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27 February 2012

Tea and Pipe Weather
 Newsletter Introduction for Monday, February 27, 2012

       -Posted by adam-

It's that time of year, at least in South Carolina, that sees temperatures fluctuating between rainy winter days in the upper 40s, to days approaching near 80 in sunshine. Looking outside my window as I write this, it looks about like an average day for, say, friends of ours in England, Ireland, or Scotland. The sky is gray, the streets are wet, and a light, but ever-present mist can be seen on the windshields of cars passing by. A good day, in short, to smoke a pipe inside, perhaps while watching an old black and white movie. A nice cup of tea goes well with a pipe most times, I think, and even more so when on a day like this. Just last Thursday my wife and I escaped to Charleston, SC for a day of museums and sites, and happened upon a nice French restaurant. I was pleasantly surprised when the sun warmed my shirt to the point it almost felt like summer. Taking our jackets off, and noticing that it was about 78 outside, I was telling my wife I would have no complaints if it was between 65-75 all year long, with only November and December dipping below 60. She is from Russia and of course used to bitter cold. I'm from Indiana, which isn't exactly known for balmy weather, either. It's funny how quickly we adapt. When I sit on the couch watching an old movie and smoking my pipe, I think my wife wishes for warmer weather too, if only to be free of the drifting clouds of Virginia/Perique blends in our apartment. We are both ready for some more warmth and sunshine, but understand how quickly we will then in turn wish for days like this one during the brutal Southern summer. Until then, I will take full advantage of our cozy couch, warm pipe, and classic movie from yesteryear.

 

Tonight you can find new pipes from Dunhill, Castello, Sebastien Beo, Chacom, Savinelli, Peterson, Tsuge, and Vauen. Estates from Ireland, America, and Italy  should prove interesting. Finally, we have two new sampler packs of Cigars from Low Country, which contain offerings from Perdomo, Avo, La Gloria Cubana, and many more!

Adam Davidson: Quality Control & Pipe Inspector








Posted by adam at 4:15 PM | Link | 0 comments


23 February 2012

Pipe Fest 2012 in Hachioji, Japan
 Newsletter Introduction for Thursday, February 23, 2012

       -Posted by ted-

Those of you who follow us on Twitter or Facebook, or better yet, happen to live in Japan, probably know that this past Sunday was the Third Annual Pipe Fest, a pipe show convened in Hachioji that’s as exuberant and lively as its venue is intimately undersized for the impressively solid turnout. Very recently we’ve made an effort to translate much of Smokingpipes.com into Japanese, as well as establishing a Japanese-language customer service support (in the form of one Ryota Shimizu), and so naturally we thought we’d further share our support for the Land of the Rising Sun's recent renaissance of interest in pipe smoking by exhibiting at the Hachioji show. So it was that I found myself flying over to Japan, for the first time in my life, to meet Ryota "Our Man in Tokyo" Shimizu, who was kind enough to voyage with me everywhere, answer all of my dumb questions, translate everything for me, and even pay for a few lunches, dinners, and travel expenses (I could not have got along with out him, and for his kindness and patience I am eternally grateful). In addition to Smokingpipes there were present at Hachioji a couple of other retailers, but the real meat of the show was the healthy turn out of collectors, smokers, and pipe and tobacco enthusiasts, in addition to attending pipe makers like Hiroyuki Tokutomi, Shizuo Arita, Gajin Hayafune, Tatsuo Tajima of Tatu Pipes, and even Austrian carver David Wagner of Baff pipes (and if I’ve left anyone out I apologize - it was, after all, quite a crowd). All in all, it was a brilliant good time and I’m excited for us to do it again next year.

This evening you’ll find fresh pipes on the site from Becker, Askwith, Tokutomi, Kevin Arthur, and Randy Wiley, as well as new work from Ashton, Winslow, Nording, Savinelli, and Peterson. Also, as usual, we’re adding 60 pipes to our estate section. Be sure to take a look around at tonight’s latest offerings!


