Underrated pipemakers - Part 1
To me, an underrated pipemaker means one who does not get the right credit, and therefore I will use this blog to do a little advertising for those pipe makers who I think are underestimated – and hopefully we can turn it around by supporting them.
Being in the pipe business practically all my life I have seen pipe makers come and go.
I've seen pipe makers being treated like rock stars selling everything they make, and I've seen pipe makers going under the radar – they don't sell well, they have too many pipes on stock and are not represented very well.
Either they went under the radar because they simply were not talented and skilled enough or they somehow just don't hit the right buttons in terms of pricing, sales, marketing, distributor, agent, retailers, etc.
Kai is one of the pipe makers from the Danish city Faaborg on the island of Fyn in the middle of Denmark, and he turned 70 this January.
He has pipes in his blood since his father was the founder of the famous pipe producer, Bari, in the city of Kolding.
Kai started as a young boy making pocket money at the Bari factory. At that time more than 100 people were employed in Kolding working at pipe factories like Bari, Kriswill and others.
After Bari closed Kai started Faaborg Pipes with his brother Jørgen Nielsen and his father Viggo Nielsen (Viggo died in 2009).
Today Kai makes around 2-300 pipes per year in his own name.
His pipes are graded A, B, C, D if filtered and V to VVVV for the non-filtered.
The very best of his pipes are called Jewel and graded D, C, B, A and X where X is the best. JEWEL marked pipes can be filtered as well.
A little unusual for a Danish pipe maker the majority of his stems are made in acrylic, a few in Cumberland, some with Brazilian longhorn stems and very rarely in ebonite.
Despite his rough hands and robust stature, he surprises us every time when he presents fresh pipes with some small elegant light weight pipes. Kai has a unique style. He can be playful, but his signature shapes are his versions of the Dublin, bulldog and Rhodesian.
Pricewise he is very diverse, so you can get Kai pipes from around 200 EUR to 700 EUR.
Summary on Kai Nielsen pipes
All pipes are handmade in Denmark by Kai Nielsen.
All black stems are handmade in black acrylic. Acrylic does not oxidise like ebonite/vulcanite stems.
All pipes have been 'pipe cleaner tested' by Kai.
Kai is one of the few Danish makers that makes high grade pipes with 9 mm filter option.