Although a pesky illness prevented me from attending this year’s Chicago pipe show, friends who did attend made it possible for me to see, in photographs, George Amrom’s astonishing collection of bamboo-shanked pipes. Although photos rarely do justice to a collection, in this case it was possible to discern that George’s is a collection the quality of which has very few rivals, and not just because of the quality of his pipes, but for the rigor and consistency with which he has applied his sensibilities and standards.
My friend, Jon Guss, told me, “I doubt I will ever see a collection like this again in my lifetime. It made my jaw drop. It was a signal experience.”
I have known George for a number of years and have often admired those pipes that I have seen him smoking when we meet at shows. Almost always George is smoking one of his Jess Chonowitsch pipes. While Chonowitsch’s pipes are always beautiful, George’s specimens have always seemed a cut above most other pieces I’ve encountered. They are always superbly cut examples of pipes where form and function merge with the singularity of a Petrarchan sonnet. It seems impossible to imagine that they could be any better than they are. But, what is really remarkable is that he has managed to assemble a collection where the standard deviation in shape quality and grain quality is so narrow, regardless of who crafted his pipes.