<< July, 2014 >>
Search Blog

100+1 Uses (1) RSS
Adam Davidson (10) RSS
admissions (1) RSS
Advertising (2) RSS
Alex Florov (5) RSS
Ardor (4) RSS
Art and Pipes (4) RSS
Ashton (1) RSS
Ashton (3) RSS
Behind-the-Scenes (11) RSS
blog (9) RSS
blog (40) RSS
bloopers (2) RSS
books (2) RSS
Brad Pohlmann (2) RSS
Brad Pohlmann (2) RSS
briar (8) RSS
Brick House Cigars (1) RSS
Brigham (2) RSS
Broken Pipe (2) RSS
Bruce Weaver (2) RSS
Capstan (6) RSS
Carlos Torano (1) RSS
Castello (6) RSS
Chacom (4) RSS
cigars (20) RSS
Claudio Albieri (1) RSS
Claudio Cavicchi (3) RSS
comic strips (2) RSS
Cornell & Diehl (10) RSS
Customer Service (6) RSS
Dunhill (12) RSS
Ernie Markle (1) RSS
Ernie Markle (2) RSS
Escudo (1) RSS
Esoterica (2) RSS
estate pipes (17) RSS
events (2) RSS
Famous Pipe Smokers (11) RSS
Fitness (1) RSS
Flor de Gonzalez (1) RSS
Food (12) RSS
Gabriele (1) RSS
Gamboni (2) RSS
Gawith Hoggarth & Co (1) RSS
gift cards (1) RSS
Giveaways (6) RSS
G. L. Pease (10) RSS
grain (1) RSS
Gran Habano (1) RSS
Grant Batson (1) RSS
Grechukhin (2) RSS
hemp wick (1) RSS
Hermit Tobacco (1) RSS
Hiroyuki Tokutomi (9) RSS
history (4) RSS
Humor (23) RSS
Ikebana (1) RSS
Il Duca (1) RSS
Interview (2) RSS
Italy (3) RSS
J.Alan (1) RSS
J. Alan (11) RSS
Japan (1) RSS
Jess Chonowitsch (1) RSS
J&J (3) RSS
Johs (2) RSS
Kaywoodie (1) RSS
Kei-ichi Gotoh (2) RSS
Kristoff (1) RSS
La Gloria Cubana (1) RSS
Lars Ivarsson (3) RSS
Lasse Skovgaard (4) RSS
Leo (1) RSS
Letter (1) RSS
lighters (1) RSS
Low Country Pipe and Cigar (3) RSS
Luciano (3) RSS
Mac Baren (17) RSS
Maigurs Knets (2) RSS
McClelland (6) RSS
Michael Lindner (2) RSS
Michael Parks (1) RSS
Michail Kyriazanos (1) RSS
Michal Novak (2) RSS
Mystery Tobacco (2) RSS
Nanna Ivarsson (2) RSS
nasal snuff (1) RSS
Nathan Armentrout (1) RSS
Neerup (1) RSS
Newminster (1) RSS
newsletter (266) RSS
Oliva (1) RSS
Orlik (5) RSS
Padron (1) RSS
People (22) RSS
Pesaro (1) RSS
Pete Prevost (1) RSS
Peter Heding (2) RSS
Peter Heeschen (2) RSS
Peterson (7) RSS
Peter Stokkebye (3) RSS
photography (18) RSS
pipe accessories (3) RSS
pipe basics (4) RSS
Pipe Clubs (2) RSS
Pipe Fiesta (1) RSS
pipe making (6) RSS
pipe making (55) RSS
pipes (44) RSS
pipes (8) RSS
Pipe Shows (23) RSS
Pipes in Film (4) RSS
pipe tobacco (81) RSS
poster (1) RSS
Press (7) RSS
Rad Davis (1) RSS
Radice (6) RSS
Ray Kurusu (1) RSS
Reiner (1) RSS
Reviews (4) RSS
Rocky Patel (1) RSS
Rocky Patel (2) RSS
Sales (3) RSS
Samuel Gawith (1) RSS
Samuel Gawith (2) RSS
Savinelli (3) RSS
scott thile (2) RSS
Sebastien Beo (4) RSS
Ser Jacopo (3) RSS
Simeon Turner (1) RSS
Sixten Ivarsson (2) RSS
Smio Satou (3) RSS (74) RSS
SPC Merchandise (1) RSS
SPC University (2) RSS
Stanwell (4) RSS
Storient (1) RSS
Summary (6) RSS
Takeo Arita (2) RSS
Tatuaje (2) RSS
technology (5) RSS
Thanksgiving (1) RSS
Three Nuns (4) RSS
tobacco (7) RSS
tobacco aging (1) RSS
tobacco blending (5) RSS
tobacco review (5) RSS
Tom Eltang (5) RSS
Tonni Nielsen (1) RSS
Torano (1) RSS
travel (70) RSS
Tsuge (3) RSS
Vauen (1) RSS
video (57) RSS
video (5) RSS
Viktor Yashtylov (1) RSS
virginia (1) RSS
YouTues (4) RSS
Photo Albums
florov (1)

