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Buying Estate pipes on Ebay

tfdickson

Well-known member
Sales
Patron
#21
Lots of good advice here. My approach is a little different and stems from two points that guide everything: 1) by definition, when the auction ends the "winner" is the person who is willing to pay more than anyone else at that exact point in time for that exact item. 2) I would much rather pay 120% of "fair value", however that is defined, for the right pipe than 80% of "fair value" for the wrong pipe. When I say right pipe and wrong pipe I mean a pipe that will have lasting appeal for me vs. a pipe that will not have lasting appeal for me. If the main driver of the appeal is the price paid vs. "fair value," that is a pipe almost guaranteed to not have lasting appeal.

I also only buy from four, maybe five sellers that I trust completely and know that they will make it right if anything goes wrong. Then I only bid on pipes that I think are truly special and will have lasting appeal to me. That gives me the freedom to pay more than what others will pay, at least at the moment the auction ends. The fact that most buyers on ebay are looking for a deal or a bargain helps this further- if your bid is up against other "screaming deal" bids, it doesn't take much to be the top bidder. I usually put my bid in as close to the end of the auction as possible for the same reasons others have mentioned.

Doing it this way means I only buy about 2 or 3 pipes per year on ebay but it also means I almost always end up owning the pipes I bid on and eliminates almost all of the "what was I thinking?" buys.
 
#22
Lots of good advice here. My approach is a little different and stems from two points that guide everything: 1) by definition, when the auction ends the "winner" is the person who is willing to pay more than anyone else at that exact point in time for that exact item. 2) I would much rather pay 120% of "fair value", however that is defined, for the right pipe than 80% of "fair value" for the wrong pipe. When I say right pipe and wrong pipe I mean a pipe that will have lasting appeal for me vs. a pipe that will not have lasting appeal for me. If the main driver of the appeal is the price paid vs. "fair value," that is a pipe almost guaranteed to not have lasting appeal.

I also only buy from four, maybe five sellers that I trust completely and know that they will make it right if anything goes wrong. Then I only bid on pipes that I think are truly special and will have lasting appeal to me. That gives me the freedom to pay more than what others will pay, at least at the moment the auction ends. The fact that most buyers on ebay are looking for a deal or a bargain helps this further- if your bid is up against other "screaming deal" bids, it doesn't take much to be the top bidder. I usually put my bid in as close to the end of the auction as possible for the same reasons others have mentioned.

Doing it this way means I only buy about 2 or 3 pipes per year on ebay but it also means I almost always end up owning the pipes I bid on and eliminates almost all of the "what was I thinking?" buys.

I agree with your assessment but why would someone purchase a pipe they don't believe will have lasting appeal? Like you, if I don't purchase a pipe that has lasting appeal, it is very unlikely to last long.
 

tfdickson

Well-known member
Sales
Patron
#23
I agree with your assessment but why would someone purchase a pipe they don't believe will have lasting appeal? Like you, if I don't purchase a pipe that has lasting appeal, it is very unlikely to last long.
It's a fair point, I think what I was getting is that I've bought plenty of pipes over the years that didn't have lasting appeal and that if I had simply asked myself the question- "Is this something special or is this just a novelty" - then I would have saved myself trouble and money. I still make mistakes, just less than I used to.
 

cigrmaster

Well-known member
#24
I have been buying pipes on ebay since 1999. I have had a rule since the beginning, never fall in love with a pipe. I use ebay to get great deals on estate pipes. If I can't get it for my price, I pass on it. I know prices on any particular pipe before I bid. I know all the specs on a pipe before I bid.
I used to snipe at the ends of auctions but now I just throw in my high bid a day or so early and let it ride. I have had pretty good success using that method.
I kind of stick to sellers like great-estate, coopersark, pipestud, treasurepipes.

If you take the time to learn the market on pipes you are interested in, you should do well being disciplined in your bidding.
 

Sir Saartan

The Tan Saarlander
#25
My personal opinion as a relative pipe noob (less than 4 years):
A new pipe smoker usually has problems determining wether a pipe is well made or not when holding it in hand. You simply don’t know yet what makes a pipe smoke well. You don’t know what issues are fixable and which aren’t.
You don’t know how to smoke a pipe well even if a trustworthy person picked a great smoker for you.

So because of your overall lack of experience with pipes, buying a pipe you can’t even see is even riskier.

My advice:
Buy pipes with the help of a person who has a couple of years of experience or if that isn’t possible buy from someone you know you can trust.

Once you have a little experience, you have learned enough about pipes to be able to handle eBay purchases.
That said: what people have said here about asking questions and such is all good advice. Don’t be scared but don’t be stupid and/or lazy.

And don’t break the Bank. If you don’t win that auction, there will be others equally interesting. Stay within your reasonable budget.
 
#26
I'm late to this, but I've also never been burned by eBay pipes.
On the opposite end, I've sold a lot of pipes on eBay too. I always ream and clean them, do the salt and alcohol treatment at least twice, sanitize the bits, and take photos from several angles making sure to photograph inside of the bowl and any flaws in the wood. And even then I've had people complain about them. Oh well.
 