Ted Swearingen: Vice President, General Manager








Posted by ted at 4:15 PM | Link | 2 comments


20 February 2012

International Pipe Smoking Day
 Newsletter Introduction for Monday, February 20, 2012

       -Posted by adam-

It's February 20th, which means it's a holiday. For folks here in the United States, it's Presidents' day. Presidents' day lumps together the birthdays of George Washington (February 22nd) and Abraham Lincoln (February 12th) with the other presidents sort of tagging along in their shadows; it became a holiday in 1968 to be part of the list of national Monday holidays. Further adding to the list, it's also International Pipe Smoking Day! The first mention of this holiday was in 2008, when members of international online pipe communities wanted to mark a day on their calendars to celebrate all things relating to pipe smoking enjoyment. Because of online communities and social media acting to spread the idea, pipe smokers around the world now mark the occasion with dinners, celebrations, gatherings, or simply firing up a pipe wherever they choose.

To celebrate one of our favorite holidays here at Smokingpipes, we're sharing the very things we all love. No, there will be no Santas, turkeys, fireworks, or egg-laying rabbits, but you can pick out something new for yourself out of thousands of items on our website. Every order on our website will receive an extra 10% off for the next 24 hours! Everything!

Every order placed on Smokingpipes.com from 4:00 p.m. today (February 20th) until 4:00 p.m. tomorrow (February 21st) Eastern Standard Time, will get 10% off. Pipes, tobaccos, and anything else you wish to purchase will have a 10% discount reflected when you check out. What better way to celebrate International Pipe Smoking Day?

New listings tonight include cigars from Padron, Augusto Reyes, and Romeo y Julieta. New pipes from Caminetto, Luciano, Chacom, Johs, Brigham, Savinelli, Peterson, Vauen, Tsuge, and two-dozen estates should prove very tempting.

Adam Davidson: Quality Control & Pipe Inspector








Posted by adam at 4:10 PM | Link | 0 comments


16 February 2012

Musical Chairs
 Newsletter Introduction for Thursday, February 16, 2012

       -Posted by eric-

As in keeping with the usual course of events, chaos ensues here at the Smokingpipes offices. Our last word from Ted had him trapped somewhere in the vast Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, on his way (eventually) to Japan where he'll be working a new pipe show in Tokyo, alongside Ryota Shimizu. Ryota, an American who originally relocated to attend Keio University, and avid pipe aficionado, is the latest addition to our staff; our one-man customer service foreign office. You may have already noticed that we've begun on a Japanese translation of the site. Katie has moved from shipping to photography, while Pam and Cassidy were last seen moving furniture down the hallway. Yesterday, for some reason, a box of roughly eight feet in length arrived for Sykes - Adam guessed it was some manner of antique halberd, because Sykes has a degree in Medieval history, but it turned out to be a projector screen... as I said, "for some reason".

Honestly, I'd estimate that I spend approximately 80% of my time here at the office either in a confused state, or in the course of investigating a source of confusion. Why was Adam blasting Bill Withers when I came in this morning? What's this about Lisa hating pillows? Where has the last Rolando Negoita gone off to? Is there coffee? What is that unpredictable beeping? Yes, Adam, that is indeed a nicely-made brass compass. - and that was just within my first hour here this morning. The reality of the matter is, however, that on the whole I enjoy it. If nothing else, a perpetual state of bemusement does help keep the mind limber.

Fortunately, we have still managed to once again pull ourselves together in time for another update, and quite a large one at that. Today you'll find fresh briars from Stanwell, Savinelli, Nording, Neerup, and Brebbia, as well as a massive batch of Petersons; artful Ascortis, and stylish Ardors; artisanal beauties by Rad Davis, and Matzhold; finally, and as ever, a sound selection of estate briars as well.