17 June 2014

One Man's Rotation

       -Posted by eric-

Rotation, collection, by one name or another, it’s the collective pile of pipes you smoke. For some of us this means polished cases of Dunhills chosen for particular shapes and vintages, for others, a repurposed spice rack of craggy Custombilts and well-weathered clenchers, kept as workhorses that have proven to provide a good smoke. For most of us, it’s something in between. For me, personally, it’s in-between, but minus any racks or cases – my pipes usually just wind up scattered around, resting atop piles of books.

Like racks or cases, I’ve also neglected acquire proper shelving. As for the pipes, here are some of them, photographed in their natural environs.

S.T. Dupont “305” Canadian:

One of my prizes; it looks great, and smokes like a dream when paired with Old Dark Fired. Typical of the old French style, this is a bit lighter and leaner a shape, and easy to clench even with the long, straight shank. The simple gold band is tasteful, the drilling is straight, it holds a decent bit of tobacco, and I enjoy the texture of the sandblast both aesthetically and in hand. The only real flaw I find is that the silver “D” logo set into the stem was slightly mangled somewhere along the way. Also note the color of the finish: a subtly warm, dark chestnut, and not, as Ted insists, purple.

Dunhill “42142” Root Briar bent Billiard:

One of those shapes they aren’t making anymore, perhaps because it actually looks not so much English as, dare I say it, French. Deep of chamber, easy as a jaw-hanger, and with a pretty decent cross-cut grain to boot, the design appears to be one that was phased out during the switch over to a four-digit stamping system. While I don’t baby this briar, the fact that you can’t get a new one ensures that I’ll never, ever get rid of it.

St. James “9042”:

Is a Comoy’s by any other name just as sweet? No, in this case it’s better. This is my most recent find. It smokes like a dream, and even at the end of a bowl the internals remain dry. The shape is simply wonderful all-around, smooth in hand and to the eye, and the grain isn’t shabby either – birdseye front and back, with cross-grain down the sides.

Unknown bent Not-quite-Billiard-not-quite-Pot:

In the words of Shane MacGowan, this pipe is a, well, I can’t repeat it here. Let’s just say that every time I look at this pipe, the tenth line of Boys from the County Hell immediately springs to mind; I can hear old Shane singing it now. I have owned this pipe for almost three years, and to this day have yet to get a good, or decent, or even not miserable smoke out of it. It’s usually the first pipe I try out when a new blend lands on my desk. It sucks, universally. Virginias, Balkans, aromatics, Burleys, shags, flakes, this pipe transforms them all to crap. It is the great equalizer, the grim reaper of all tobacco, the bell that tolls for the best efforts of all blenders. It’s a woman with no heart, a man who hates to work, and a dog that bites the hand that feeds it, all rolled into one. It reminds me of a cat I once knew, one so mean he refused to die until he was just shy of twenty years old. That cat, too, was unfortunately mine. I still have one eyelid that doesn’t open quite as far as the other to prove it.

And like that ornery feline, I’ll never get rid of this briar, either, because some day, somehow, I’m going to get the better of this son of a garbage-eating cur. I couldn’t tell you who made this dog’s ass of a pipe. The only improvement I’ve managed to make to it was using a steel wire brush to get rid of the extra-thick, asphalt-like original finish, a process that took the stamping off too. And good riddance to that, because I don’t even want to know it. May their name and all their works be forgotten by the race of man – but not until I’ve gotten a proper smoke out this little featherweight wonder of deficiency.

So, that’s not my whole collection, but that is most of the highlights. And here’s the point: Every single one of these pipes is a reject, a delinquent, a misfit – not just that last one. Not a single one of these pipes passed our estate department’s QC process. One of them deserved it, the rest just had issues that made them un-sellable. The S.T. Dupont someone ran a drill down the draft-hole, over-boring it, the Dunhill was smoked so hot it baked the finish (yet somehow didn’t char the chamber), the St. James I’ll admit is a bit of a mystery (as a seconds brand with a chewed-up bit, it may not have been worth the cost of labor), and as for the Unknown, well it didn’t deserve to leave the factory in the first place – and our customers certainly don’t deserve it.

These are not Smokingpipes estate pipes, these are Smokingpipes “science box” pipes, and still three out of four of them are fine smokers. The fourth just gives me something to do when actually enjoying life grows tiresome, and I get it in my head to try an experience completely irreconcilable with accomplishment or pleasure.

