Dennis is a longtime friend of Roberto Ascorti, son of legendary pipe maker Pepino Ascorti. Several months ago, Roberto asked Dennis and a small number of other Tinder Box owners if they would be interested in designing a pipe to be made by Roberto. Dennis readily agreed. He sketched his ideas on drafting paper, starting with one of Pepino Ascorti’s early styles, added his own custom touches, and sent the design to Roberto in Italy. The pipes arrived in late October.
“I was a little scared at first to even open the box when it arrived, “ said Dennis. “I didn’t know what to expect.”
However, when he saw his design brought to life through Roberto’s craftsmanship, Dennis was blown away, saying that he loved the shape and color. These signature pipes are rare. Only six were made and no two are exactly alike. While the design is the essentially the same, subtle coloring and carving make each pipe uniquely original. And, each pipe, hand carved using a rasp (to eliminate any weak spots in the briar), is inscribed with “Tinder Box 189” on the shank, which signifies it was made for the Rockford store only.
Dennis said the briarwood used in his signature pipes was buried in Mediterranean soil in burlap bags for more than 80 years before being carved. Wood for a briar pipe comes from the roots of the White Heath Tree, a shrub that grows near the Mediterranean Sea. Briar burl is tough, porous, and nearly impervious to heat. Burls for quality pipes can be aged 50-to-100 years old before being carved.
Dennis said that throughout the Tinder Box chain, only eight stores participated with Roberto in this special opportunity.
The pipes sell for $269 each. For purchase information, call the store at 815-683-8269.
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