I thought long and hard about what would be the first new pipe I’d ever buy for myself when I first got back into smoking them. Eventually, I came across a $120 sandblasted tomato from Neerup, a brand I’d never heard of. I loved how it looked, but analysis paralysis got the best of me and someone else snagged it. I wound up with two lesser pipes instead, but I eventually bought a Neerup of my own, a Classic Smooth Bent Pot. With some experience under my belt now, I can honestly say that Neerup pipes are the best value for the money. Anywhere!
Peder Jeppesen is the man behind the Neerup brand. His pipe-making name comes from the family name of one of his grandmothers. Jeppesen’s been making pipes for more than twenty-five years and started out under the tutelage of the renowned pipe-maker Karl Erik Ottendahl before he went on to working under the legendary Erik Nørding. Peder’s background alone is enough for me to be a big fan of his work, even if his pipes weren’t so great. But they are.
Neerup pipes start when Peder hand-carves an initial design that he replicates on an automatic fraising machine. From there, he and his son Christian finish each pipe by hand in different ways that make them unique despite their shared origins.
I learned aabout Jeppesen and his pipes after I passed on that first Neerup tomato. Once I smoked the Erik the Red and my Oscar Tiger I bought instead and confirmed that I was firmly back in the throes of the habit, I bought this Neerup Classic Smooth Bent Pot for $124. I’m not one to often clench a pipe in my mouth, so it worked out great that the Classic Smooth Bent Pot has a broad bowl with thick walls that fit in my hand almost perfectly. It’s a stout little guy, finished in a light stain that highlights some intriguing grain near the front heel of the stummel. The acrylic stem, which features a swirled finish reminiscent of marble, connects to the pipe’s shank via a triple-layer contrast band of black and swirly tan acrylic. All in all, the pipe’s pretty muted compared to other Neerups, but its elements curve and flow into one another in a playful way that identifies it as unmistakably Danish to my amateur eye.
Jeppesen’s Classic series involves traditional pipe shapes like apples, pokers, and this bent pot. His Structure series tends to feature bolder, more aggressive carvings that often spotlight some rigid architectural element.
I was blown away when I found a used Neerup Structure Smooth Bent Pot for $85 a month after I bought my Classic! An estate Neerup in good condition and at that price is a no-brainer! None of its characteristics indicated that the pipe had been previously smoked, despite its pre-owned status. SmokingPipes listed its condition as “Minor Rim Darkening” but I didn’t notice it- given the rough plateau finish, I think they were being generous. I certainly didn’t taste anything out of the ordinary.
The second Neerup features a taller bowl than the first, along with a darker contrast stain and a much wider shank that seems to mushroom out where it connects to the acrylic stem. That stem is a doozy, featuring waves of black, orange, teal, and seafoam. I’d normally find it a little garish, but that wacky stem compliments the stain almost perfectly. That stain reveals a great flame grain when compared to the Classic Smooth’s birdseye.
Both pipes feature an extremely glossy finish that I think might be a turn-off to some. I’ve also heard that people sometimes have trouble passing a pipe cleaner through them after a smoke. I understand the gloss thing- on Pipedia, Jeppesen mentioned that “the finish of the pipes is done by concentrated grinding, sanding, buffing and polishing, that keep the pipe and its colors nice and shiny for a long time.”
Despite his best efforts, I’m sure the sheen will fade over time to become something more palatable as the pipe is handled. As for the pipe cleaners? I’ve not had any trouble getting one from the bit to the bowl. If I did, I’d simply wait until the pipe cooled, gently twist the stem from the stummel, dip the cleaner into some rubbing alcohol, and swab out both pieces separately. Problem solved.
I can’t remember what tobacco I smoked in my Neerup pipes, but they were good smokers from the get-go. Most pipes need time to build up char in the bowl to turn them into excellent smokers, but these smoked as well as any new pipes I’ve ever experienced aside from my Boswells.
My brother’s birthday came a few months after I bought both of my Neerups. John is an occasional pipe-smoker with his own preferences, and I wanted to get him something he could use and reuse without being beholden to a specific pipe he might not enjoy. As half of his birthday present, I bought him this Neerup Ivory and Brown Square Head Bamboo Tamper. It came with a leather case and has a metal tamping end (inside of which is a dottle pick with an acrylic handle). It cost $22.40. Unfortunately, it’s not available on SmokingPipes anymore last I checked.
I could have bought John ten or twelve Czech pipe tools for that price, but this Neerup tool is as much art as it is functional: it’s overkill for compressing tobacco within a pipe since I’ll use a pushpin, roofing nail, mechanical pencil, match, or my own singed finger to do that job myself, but he appreciated the gift. Twelve Czech tools aren’t much of a gift anyway.
The second, crazier, half of John’s birthday present was this Neerup Tobacco Knife, called a Buffalo per Jeppesen’s nomenclature. The knife is ostensibly designed to cut through rope, plug, or cake tobacco, but it’s a solid general-purpose blade. I’m not sure what any of this means as I parrot it, but the knife uses impressive-sounding AUS-8 high-grade chromium Japanese steel in a handle designed by Peder Jeppesen himself. It’s a beautiful instrument. It should be, since it cost $140!
It’s not often that I’m able to gift that extravagantly, but my brother is my best friend and I was glad to have a chance to. Back then, I was working seventy hours a week! I hope the craftsmanship of these Neerup pieces holds up to their price and provenance. Based on how great the pipes look and perform, I’ve got no doubt that they will.
Peder Jeppesen also makes a line of completely-handmade pipes that sell for a lot more money than the Neerup brand. They’re called Ida Easy Cut, and recently I’ve been lucky enough to acquire two of them. Pipes in that range vary from about $180-$700, and they take all we know about Neerup -the contest stains, the heavy gloss, the eye-catching acrylic stems, the plateau- and crank it up two or three notches. I can’t wait to share two of the least expensive he’s carved with you soon!