Eric Squires: Copywriter

 Eric Squires: Copywriter

Posted by eric at 11:40 AM | Link | 0 comments

28 April 2014

Pipes Around the World

       -Posted by R. 'Bear' Graves-

We sell pipes. We sell a lot of pipes. By the time you receive your pipe from us, your briar or meerschaum has passed through more than a dozen sets of our hands and eyes. Though our individual investment in a given pipe can range from a quality inspection upon arrival, to a near-bonding experience when describing, that new friend which just arrived in your favorite brown truck, in at least some small way, carries much of our thoughts and energy with it.

You purchase a pipe. You purchase many pipes. At some point you gift a pipe to someone you feel worthy, perhaps you even surprise them with a shipment directly from us. That instrument of meditation and solace, with the addition of your care and energy, now travels and the metaphysical river lengthens. From time to time we receive emails with photo attachments from customers showing us where their Smokingpipes briar is presently located, and the impact of actually getting to see how this beneficent butterfly effect is currently manifested, well, it’s downright magical.

We have received emails from missionaries like John Michael George in Papua New Guinea who is ministering to the needs of the Hewa tribe, along with a photo of his new friend, "Nafas" enjoying an (originally) Smokingpipes Stanwell Bulldog. Due to the kindness and generosity of a SPC customer (Alex Kummel), many of our pipes wound up in the hands of the brave American men and women currently stationed at FOB (Forward Operating Base) Fenty. The philanthropist emailed us with not only the story, but pictures of some of the recipients, along with the video of a push-up contest with a pipe originally purchased from us as the grand prize.

While not the easiest thing to articulate (we didn’t personally create these vessels of solace, and their further travels resulted from your generosity), seeing a briar that we once held continue to provide happiness to yet another person, in an unexpected part of the globe, feels quite amazing. If one of your briars is presently in the service of another, far from your home, we would love to hear about it.

Bear Graves: Media & Content Specialist

 Bear Graves: Media & Content Specialist

Posted by R. 'Bear' Graves at 3:08 PM | Link | 0 comments

01 April 2014

Pipes in Days Past

       -Posted by eric-

Looking back at older images of people with their pipes, there seems to be a natural theme. From sailors to passengers, being out on the water seems to be the perfect time to strike a match, which is what brings us to this somewhat nautical look at pipes in days past. 

Above: With a pipe and a bottle of whisky labelled "W. Lumsden & Co, Aberdeen" this passenger is travelling in style. Circa 1900 

[Photo courtesy of the Australian National Maritime Museum]

Above and Below: The smoking lounge in a luxury passenger ship, Hamburg-Amerika. Circa 1888-1894

[Photos courtesy of Southern Methodist University Libraries and DeGolyer Library]

Above: Author Sawyer poses with his pipe and a young Elephant Seal during the first Australasian Antarctic Expedition. Circa 1911-1914

[Photo courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales]

Above: Karl Muller smokes his pipe while washing the deck of the ship SEETEUFEL. Circa 1938

[Photo courtesy of the Australian National Maritime Museum]

Eric Squires: Copywriter

 Eric Squires: Copywriter

Posted by eric at 1:22 PM | Link | 0 comments

14 November 2013

The Pipe with the Mustache
 Newsletter Introduction for Thursday, November 14, 2013

       -Posted by eric-

Caminetto. For many of us, when we hear that name we picture a bold-heeled, heavily rusticated and moustachioed oddball from the 1970s, often sporting a colorful stem. Pipes, as it were, that seem a little out of place now that the craze for gold chains and avocado-and-plaid leisure suits has passed. And yet at the same time, the classic "Ascorti-Radice" era Caminettos are still quick to sell on the estate market, their reputation as great smokers still well-known even thirty-odd years later.

Well, they're back, and there've been some changes, Roberto and Tommy Ascorti having done a thorough revamping of the marque their late father/grandfather (respectively) Giuseppe helped found. I know because I've seen them. First up, there's the engineering. In this case we're not so much talking a change as we are a return, as in a return to the kind of drilling and engineering that made Caminetto so famous in the first place, and the reason why you'll still see old estates distinguished as "Ascorti-Radice era".

Then there's the aesthetics, the details of shaping and finish, grain and stem material. While the look of the old classic-era Caminettos might be comparable to, say, a young John Travolta wearing Frank Zappa's moustache, what has freshly arrived to us from the Ascortis is more like a Sophia Loren in a full-length red evening gown... wearing a costume moustache. The new Caminettos are beautiful, you see, more refined and with a style that isn't likely to ever go out of style, but they haven't lost any sense of humor along the way, apparently, judging by the presence of the bushy old Caminetto moustache logo still being displayed proudly on the stems. Good for them, I say! In my book a beautiful woman with a sense of humor beats one without, hands down. I don't see why it should be any different when it comes to beautiful pipes. In both of these cases, it's the ones which combine refinement with humor that age the most gracefully.

