipe line. Have only seen ONE example to date.
  • BELVEDERE (c1955?) -- One of the early RJR pipes. Some, perhaps the earlier ones, have #76 cleaner ("Rook" shape). Others use the #72b cleaner ("spoon" shape on end). Eventually, this pipe was dropped from the offers.
  • BERWYCK (c1964? or later) -- Another RJR pipe, a filter pipe and later addition.
  • BIG PIPE (Lane Ltd era) -- Later model after at least 1991. Hopefully, more information later.
  • BUCKO (c1985-91 to ??) -- Bucko was a shot to get the most profit from the smallest, cheapest bowls. It was only "so/so".
  • CARDINAL -- (Lane Ltd era) -- Another model introduced post-1991.
  • CDL (1975 to 1983) -- "Cooler, Drier, Lighter". Only test marketed in selected areas of which Dallas, Texas might have been one. First appeared in the RTDA Annual in 1976.
  • COLOR DUKE (1975?)
  • COLOR VIKING (1975?)
  • COLOR VISCOUNT (1975?) -- Used "D" and "H" grades of grain (see "Briar" section to be added).
  • COMMODORE (c1964) -- First appears in a magazine ad for $7.95 as early as 1964. Like the Sculptura, later models were sandblasted in a "big" blast circa 1967-69 (See "Sculptura" for details.)
  • CROWN DUKE (c1964?)
  • DUKE (c1964?) -- From 1964 to 1984 the "Little Duke" and the Lark were imported from Italy. Later made at Sparta to increase production at the facility.
  • ELDORADO (c1960?) -- First appears in a magazine ad for $10.00 as early as November 1961, but might go back earlier than that. No proof as yet, but there was a ten dollar pipe as early as 1956. "A" and "E" selections of briar were used -- more about that in the "Briar" section to be added later.
  • ELDORADO RUSTIC (1976) -- Just a rustic version, but was listed separately in the 1976 RTDA Annual for the first time.
  • EMPEROR (19xx) -- The best availabale -- no finish, full grain and no flaws.
  • FREEHAND (c1985? to ??) -- Freehand was a copy of an Israeli pipe called Masterson. Masterson was a manmade freehand used by Brown & Wiliamson as a coupon pipe in Sir Walter Raliegh tobacco. Mastercraft had an Anderson that was the same as the Masterson. Dr. Grabow Freehand came from these.
  • FULL BENT -- (Lane Ltd era) -- Another later addition. Not really a series or line and perhaps created to use up materials that were not going to be a part of any other line. Packaging had "Full Bent" on it, but do not know if any pipes were actually stamped with that name. Most just have "Dr. Grabow" and "Imported Briar" stamps.
  • GOLDEN DUKE (c1964?) -- First appears in a magazine ad with Ajustomatic stem for $4.95 as early as December 1964.
  • GRAND DUKE( c1964?)
  • HALF and HALF (circa post-1991?) -- Have seen quite a few examples, but little is known about them.
  • HILLCREST (c1985-91 to ??) -- Created to make use of poorer briar. Included new shapes and carvings.
  • LARK (19xx) -- From 1964 to 1984 the Lark and "Little" Duke were imported from Italy. later they were produced at Sparta to increase production at the factory.
  • Meerschaum Lined (c1985-91 to ??) -- Meerschaum Lined were originally imported from M. Gasparini in Italy for Dr. Grabow. Sparta finally figured out how to do them and only imported the "plugs" later. Early Dr. Grabow Meerschaum Lined were stamped "Italy" with no Spade. After 1989, Sparta got rid of Italy and added the Spade.
