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The thought that it had been in someone elses mouth puts me off.
Even if I got a new stem, I still think a pipe is quite a personal thing and I'm not sure I'd like it if I knew my pipe had been molested by someone else .
I think the Danish makers are way over priced for value received.
Particularly since, in the latest P&T, it states that Tom Eltang gets his briar from Stanwell.
I have also had good experiences with the Italian craftsmen of Radice, Becker, Ser Jacopo, and Viprati.
As for English pipes, I think Ashtons are special and smoke extremely well, though their fit and finish sometimes leaves something to be desired. I will now sit and research all those pipemakers you mentioned and see which I like.
I recently heard someone mention Castello as a very good quality pipe so I looked at their website and now plan on getting one.
I realise that a cheap pipe can sometimes provide a great smoke, and also that a lot of this depends on personal preference.
If price was no limit then I would go with a large ornate meerschaum, a large straight grain Dunhill, or a Porsche with the finned heat sink type design.
You will find that people have many different opinions and definitions of "high-end" pipes. By the way, that's an interesting thing about the lucite stems.
My suggestions is to take your time, do some reading and research, and buy something that both captivates you aesthetically and is within your price range. I'm not sure I would know the difference between that and vulcanite or whatever else they use . I certainly respect anti-lucite views, but confess that I find only a neglibile difference between the way lucite vs. If I like the pipe, either of the two is satisfactory; but I really do like the fact that the lucite doesn't seem to stain or oxidize.
Another great pipe now available only as an estate piece (unless you can find old stock) is the Lane era Charatan's Make.
Others include family-era Barling's and Sasieni's. Another fine pipe which I don't think has been mentioned on this thread is the James Upshall (in either new or used condition).For appearances, my favorite is a Savinelli green alligator, which I got for on E-bay.