Colored stems: For them, or against them? Well, okay, it's not really that simple. Even if your tastes in the briars that you'll add to your own personal rotation is relatively conservative (as mine is), you will likely still count cumberland or horn stems as sufficiently classical and reserved of style (as I do). And of course, just because you don't feel that something a bit more extroverted of shade and hue is quite "you", doesn't mean you can't appreciate it when a more colorful stem just seems to fit perfectly some particular pipe's composition. Personally handling hundreds of pipes each week, I come across no small quantity that strike me as very well designed and composed, but which I nonetheless also recognize as best suited to a personality quite different from my own. Whether sitting in my old sedan, flopped down amongst the clutter of books, tobacco tins, and pipe accessories that typically inhabits my coffee table at home, or hanging from my jaw, they'd just stick out like a sore thumb. It would be like seeing Vinnie (from our Low Country store), the stout, walking, talking stereotype of an older generation of Northeastern urban fellow smoking a dainty cigarillo -- he's a big cigar man, by which I mean a man who enjoys, and looks most natural, puffing away at a heavy-gauge stogie. He smokes what he is -- as most of us do.
A flourishing, vibrant Ardor wouldn't be me. But neither would an intricately organic Japanese artisanal design or a big Dunhill Group 6, even if its shaping and finish are otherwise reserved and traditional. Yet, there are plenty of pipe smokers out there which one of those three would fit to a "T". And when you come right down to it, that's why pipes are created in such a vast variety of shapes, sizes, finishes, materials, depths, breadths, mount configurations, and, yes stem colors too. And today we have on hand plenty of evidence as to just how broad and complex pipedom's spectrum of style and approach has grown. Chris Askwith and Massimliano Rimensi, for example, present us with pipes in briar, strawberry wood, and morta, in designs either modern or traditional of flavor. The two Californian friends behind J&J show us some classic shaping as well, but also their unique, energetic take on the Blowfish, a shape typically at home in the Danish and Japanese schools. Maigurs Knets proves to us that the lush, flourishing style of the Art Nouveaux movement can, indeed, be applied to creating beautiful smoking instruments -- a challenge which no one seemed willing or able to tackle during its actual late-19th/early-20th century heyday. Ardor brings us their aforementioned colorfulness, and Ser Jacopo the signature creativity and gesture of the Pesaro school. Nording offers us the wild shaping of the Danish "fancy" freehand, Peterson robust Irish smokers, Storient floral-carved Turkish meerschaums, and Brebbia and Savinelli their own takes on Italian style.
And on top of that, there are of course new selections of estates awaiting your perusal as well -- seventy-two in all, split between the Danish, Italian, English, and. Whatever manner of pipe may be most distinctly "you", we hope you'll find it here with us.
Eric Squires: Copywriter