The Economic Way of Thinking

dunhill-pipe-logo-250                     Corn cob

No, I have not strayed off topic already. Newer pipe smokers often wonder if really expensive pipes smoke better than inexpensive pipes, such as Missouri Meerschaum corn cobs, Dr. Grabows, Kaywoodies, and Mr. Brogs. (Let’s not overlook excellent mid-range pipes, such as many Savinellis, Aldo Velanis, and Nordings.)

What we each need to ask ourselves is this: is the marginal increment in the superiority of a pricey pipe’s smoke, assuming it exists, likely to be worth the additional cost? The question is not, “Does the pricey pipe smoke better?” but rather, “Does it smoke that much better?”

This is a personal, subjective matter. No one can answer for you but yourself. Of course, you have to assess the future in order to answer the question. Unless you smoke the pricy pipe, how can you know? Unless someone lends you an unsmoked one, you have to guess. You can make something of an educated guess by asking others, but they would be relating their experiences, which may not be yours. An educated guess is still a guess.

Your personal circumstances are highly relevant. If you are as rich as Jeff Bezos, gambling on a Dunhill pipe may be no big deal (although it may be). If you earn the median income, it most likely will be a big deal. It is for me. Even if I were convinced that a Dunhill or some other very expensive pipe would smoke better than a cheap or moderately priced pipe, I still wouldn’t believe the difference between them would be worth the added expense. I, like you, face opportunity costs: what else could I spend the extra money on? Tobacco perhaps.

I’ll go further and say I’d rather buy several decent inexpensive pipes than put that money toward one very pricey pipe.

But that’s me. Nevertheless, we would all benefit from approaching such questions in marginal and opportunity-cost terms — that is the economic way of thinking.

6 thoughts on “The Economic Way of Thinking

  1. This is a very relevant topic for pipe smokers no matter the level of experience. For me, to buy a pipe, I have to form and emotional attachment. I don’t buy a pipe unless it speaks to me. If I can afford it. I bring it home. If I can’t afford it, I pass on it, or save up to buy it. Other times, the need for tobacco exceeds the desire for a new pipe, and tobacco always trumps a pipe purchase.


    1. I feel the same way. A pipe can beckon you: the grain, the shape, the stem. The sum total of its beauty calls. And I know the feeling that since it’s too expensive, I’ll have to leave it behind or at least postpone the purchase indefinitely. That’s how we live. I’ll be writing about how tobacco figures in my purchase of everything. Stay tuned.


  2. Good article. I had only inexpensive or mid range price pipe since 2 weeks. I bought a handmade pipe on eBay made by Blatter & Blatter (they made great pipe a very good price).
    I smoke only once with the pipe but I’m sure it’s a different smoke than with a corn cob or my other mid-range (Savinelli)!!! I love it.

    I don’t think I will buy only expensive or handmade pipe but I
    think I can say that the experience is not the same. However, Blatter pipes are not that expensive (they could be but that’s another topic). I can’t imagine paying 1000$ for a pipe… I prefer buying 3-4 pipes and a lot of tobacco instead!
    (Sorry for my bad English… I’m a French Canadian)!


    1. Jonathan, I am unfamiliar with Blatter & Blatter, so I will have to check it out. Thanks for the tip. I love my corn cobs. I am as excited about getting a new corn cob as I am about a new briar or meerschaum pipe. I am a Savinelli fan too.


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