BubbaBriar

Well-known member
#27
Just received a few weeks ago a little Bruyere Garantie pipe from France. Box was fine. But the shank was broken in pieces. Mouthpiece wrapped seperate. It was obvious to me that he tried twisting off an old stuck mouthpiece and I told them so. Finally after several not so friendly emails they came around to admitting. Luckily were talking really low budget pipe here, peanuts really, but my point is researching the seller is just as important as the pipe.
 

Jhelms

Well-known member
#28
Through the years I have bought a good number of pipes on EBay. Only once did I get something that was not worth the money I paid for it. I ended up with a Brylon pipe that was listed as a briar no name from England. I contacted the seller and he had shipped the wrong pipe to me. He said to keep the “plastic” wonder and shipped the correct pipe to me overnight. I don’t know what I did with the Brylon pipe but after cleaning up the correct pipe, it has been a good pipe for two or three years now. I am pleased with the estate pipes I have purchased on EBay. By the way I have never smoked one of those pipes and don’t plan to.
 

Jhelms

Well-known member
#29
I have been buying pipes on ebay since 1999. I have had a rule since the beginning, never fall in love with a pipe. I use ebay to get great deals on estate pipes. If I can't get it for my price, I pass on it. I know prices on any particular pipe before I bid. I know all the specs on a pipe before I bid.
I used to snipe at the ends of auctions but now I just throw in my high bid a day or so early and let it ride. I have had pretty good success using that method.
I kind of stick to sellers like great-estate, coopersark, pipestud, treasurepipes.

If you take the time to learn the market on pipes you are interested in, you should do well being disciplined in your bidding.
This is great advice. I figure out what my price limit is before I ever bid the first time. I win some and I lose some but I never spend more than I plan to.
 

tfdickson

Well-known member
Sales
Patron
#30
I'm late to this, but I've also never been burned by eBay pipes.
On the opposite end, I've sold a lot of pipes on eBay too. I always ream and clean them, do the salt and alcohol treatment at least twice, sanitize the bits, and take photos from several angles making sure to photograph inside of the bowl and any flaws in the wood. And even then I've had people complain about them. Oh well.
I stopped selling on eBay about 8 years ago because of ridiculous complaints. The last pipe I sold on Ebay was a beautiful Michael Lindner sandblasted LB style billiard. I bought it new and had smoked it less than a dozen times. It went for $200, which I thought was low but with "no reserve" that's the risk you take. When the buyer received it he immediately emailed with all-caps and lots of exclamation points claiming I had ripped him off, the pipe was in terrible condition, and that the stem looked like a "wolverine had its way with it." I said no problem, sorry it didn't work out, send it back and I'll issue a full refund. He replied that I had scammed him, that he's a major player in the pipe world, and that if I didn't refund immediately he'd make a poster with my name and address on it and display it at the Chicago show with the words "FRAUD" on top. (You can't make this shtuff up.) I told him send it back, full refund. Then he demanded I pay return shipping. I told him to see the terms of the auction, buyer pays return shipping- send it back, full refund. He kept the pipe. Selling my pipes at poor prices and 20% fees to Ebay and Paypal didn't seem like the best way to go after that. The funny part is that this guy was and still is a regular poster on another forum and thought of as a good guy. By the way lots of "good guys" at that other forum. Bless their hearts.
 

Sorringowl

Pretty much as free as a bird.
Sales
#31
I stopped selling on eBay about 8 years ago because of ridiculous complaints. The last pipe I sold on Ebay was a beautiful Michael Lindner sandblasted LB style billiard. I bought it new and had smoked it less than a dozen times. It went for $200, which I thought was low but with "no reserve" that's the risk you take. When the buyer received it he immediately emailed with all-caps and lots of exclamation points claiming I had ripped him off, the pipe was in terrible condition, and that the stem looked like a "wolverine had its way with it." I said no problem, sorry it didn't work out, send it back and I'll issue a full refund. He replied that I had scammed him, that he's a major player in the pipe world, and that if I didn't refund immediately he'd make a poster with my name and address on it and display it at the Chicago show with the words "FRAUD" on top. (You can't make this shtuff up.) I told him send it back, full refund. Then he demanded I pay return shipping. I told him to see the terms of the auction, buyer pays return shipping- send it back, full refund. He kept the pipe. Selling my pipes at poor prices and 20% fees to Ebay and Paypal didn't seem like the best way to go after that. The funny part is that this guy was and still is a regular poster on another forum and thought of as a good guy. By the way lots of "good guys" at that other forum. Bless their hearts.
Ugh, that sounds like a nightmare. Hell, man, $200. for a Lindner?? I would have been happy to get such a bargain. Also, who goes around calling themselves "a major player" in the pipe world? What does that even mean? The only time anyone should ever use that phrase is when they are, literally, in the Major Leagues. And even then, you should be careful.

Buying on eBay for me, for the most part, has been a win-win situation, but, I always do a lot of research (as Russ wisely suggests), and, if after asking questions, the seller seems cagey to me, and it's a big purchase, I just let it go. The only thing I might add to Russ' great advice is, on any pipe you're interested in, give yourself a cap. It can be real tempting toward the end of an auction, when someone's outbid you by a penny, to overbid. Keep to a limit, and that way, if the pipe doesn't meet all of your expectations (within reason), you won't have overpaid.

