Many of you have purchased tins of Capstan and Three Nuns already. If not, what are you waiting for? Now you are free to relax after nights of sleeplessly staring at your email, hoping for that long-awaited newsletter. Sit back and think contented thoughts of the tobacco magically making its way to your doorstep, then check out this short video of the hard-working people in shipping making it a reality for you. -Happy YouTues!
The Capstans have arrived, at last! And, though fashionably late, they did bring girls -- Three Nuns, to be precise. Yes, that's right, the long-awaited reintroduction of these old Imperial blends to the U.S.A. is, at last, here. Not "at hand" or "to follow shortly", but here, now. As in, you can, at this very moment, rush over to our site and order tins - Capstan Blue and Yellow, both in either flake or ready-rubbed form, and Three Nuns coins -- and they'll be on their way to your door before the day is through.
Who knew answering a Craigslist job posting for copywriter could put me right smack dab in the middle of pipe central? At first, I was rather apprehensive about using the classified advertisements website for other reasons than buying my wife's jewelry, usually making hand-offs behind department stores. (That's safe right?) But I was really caught off guard on my way to the interview, because I passed by a... let's say alternative pipe shop... about the size of the interior of a Volkswagen. So I didn't know what to expect. Little did I know what kind operation was going down in the sleepy town of Little River, SC, a place I previously regarded as one big retirement community, some nice waterside restaurants, and a couple gas stations.
I have only been employed here for a few weeks, but I can safely say that besides the ample space, laidback environment, and smooth Indie Bluegrass and heathen Jazz blaring constantly, the best thing about working at Smokingpipes has to be the people. That, and maybe the sweet fragrance of various fine tobacco blends lingering in the air. Ok, so in all honesty, I hadn't smoked a pipe since my freshmen year at college, but the gang didn't hold that against me. I was even extended the peace pipe, so to speak, an old Stanwell partially rusticated Blowfish that I'm re-learning on. I find it amazing that I even know what a "rusticated Blowfish" is now; it's a combination of words that would have left me eyeing the speaker with wary bemusement a short time ago. Pipe smokers really are the salt of the Earth, welcoming me in like family, and to that I say "thank you". I'll try my best to be just as friendly and accommodating to the next clueless newbie.
Now that I've said my peace on that matter, let's get to the good stuff. Father's Day is on the horizon and if you're currently scrambling for gift ideas for the "Old Man" who already "has everything", we at Smokingpipes have got you covered. Skip the ties and sweaters and get him what he really wants: something of his own choosing. Whether your dad is new to the wonderful world of pipes, a seasoned pro that needs a push in the right direction, or just downright picky, you can't go wrong with a Smokingpipes.com gift card, with purchase values ranging conveniently from twenty-five bucks to several hundred.
Also, let him know about the 40% off all of our Jacopo Pipes, which ends this Friday. Don't worry, though, Sykes has cut an impressive deal with the famed Pesaro workshop, so going forward Smokingpipes.com will still be offering a great discount on Ser Jacopo pipes, to the tune of 35% off retail. On a side note, the late founder of Ser Jacopo, a great artisan and art-lover alike in his own right, Giancarlo Guidi, produced what has quickly become my absolute favorite line, the expansive Picta series, inspired by the works of Pablo Picasso, Vincent Van Gogh, Rene Magritte, and, most recently Joan Miro. You don't have to be an art lover, like me, to appreciate the effortless beauty found in these pipes. So check them out today and get the most bang for your buck with our 40% off retail price offer while it still lasts.
With all that said, on this, a most pleasant Thursday, we at Smokingpipes are also proud to present the completely mad, and completely brilliant artisan designs from Werner Mummert, the famous Danish designs of Former, and singular "suede-blasts" by Walt Cannoy. Also, we have a dozen solid Ashtons available, as well as more than a few pipes by L'Anatra, Randy Wiley, and Claudio Cavicchi. On the more affordable side of the update, there's Rossi, Brigham, two dozen far out pieces by Nording, and a huge selection of quality pipes by Savinelli and Peterson. The estate selection, counting a whopping 71 pipes, also features plenty of gems of all price ranges.
I just want to close by briefly saying thank you again to my employers for giving me the chance to write about something I previously had almost no prior knowledge of, and to all my fellow employees who showed me the ropes and the beauty of a well-made artisan pipe, and to all of you pipe enthusiast out there in internetland, have a happy Father's Day, and see you again next week!
It's Tuesday again already, and time for this week's YouTues video. Making up the third class for the SPC University series, Phillip outlines the way to pack and light your pipe to ensure the most enjoyment. In Part B, we plan to delve a little deeper into the trickier tobaccos, but this should be a good start for most tobaccos and most people. Enjoy!
