On the following cyber pages you can view the entire Ashton Collection, showing the start, development, and ongoing changes that have encompassed the Ashton smoking pipe since its start in 1983.

Page one shows the first seven years of production- from April 1983 to the end of 1990. 

Below is a photo and of the first Ashton pipe made- in April 1983. The pipe is an XX Pebblegrain Canadian, and  the nomenclature is unlike any Ashton pipe made since. The size grade stamp (XX) is in its normal position while the year made stamp (3) is a large numeral directly to the left. The name ASHTON is in block lettering and there is no stamp describing the finish (PebbleGrain). The words MADE IN ENGLAND are also in block as they are today.

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Although the pipe is in The Ashton Collection it has certainly been smoked- by me when it first arrived and for quite some time thereafter. In reality, the pipe was not smoked when it first arrived but returned to Bill Ashton-Taylor. Why? The staining was all wrong. Bill used a blue-black stain which did not show off the all-important reddish highlights so treasured by connoisseurs. He was able to put this right very quickly, and when I received it for the second time it received its initial baptism.

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 As I have told the many folks who have personally viewed the Ashton Collection these pipes are not the best Ashton pipes, but typical Ashton production put out by Bill Ashton-Taylor, Frank Lincoln, and Sid Cooper. Many of the pipes were put out for sale by my company for a number of months before they were relegated to the Ashton Collection. Of course there are a few special pipes that were never put out for sale- pipes such as the first Pebbleshell, the first Oldchurch, and the Brindle Magnum with the parrot carving. But the vast majority could have been had by retailers who chose not to do so. Of course the pipes those retailers did choose were every bit as good as what is presented here..

 

There were only 31 Ashton pipes made in 1983; image #21A.jpg (40041 bytes) shows another pipe from that year. This pipe has been smoked, as it was in my personal collection before being relegated to the Ashton Collection.

Image #3 2.jpg (39748 bytes) shows a pipe with the imprint HF, which means hand fashioned. The difference between HT (hand turned), which appears on some subsequent pipes, and HF is that HT pipes were completely turned by hand while HF pipes started out as standard frased shapes and then underwent some hand work to the bowl.

Image #6 5.jpg (41979 bytes) shows a hand turned (HT) pipe.

Images 7, 8, and 10 show the largest Ashton pipes made to date- the ELX size. Pipe #7 6.jpg (46307 bytes) has the HT imprint while #8 7.jpg (44045 bytes) is stamped HF. Pipe #109.jpg (46590 bytes) is stamped with neither and also does not possess a date stamp.

Early Ashton pipes had open stamping with regards to size. In other words the size (X, XX, XXX, etc) had nothing surrounding it, and so anyone could make the pipe a higher size grade by stamping an extra X onto the pipe. This changed in mid-1985 when new size stamps with an oval surrounding the size were procured. 

Image #19 18.jpg (43344 bytes) shows a pipe stamped SXX, indicating the pipe possessed a special graining pattern.

Pipe #2019.jpg (47395 bytes) has the HT stamp.

Image #22 21.jpg (43008 bytes) shows a rare smooth pipe in the Ashton Collection. Ashton pipes were much more noted for their deep sandblasts than for the graining in their sooth pipes.

Image #2423.jpg (43197 bytes) shows the first Brindle finish. Up to this time all Ashton sandblasted pipes had the Pebblegrain finish- black with reddish highlights showing through. The Brindle finish showed reddish brown, complementing the Brindle material used for many of the early Ashton mouthpieces.

Pipe #27 26.jpg (46888 bytes) shows a mouthpiece with a briar insert. Bill Ashton-Taylor fashioned this mouthpiece after a visit with Fritz and Paolo Becker.

The first Pebbleshell pipe, bearing the stamp patent pending, appears in image #3736.jpg (54958 bytes). The Pebbleshell is unique in that the bowl is first steamed in order to raise up the soft grain which is then carved away. After carving the bowl is then sandblasted, leading to a very craggy finish. Only bowls possessing extremely dense grain were chosen for this process, as traditional sandblasting would not produce the desired result, specifically due to the density of the grain pattern.

Image #3938.jpg (61272 bytes) shows another patent pending Pebbleshell- this with a gold wedding band.

If one looks carefully at image #4140.jpg (39988 bytes) a honeycomb pattern can be seen in the sandblast. Honeycomb is named such because it looks as if bees could crawl in and out of the wood. This is the rarest of all sandblast patterns.

Pipe #5757[1].jpg (21917 bytes) is the first Ashton to bear a patent number (previously the Pebbleshell pipes were stamped patent pending).

Image #67 67[1].jpg (28027 bytes)shows the only Ashton Magnum to bear a carving- that of a parrot. Complementing this pipe is a walking stick with the top carved in the shape of a parrot (the same parrot as shown on each side of the pipe).

A note here on the different finishes produced by the Ashton Pipe Company: oftentimes, to my eye, the finish stamped on the pipe bore little relation to what the finished pipe looked like. If one followed logic every Pebblegrain pipe would be a sandblast with reddish highlights showing through black, every Brindle would be a reddish brown sandblast, and every Pebbleshell would be carved and sandblasted. Not so! There are many Ashton pipes in the collection that show great variations to the above. Logic surely did not apply here. So- when I describe the pipe in each photo I am describing only what is stamped on the pipe and not what the finish, in reality, might be.

Image #68 68.jpg (49111 bytes)shows the first Ashton Oldchurch. I was so anxious try try this pipe that I took it hot from the heat peg, stuffed the bowl with tobacco and lit up. It tasted, what can I say, veerryy oily.

Pipe #90 90.jpg (47172 bytes)is something quite special in that the bowl was made years before by Sid Cooper. I asked Sid to put a mouthpiece on it so I could add it to the Ashton Collection- and he did.

Image #96A 96A.jpg (49527 bytes) shows a pipe where most of the wood consists of the dreaded branch wood. If one is a master at sandblasting, branch wood makes for a beautifully deep sandblast of very interesting character. The pipes composed of mostly branch wood smoke as well as any other. Another view of this pipe is shown here XXX PebbleGrain Bent, 1989.jpg (49120 bytes)

In ending this first part of the Ashton Collection, covering the startup of the company in 1983 to the end of 1990, you may now view a few photos (taken with a better setup) that show a few of the pipes above in greater detail.

The first Ashton Pipe- view 1.jpg (31506 bytes) ELX PebbleGrain Dublin, 1984.jpg (47760 bytes) LX Brindle Bulldog, 1988- June 29.jpg (64731 bytes) LX PebbleGrain Billiard, 1985- June 29.jpg (52113 bytes) X Brindle Bulldog, 1989.jpg (48266 bytes) XX Brindle Dublin, 1987- June 29.jpg (56751 bytes) XX PebbleGrain Billiard, 1984.jpg (44293 bytes) XX PebbleShell Panel, 1990- June 29.jpg (53959 bytes)  
XXX PebbleGrain Bent, 1989.jpg (49120 bytes) XXX PebbleGrain Canadian, 1987- June 29.jpg (52260 bytes) XXX PebbleGrain Oval Shank Billiard, 1986.jpg (51645 bytes) XXX PebbleShell (Oldchurch) bent, 1988.jpg (52242 bytes) XXX Brindle Pot, 1990.jpg (38984 bytes) XXX Brindle Billiard, 1987- June 29.jpg (64765 bytes) XX Sovereign Quaint, 1988.jpg (28938 bytes) LX PebbleGrain Lovat, 1986.jpg (51160 bytes)

Continue on to the second decade of The Ashton Collection