 

Eric Squires: Copywriter








Posted by eric at 4:00 PM | Link | 4 comments


13 February 2012

What IF...
 Newsletter Introduction for Monday, February 13, 2012

       -Posted by adam-

As you've all probably been able to detect through our various newsletters, Eric and I have many bizarre conversations within the confines of the pipe library. In the course of concocting descriptions for pipes, cigars, tobaccos, and accessories, along with writing various blogs, newsletters, and anything else that happens to come up, countless tangential thoughts abound, and we typically wind up bouncing them off each other. In the balance between our need to write about hundreds of pipes, tobaccos, and so forth in the course of any given week, and the inevitable tendency towards developing writer's block, this back-and-forth is what keeps the wheels from coming off. (Although Pam, having walked in on us in the midst of many a far-straying conversation, probably thinks the wheels have indeed thoroughly come off of both of us, regardless.) Often, Eric will hold up a pipe and ask what I think about it. Perhaps it is a strange color, has some sort of unusual accent, or is as beautiful as a lump of coal. We try to find something of beauty in every pipe, but beauty is, as they say, "in the eye of the beholder". What would we change about this pipe if we could go back in time and sit alongside the carver? Starting with this prospect, we naturally soon found ourselves discussing what we would introduce if we had the ability to go back in time for a few days to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the year 1776. Well, it was a natural progression for us, at least.

I've always been fond of clay pipes, so I wouldn't change anything about those. Perhaps I would have introduced different shapes or materials. After all, in 1776, not only could a man smoke a pipe pretty much anywhere he pleased, it was almost demanded of him. Indulging in wine, spirits, and hard cider were also part of everyday life. Eric not only thought it would be great to smoke and drink comfortably in various taverns, but was sure that teaching people how to make instant Jello would make him a popular, and more to the point, filthy-rich fellow. Personally, I would have introduced Philadelphia cheese steak sandwiches, which I proposed would become so popular with our founding fathers, that they would soon be seen as a national dish, portrayed grasped in the talons of an eagle, or maybe even on the flag itself. And of course, since we could smoke our pipes freely everywhere, the introduction of smoking jackets would also be favored. Just imagine Trumbull's or Christy's famous paintings, with our nation's forefathers all decked out like Hugh Hefner.

Yes, Eric holds up a pipe that is rather... unfortunate-looking, and we end up with a scenario five minutes later of us smoking clay blowfishes in a tavern that serves Philadelphia cheese steaks and Jello, and Washington and Hamilton exchanging ribald witticisms with Billiards clenched in their jaws and one hand in the pockets of their opulent smoking jackets. Perhaps another good idea to pitch would be the inclusion of tobacco in the Declaration of Independence. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all people are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, Enjoyment of Tobacco, and the pursuit of Happiness."

I think they would go for the slight change. Because after all, not only did Eric and I introduce good foods and some stylish clothing, but we also handed out Smokingpipes.com socks.

Turning back to the present, we have some great cigars from Carlos Torano and Vega Fina, along with nine brands of fresh pipes and twenty-four estates.

Adam Davidson: Quality Control & Pipe Inspector








Posted by adam at 4:30 PM | Link | 3 comments


09 February 2012

Put Your Brand on Everything
 Newsletter Introduction for Thursday, February 9, 2012

       -Posted by ted-

Of the three products we so recently introduced under our "SPC Gear" category last Thursday (SPC is an acronym for Smokingpipes.com, I should clarify - an unofficial interoffice shorthand term we like to use), by far the most popular item has been, not surprisingly, the glass tobacco jar. Go figure that when shopping online from a website that has built a reputation around the retailing of tobacco pipes, pipe tobacco, and tobacco/pipe accessories, a customer would purchase merchandise very appropriate to pipe smoking instead of acrylic-nylon socks and plastic cups. Nevertheless, like many of you, we do also like our Smokingpipes.com socks and cups as well, and so plan to add even more zany paraphernalia bearing our pipe-in-circle logo in the relatively near future.

A Smokingpipes.com smoking jacket of some kind strikes us as one obvious choice, and certainly worth adding to the mix. And so too would be like-wise branded slippers, if only as a properly opulent complement to the aforementioned jacket. We’ve discussed boxer shorts with little maroon logos all over them, which combined with the jacket and slippers, would make for a classic weekender outfit for the man who has not the slightest intention of leaving the house all day. Of course, hats have also been mentioned. Furthermore: coffee mugs and tumblers, Glencairn Scotch glasses, pajama pants, drink cozies, t-shirts, long-sleeved shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, brigandines, bracelets, stickers, lapel pins, fez caps, escutcheons, pens, sombreros, key chains, spurs, temporary tattoos, permanent tattoos, ivory pistol grips, and Czech tools. Lisa and Susan want to see flip-flop sandals that are debossed at the sole to leave imprints of the Smokingpipes.com logo behind in the sand. John has dreamed up a USB memory stick shaped like a pipe, something which we can actually have made quite easily, apparently. We’ll see how far we get before rhyme or reason can reign us in.