  • MOBILE MARINE OILS (c19xx?) -- A limited run of perhaps 100 dozen pipes done as a special promotion for Mobil. Have only seen one example to date.
  • OMEGA (1975?) -- Omega was a copy of a well pipe imported from Italy.
  • REDWOOD (Lane Ltd era) -- Post 1991 pipe. More information later as it becomes known.
  • REGAL (c1956) -- First appears in a magazine ad for $2.50 as early as November 1956. #3 grade of briar (needs filling) was used in this line.
  • RIVIERA (c1956-57) -- First appears in a magazine ad for $1.50 as early as March 1957.
  • ROYAL DUKE (C19xx) --
  • ROYALTON (1988) -- NEW Dr. Grabow Royalton came out in 1988 using old HL&T pipe line name -- and even employed the old stamp with "HLT" in a shield just because they had it on hand.
  • SAVOY (c1956) -- First appears in a magazine ad for $2.00 as early as October 1956.
  • SCULPTURA (c1967-69?) -- Newest of the RJR special offer pipes. These were sandblasted in a "big" blast. The operator stood with his hands in heavy rubber gloves and blasted away grain. He could only do about 50 pieces an hour. Prior to this, most "sandblasted" pipes were tumbled in a contraption like a cement mixer using walnut shells as the media. Dr. Grabow really never got into that, but waited until they could do it "right" using glass shot.
  • SILVER DUKE (c1964?) -- The Silver Duke line was later discontinued.
  • STANDARD (c1954 or before to about 1956) -- Appears as early as March 1954 in magazine ad. Also appeared in 1955 RTDA Annual. In both the ad and the Annual it was a HL&T product, HOWEVER, I have a cardboard dislay and a pipe with four-digit shape number that indicates that it was also "Fashioned by Linkman", so the line name is sort of a mystery.
  • STARFIRE (c1956) -- First appears in a magazine ad for $3.50 as early as December 1956. "E" selection of briar was used on both the Starfire and Westbrook.
  • UNIQUE (pre-1966) -- Was never actually a "line" for Dr. Grabow. Unique was the first effort by a US manufacturer to make a freehand. I have not located one, but supposedly there was an advertisement for them. "Someone" hoped they would "take off". They were easy to make.
  • VAN ROY (c19xx?) -- Another old HL&T name that was resurrected at a later time, probably to get rid of poorer quality briar. Under HL&T it was an Ajustomatic, but as a Dr. Grabow line it was a push stem.
  • VIKING (c1960 or earlier?)
  • VIKING PACER (1976) -- Was another attempt to get the most bucks from a N/V piece of briar.
  • VISCOUNT (c1956-57 to ??) -- THE favorite of the web page editor (of the "new" pipes, anyway) First appears in a magazine ad for $5.00 as early as December 1957. "A" and "E" selections of briar were used on this line (see "Briar") section on web page to be added later). "Our Viscount was as good as any pipe on the market, because it was perfect in quality and grain", says one Dr. Grabow employee.
  • WESTBROOK (c1955? to about 1985 or so) -- One of the earliest RJR pipes and very sought after even today, long after the special offer program stopped.
  • WHITE VISCOUNT (1975?) -- Actually listed separate from the Color Viscount.