Also, most sellers on eBay are pretty honest, especially the people who sell lots of estate pipes and have a reputation to uphold in the pipe world. Most of the time, the few bad apples I've gotten, have come from people who know nothing about pipes, and from me not really taking the time to look closely at their pics or ask questions. But, fortunately, those have been few and far between.

Btw, a good alternative to eBay, especially when you're starting out, is the sales forum right here at PSD, where I've been known to buy a pipe or two (or three...okay, probably more than three). I've seen some real bargains here and the people selling them are super nice, and very knowledgeable. But, yes, eBay, if you do your homework and follow Russ' advice, can definitely yield some gems.
 
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#32
I just remembered something that happened to me a couple of times on eBay.
I sometimes buy old pipe lots to restore and sell back. Most are just old old old basket pipes that hardly ever go for more than $20, but sometimes you really luck out and find real jewels. Found two Dunhills in piles of old pipes, one of them looked like it's been smoked a couple of times at most. Kept them both, obviously. Another time I found a weird shaped pipe that had a cracked and banded shank. The band obscured the maker's stamp so I look it off because I wanted to find out more about it. The shape made me think it was Danish, and sure enough it was when I looked up the name. I don't remember the name now, but it turned out to be a woman pipe maker and she kept photos of all the pipes she's sold on her site. Found the one I had... it sold for something like $6,000. HAH. Good luck selling that. Broken shank made it all but worthless, so I kept it for myself too. Maybe I should find it and just smoke it like a regular pipe to make me feel real fancy.
It's always nice to find Orlik or GBD too.
 

Pipepunk

Well-known member
#33
Been doing it for over 2 years and only had one less than stellar experience.I follow my own criteria such as I prefer them to be unsmoked and they should be a brand or maker I'm emphatically interested in.it also helps to make eye babies real hard with the pictures
 

dmkerr

Fabulously non-descript
Staff member
#34
I've never been burned buying on Ebay - haven't attempted to sell.

The best advice was already provided here... if you don't know what you're potentially buying, have someone more knowledgable help you. Make sure you can return it.
 

dmkerr

Fabulously non-descript
Staff member
#35
I stopped selling on eBay about 8 years ago because of ridiculous complaints. The last pipe I sold on Ebay was a beautiful Michael Lindner sandblasted LB style billiard. I bought it new and had smoked it less than a dozen times. It went for $200, which I thought was low but with "no reserve" that's the risk you take. When the buyer received it he immediately emailed with all-caps and lots of exclamation points claiming I had ripped him off, the pipe was in terrible condition, and that the stem looked like a "wolverine had its way with it." I said no problem, sorry it didn't work out, send it back and I'll issue a full refund. He replied that I had scammed him, that he's a major player in the pipe world, and that if I didn't refund immediately he'd make a poster with my name and address on it and display it at the Chicago show with the words "FRAUD" on top. (You can't make this shtuff up.) I told him send it back, full refund. Then he demanded I pay return shipping. I told him to see the terms of the auction, buyer pays return shipping- send it back, full refund. He kept the pipe. Selling my pipes at poor prices and 20% fees to Ebay and Paypal didn't seem like the best way to go after that. The funny part is that this guy was and still is a regular poster on another forum and thought of as a good guy. By the way lots of "good guys" at that other forum. Bless their hearts.
He did all that complaining and kept the pipe anyway??? A "terrible condition" pipe, and yet he didn't return it for a refund??? That smacks of fraud itself! My guess is that this "good guy" was planning on getting a refund from you immediately and then not returning the pipe at all. Good thing you stated the terms in advance.

I understand why you stopped selling.
 

blackmouth210

Well-known member
#36
I stopped selling on eBay about 8 years ago because of ridiculous complaints. The last pipe I sold on Ebay was a beautiful Michael Lindner sandblasted LB style billiard. I bought it new and had smoked it less than a dozen times. It went for $200, which I thought was low but with "no reserve" that's the risk you take. When the buyer received it he immediately emailed with all-caps and lots of exclamation points claiming I had ripped him off, the pipe was in terrible condition, and that the stem looked like a "wolverine had its way with it." I said no problem, sorry it didn't work out, send it back and I'll issue a full refund. He replied that I had scammed him, that he's a major player in the pipe world, and that if I didn't refund immediately he'd make a poster with my name and address on it and display it at the Chicago show with the words "FRAUD" on top. (You can't make this shtuff up.) I told him send it back, full refund. Then he demanded I pay return shipping. I told him to see the terms of the auction, buyer pays return shipping- send it back, full refund. He kept the pipe. Selling my pipes at poor prices and 20% fees to Ebay and Paypal didn't seem like the best way to go after that. The funny part is that this guy was and still is a regular poster on another forum and thought of as a good guy. By the way lots of "good guys" at that other forum. Bless their hearts.
It would be a service to the community if people could let folks know who this shady character is.
It could possibly save others from being taken.
But I understand why you can't do that.
It's a shame really, especially when you were the one wronged.