Our real priority though is, of course, delivering fresh pipes to happy pipe smokers. It’s our daily enterprise, something we aim to do best of all. Having said that, tonight you can expect to find new work from Paolo Becker, Kent Rasmussen, Claudio Cavicchi, Michael Linder, and Randy Wiley. We’re also featuring new works from the likes of Ashton, Peterson, Savinelli, L’Anatra, Nording, and Winslow. And once again, five dozen estate pipes have been added to the site. Happy Thursday!


Ted Swearingen: Vice President, General Manager








Posted by ted at 4:15 PM | Link | 9 comments


06 February 2012

Nostalgia
 Newsletter Introduction for Monday, February 6, 2012

       -Posted by adam-

Nostalgia is part of life, and some would say that it's made up of the best parts. We all get nostalgic for different things, and they are often the same in many ways. Some think about their college days. Football games, mingling at parties, new classes, and old friends remind a lot of us how much we might miss those days and wishing to go back and live it all again. If it were to actually happen, of course, the nostalgia would likely quickly wear off. The same thing can be said for anyone traveling home, if home is a long flight or drive away. I greatly miss Indiana in the fall, and sometimes in the summer months as well. Still, my wife and I traveled there a few years ago for a week, and I realized that so much has changed to the point that little I'm nostalgic for remains; Local foods I simply can't get, or old haunts I simply want to hang out in again for just one night.

Eric and I were discussing earlier today, during one of our frequent off-the-wall sessions, about things people remember that are better left in the past. High school reunions came up as a topic. Not that many of us dream about going back to high school; in fact, for some it is the topic of nightmares! But the simple fact of new experiences can be something to think back on. I did smoke a pipe in college, and was the only one of my group smoking one during Spring Break '99. Fondly remembering a particular 'cheap' brand of cigars that were 100% tobacco I would smoke during the summer made me want to pick up a pack last week (Eric, as it turned out, also used to smoke this same brand). Sure, I've been smoking a lot of great cigars at work lately, but I was excited about firing up this particular smoke. That the price had gone up and the number of cigars per pack was fewer were the first signs that they had changed. I could have lived with this, but the awful taste that lingered in my mouth - for hours - killed my fond memories. Eric noticed the same thing, as he used to smoke them by the hundreds in the dive bars her frequented back in New Jersey, just as I did back at Purdue. Perhaps the cigars changed, but we figure that we both changed as well in the last ten years. Even though we experienced how horrible they are now, good old nostalgia makes us think about how they used to be, or at least seem. I suppose this will always be true in one way or another.

Today, as I sit here smoking a cigar after resting my pipe, I wonder when I will look back to this time fondly. We have plenty of new pipes from Tsuge, Caminetto, Luciano, Chacom, Johs, Brigham, Savinelli, Peterson, and Vauen up for grabs. Perhaps there is something to re-discover among the English or Italian estates. For the cigar fan, I highly recommend the Perdomo offerings (which I just happen to be smoking as I write).

Adam Davidson: Quality Control & Pipe Inspector








Posted by adam at 4:15 PM | Link | 0 comments


Davidson Design Smooth Bell "Limited Edition"

       -Posted by adam-

After some discussion, it was decided that we wanted to make, or have made, another limited edition run of pipes exclusive to Smokingpipes.com, the only contingency being that we wanted to see produced a significantly larger quantity of pipes than we have in the past.

This year we were decided on designing something for Luciano to make, so I set out to blueprint a pipe that would fit their visual style and manufacturing capabilities. We wanted to see something that wasn't a Billiard, Bulldog, Apple, or Pot - forms Luciano does quite well, mind you. Further, the pipe had to be able to be reproduced primarily by a copying machine, which roughs out the bowl, and it also had to look equally nice in smooth, sandblasted, and rusticated textures. After sketching out some ideas and sharing them with Sykes, Ted, and Eric, we gravitated toward this inverted Bell shape.