    Briar 101 and 102 -- The Briar Used in Dr. Grabow pipes -- info as of 06-25-08

    First of all, a disclaimer of sorts. I want to apologize right off for the haphazard appearance of this section, the misspelled words and lack of formating that would make it easier to read and follow. I have been working from over 26 pages of notes and information (and I am still gathering info) and as always, am pressed for time. My first goal was to get some of this information up, and then I could always come back and edit it later. Even though my friend said, "It's taken 75 years for the Dr. Grabow story to be told, a little while longer won't hurt", I felt I should at least make an earnest effort to get some information up as I got it, no matter how crude the form. If I wait until I can "get it right" or for some ellusive form of perfection, it'll simply never get done, and that I think, would be the real travesty.

    So read, study and enjoy with an open mind and a bit of leniency as I continue to work on this. Right now I have to go back and relearn some of my HTML basics and code. Come back from time to time as this section, as well as the entire web page -- like major highway reconstruction and repair -- is continually undergoing construction! Be mindful of the potholes, patches and detours.,

    I had a lot of help from a Dr. Grabow employee in putting together this section. This employee told me there was a lot of "BS" about briar out there and he wanted to give me the real scoop on it. This section is something that I wanted to do for a long time. At first my only interest, really, was to figure out about whether all the hype people were saying about how superior the WESTBROOK was over say, the retail pipes was true or not. My personal feeling was that there were pretty much retail equivalents for most of the RJ Reynolds "coupon" pipes (RJR) and I felt, as one example, the STARFIRE was every bit as good as the WESTBROOK. As it turns out, that is somewhat true, and as this discussion on briar will show, there is a simple reason why. Up until now, the only decent source I knew for the RJR Coupon pipes was written by K. Maxwell Graves Jr., Attorney At Law, and was posted on Frency's Pipes web site. My friend at Dr. Grabow said, "Max got it about right. He sounds like he was involved".

    Another thing it may help on is comparison with the briar used in other pipe makers' pipes. It is a mistaken impression to believe that because the Dr. Grabow pipe was sometimes considered a "drug store" pipe that inferior briar was used. The briar, for the most part, came from the same places that other pipe makers got theirs. Another good source for information on this subject and the important part Dr. Grabow pipes played in it can be found in a speech made in 1995 by Doug Allen, OPC member and President of Sparta Industries. This speech can be found on the Internet in several places, such as The Dr. Grabow Collector's Forum and the Ohio Pipe Collectors web page, so it won't be duplicated here.

    To understand Dr. Grabow pipes, and more specifically the different lines of Dr. Grabow pipes, at least a cursory review of this section should be made. It will explain much. Maybe too much. Nevertheless, it is a very important subject. So much so, that the employee who furnished me this information insisted on telling me the story about briar before going into other subjects. At first I was puzzled, but once the briar had been sufficiently explained, then the things I learned later made more sense and I quickly saw why we started with the briar information.

    So you can skip this section now, but I almost guarantee that you will have to come back to this subject later as other things about Dr. Grabow pipes are explained.

    Briar 101, The European Production -- This part is still being worked on and will be posted as time allows.

    Briar 102, Briar Selection, Grades and Use In Dr. Grabow Pipes

    The following information about briar mainly covers the area from the 1960s to maybe the late-1980s, but other than the prices, probably has at least some application to the period prior to that as well as after. In other words, having a basic knowledge of this, one might be able to better understand how Linkman was doing business in Chicago -- a period I have little to no information on. The prices are for around the 1980s and 1990s and are used primarily to give a general idea of the cost and quality relationship. When the pipe names are given in parenthesis, it is not an all-inlcusive, nor exclusive list -- they are provided for convenience and to give a general feel for what briar went into what pipe.

    So here we go!

    First of all, briar is ONLY available in five SELECTIONS. They will be listed below. Briarwood is purchased in bags and the price is per bag. Depending on the size block a bag can have as few as 24 dozen, or as many as 72 dozen:

  • PLACAS (We call them "plateaus") -- Used for freehands because the burl is attached. You are assured of straight grain, but not guaranteed quality. Grabow never really bought these.
  • EXTRA EXTRA (EE) -- $600 a bag. 75% of this would be #1 and #2 grade (see below).
  • EXTRA (E) -- $400 to $500 a bag. 45 to 55% of this would be #1 and #2 grade (see below).
  • FIRST (F) -- $320 to $400 a bag. 25 to 35% of this would be #1 and #2 grade (see below).
  • MIXED (M) -- Only $200 a bag, but just 10% of this would be #1 and #2 grade (see below).

    Blocks (stummels) were turned into bowls, rough sanded and dry selected. Dry selection separated them into seven grades (GRADED by the flaws -- number of imperfections -- in the wood) from 1 to 7 (actually to 8, but we'll get to that later) as below:

  • #1 -- Clean, absolutely perfect (for application, see more below).
  • #2 -- Has a few small imperfections, easily filled (for application, see more below).
  • #3 -- Would make a smooth pipe with fills, patching (REGAL, WILLARD smooth, VISCOUNT rustic)
  • #4 -- Would work only for rustic (WILLARD rustic)
  • #5 -- Would work only for rustic (WILLARD rustic)
  • #6 -- Nearly firewood (WILLARD rustic).
  • #7 -- Were trash. The person giving me this information said, when he got to this point, "Briarwood will burn in a fire -- like a charcoal briquette." (Even so, some WILLARD rustic came from this.)

