We All Started Somewhere
In our last newsletter Ted discussed the "pipe renaissance", something that has been both spoken of in terms of celebration by some, and just as eagerly dismissed by others. As far as my own thoughts on this go, I can't deny that I've observed an increased interest in pipes, even by those who may not have actually taken up pipe smoking, amongst twenty somethings. (Particularly of the hipster set -- some of you may recall my anecdote from a year or two ago, of being set-upon with glee by a pair of young ladies in hipster attire, evidently overjoyed by nothing more than seeing a man strolling down the boardwalk with a Sebastien Beo clenched between his teeth.) As far as those who have indeed taken up the pipe this has been, from what I've seen, focused specifically towards pipes of two general categories: firstly, low-cost, accessible, typically traditional designs in the form of older estate pipes or newer briars from old marques like Peterson and Savinelli, and secondly some of the wilder, stylized artisan pieces - pipes like the steampunk designs of Nate King, or sculptural animal/figural themes. (The former seem to particularly appeal to the increased popularity of all things "vintage" amongst today's youth.) While some more experienced pipe smokers may interpret this as affection for novelty, a fad that will come and go, there are some elements that point towards these younger pipe aficionados sticking around in the longer run. On the tobacco blend front, for example, these younger pipe smokers appear as varied in their tastes as the rest of us, enjoying everything from old "over the counter" standards like Captain Black to artisanal blends by the likes of G.L. Pease, Mac Baren, C&D, etcetera.
This is all well and good for those of us of a pro-"renaissance" inclination. Some of us may however still view this interest as possibly just a fad, a passing exercise in precociousness. And yet, we should remember that many a now-older and hoarier pipe smoker, those who may today be collecting the works of Adam Davidson, Maigurs Knets, Michael Parks, Lasse Skovgaard, Peter Matzhold, or other established artisans, often started out with an estate Kaywoodie, a basket pipe, or some flamboyantly wild Danish "fancy" briar back during the 70s or 80s. Some of these then-youngsters even got it into their heads to try making their own pipes.
If today's youngest pipe smokers seem merely precocious to you now, I say give them time. Many may eventually give up on pipes if they do not continue to maintain a fashionable position within their particular branch of youth culture, but others may well prove to be the ones supporting future waves of great artisans in the decades to come. Some of them may even become artisans of the decades to come.
Consider this: My own first pipe was Johs Rhodesian - not a bad design at all, and with a fair dose of flame grain. But it was one with a completely mismatched stem, rescued from our "pipe science box" of abandoned/unsellable estates. Yes, that's right: I didn't start smoking a pipe until I was being shown the ropes here at Smokingpipes. Granted, being up to my nose in pipes and pipe-culture on a daily basis was clearly advantageous to my progress both as pipe smoker and as someone who writes on the subject of pipes and pipe tobacco, but I think that only reinforces the point of giving the younger set time to see where their present interest leads them. And, should one of them turn to us seeking more advice from the more knowledgeable, just why we should pay attention, and give it to them earnestly.
But enough with the wool-gathering -- we have an update to roll out. This Monday we bring you briars aplenty, with artisanal pieces from PS Studio, J&J, and Alex Florov -- including a once-in-a-lifetime Florov-Tokutomi collaboration piece. Joining these you'll also find a vast array of Petersons, Savinellis, Johs, Chacoms, Stanwells, Tsuges, Vauens, and Lucianos, plus, of course, plenty of estates. In terms of accessories, we have both high-end, hand-made "Exotic" pipe-stand by Neal Yarm, and the introduction of replacement stems for Petersons System pipes. Finally, Carlos Torano brings us the "Vault", C&D their "Poplar Camp" in bulk, and G.L. Pease the "Navigator" and "Sextant" blends in generous 8 oz. tins.
Eric Squires: Copywriter
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