Today's selection of fresh pipes comes from a radically diverse mix of masters, from every nationality, from every school, in every shape, color, and finish conceivable -- so there's something in this update for every discriminating style and taste: and if there isn't, you're just being picky.

First we stop in to meet up with Danish pipe maker Tonni Nielsen, who offers up the epitome of Danish modern in six highly nuanced pieces: some liquidly gestural in form, some utilizing the natural spherical qualities of the briar, some more classical, and some that defy categorization -- all of them, however, bearing some of the finest grain made from the best Corsican and Grecian briar (with marvelous accents that have become Nielsen's hallmark). The wildly artistic Poul Winslow presents us with six pipes, half of which are of a more traditional persuasion, the other half not so much - one shape branded an "Eggplant": a complete crossbreed, but so natural in its hybridization, it's destined to join the canon of classical shapes. Erik Nording clocks in with a total of 48 very "free" Freehands and a couple that are a bit tamer; and though Randy Wiley is from the States with a readily identifiable American style, his six sinuously flowing designs, it could be said, draw from the Danish Freehand tradition.

Next it's off to Japan, where all of our imports were made by pipe maker Yuki Tokutomi, daughter of master carver Hiroyuki Tokutomi, who brings us four very classically refined shapes, all very characteristic of the carver -- with the small, light as air aesthetics we've come to expect and appreciate. A few Pot shapes certainly display a more masculine approach though, sporting short, husky bowls, but still very graceful. The sandblasted Apple, however, seems to be a personal test of her skills to balance asymmetry, drawing from her native tradition: the organic bowl, a distinctive contrast to the nimble shank, but still profoundly natural in appearance.

Caminetto whisks us off to Italy, where the immensely talented carving duo of Roberto and Tommy Ascorti have cooked up a selection of 18 pipes; many of which present the generosity of briar associated with the iconic marque, as well as a few briars that weigh in at roughly Groups '4-5'. The choices here are endless, almost every classical shape making its way onto the menu, including a more festive dish: the long-awaited Limited Edition Christmas pipes, made especially for, and (of course!) bearing the iconic moustache marquee. Tonino from Jacono serves up six savory pieces varying from the more subtlety gestural, like the Rook bent Dublin and Rook bent Apple, to very direct, straight framed renditions of the classical shapes, seen in the Knight Billiard (E) and the Pawn Dublin. Completing our excursion across "The Boot" is Rossi with nine darkly handsome, stylishly elegant designs, L'Antra also with nine pipes, though more strongly gestural, as with Brebbia's 12, and Savinelli's many beloved classic series.

As always, if you want to see the best of what the Emerald Isle has to offer, check out the new pipes from Peterson, the purchase of which qualifies you for a free 50g tin of any Peterson brand tobacco.

Eric Squires: Copywriter

 Eric Squires: Copywriter

Posted by eric at 2:55 PM | Link | 0 comments

10 October 2013

"Feel the Burn... "

       -Posted by R. 'Bear' Graves-

 Good evening folks, may I join you in a smoke? About six months back, I was looking at a photo of me taken about a dozen years prior and wistfully reflected that my former 54' chest and 30' waist had all but reversed (ok, not quite, but you get the idea). What were once rock hard pecs were now certifiable 'moobs', and the closest thing I possessed to a six-pack resided in my fridge. Not being delusional (well, not completely), I knew that a better diet, and an exercise program that didn't solely consist of '37 gram briar curls', could reverse a good deal of this decline. Having said, rather than introducing healthy new habits, I found myself taking a bit of perverse comfort in noting that a good deal of the South Carolina populace wasn't all that far behind me, started wearing all-black clothing (great, a 55 year old 'Goth') and, following the sage advice of the late Rodney Dangerfield; "If you want to look thinner, hang out with fat... ", renewed my vow to only smoke huge pipes, such as Ardor Giants and Ashton Magnums in public. Then I rejoined and my well-seasoned sense of complacency began to crack at the foundation...

Back in 'the good ol' days' at SPC, with the exception of Sykes who was already starting to lose weight faster than the protagonist of Stephen King's "Thinner", I was just another member of the 'male chub club'. Today, (insert maniacal cackle), pretty much every guy in the place can boast either a body fat that could convince most male models to throw in the towel, well developed muscles, or (worse) a combination of both (nobody likes a curve buster, Brandon!). The final straw for me took place when I looked at the pictures from the SPC pipe club meeting; "Hey, there's John! Adam, Jonathan, Ted, Chris... but who's the oinker in the red t-shirt? Ohdeargodthatsme!!!"