    Now, from the above grades, #1 and #2 were then "wet selected". This used a solution of half methanol and half water (remember that formula as it will come into play again when we talk about stems) which "brings out" the grain. This selection resulted in the following for #1 and #2 (OK, and sometimes #3 was wet selected for full grain for things that came up like the COMMODORE or SCULPTURA, but more on that LATER):


  • B -- 75% grain (REGAL, SILVER DUKE and others).
  • C -- 50% grain (WILLARD for smooth).
  • D -- Less than 50% grain (Painted pipes like COLOR VISCOUNT, COLOR DUKE)


  • F -- 75% grain (REGAL, SILVER DUKE and others).
  • G -- 50% grain (WILLARD for smooth).
  • H -- Less than 50% grain (Painted pipes like COLOR VISCOUNT, COLOR DUKE)

    When referring to the above grades, the number for "#1" and "#2" were never used, but rather it was just A, B, C, D and H. Why? Probably because it was just redundant to say, "1A" or "2E". For the rest it would be just 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7. Why? Because these wouldn't have been wet selected into "grain" (there's an exception or two, but we'll get to that later), so there was no other reference needed. This is important information to know because, if for nothing else, that is how this will be referred to elsewhere on this web page.

    If you have made it this far in reading about briar, then you will understand why I thought you might return here. You will also understand why, in telling the story of Dr. Grabow pipes, that my friend insisted that we start with BRIAR 102!

    But now, for a further challenge, especially to those who breezed through all this without the slightest bit of confusion, I am going to further "discuss" briar. I just do not think the Dr. Grabow pipe story can be told fully or properly without at least, touching on some of this. This is such treacherous ground that we are about to cover that my friend supplying the information warned me, "When you post the information about Briar, don't use #8. We used that quality so seldom that it would just confuse the readers. We only used it when we got desperate." And in regard to some of this other information my friend stated again, "Rather than confuse the readers more, it might be best if this info be left off your site. Your call."

    I jest about the "treacherous ground", but will simply offer the advice that you may not want to proceed any further in reading about this topic. Before it is over though, and escially as I add new things to the web page, you may want to return here or you'll never know why things like WILLARD pipes are discussed on a web site dedicated to Dr. Grabow pipes.

    As Paul Harvey would say, " . . . and now the rest of the story . . .":

    Okay, we have covered "A" through "H" and "3" through "7". Now we proceed to SHORT SHANKS (5/8" and 7/16"), CHIP TOPS, PANELS and eventually "8".

    7/16" and 5/8" refer to shank length which are faults in the length of the block of briar. They were sawed wrong in Europe. Ever get the idea that some "banded" pipes were made that way for more than simply the looks? In another area we will be talking about the WILLARD "military" and some other things and you will again see not only the importance of this discussion on briar, but also why seemingly unrelated non-Dr. Grabow pipes are discussed!

    CHIP TOPS are also faults of the block, in that it is too short (height) for the shape it was selected for. The top ends up being rough. Sparta used them by sanding the top shorter.

    PANELS are also faults. Too narrow left or right or front to back for their selected shape. Sparta had a "panel machine" that could cut flat panels on one, two, four or eight sides. My friend says, "We never 'made' panels, but used them occasionally to keep the faults used up." Ever see a "paneled" "DUKE" line pipe that isn't exactly on the shape chart? Now you know why. See, I knew you would want to read this section!

    My buddy also said in this regard, "In the short shanks, chip tops and panels, we dry selected for only #1, #3, #5 and "firewood".

