View Full Version : Nils Thomsen: A Tremendous Pipe Maker and Person

09-26-2012, 01:27 PM
So there are simply not enough words in this world to describe what a wonderful experience I had today in Nils Thomsen's pipe shop in Berlin. Not only does he make gorgeous pipes and speak English fluently, he is simply a quality human being. As soon as we (myself and 3 other guys my age, 21-19) walked into his shop, he asked us to sit down and proceeded to give us his CD for free. He then joked with us about being so young and what 4 Americans wanted to do with an old man's pipes. I told him I wanted a pipe made in Berlin and I really admired his work. He laughed and told me that I was a good liar. He then told us to feel free and look around and since he was old and lazy, he had one of the guys I was with be his "sales associate" and show us any pipes we wanted to see. Pretty cool.

Mr. Thomsen was incredibly kind in that he sold us pipes well under what they were marked for. One of the guys I was with only had 30 euros on him so Nils found him one of his personal pipes that he was willing to let go for such a low price. I would have bought that pipe in its used state for at least 100 euro. He offered us coffee and after we had purchased our pipes, we all sat down and discussed world issues. He then invited all of us t join him every Thursday night to smoke with a group of his friends and talk about philosophy, life, and politics.

I could not control myself and so I purchased 3 of his handmade pipes and I got them for A STEAL! And here they are:

Pipe 1


Look at the Briar!

Pipe 2 and my favorite. That is horn where the shank and the stem meet.



Pipe 3. The shank is made out of a pig's rib. It is one of only 2 he has ever made like this.

One of my friends did not purchase a pipe and when Nils asked him why he said that he doesn't smoke much and that he'll just borrow one ours. Mr. Thomsen said that pipes, cars, and wives you don't share and he proceeded to give all 4 of us a Design Berlin Variable pipe

Folks, if you like what you see, please check out his website. It has been a long time since I have met such a generous and kind man who is so talented. www.nilsthomsenpipes.com

09-29-2012, 10:07 PM
Thanks for sharing with us Adam. Nils sounds like a wonderful person to sit down and have a smoke with. Here's some further information from Pipedia.com:

Corners and edges are not terms that are typically associated with classic pipes. However, creative pipe makers love them. The Berlin pipe maker Nils Thomsen has all those characteristics: corners, edges and creativity.

Former Major in the East German national peoples' army at first sounds sobering, almost intimidating however this is only one aspect of Nils Thomsen's complex character and moved life. A certain loyalty to the communist political system was necessary. However, in every totalitarian system there is an individualistic foundation that in the case of Nils Thomsen would cause him to distance himself from a blind following of communist initiatives.

Thus, his days as a Major in the East German Military were numbered as his conscience and world political view began to change at the end of the 80's. During this time the theories of Clausewitz and Gorbatschow came together and that was the turning point for Thomsen. Clausewitz once remarked that “war is the continuation of politics with different methods”. Years later, Gorbatschow interpreted Clausewitz's theory by asking if “war makes sense as a continuation and a method of politics, when it is possible to wage a war with atomic bombs?” Nils Thomsen answered this question in a philosophical essay at the military academy, knowing that his career might be adversely affected upon submitting the essay.

Thomsen's career as a military officer was affected sooner than he had anticipated. The Berlin Wall fell and left Nils Thomsen with nothing, causing him, like any family man, to consider his options. Nils's family had a long tradition of professional woodworking and building and subsequently, such skills ran through the veins of the former military officer. For this reason, Nils started a small company that specialized in finish carpentry and brick-laying. While continuing to craft pipes for himself and friends in his spare time, Nils's small building company would grow into a staff of more than 100 employees, working in several cities, managing several projects and taking an ever increasing toll on Nils Thomsen's health and family life.

In 2001, at a peak in financial success, Nils's health gave out leaving him hospitalized with a pulmonary disruption and causing the passionate pipe maker to consider his options again. “When you become critically ill, you start to think about things in a much different way.” “My job caused a vicious circle. High expectations and a commitment to quality led to success and a lot of money, but it was a spiral. I gave up time with my family, friends, and hobbies for the pursuit of a better tomorrow.” A classical retail shop with space for a workshop would allow Nils Thomsen to turn his hobby into a profession while providing him with time for both his family and friends.

09-30-2012, 06:27 AM
Wow, what a cool experience! Thanks for sharing it with us. I'll definitely be keeping my eye out for Mr. Thomsen's pipes. He seems to have some pretty unique designs & I would add 'Pipe 2' to my collection in a heartbeat.

09-30-2012, 11:53 AM
That is an experience you just can not pay for. I am sure those pipes will smoke that much sweeter because of it. Enjoy all three pipes are awesome looking.

Shawn hines
09-30-2012, 01:03 PM
That is great to know. I will be stopping in Berlin on my way back to the states from the middle east. I may just have to try to stop in myself.

10-01-2012, 09:35 AM
So far I've only smoked the first one pictured, but it instantly is one of my favorites. It smoked great on the first try and is extremely comfortable in my hand. I broke it in with some Peterson Irish flake.

10-05-2012, 03:21 AM
Seriously, it's almost like a tar or build up of oils around the edge of the tin. I really don't know what it is though.

10-05-2012, 04:39 AM
I'm not even a pipe smoker and I would buy one of those pipes just to keep on the mantle... :tu

Thanks for the story... its always great to hear about great people...