The tobacco chamber on this piece is quite generous, yet the overall design is more of a compact, chubby, and delightful shape. The beading on the top of the bowl divides the shape between an interior beveled rim that tops the piece with interesting facets while fluidly pinching the body of the bowl. A short shank echoes this rim slightly by softly repeating the bell flare. The face of the shank is slightly countersunk, which hides the junction of the acrylic and briar. This detail looks especially nice from the smoker’s perspective.

After talking with Sykes and Luca about the design, it was agreed that a physical model would be more beneficial to the manufacturing process than a simple drawing. So I made one. My model was not carved from briar, but from a very dense, pink foam called RenShape. This material is used in many industrial design applications by model makers because it’s as hard as wood yet has no grain pattern or hidden flaws. Since many designers use this for physical prototypes, I knew it would be the perfect material for such a project. When completed, we shipped off the model to Italy where Luca arranged for the machining and production of the design.

The pictures below show some progress in manufacturing. We were all very happy to see how a machine turned out the design, and were interested in all of the extra lathe and hand work that went into final stages. When they arrived, we were floored! Our hats go off to Luca and crew for their efforts.

Each pipe is stamped "Luciano Hand Finished in Italy, [number]/50" and bears the Smokingpipes.com logo.

These pipes will be available starting today, February 6th, in the afternoon in the Luciano section.








Posted by adam at 4:00 PM | Link | 0 comments


02 February 2012

Bullets and Big Brother
 Newsletter Introduction for Thursday, February 2, 2012

       -Posted by eric-

Things are, as is the usual at the Smokingpipes offices... novel, shall we say. That we continue to be besieged by innumerable quantities of birds, well, actually at this point I think we've gotten used to that - personally, I hardly even notice the squawking cacophony which fills the halls every time someone opens the back door, anymore. More significantly, Sykes, having at last paused from adding any more monitors to the panoptical eccentricity that he calls his office, has added a monitor to the kitchen, instead. Upon first noticing this, I had suggested that we could use it to loop an image of a glaring, staring eye, to watch over the coffee. He abstained from entertaining this suggestion, instead setting up a real-time display of our sales statistics. Coincidentally, not long ago our extremely professional in-house software developer, Tommy, had come up with a nice bit of work which would display sales figures in the form of several different images of Sykes's head, each bearing a different expression ranging from glowering disapproval, to unbridled cheerfulness. I, naturally, suggested we could dust that little project off for our new kitchen overwatch monitor, possibly elaborating upon it by adding under each image an appropriately brief, Orwellian text; "Doubleplus Ungood", for example.

Sykes, not one to go mad with power, passed on this suggestion as well, and a modest, unthreatening combination of bars, graphs, and numbers won out instead. As silver lining, at least, upon returning to the pipe library I found Adam reveling in the discovery that nearly any movie title can be transformed into that of a blistering, brawling, possibly surreal Western tale of gunfighters, gunfighter-related mayhem, and treacherous women by simply swapping out one word with either "bullet", or "bullets". Like so: Seven Bullets for Seven Brothers, Enter the Bullet, Edward Bullethands, Charlie and the Bullet Factory, Bullet Gump, Gone with the Bullets, Bullets to the Future, Four Weddings and a Bullet, A Bullet Named Desire (wherein Blanche DuBois declares that she has always depended upon the bullets of strangers), Gone in 60 Bullets, 30,000 Bullets Under the Sea, Robin Hood: Prince of Bullets, Bullet Driver, The Silence of the Bullet, The Seven Year Bullet, Planet of the Bullets, Gentlemen Prefer Bullets - and so on. Just as remarkable, we noted, is how readily the plots suggest themselves.

All that nonsense having been said, it's time for today's bullet. We have for you: fresh briars from Stanwell, Neerup, Nording, Savinelli, Brebbia, and Peterson; artisanal pipes by Ardor, Askwith, and our old friend, Peter Heeschen. Oh, and what's more, today also see the introduction of our official Smokingpipes logo merchandise, too.

Eric Squires: Copywriter








Posted by eric at 4:15 PM | Link | 2 comments


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