    And finally, #8. By now, I guess you are figuring you are at the bottom of the pile and there's not too much to do with it other than burn it. "Talk about trash!" my friend said. Well, maybe not all the time. My friend, who probably had the choice of any pipe in the factory to smoke, also said, "I once smoked a #8 that had a hole all the way through the bowl and was patched. It was wonderful -- a GREAT PIPE".

    This Dr. Grabow employee also said that for several things that came up, including the COMMODORE and SCULPTURA, they wet selected #3 for FULL GRAIN. For this you have to think about those sandblasted finishes and how the briar could have defects, but full grain would be important. Hence the exception alluded to earlier in this section. He stated further, "I guess you've figured out by now that some #4 and #5 also had full grain. OK, we never used them for SMOOTH".

    So now what?:

    When I get some more time, this section will discuss what you do with all the less than perfect briar that accumulates from all those bags of briar after you have made the good and top of the line standard pipe shapes and finishes.


    This area is for the notations about the various stampings on the briar and their locations. Again, just a start. The codifications and abbreviations are my own and ties into several charts I keep to record the differences.

    Legend of older common stampings styles, etc., to be codified and added.

    Left Side

  • d1 -- Dr. Grabow over DE LUXE (no LINKMAN’S), 5/8” wide, ¼” tall with name, c1941?
  • d2 -- DR. GRABOW (over) name (DE LUXE), thin block letters, 5/8” wide, 3/16” tall, from c1944? to c19xx, over IMPORTED BRIAR, 11/16” wide, 1/16” tall, (may be all one stamp?)
  • d3 – Same as “d2” above, EXCEPT no “imported briar” (Maybe wood is something else? Seems very lightweight.)
  • d6 – Same as “d2” above, EXCEPT no “imported briar”.
  • f – LINKMAN’S (over) FIFTY GRAND, 5/8” wide, 3/16” tall, c19xx.
  • h1 -- LINKMAN’S (over) Hollycourt, 9/16” wide, 3/16” tall, c1942 or earlier?
  • L1 -- LINKMAN'S (over) Dr. Grabow , 5/8” wide, 3/16” tall, c1932-40?, until 1943?
  • n2 – PAT. NO. (over) 1896800, slanted block lettering, 3/8” wide, 1/8” tall, c1943-47?
  • P – Pre-Smoked , REG. U.S. PAT. OFF. , 11/16” wide, ¼” tall, c1943 to 1948, earlier and later?
  • s1 -- LINKMAN'S (over) Dr. Grabow , 5/8” wide, 3/16” tall, c1932, 37, later, (over) name (SELECT GRAIN, block letters, 5/8” wide, 1/16” tall).
  • s2 -- LINKMAN'S (over) Dr. Grabow , 5/8” wide, 3/16” tall, c1932, 37, later, (over) name (SELECT GRAIN, block letters, x/x” wide, 1/16” tall).
  • s3 -- DR. GRABOW 5/8” wide, >3/16” tall (over) name (SPECIAL), thin block letters, 7/16” wide, >1/16” tall, c1956?
  • s4 -- DR. GRABOW (over) name (STANDARD), thin block letters, 5/8” wide, >3/16” tall, c1956?
  • s5 -- DR. GRABOW (over) name (SUPREME), thin block letters, 5/8” wide, 3/16” tall, from c19xx to c19xx, over IMPORTED BRIAR, 5/8” wide, 1/16” tall, (may be all one stamp? NEWER than “s6” below.)
  • s6 -- DR. GRABOW (over) name (SUPREME), thin block letters, ¾” wide or 11/16”? wide, 3/16” tall, from c19xx to c19xx.
  • $ -- Shield emblem, stamped, c1943-46, and as early as 1940?
  • S – Spade stamping on shank, pointed to bowl.
  • t1 -- DR. GRABOW (over) name (TRU-GRAIN) with “T” between “D and R” above, block letters, 5/8” wide, 3/16” tall, from c19xx to c19xx.
  • t2 -- DR. GRABOW 5/8” wide maybe smaller than older (over) name (TRU-GRAIN), larger than Grabow, >5/8” wide, >1/16” tall, c1957?