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.
That we're currently experiencing, or perhaps, rather, living in some new "Golden Age" of pipe smoking is a sentiment that many of us report having heard from assorted pipe enthusiasts and collectors, or have gleaned from reading the various pipe smoking related message boards, forums, and blogs that are scattered alongside the information highway we call the internet.
Can we make such a claim? Entirely. Can we defend such a claim? That's more difficult. I think, however, we can at least agree that a renaissance of sorts is taking shape, however large or small the scale of it may be. This isn't the same culture that existed twenty or thirty years ago when the pipe clubs were small, lodge-like councils and a gentleman's pipe and tobacco purchasing power was limited to the size and reputation of his local smoke shop. The community has scaled, our buying options, especially in terms of independent artisans, have boomed, and none of it would have been possible without a revival in interest.
Whence comes this precipitated interest, you ask? I don't know and I don't think anyone knows and you ought not believe anyone who claims to know. Let's just call it an often ironically tilted post-structural rejection of the digital-ethereal compounded by a Freudian lack of relatedness to the primitive and be done with it. Let's never mind speculating on the sublime, subtle saturation of pipe smoking into the mainstream media. We've observed it on TV, we've seen it in the movies, we've read the NY Times write-up. Let's not go there today.
Today I'm not concerned with the "why". I'm concerned with the "how". And so how has this renaissance come to be? Because of your interest, naturally. Your interest in all things pipe and tobacco means that some of the best pipes ever to be made are somewhere beginning to take shape on a lathe at this very moment. Your interest means the pipe clubs are bigger than ever, hosting larger events than they ever have before. Your interest put Balkan Sobranie back in production. You got Dunhill tobaccos to return to the U.S. market. And in a matter of days Capstan and Three Nuns will see an American homecoming, thanks to you. Smokingpipes.com itself exists simply because of your enthusiasm for high quality pipes and premium pipe tobacco. Now that's what I'm talking about.
"Golden Age" or not, this is a fantastic time to be a pipe smoker.
As part of our YouTube-Tuesday goal for weekly videos, we needed to create something that wasn't dependant on Sykes travelling for interviews and tours. Many of you have asked for more educational videos, and so, the Smokingpipes University series was born. For beginners, we plan to start with the basics, SPC 101 being how to select the right pipe, and SPC102 being common pipe-buying myths. As Freshman become Seniors, however, we intend to incoperate more complex lessons involving the creation and mechanics of pipes, histories of pipemakers, marques, and schools, as well as the nuances of shaping, and many other ideas we're bouncing around. The possibilities are practically endless.
Here are the first two classes, the former being more informative, the latter being more silly. We hope you like them both and welcome any suggestions or requests you may have for future videos. Enjoy!
There was a gathering at the home of Dennis and Kat Mann this past Saturday, a chance for friends and co-workers to mingle outside of the office and enjoy the fine evening air. As is usually the case when many of us meet up - even outside of the office - we had pipes in hand and plenty of choice tobaccos. My wife and I arrived around 7:00, which I was worried was a little late, but all was well as the crowd gathered outside was still sizable, with lots of comradery and fragrant tobacco smoking going on. As usual, I forgot my lighter, but hoped someone would have a flame I could borrow. Sykes was sitting comfortably in a chair chatting with Ted when I asked to borrow his lighter, and upon transferring his source of ignition, he said, "Here: try some of this" handing me a tin of Solani 633 from 2003. An excellent tobacco, for sure, but I had a small mason jar with me that still had a few flakes of Samuel Gawith Full Virginia Flake from 1999. Sykes saw it and laughed, rather disappointingly. The problem whenever we meet up outside of the office is that someone is excited to share a ten-year-old tobacco only to have another trying to share something with even more age on it.
"You see", Sykes said, "this is what happens when people buy a lot of tobacco and just sit on it. They build up a stock and it just keeps getting better and better". Much of Sykes' tobacco has aged about ten years, with some newer and older tins peppered in the stash. Most of my tobacco was tinned (or in the case of bulk, jarred) between 1995-2007. We discussed how neither one of us had any Orlik Golden Sliced sitting around because we both prefer the taste of the tobacco within the first year of tinning. However; a few years ago I purchased a sleeve (five 50-gram tins packed together) that was getting some age. Orlik Golden Sliced is a tobacco that - for me - is best when less than a year old or more than seven. A strange claim, perhaps, but I was able to smoke a tin after five years, six years, and finally seven. Something magical happens during the aging process that is difficult to point out, but it's noticeably different in a very good way. The same claim is true for many tobaccos.