Please don't get me wrong, I'm not slagging anyone who is heavy and happy, and my motivation isn't strictly a vanity issue (four heart operations might be nature's way of telling me to lay off lard & crackers for a while). Having fit co-workers is an inspiration, I can now set firm goals/timetables for my personal physical development. Within a month I will be able to climb to the top of my 6' Craftsman ladder. I will enter and complete a 50 meter 'fun run' (I think a local pre-school sponsors one). I will also rededicate myself to observing a healthy diet... just as soon as my OX-Fam relief-sized boxes of Fritos, pretzels, and Snickers bars run out. After all, they are paid for and why waste money? Now if you will please excuse me, a new life of vigor and vitality is calling. Time to do my 157 gram curls with my 'Ardor barbell' (feel the burn, YEAH BABY!).

Pipe by Tom Eltang, photography by

Here at Smokingpipes, we have big updates, and then we have really big updates. And tonight's presentation (with a total of 236 fresh offerings) definitely qualifies as the latter (that made no sense whatsoever... maybe they won't notice). Last night the spotlights fell on the Luciano and Radice lines. Luciano just unveiled four breathtakingly innovative new series, all of which feature top-tier Mediterranean plateau briar which was hand selected and seasoned by Luca di Piazza himself, as well as elegantly elongated shapes, beautiful bamboo work and a shaping aesthetic which was heretofore unknown (en masse) from Italy. These beauties come with handsome zip-up bags, posh sleeves and the information about your specific pipe inscribed on a parchment. At prices that start at a pretty modest base-line, these Lucianos can't miss. Radice just unveiled their 2013 Christmas pipes with matching tampers. In addition, for a limited time, you will receive a very gnarly tamper with each Radice pipe that you purchase. Does that mean if you purchase their Christmas pipe you will get two tampers? Yes indeed.

Tonight we headline with nine superb pipes from the legendary Tom Eltang and, while all are tempting, you really must see the one of the most impressive Horns that you are likely to encounter in your lifetime. Michal Novak, Rattray's, Ser Jacopo, Mastro de Paja and Ardor are up tonight, and the latter includes a Urano Giant Apple of Herculean proportions. Neerup, Nording, Brigham, Savinelli and Peterson also came on board in a big way, and the Irish lads even include the highly popular 'Darwin' series. Toss in (well, not literally) seventy-two fresh estates and this is one massive update. We hope you will enjoy!


 Bear graves: Media & Content Specialist

Posted by R. 'Bear' Graves at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments

09 October 2013

Luciano & Radice: A Revealing Event!

       -Posted by R. 'Bear' Graves-

"Celebrate good times, COME ON!" Yes, it takes one helluva special update to get me to quote a Kool & the Gang song, especially one that has been beaten to death by every wedding/birthday/bar mitzvah DJ since 1980, but today's announcement and special event has me forgetting every watered down drink and room-temp hors d'oeuvre that I have consumed to the tune.

At this very moment, 'we've got a party going on right here' at Low Country Pipe & Cigars; a pre-Richmond Show and celebration, where we find ourselves honored to unveil the vanguard of the Luciano Pipe revamp. Crafted from top-tier Mediterranean plateau briar, which was hand selected and seasoned by Luca di Piazza himself, the first four all-new series (Breakfast, Lunch, Snack and Dinner) feature elegant, deliriously elongated shapes, exquisite bamboo ferrules, as well as an aesthetic paradigm heretofore unseen from Italy. In addition. each of these new pipes comes with a designer zip-up pouch, organic cotton sleeve, and a technical paper about the pipe.

Accompanying the new Luciano introduction, Radice is doing some special unveiling of their own; their limited edition Christmas pipe for 2013! This year's yuletide offering is a generously sized straight apple, available in the 'Rind', 'Pure', 'Silk' and 'Clear' finish, and all sport a handsome band of antler on the mount, as well as a tamper crafted from the same with briar to match. This will be the last year that the Radice Christmas pipe will feature antler, so collect them while you can. As an extra special surprise, Luca has created a one-time set of the 2011-2013 Christmas pipes, using pipes that he reserved for the specific purpose. Also accompanying any Radice pipe you purchase, for a limited time, is a prettykickin tamper

I hope to see you all at our store show but, for those who cannot attend, all of these offerings (perhaps the three-pipe set not withstanding) and more will be available at the upcoming Richmond Pipe Show.


 Bear graves: Media & Content Specialist

Posted by R. 'Bear' Graves at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments

25 September 2013

Shake Your Move Thang

       -Posted by R. 'Bear' Graves-

Good evening folks, may I join you in a smoke? Perchance would any of you have a pipe that I could borrow? Perhaps a bit of tobacco? Oh, a match, tamper and a punch in the solar plexus to get me started, would also be greatly appreciated. I am swimming in briars and their accouterments, understand; it's simply a matter of finding them within the four-dozen-plus 55 gallon bags and over 70 boxes that have followed me from Columbia to Little River.