    Right Side

  • A – IMPORTED BRIAR over Ajustomatic over PAT| 2461905, c1956?-xx. ( | = elongated period on some stampings).
  • b1 -- IMPORTED BRUYERE only, ¾” wide, >1/16” tall, or 1/16” tall exactly, post-1943?
  • d4 – De Luxe (over) BRUYERE, 9/16” wide, 3/16” tall, c1937-40, until 1943?
  • d5 – De Luxe only, NO bruyere, 9/16” wide, 1/8” tall, c1942-43 because of no metal in pipe and possibly NOT briar wood?
  • M – MLC in Oval and ITALIAN BRIAR, 9/16” wide, 1/16” tall, c1932.
  • P – Pre-Smoked , REG. U.S. PAT. OFF. , 11/16” wide, ¼” tall, c1943 to 1948, earlier and later?
  • s7 -- Special (over) ITALIAN BRIAR, 9/16” wide, 3/16” tall, c1933, and later?
  • s8 – Supreme , name only, 9/16” wide, 1/8” tall, c1942-43?

    Top Side

  • O -- Circle emblem, metal embedded, 1/8” big. Pre-1942?
  • .. – “Two Dots”, two metal dots embedded, ¼” wide. C1941-42 or earlier?
  • $ -- Shield emblem, stamped, c1943-46, and as early as 1940? (All with Propeller?)
  • S – Spade stamping on shank, pointed to bowl.
  • s1 -- LINKMAN'S (over) Dr. Grabow , 5/8” wide, 3/16” tall, c1932, 37, later, over SELECT GRAIN, 5/8” wide, 1/16” tall, “S” left of “D” above.
  • t1 -- DR. GRABOW (over) name (TRU-GRAIN) with “T” between “D and R” above, block letters, 5/8” wide, 3/16” tall, from c1943 to c19xx.

    Bottom Side

  • b1 – IMPORTED BRUYERE only, ¾” wide, 1/16” tall, post-1943?
  • d6 -- DR. GRABOW (over) name (DE LUXE), thin block letters, 5/8” wide, 3/16” tall, from c1942-43, only “LUXE” shows.
  • n1 -- PAT APP'D FOR stamping circa 1932?
  • n2 – PAT. NO. (over) 1896800, block lettering, 3/8” wide, 1/8” tall, c1933-42?
  • n3 – PAT. NO. (over) 1896800, slanted block lettering, 3/8” wide, 1/8” tall, c1943-47?
  • n4 – PAT. 2073663, slanted block lettering, 11/16” wide, 1/16” tall, c1942 or earlier? (Hollycourt patent).
  • P – Pre-Smoked , REG. U.S. PAT. OFF. , 11/16” wide, ¼” tall, c1943 to 1948, earlier and later?

    Spades and Propellers

    This is the place for the discussion of the emblems on Dr. Grabow pipes, including, but not limited to, the Spade and earlier "propeller" or chain link(?) insignia found on the stems of the pipes. Just putting something up quickly that I will further refine and update later.

    The text below will be the relevant part for the casual reader of this page. The codifications are my own that I use on various charts to record findings.

  • ST (Spade, Top, begining 1944-45?; >s = pointed to Smoker; >b = pointed to Bowl); SS (Spade, Side, beginning 19xx; PT (Propeller, Top, until late 1944?); T (“target”, two metal inserts like target, c1942 or earler?).
  • Blue Spade = filter pipe. White Spade = Ajustomatic non-filter pipe.
  • Yellow Spade = indicated a less expensive push stem pipe. (Info from former employee Jack Martin through DRB).
  • Orange = Seemed to only be used on Westbrook Ajustomatic special offer pipes. No Westbrooks are numbered as far as known yet.


    Future location of a discussion of stinger designs from the original design that started the Dr. Grabow line to those applied to Ajustomatic models.

