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Lets see your Grabow Larks

Larks have been made since 1964 and continue today.
Lark earliest are push stems, later screw-in
Lane switched Lark to filter
Most Larks are not banded but some are.
Italy made Larks are stamped ITALY
Most Larks are the bantam size bowl, however some are medium and some are the Grabow sizes such as #45 Large Pot.

The following from TED is an intereting history lesson on Larks as well as Dukes.  "….Most of the pipe makers pre 1964 made small pipes. Some even called them "southern assortment" because there was a perception that southerners liked small pipes. Grabow compensated for this by including 2 to 4 small pipes per dozen. These small pipes were the 70 shape series..72, 73, 74, 75, etc.

But Grabow went a step further by having an even smaller pipe called the "bantam". Lark and Duke were these bantam shapes. The 50 series..52-billiard, 53 dublin, 54-pear, 57-bent, etc.

Duke and Lark were these bantam shapes/sizes. The Duke was always the #1 seller and the Lark was always top 5.

In 1964 the first Surgeon General's report on smoking was published and Grabow could barely keep up with the demand for pipes. We had 444 employees (compared to 25 today). Grabow had to find a supplier outside the country for part of their production.

Otto Braun was a German POW, captured early in the war and sent to the Winston Salem POW camp. He made Camels for our soldiers. He also met the Lavietes clan who made pipes in Sparta.

Otto had gone home to Italy and had made connections with the briarwood suppliers in Italy and Greece, and became a "broker/partner". Grabow needed someone to make pipes and Otto found, bought, or created, a pipe making operation in Livorno, Italy called So. La. R.E.S. Solares was the answer to the problem Grabow had and so Solares started making Duke and Lark. They also made a few Riviera (the cheapest non-filtered pipe). The quality was so bad that the Riviera production was discontinued pretty quickly.

So, from about 1965 the Duke and Lark were made in Italy. Otto's factory "took some liberties" with the traditional Grabow shapes and made a few "strange" things. They despised to throw anything away, so if it could be made into a pipe it became a Duke or Lark.

In the late 70's , as the Grabow production began to decline, we took back the production of the Lark. In the mid 80's as production declined further, we took back the Duke production. If yours Lark are stamped "Italy" they were made in a 10 year period from 65' till 75'. Otherwise they were probably pre-65', or post 75'.

We had trouble with the dock workers in the ports we used. They would steal a bunch of pipes destined for Sparta Pipes. We started stamping "Sparta Snake Company" on the cartons and pilferage was almost cut out.

Wood for these small pipes was almost free. Up until the time we started making Duke and Lark, the suppliers had no place to sell these small blocks. They burned it in their furnaces to heat the buildings. When Greek Extra wood was $600 a bag for 5 gross/bag, we bought the CM (small wood) for $100/ bag for 7 gross/bag. Because we took the small wood (their trash) they sold the bigger sizes to us at a reduced price.

Otto's son Ulriki Ermanno Braun(named after the last German soldier killed in WWII) took over at his fathers death and is a great friend. He took my daughter when she was 12 for a summer on Elba Island with his sons Christian and Alexander and several of their friends. He was also our contact for briarwood in the region.

I was fortunate. I got to make one buying trip to Europe with Otto and Uli, and then got to make one with Uli alone.

Otto (and Uli) spoke English, German, Greek, Italian, Spanish, Swiss, Albanian, and enough Arabic to get by. Nice company in Europe.

Our price for the Duke and Lark from Solares was $9.60/dozen. For ages our retail was $1.95. At $1.95 we got $10.80/dozen. Not much profit, considering we still had to inspect all of them. Rejects were sold to S & M sales company in Chattanooga TN. I still see a few of them around. .....ted"

Lets see your Grabow Larks.  Please identify any ITALY stamped Larks.  I'll go first.

This Lark is a full sized Large Pot #45

This is the only lark I ever remember cleaning up and keeping for a while. Don't know where it went - sold, given away, lost?

From the logo on the stem it looks like it might have been restemmed along the way ...

I know Ozark has at least TWO of these...which he's offered many times in trade, though noone has ever seemed to relieve him of them.


Great information, and nice looking pipes. Thanks for posting.

Collegiate Billiard #95


My little Lark I use for smoking PS English Oriental Supreme
ozark southpaw


Good looking Larks gents

I've got a tiny Lark lovat that I need to clean up. This thread will give me the get up and go to do it.


Only Lark I ever recall having ... probably gave it away!
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