Mathematicians maintain that most everything in life boils down to simple numbers, and trying to stuff the contents of an overly crowded 1200sq home, complete with a stuffed-to-the-rafters garage, into an 1150sq condo with no covered parking... well that's one dog that just won't hunt. But, with a keen eye for the necessary/superfluous (as well as a reluctant acknowledgment that you'll never fit into those 30''-waist jeans again), a satisfactory move can become all but a given. A great pre-load/load basically boils down to a process of triage, packing and gently arranging in the truck to maximize allotted space.

Triage: Triage is a simple evaluation of future utility of a given item and, if it passes as useful, just asking: How much of it travels with you? As an example of the latter, when my roommate went to the store she could never remember if we needed soap. Therefore every shopping trip resulted in a growing soap collection. At the time I left, we had over 120 bars of Lever 2000. Given my upcoming space constraints, how many bars would I elect to move? Yeah, all of them (after all, cleanliness is next to godliness). My Alienware computer, three monitors, my sixty inch flat screen, my beloved espresso machine and my pipes/tobacco were a given; but my crystal sorbet service for 12? What if I become the entertaining 'King of my condos'? Chicks dig sorbet, and without that service I'd be screwed! (Hey, it could happen.) Can't leave my baseball card collection (too much sentimental value), ditto with my fuzzy, pink handcuffs. When all was said and done, The only things that stayed in Columbia were a piece of barware that said 'My friend visited an island communist dictatorship, and all he brought me was this stupid mojito jug', and an 800lb, six-grill barbeque (hey, I wasn't going to lift the damned thing).

Packing: Is it something that couldn't possibly become damaged, even with the estimated 17 times that I would accidentally curb the truck over the next 150 miles? Use 55 gallon yard bags. Is there a slight-to-medium possibility of breakage under the above mentioned conditions? Throw it into a 55 gallon bag anyway. Waterford crystal, or that flimsy container of Plutonium-239 that I bought on a lark when I was in Uzbekistan? Throw gently into a 55 gallon bag.

Loading: I had myself and a two-man crew whom I prepaid for three hours, thus nine man-hours. Talk about shooting sedated ferrets in a burlap bag, right? For the first two hours, damned skippy. Beginning at about t-minus forty-five minutes, however, the gap between that which was loaded and that which had yet to be loaded became apparent even to my (er, let’s say, “ambition-impaired”) helpers, and what had before appeared as controllable chaos quickly accelerated to a panic befitting refugees fleeing the forces of a hostile warlord (picture me grabbing a Lalique vase and yelling 'Go long!!').

Unloading: Unloading and putting things in their proper place, especially without the added stress of having a crew on the clock, can be a halcyon, even meditative activity... unless you made a dog's breakfast of the pack. To borrow a quote from Hamlet's soliloquy "Aye, there's the rub!" Unloading a poor pack is akin to playing with a 100" tall matryoshka (Russian nesting doll) from Satan; every gigantic bundle or box that one peeks into reveals a slightly smaller, equally disorganized and nondescript doppelganger, and so on. I had carefully packed all of my pipes and tampers in a container, swaddled the same with sheets and beach towels, and then placed my precious cargo in a final container inscribed with "Pipes and Tampers!"

So far, roughly 39 of my 50-odd metaphorical matryoshkas have been removed and I have yet to find my pipes. Hindsight being 20/20, using a Sharpie on a black 55 gallon bag probably wasn't such a hot idea...

 Bear Graves: Dogsbody

Posted by R. 'Bear' Graves at 12:42 PM | Link | 0 comments

19 September 2013

Initiation and Education
 Newsletter Introduction for Thursday, September 19, 2013

       -Posted by joshua-

On the list of things that annoy me, the banter of early morning radio hosts ranks right up there with telemarketers and split infinitives. And yet one morning last week, I found myself looking for a change from my usual meditative morning commute. When I turned on the radio, much to my surprise, the two hosts were talking about pipe smoking. "How do people actually get started smoking a pipe?" the host inquired of his sidekick. "I have no idea," she replied. What followed was a plea for any pipe smokers under the age of fifty in the listening audience to call in and explain how they were initiated into this mysterious club. I may as well go ahead and end the suspense—I didn't call in, but I did listen with interest. In their own way, these morning madcaps had put their finger on something intriguing: to be a pipe smoker today is to embrace a kind of counterculture. It's like wearing bowties or hats, or reading books that are actually printed on paper. At some point, all of us chose for one reason or another to throw convention aside and pick up a pipe. These stories of how pipe smokers get into our hobby fascinate me.

