Poul Ilsted, born 1946, becomes a pipe maker in 1968. He belongs to the most respected freehand pipe makers at all. Primarily faceted pipes and Bulldogs or the very difficult combination of them are his signature. Poul Ilsted "learned" the pipe making  from Erik Nörding and also worked for the brand "Svendborg" and W.O. Larsen before he finally makes himself independent in 1975.

The pipes of Ilsted are at least within earlier years of quite outstanding precision and beauty. I have seen a pipes with a 6 foldly faceted bar and stem at which one could turn the mouthpiece by 360 degrees and the facets absolutely coherently matched each other at every arbitrary position.

Some of the pipes of Ilsted are very beautifully contrast stained; but one finds also many unstained pieces (Virgin) in recent time. The pipes of Poul Ilsted moved in normal dimensions till now, however, I saw pipes recently which have to be described as gigantic, too.

Ilsted makes smooth and sand-blasted pipes. He uses decorating materials like box-wood, walrus-bones and silver but recently I saw a pipe with removable coloured acrylate rings. The mouthpieces are hand cut, predominant from Ebonit, partial made of art amber. The annual production amounts to approx. 150 pipes.

A mystery is the grading of Poul Ilsted. It is known that it is a combination from letters and numbers (e.g. 1 B) which runs from A to J (ascending) for the letters and from 1 -4 probably ascending for the numbers. Ready, so good. But it´s still not clear, whether the inverse use of numbers and letters (1B vs. B1), what one can often obeserve, have any significance or not. Something speaks for this. I have seen excellent, smooth pipes with grade "1 B" and mediocre, sand-blasted grade with "C3", but the most spectacular grained Ilsted-pipe I ever saw was graded as "F 2". Pipes which are provided for the domestic marked in Scandinavia anyway aren't graded.

The pipes are stamped: "an Ilsted hand cut" and "MADE IN DENMARK", the grading stamp usually finds itself at the top site of the shank near the stem. As a rule, the prices of the pipes are someplace between 400. € (sand-blasteg) and 2500.- € for smooth pipes (just recently). The assessment, on wether the price is reasonable is not easy because of the cryptic gradings.

Poul Ilsted is largely unknown in the USA, where his name is written sometimes "Ilstead". This is pleasant for all the European collectors. Ilsted has established a series of machine manufactured pipes together with Jens Tao Nielsen recently.




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Ungrades Virgin, approx.  2001

Signature shaped, balsted Ilsted pipe

Grade "I 4" 

Grade "F 2"

Grade "1 B"