By now you all have heard the news that we're getting the celebrated blends of Capstan and Three Nuns [soon!], so I would encourage those of you who enjoy these blends to stock up before Sykes and I deplete inventory for our own cellars! All fine tobaccos right out of the gate, but when something is again available that was not for such a long time, it's an excellent time to purchase larger amounts to age like fine wines. For now, you can sign up to be notified when these tobaccos arrive by clicking the "Email Me" tab next to the tins on the site (which you can do for any products on our site we are currently out of). Today we are putting up some new tobaccos from Sutliff: Edward G. Robinson, and Heine's Blend, as well as The Pipeman's Daily Fare - a new book full of pipe-related poetry, and 181 pipes. This update also sees the introduction of Smokingpipes gift cards, something Sykes, Ted, and others have put a lot of time into putting together, to make sure they’re as streamlined, useful, and presentation-worthy as possible. They make it to you, today, just in time for Father's Day.
We have some big news for you today – really big news. News that will knock your socks off. But first, we’d like to fill you in on a little related history.
The relationships between producer, retailer, and consumer changed dramatically during the latter half of the 19th century. It was during these years that we saw the birth of most of our modern perceptions of a "brand"; a standardized product, centrally produced, distributed in distinctive packaging, and marketed on a national, even international level directly to the common man (or woman) on the street. This revolution was particularly drastic when it came to daily consumables -- tobacciana included.
Previous to the 1800s, advances in and applications of new, colorful mass printing and packaging processes, and the concept of a standardized product marketed using these advances, walking into an unfamiliar general store in order to acquire your favorite tobacco blend would have involved, first of all, knowing its recipe; the proprietor would be carrying staple components, perhaps a few prepared blends he put together for local demand, and all in nondescript bundles or jars. If you did manage to get what you were after, it would be handed over to you wrapped in, as likely as not, last-month's newspaper. There was no asking for a tin of Capstan, because the idea of "a tin of" anything guaranteed the same in London as it was in New York hadn't really arrived yet -- nor, for that matter, the idea of a name-brand, iconic consumable like Capstan. The arrival of distinctive, yet affordable packaging and advertising materials, as well as inventions such as efficient cigarette rolling machines (which transformed cigarettes from luxury items of the well-heeled, to something soldiers, sailors, and day-laborers could afford) changed all this, allowing tobacco producers and importers to broaden their markets, engage in far-flung competition with each other, and grow products into household names.
Of course, all this hullabaloo of "brands" and "advertising" was met by Victorian sensibilities with more than a little scoffing at first -- it all seemed a bit improper. Trade should be seen, not heard, or more accurately, it should exist, but not insist on making itself seen in such a bold manner. Nonetheless, there was no putting that genie back in its bottle, and in Britain this new entrepreneurism saw the establishment of such popular names as Ogden's, Wills, and Player's, brands that succeeded in gaining the loyal custom of British subjects high and low alike, all of whom now in turn could walk into any general goods store worth its salt, request their favorite blend by name, and receive a recognizable, branded package which assured the consumer that it was, indeed, just what they wanted. Measuring, weighing, the precise recipe of a particular smoking mixture; all were handled by a combination experts, specialized labor, and automation -- and all by the producer whose name marked the product. Colorful, stylized packaging kept life difficult for any prospective counterfeiters.
Along with all these boons to producers and consumer alike, however, there did come also the inevitability of a new and daunting challenge to those who'd made their mark: challengers from abroad, a prospect made possible by the very same technological and marketing advances. The prospect of shared competition with outside parties has a way of breeding cooperation, however; it's the mechanism of mutual benefit through which concepts such as "team sports", "family", and "civilization" are created. That same prospect, and mechanism, would lead to the creation of Imperial Tobacco in 1901.
For years the heads of several British blenders had been making grumblings regarding the possibility of the large and highly modernized American Tobacco Company setting foot upon their shores, but it wasn't until A.T.C.'s purchase of Ogden as a foothold into the native market that they snapped to attention. Once the news spread, however, they didn't dally. John Player & Sons, W.D. & H.O. Wills, J. & F. Bell, and nearly a dozen other British family-owned blenders promptly joined together as Imperial, sharing resources to form their own juggernaut of commerce. Soon to follow was an intense nine-month long clash of marketing and maneuvering by both American and British parties, until Imperial finally positioned themselves to begin invading the American market. At that, the dust settled. A.T.C. called "good game", and, surprisingly enough, both came to an agreement to work together: A.T.C. would market Imperial's blends in the US, and Imperial would do the same for A.T.C. in Britain. The Ogden "foothold" would rejoin their fellow Brits as part of Imperial. This cooperative venture, the British-American Tobacco Company, would last until 1911, when the Americans once more decided to go their own way. Imperial, however hastily-formed as it may have been, would go on to become the defining shaper of the British tobacco culture.
