4. HINTS ON COLLECTING, DATING AND PRICING KAYWOODIES
It should be clear from the preceding chronology that the firm of KB&B probably produced hundreds of thousands of pipes in the years since 1915. There is certainly no shortage of Kaywoodies today., The mid- and low-grade pipes are available in abundance at flea markets and estate sales, and from numerous pipe traders/collectors.
Flea markets are particularly fruitful hunting grounds for Kaywoodie Pipes. Many gems have been discovered among the dusty, heavily oxidized pipes that have found their way to flea markets around the country. The author has found 4-digit Super Grains, Connoisseurs, Flame Grains, and 4-digit pre-fitment Kaywoodies at flea markets for less than $5 each.
Another obvious source of Kaywoodies is other collectors. This source is particularly useful for the rarer, high-grade Kaywoodies. A number of pipe collecting journals carry ads from Kaywoodie collectors and can be a valuable source of general information concerning Kaywoodies, as well as in identifying other Kaywoodie collectors. Readers who may not be familiar with these publications should consult their local tobacconist for details. In fact, pipe shops that deal in estate (pre-smoked) pipes should not be overlooked as a possible source for Kaywoodie Pipes. Additionally, there has been a recent proliferation of mail-order pipe dealers who occasionally offer Kaywoodie Pipes. These dealers frequently advertise in various pipe smoking journals and can be another potentially useful source for Kaywoodie Pipes.
While there does not appear to be a shortage of Kaywoodie Pipes, there is a serious lack of guidelines for accurately dating and pricing Kaywoodie Pipes. Like most pipemakers, KB&B did not use any consistent, easily identifiable system for dating their pipes. Hence, only the following, general guidelines for dating Kaywoodies can be suggested.
- Check the Shape Numbers. If the pipe has a 4-digit shape number, the pipe is probably of "pre-1936" vintage. If the pipe has a 4-digit shape number and does not have the threaded fitment, it is probably from before 1925. The information in Chapter 3 on pipe grades, along with the shape lists in the Appendix, can, also be useful in dating a pipe. Because grades and shapes frequently changed, this information can be useful in establishing an approximate date, especially if the pipe in question is of an unusual shape and/or grade. Fortunately, the older, more desirable Kaywoodies (i.e., those of pre-1936 vintage) can be identified by their 4-digit shape numbers.
- Examine Logo, Stampings and Fitment. The pre-WWII Kaywoodies had elongated white cloverleaf logos and large screw-in fitments (with the possible exception of the pre-1925 and "export" Kaywoodies, which had no fitments). Some of the pre-1936 Kaywoodies were stamped (on the shank) with a cloverleaf around KBB. Sometime between 1936 and 1947, the better pipes were marked with a black cloverleaf inside a white dot. However, because many of the pipes in the 1968-69 catalog still show this type of logo, the black-in-white logo merely indicates a "post 1936" vintage. Current (Italian-made) Kaywoodies have the "white outline" logo.
With the exception of the early (pre-1936) pipes, it is very difficult to date Kaywoodies precisely. Typically, one must rely upon "guestimates" based on a number of factors. As a final suggestion, it never hurts to ask the seller/owner about the history of the pipe (it may turnout that the owner of the pipe knows approximately when the pipe was purchased).
Because there are relatively few Kaywoodie collectors (the number appears to be growing, however), and because there is a general lack of knowledge concerning the basic hierarchy of Kaywoodie Pipes, there does not appear to be a widely accepted pricing scale for Kaywoodie Pipes. As an example, a leading mail-order pipe company recently offered low-grade Kaywoodies (Signet, "600") at the same (or higher) prices than Flame and Matched Grain Kaywoodies. Based on very limited information, the current dealer's price for Flame Grain grade Kaywoodies appears to be in the range of S25 to $35, depending on condition.
The annual inflation rate in this country has averaged about 4% per year since 1950. At this rate, 1988 consumer prices are about double the 1968 prices. The dealer price of $25 to $35 for Flame Grain grade Kaywoodies, then, appears reasonable13 (as shown in Table 4, Kaywoodie Flame Grains sold for $15 in 1968-69). Therefore, as a rough rule-of-thumb, one could simply double the 1968-69 prices given in Table 4 (see Section 3.4) to estimate "current prices" of Kaywoodie Pipes. This, of course, should not be taken as a hard-and-fast rule, as a number of other factors such as condition, age and 'rarity can significantly affect prices. The seller's knowledge (or lack of knowledge) also affects price. As noted earlier, Kaywoodie prices may be substantially lower at flea markets and estate sales. (Prices can also be substantially higher if the seller believes that a pipe is "old" and/or "rare"). Perhaps the best source of information on the current value of Kaywoodie Pipes, is other (knowledgeable) Kaywoodie collectors. Of course, the bottom line on the value of any collectible is what the collector is "willing to pay".
As a final note, the Kaywoodie collector should bear in mind that, with the possible exception of the older, higher grade pipes, there is currently no shortage of Kaywoodies. For the collector who is willing to shop-around, it is still possible to develop an extensive collection of Kaywoodie Pipes without spending a great deal of money.