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Posella Pipes: Fancy-ViP (The Rarest of the Rare)

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Not only is the Posella family business based in Calabria, the land of the best Italian briar, but the family has also been known for decades to be one of the most experienced suppliers of Calabrian briar. For this reason, all Posella pipes, with no exception, are made out of the best briar available in Calabria today, and considering the high quality of Calabrian briar, it is only logical to conclude that the Posella pipes are made out of the best briar in the whole wide world. In addition, most of the pipes produced today are made of briar that has been seasoning for at least 10+ years.

Grade:  Fancy 3 ~ ViP
Pipe Code: PS051 Price: CHF 900.00  
Shape: Plateau Magnum Weight: 125g / 4-13/32 oz
Chamber : 21.5mm -- Chamber Depth: 55mm -- Wall Thickness: ->43mm -- Cleaner Passes? Yes
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A necessary reminder before we start: This pipe is in the Fancy-3-ViP grade (by the way, "ViP" stands for "Vitaliano Posella" and not "Very Important Person"). "Fancy" is Posella's grade to refer to pipes with a unique and difficult shape, ranging from entry level (Fancy 1), though "Fancy 2", and to the top, which is "Fancy 3". The "ViP" addition is designed to grade that rare piece, in the "Fancy 3" grade, that comes in such an exceptionally unusual shape and/or size that it deserves to be set apart from the rest. In other words, and when it comes to unusual and complex shapes, this pipe is of the highest possible Posella grade.
I first saw this pipe back in December when I visited Posella in his workshop in Calabria. Of course, and as soon as I saw it, I picked it, stood in awe for a while, examined closely, expressed my admiration, and then I put it aside so that I could bring back home with me. Well, it turned out that it was wishful thinking on my part. Vitaliano said, with no hesitation, "Tarek, this piece is not for sale"! It turned out that he'd made it years before, and he was in love with the piece, and he knew that it would be rather unlikely to come up with a similar one. I argued for a while, but, with all those years of dealing with pipe makers, I can tell when they' re not ready to part with a pipe, and Vitaliano was way out of reach. During the following months, and every time we talked on the phone (quite often), I had to play the one card that I play well. I kept telling him that this piece deserves more than being locked in a drawer and that it needed to be shown to and admired by the world. After 5 months, he caved in, and this is where this story begins!
I would have loved to see the piece of wood that was large enough, with good enough grain and overall quality that Posella used to make this piece. It is a pipe that this one that aught to remind us that the Posella family sold first-class briar wood for decades and up to the point when Vitaliano Posella decided to keep the wood to him and turn it into pipes, with his name on them. I have seen pieces in his workshop that date back to the 1970s. It's true that when I visited the Posella workshop, I saw some of the most impressive wood I'd ever seen, I would still have loved to see the piece that gave us this particular pipe.
Let me first give you the measurements:
  • Bowl diameter: 52mm (2.1") x 83mm (3.27")
  • Bowl height: 75mm (3")
  • Length of shank: 82mm (3.23")
  • Overall pipe length: 197mm (7.76")
As you can see, the bowl is slightly oval, and it quite usual, as it is impressive, that the plateau top goes down from the outer side of the bowl; it kind of wraps around the bowl, and the effect is magnificent. I also have to mention that the quality of the plateau, as well as its uniformity, is no less than exceptional and rare. Flame Grain is what you see all around the bowl AND shank, and to my surprise, I can't locate any Bird's Eye! As for the shape, and while the term "Freehand" is most deserved here, I can't help but make the reference to the idea of the Lovat which is evident here. That idea is based on the long, round shank and the short, saddle mouthpiece.
While most people would consider adding this pipe to their collection, simply as a show piece, the pipe has been made to be smoked, and if you choose to buy it, display AND smoke it, I'm confident that the pipe will provide the smoking quality that matches its impressive looks.
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