This is a Willard billiard made by Sparta Industries in Sparta, N.C., for a dozen years beginning in 1963.
Sparta Industries, that also produced Dr. Grabow pipes at the time, landed two contracts in the early 1960s. One was from R. J. Reynolds tobacco for a pipe to use in promoting its Prince Albert, Carter Hall, and George Washington tobaccos. These pipes were packaged with two pouches of one of the RJR tobaccos and sold as a unit by RJR. The other contract was from the Post and Base Exchanges that serviced the military during the Vietnam War. Willards literally became the 'Pipe That Went to War" in the 1960s and '70s.
Sparta produced as many as 60,000 of these Willard pipes per week to meet the demands of RJR and the military exchanges. Production of them ceased in 1975. All together about 3 million Willards were made. Because of the demand for these pipes and the high rate of production, Sparta used a lot of its older briar. So, although these pipes were made 40 years ago, the briar in them could have been curing in the Sparta warehouses for 50-60 years before it was turned into these pipes. It smokes quite comfortably and well.
This is one of the Willards that went to war. It is distinguished by the longer metal extension on the shank, strengthening the pipe and allowing Sparta to use up its supply of shorter ... read more