    Below is some preliminary information, in a state of great flux as I continue to sort out my findings and better date manufacturing methods and designs. I have found absolutely NO information out there, so this is all virgin territory. I hope to include photo examples in the future to better illustrate what I am talking about in the identifications below. The "type" refernces are my own to track these features on charts that I have.

  • TYPE L1 – original patent-style FAT two-holer stinger, 1” long, c1932-33, concave bit.
  • TYPE L2 – original patent-style SKINNY two-holer stinger, 15/16” long, c1933?, concave bit.
  • TYPE L3 – “C” and “D” cuts, two-holer w/one angled, 1-1/8” long, c1937-42?, concave bit.
  • TYPE L4 – “C” cuts (2), two-holer w/one angled, 1” and 1-1/8” long, c1941-43?, concave bit. (Seems to appear in ’41 ad).
  • TYPE L5 – Yellow wood or plastic type stinger (matches band), two angled cuts, 7/8” long, ¼” fat, c1942-43?, concave bit.
  • TYPE L6 – Yellow wood or plastic tupe stinger (matches band), round with single small hole in end, ¾” long, 3/16” fat, c1942-43?, concave bit.
  • TYPE G1 – “C” cuts (2), ONE-holer, 1” and 1-1/16” long, c1944? to 1955?, flat bit. Maybe some variations to machining.
  • TYPE G2 -- “C& ½” cut, one elongated hole, very FAT stinger as used on “Dr. Crapo” VPS pipes, 15/16” to 1” long, 3/16” thick, c1955?
  • TYPE G3 – Short “C& ½” cut, one elongated hole, cast one-piece with threads, non-Ajusto, 15/16” long, c1950-55?, flat bit w/big edges.
  • TYPE A1 – Short “C& ½” cut, one elongated hole, cast one-piece with threads AJUSTOMATIC, 7/8” long, c1956?
  • TYPE A2 – Very short removable “C&¼” cut somewhat like Durango stinger, no spline, 11/16” long, c1957?
  • TYPE A3 – Short “C” cut, round blunt end.
  • TYPE F1 – Fat “rolling pin” metal stinger with long groove, 1-1/16” long, c19xx.
  • TYPE H1 – Hollycourt metal tube type insert peculiar to these pipes, c1942 or earlier? c/R – original cut off or missing when received, replaced by RJM.

    FINALLY SOMETHING NEW! I have been wanting to add information and update things and work on the site in general, but time usually works against me. That and the fact that I want things organized just so, etc., and I procrastinate long enough that I don't get it done. Well, thanks to new friend and fellow Dr. Grabow enthusiast, Tom Martin, I DO HAVE something new to offer. Tom has a passion for the Dr. Grabow pipe as David and I do and really proved his value as a colleague when he assembled not only some rambling commentary from emails and notes I had, but expertly included the photos as well on a nice web page. Please click on the link below!

    Tom Martin's "THE BUZZ ON STINGERS", An Addendom to the Subject of Stingers

    THANKS, TOM!!!

    Please stay tuned as I work on and update this site. If YOU have any information or know of someone who can provided information, please contact me!

    I'm not the first person in my family to have an interest in pipes. Here's some photos of some of my family and their pipes:

  • My Great Grandfather, Charles Fletcher, and his pipe circa the 1920s.
  • My Grandfather, Wilford Fletcher, and one of his pipes circa 1941.
  • My Grandfather, Wilford Fletcher, and a full bent pipe circa the 1940s.
  • My Grandfather, Wilford Fletcher, and a full bent pipe again circa 1944 or so.
  • My "Grandftaher-in-Law", "Dude" Ground enjoying his pipe.
  • My Dad, Gordon McKay, in front of several Yello Bole pipe displays inside Webb City Drug Store circa 1940.
  • Yours truly, Russell James McKay with a Dr. Grabow, (Churchwarden shape #00A, made circa early- to mid-1940s.)

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    Created May 24th, 2006, Last Updated December 19th, 2008 by R.J. McKay

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