I have been on a bit of a L.L. Bean antique kick lately. I have known of Bean's pipes for quite some time, but the market goes up and down quite frequently with them. Sometimes the Bay will be flooded with them and then you will not see any for quite sometime. I picked this one up and again it was in decent shape, took about a hour to bring back to near perfect condition. I have yet to smoke it as it has not come up in the rotation of the 23 pipes I own. From scouring the net I have come up with a bit of history regarding L.L. Bean and his / Their pipes and Tobacco.
L.L. Bean sold pipes and tobacco from the 40's all the way up till about 1985. The majority of the pipes were Smokemasters made by Briarcraft. Briarcraft exsisted until 1950 when they closed. In 1967 the name and system were bought by US made Dr. Grabow and continued making Smokemasters until the mid 90's. Smokemasters were sold as coupon pipes and the natural finished pipes were stamped L.L. Bean and sold in their store and through their catalogs until about 1985. Grabow continued making regular Smokemasters w/o the L.L. Bean stamping until the mid 90's.
|L.L. Bean Freehand|
From what I have scene is that there is some harder to find L.L. bean pipes as well, There is a rustic bent Meerschaum lined pipe, as well as a freehand made by Smokemasters. The majority of the Smokemasters use a unique system of a bent pipe cleaner as a filter and are marked on the stem with an orange diamond shape. There was also a second maker of Bean's "moisture proof" pipe, it had a clear section right after the bowl before the mouthpiece so you could see the moisture collected...ick!
|Meer Lined Rustic Beauty|
As for the L.L. Bean Tobacco, that to is long gone. However, some followers and fans were able to find out what brands Bean used for their own blend. From what I can find there was two Bean tobaccos. The first was "Pipe Tobacco for Hunters & Fishermen". This turned out to be nothing more than the common "Edgeworth Ready Rubbed". Which too is no longer available, but there is bulk match tobacco available. The second Bean tobacco was "Bean's Special Blend", which is now been replicated by "Park-Lane Fireside" available here.
|1945 S/S Catalog of Pipes|
It has also been said that L.L. Bean himself was a huge fan of "Prince Albert" Tobacco, this was told to a Bean fan by one of the Flagship stores senior employee who recalled selling it back in the day. So one can deduct that bean L.L. Bean smoked it because of the fact that he didn't sell stuff that he did not use himself. Its great to know that in 2012 you can still experience the L.L.Bean tobacco and pipes. Unfortunately in today's society its unacceptable to sell these things, as it would be great to still get the Bean tinned tobacco and see what shapes of pipes would be available today.