My own initiation into the world of tobacco didn't go particularly well. The only pipe smoker in my family was my great uncle, who puffed away on the same briar every day as he tended his horses. This practice captured my imagination as a kid, and I vowed at the tender age of nine that someday I would smoke a pipe too, but probably not until I reached the seemingly ancient age of forty. As a college freshman, my curiosity about tobacco began to grow, but cigars seemed much more accessible than pipes. The trouble was that I didn't actually know where one bought cigars, but I did recall seeing a plastic humidor on the counter of a local grocery store. Feeling rather bold, I selected the largest cigar that they had and that evening, my roommate and I lit up our stogies on the quad. Being rather enthusiastic, I finished the massive stick in half an hour. Whatever masculine credentials I earned from this display vanished as soon as I rose to walk back to my dorm. The quad began to spin, I began to perspire heavily, and my stomach began to roil. I dimly recall staggering to my bed and suffering through a night of fitful sleep.

After that experience, pipes seemed the safer option. Living on a student's budget, however, I doubted that I could scrape together the funds to buy one, and I was skeptical that my parents would ever sign off on a tobacco-related budget request. Then it dawned on me: I still had the change jar I'd been dropping nickels and dimes into every week since middle school. I dumped the jar onto my bed and began to count; I had managed to horde some fifty dollars. Surely this would be enough to buy some sort of pipe. When I arrived at the local tobacco shop, just opening the door took all the courage I could muster—surely the store required some secret hand shake for admittance. At the very least, the proprietors were sure to see me for the ignorant kid I was. I went in anyway and selected a modestly-priced briar from the shelf, along with two ounces of tobacco with a fancy name, something like "General's Choice" or "My Lord's Delight," I'm sure. I didn't stick around to ask any questions about packing or lighting the pipe, assuming that I could figure it all out on my own.

In hindsight, the fear and trembling with which I approached pipes and tobacco was unfounded. We pipe smokers may be a tight-knit lot, but we're also pretty welcoming and eager to talk about our hobby. The initiation rituals to get into the club are painless (aside from a little tongue bite here and there), but to the outside world, we appear a bit esoteric. So I'll end my thoughts with a humble suggestion that might help lift the veil for all the non-pipe smokers out there. Make an effort this week to tell someone about how you came to know the pleasure of pipe smoking. Finally, if you're a novice, it never hurts to ask questions about pipes, tobacco, or techniques. More than ten years later, I find that I still have a lot to learn about the hobby.

Pipe by Askwith, Photography by

It’s Thursday and that means courses of pipes, followed by more pipes, and then perhaps, when no one else is looking, sneaking back for several more helpings of pipes. Michael Parks, Maigurs Knets, Paolo Becker; these three highly skilled artisans start things off, offering up everything from an Art Nouveax sitter to a sleek and modern straight Dublin, to a deeply-etched, wasp-waisted strawberry wood Cherrywood, and a classic military-mount Brandy in morta and horn.

The smorgasbord continues, with a bevy of beautiful Italian briars by Claudio Cavicchi (Bear Graves' first batch of pipe descriptions since his return, by the way), a half-dozen count of lovely L’Anatra’s, and a fresh trio of Danish delights by Poul Winslow.

The main feast, of course, is considerable – batch after batch of young briars by Rossi, classic Petersons and Savinellis, rustic Brighams and Brebbias, and wild, colorful Nordings. And if you’ve got a taste for particularly sweet deals, there are plenty of estates awaiting as well; English, French, Danish, German, and Italian alike.

Joshua Burgess: Sales Manager

 Joshua Burgess: Sales Manager

Posted by joshua at 1:47 PM | Link | 0 comments

17 September 2013

Tuesday's Friday

       -Posted by kathryn-

Pipe by Askwith, Photography by

Well, folks, it isn't Friday. No, your mind isn't playing tricks on you, this is our weekly update blog post, only it's been moved to Tuesday. Since today's post constitutes three updates, rather than the usual two, we have a lot to show you. 

Pipe by Savinelli, Photography by

Last Monday's update was busy, featuring Chris AskwithGian Maria Gamboni, and most recently from Savinelli, the Petite series. These elegant, French-inspired pipes received special attention from Eric, so check out his blog post "The Resurgence" to read more about them. 

Pipe by Gamboni, Photography by

Newcomer Lomma, also known as Lars Jonsson, returned to Thursday with another batch of unique and striking briar, a few of which are still available. With Lomma's education from both Tom Eltang and Hans "Former" Nielsen, it's no wonder these pipes have been popular, but a few of them managed to stay on the site over the weekend, so be sure to have a look. 

