Fritz Becker

The father- Fritz Becker had a personal history at least as interesting as that of the pipes he hand-crafted. An Austrian Jew, Becker escaped from Vienna in the late 1930's- just before he was to be arrested. He made his way to Great Britain and there joined the British army. As an accomplished linguist (he spoke five languages fluently) Becker worked as an interpreter and translator for British Intelligence throughout World War II, helping to uncover German troop movements on the continent. At the war's conclusion Becker settled in Rome where he attained the esteemed position of Representative to the Vatican for the World Jewish Congress (equivalent to an Ambassadorship). Besides being a designer, painter, and sculptor (a true Renaissance man) he along with his son Paolo produced a limited number of smoking pipes in a small workshop near the Trevi Fountain. Since Fritz's passing Paolo has both carried on and expanded on the tradition and designs begun by his father.

Fritz Becker
Fritz Becker in his workshop

The son- Paolo Becker today is considered to be  one of the finest pipe makers in the world. After a sojourn of some years as one of the proprietors of the famous Becker & Musico shop in Rome (when he had not much time to make pipes) Paolo returned to his passion some ten years ago, spending more time crafting and less in the store. Finding the dual role too much in terms of creative time lost he gradually grew away completely from the shop to devote all his energies to crafting his matchless designs in briar. 
Paolo is unique in that, as a pipe maker, he was influenced by no one but his father. And, since Fritz's death he has moved beyond those borders to where he now crafts pipes of his own exclusive designs- some times inspired by traditional English models, some times by neo classical Italian motif, and at others by Danish and German free hand shapes.


A third generation- Paolo's son Federico has now joined his father in crafting Becker smoking pipes. Although very easy-going, and very happy that his son wants to follow in his and his father's footsteps, Paolo would not have encouraged his son if Federico did not show the talent needed to uphold the reputation that Becker smoking pipes have achieved. 
At present Federico is serving his apprenticeship under Paolo's watchful eye, slowly learning the techniques needed to become a master. One such area where young Federico has already excelled is that of crafting the pencil shank. Becker pipes are known for their fine proportions and thin pencil shanks, and Federico has already mastered the ability to craft a pencil shank to such an extent that his are more delicate than those of Paolo. 
Obviously this does not mean that young Federico is a complete pipe maker- for he is not yet that. But, given time and hard work, he will take his place alongside his father and grandfather.


The pipe
- The origin of the Becker pipe begins with the finest briar available- Extra-Extra quality plateau from the province of Calabria in southern Italy (reputed to be home to the hardest briar in the world). This briar is dug from a light, sandy soil and after preliminary seasoning and cutting Becker lets the wood air-dry for from three to five years depending on size.
If life was as it should be every Becker pipe would be either a perfect straight grain or a flawless cross grain- for Paolo Becker has a penchant for perfection. All his smooth pipes are designed so that the shape flows to the grain, thus creating the unique and neo-classic models for which Becker is known. Becker's carved and sandblasted  pipes are deeply etched and follow both classic and neo-classic form. The amount of hand work each pipe receives has been described as "...little short of amazing" by an English master pipe maker who visited Becker at his workshop. It is little wonder then that one year's production numbers only 250 pipes.
Each hand-turned Becker bowl is complemented with a hand-cut mouthpiece made of either black Plexiglas or brindle vulcanite, and most Becker pipes possess the registered Becker "briar ring" trademark.


PLEASE NOTE: There has been much confusion among Becker pipe enthusiasts over whether Fritz or Paolo made a particular pipe. In order to have the record set straight I offer the following information: The Becker brand was started in 1970's in the attic of Fritz' apartment close to the Presidential Palace in central Rome (the Becker briar ring logo was trademarked in Italy in 1979 and in the U.S. in 1981). From day one Fritz and Paolo designed the pipes together, although one or the other would do the major portion of the work on a particular pipe. I began to import the brand in 1981, and by 1983 I cajoled the pair to make some of their pipes in a more classic style. It was from this period that folks assumed the classic pipes to be those of Paolo while the original style was made by Fritz. Not so! Every Becker pipe, until Fritz died, was worked by four hands- not two. 

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Note: Because the production of Becker pipes is so limited the number of dealers selected to carry this brand are few. Please go to the DEALER DIRECTORY to find a Becker dealer.

Visit Paolo Becker's workshop where you may purchase pipes directly and/or have your "own design" made into a pipe by Paolo

Becker Price List and Gallery

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