Thanks everyone for the messages of hope!
The package is fully insured, so there will be no financial loss to either my customer or myself, but the real annoyance is that he will be without his pipes if they don't turn up, and will still wait for me to get a replacement set to him once the Post Office agree they are missing in action.
Fortunately this sort of thing does not happen to me that often, only twice in recent years.
Turning to insurance for posting pipes; the only sure way is to send them from the UK using Parcelforce International Datapost for anything over a Practice Set, and then sending two parcels - one containing £2500 worth of pipes, and the remainder in the other parcel. It goes without saying that this is horrendously expensive!
At the moment I am discussing Transit Insurance with British Reserve Insurance for future deliveries, where I would pay them the insurance premium and pay the carriers the postage costs. This might solve the problem for other pipemakers if it proves feasible and I will certainly publicise it on here should that happen.
Have a happy and prosperous 2010, and remember that only one thing contains all four vital food groups; alcohol, sugar, caffeine and fat - Irish Coffee!