Pipe by Lomma, Photography by

Pipe by Tsuge, Photography by

The coveted Ikebana series from Tsuge certainly didn't let us down yesterday. Of course, when you consider that they were accompanied by a number of masterful pieces from Ichi Kitahara, we almost managed eye-candy overload. We're sorry. Since these were both updated yesterday, however, a few of them are still available for your browsing pleasure. 

Pipe by Ichi Kitahara, Photography by

As usual, Chris and Katie in our photography department gave us too many photos to choose from for this week's banners. Many more of these sublime shots are posted to our social media pages, where I am always there to chat with you about them. Come join the conversation! 


Social Media pages for

  Facebook          Google Plus          Twitter          Pinterest         Tumblr       Instagram

Kathryn Mann: Social Media Liaison Kathryn Mann: Social Media Liaison

Posted by kathryn at 2:30 PM | Link | 0 comments

12 September 2013

Passion for Pipes

       -Posted by ted-

As you might wager, working at is fascinating. Perhaps the most captivating thing about just being at is that despite where you may happen to be within our little campus, and no matter who you happen to be talking with, the conversation always and inevitably concerns pipes. If the dialogue doesn't begin with pipes, it's usually steered toward them.

Not everyone here smokes a pipe. But everybody at SPC thinks about pipes, looks at pipes, and talks about pipes. We touch them all and name them all. We keep tabs on them and compile them like the precious objects they are. Everyone at probably spends more waking hours thinking about pipes than they ever thought they would. And I'll bet there are a couple of us who have dreamt about pipes from time to time. Our obsession with pipes simply happens as a part of our process; the process of being

Not every pipe smoker shares this obsession. Shocked yet? In all fairness to those pipesters, some of us are just more 'tobacco tilted' than others, which is perfectly cool and I totally get it. But it's key to remember that the magic moment behind every good smoke comes down to the pipe. Bad pipe, bad smoke, case closed. The problem is that you can't know a pipe's real worth until you smoke it. There are ways around this; we know them all too well. Put your finger in it, put a light on it under a magnifying glass, examine it with a ruler, stick to certain brands, certain finishes, certain woods. The pipe has to be the right size and of the right bend... Yes there are ways. But you never really know. Each pipe you buy is prompted by a supremely educated guess at best.

That's where we come in and our obsession takes over. That's the time-honored job of the tobacconist. Nay, that's the expectation of the tobacconist. We're here to apply our knowledge and resources to help you pick out the best pipe possible. We're here to help you curate your selection. It's a big task and it comes with a deep responsibility. That's why we spend so much time discussing pipes and educating one another about pipes. We move folks around, cross-train, and observe one another's work. We teach classes. We attend classes. This is our duty, after all, and I believe that the three-thousand or so pipes we've got on the website reflect our sense of commitment to treating pipes like individual works of beauty.

I think the notion that a handful of pipe smokers and non-pipe smokers alike might obsess over pipes more than some pipe smokers is terribly fascinating. When you receive a pipe from us, it's because dozens of people have lovingly handled it, and thought about it, scrutinized, weighed, measured, photographed, and described it. Then it was listed on because we were confident that someone out there -- that you -- would love it. I find that captivating.

Pipes by Peter Heeschen- Photography by

Pipes and more pipes, and then, just to be sure even more pipes -- that is what is in store today. Granted, since we do this twice a week, every week, you probably already expected as much. But we try not to take things for granted, and, thus: always more pipes. This Thursday the pipes we have in store start off with with some gorgeous numbers Lomma Pipes, the marque of Lars Jonsson. From a diminutive yet sturdy little rusticated Rhodesian, to what I have to say is one of the finest renditions of a smooth Volcano I've ever seen, he has provided us with the opportunity to offer you collectors out there some very impressive pipes indeed. He's not alone though -- Peter Heeschen has a fresh batch going today as well, including, of course, a lovely example of his signature "P" shape.

Following up, you'll find plenty of Pesaro beauties from both Ser Jacopo and Mastro de Paja (the former including a pipe from the De Divina Proportione series; one of the last projects of the late Giancarlo Guidi, who founded both marques, and the Pesaro school itself). Ardor throws in with briars rendered in their own unique style too, while Rattray's offers up a selection of more classically-oriented numbers.

Speaking of classical, there's a whole slew of old French briars joining along, courtesy of Ropp, as well as large selections of Savinellis and Petersons, and, for added variety, a good helping of Brebbias, Brighams, Nordings, and Neerups. Finishing things off come the estates, with marques and artisans from America, England, Denmark and Ireland represented, including some very, very vintage pieces from Dunhill and Kaywoodie, and some great modern sandblasting by Michael Lindner.

Ted Swearingen: Vice President, General Manager Ted Swearingen: Vice President, General Manager

Posted by ted at 3:30 PM | Link | 0 comments



New Pipes

Fresh Items



Click to verify BBB accreditation and to see a BBB report for

View in English View in Japanese