Wills' Capstan blends and Bell's Three Nuns, in particular, were blends that would take on iconic status, boosted in no small part by their being favorites of J.R.R. Tolkien and his friend and fellow writer C.S. Lewis, respectively. In more recent decades there has however been one rather glaring difficulty for many of those who may fondly recall these old favorites, or who have simply wished to try them: they haven't been available in the US. These legendary blends may have survived intact for generations, pipe-men and pipe-women this side of the Atlantic have known they were still out there, but they were just that: out there. Far, far away, and generally equal parts costly and difficult to bring here, where we could actually smoke them.
Well, no more. That's all changed -- as many of you already know, Imperial, who still retains the rights to these smoking mixtures harkening back to the very birth of name-brand blends as we now know them, has now entrusted their formulas to Mac Baren. And Mac Baren has entrusted us, in turn for the time being, to reintroducing them to you. Very soon five new tins -- Capstan Original (Blue) Flake and Ready Rubbed, Capstan Gold Flake and Ready Rubbed, and Bell's Three Nuns-- will arrive at Smokingpipes.com's doorstep. They'll have traveled a long road to get here, again, but we expect it will only make that first bowl all the sweeter.
I am still pretty new here at Smokingpipes.com. As many of you could guess, it's a great place to work. In fact, many of you have guessed at the greatness and have informed me of your jealousy. I felt similarly before I worked here, envious of the novelty of being able to smoke a pipe at work. Of course, it's more than that; enjoying pipes and tobacco is not only encouraged, it's sort of in my job description. I'd imagine they can't legally make it a job requirement, but would assume that someone wanting to work with and around pipes all day would at least be slightly interested in them.
The good news is I truly enjoy smoking a pipe, as well as the relaxation and the mindfulness that follow. My favorite spot has long been on my back porch just feet from the garden, home of my second-favorite activity. So imagine my surprise when, in this pipe-friendly atmosphere, I often find myself too busy to even pack one up. The most common critique I've received thus far, is that I don't smoke my pipe enough. Again, there are no guidelines as to how many bowls of tobacco we must smoke in a day, but it became obvious to some that, at work, I wasn't contributing my fair share of fragrance to the atmosphere. So I put some thought to this, and discovered they were right.
Along my journey here, I have been learning new things at an accelerated rate, so my attention has been on learning my new job and its responsibilities, developing my own workflow, and meeting my deadlines. Although I haven't quite mastered the execution of some tasks that others have made second nature, I'm feeling more confident and, as I do the same, I imagine this will open more free time during the day for pipe appreciation. I wouldn't go as far as to schedule pipe-time, or add it to my task list, as this would defeat the point. Most of the guys here don't need to do that anyway, having mastered the art of keeping a bowl smoldering steadily, hanging from their jaw as they go from task to task. On a related note, I would say the biggest help in bringing attention back to my own pipes has been to browse Smokingpipes.com to get a feel for what we have out there, what's in demand.. and for a new addition to my collection. If you've found yourself in a similar predicament as I, or are in the market for a new pipe for your rotation, I suggest you take advantage of our current sale on new Ser Jacopo pipes, running through the next few weeks, at an impressive 40% off. If anyone is even still reading after that, today's update also brings pipes from Gregor Lobnik, Nate King, Ashton, L'Anatra, Randy Wiley, Claudio Cavicchi, Rossi Pipes, Brigham, Nording, Brebbia, Savinelli, Peterson, and 78 estate pipes from all over the place. Additionally, no new pipe would be complete without a pipe tobacco, so make sure and take advantage of our "10% off Dunhill Bulk Tobacco" promo while you still can (it ends tomorrow). Go on, get some!
Hours of Operation:
Our website is always open and you can place an order at any time. Phone/office hours are 9am-7pm US/Eastern (GMT -5:00) Monday-Friday and 10am-5pm US/Eastern (GMT -5:00) on Saturdays. Our Little River, SC showroom is open 10am-7pm US/Eastern (GMT -5:00) Monday-Saturday. We are closed on Sundays.
We reserve the right to verify delivery to cardholder via UPS. You must be 18 years or older to make any selections on this site - by doing so, you are confirming that you are of legal age to purchase tobacco products or smoking accessories. We will deny any order we believe has been placed by a minor.
WARNING: Smokingpipes.com does not sell tobacco or tobacco related products to anyone under the age of 18, nor do we sell cigarettes.WARNING:Products on this site contain chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm.