Doctors and Masters of Pipes: A Timeline

Tobacco Pipe Show: Doctor and Masters of Pipes

Those who regularly visit the Daily Reader may have noticed occasional mention of Doctors of Pipes. We've published profiles of several Doctors here because they are interesting people with decades of experience in the pipe smoking community, people who contribute to the history, culture, techniques, and developments that enhance everyone's appreciation for and success in this stunningly artistic and fascinating hobby.

Some of these Doctors craft pipes whose designs and engineering break new ground; some author books providing history, smoking strategies, entertaining anecdotes, and useful information; some have launched businesses that make products more accessible to all; some develop new tobacco blends and blending techniques; others organize pipe shows that entertain and advance enthusiasts for decades. All are ambassadors of the pipe, helping others attain proficiency and knowledge, and demonstrating that pipes are consequential objects in the lives of those who choose to enjoy them.

The Doctor of Pipes program was launched in 1998 at the Chicagoland International Pipe & Tobacciana Show when the first two awards were presented to Frank Burla and Tom Dunn. Only two awards are conferred each year, one to a member of the pipe smoking hobby, and another to an individual working within the industry.

It takes a lot to be considered for this honorary degree. Candidates must have at least 20 years in the hobby and demonstrated commitment to the advancement and support of pipe smoking. Current Doctors propose candidates by writing summaries of their achievements and submitting them for consideration to all of the living Doctors, who vote to determine the next Doctors. It is among the most prestigious awards that our community offers; if pipes were as mainstream as Hollywood, a Doctor of Pipes award would be equivalent to an Oscar.

Shane Ireland being awarded a Masters of Pipes degree

Shane Ireland recognized at the 2022 Chicagoland Pipe Show; Michael Parks behind him.

Doctors of Pipes tend to be older folks because of the requirement that decades of commitment be demonstrated, and in 2017, a new classification was launched to recognize and encourage younger enthusiasts who have been doing great work. In keeping with the academic theme, this award is named the Master of Pipes. Nominations require that candidates be no older than 45 and have demonstrated at least 10 years of dedication to the pipe community.

The first Masters of Pipes, David Shain and Sykes Wilford, were recognized in 2017. David was the cover story for Pipes and tobaccos magazine in the Fall issue that year, in which the award was announced and his accomplishments enumerated, including his work in leading drives to collect pipes and tobaccos, refurbishing the pipes, and sending them to new pipe smokers and to military personnel stationed abroad. Sykes, the founder of Smokingpipes, has since that initial recognition been additionally honored with a Doctor of Pipes award, the only person so far to win both. His support of pipe shows and the pipe community at large was recognized early in his career and his Doctor's award came as soon as he reached his 20-year mark.

This year brings us two new Doctors: J.T. Cooke and Jeff Weiner, both outstanding individuals who have enormously contributed to the advancement of pipe smoking. The two new Masters are Michael Parks and Neal Osborn, both admired widely across our global community. Be sure to congratulate them when you find them at a show this year.

Listed below is the full list of current holders of these honorary degrees, and links are provided to articles about them that have been featured here on the Daily Reader. They are impressive people. They have contributed enormously to the hobby. They have given their time, their expertise, their knowledge, their passion, their support, and their talents for years on end, and continue to do so. Each year listed includes the two recipients, the first from their capacity within the pipe and tobacco industry, and the second from an active hobbyist position.

Recipients of the Doctor of Pipes Award (1998-2022)


Tom Dunn (deceased)
Frank Burla (deceased)

Barry Levin (deceased)
Basil Sullivan (deceased)



Chuck Levi
Ed Lehman (deceased)

Bob Hamlin (deceased)
Rich Esserman



Mary McNiel
Chuck Rio (deceased)

Peter Stokkebye (deceased)
Linwood Hines



R. David Field
Ben Rapaport

Michael Butera
Rick Newcombe



Marty Pulvers
Mike Reschke (deceased)

Tom McCranie (deceased)
Federico Baylaender (deceased)



Alberto Bonfiglioli
Gibb Robinson

William John Ashton Taylor (deceased)
Fred Janusek



Alan Schwartz
Fred Hanna

Paul Creasy
John Eells



Mike McNiel
Tad Gage

Lee von Erck
Rex Poggenpohl



Arron Sissom
Craig Cobine

Brian Levine
Dennis Congos



Chuck Stanion
Eugene Umberger

Gregory Pease
Vernon Vig



Robert Cooper
Paul Bender

Steve Monjure
John Tolle



Sykes Wilford
Jeff Knoll

Steve Fallon
Mark Irwin



J.T. Cooke
Jeff Weiner

Masters of Pipes (2017-2022)


Sykes Wilford
David Shain

Jeff Gracik
Aziz Panjwani



Adam Davidson

Jon David Cole
Chad Terpstra



Shane Ireland

Michael Parks
Neal Osborn


Fifty Doctors have been named since the institution of the award, and 38 remain living, while all 10 Masters are still with us. We here at Smokingpipes find it particularly fulfilling that four of our number have been honored with these awards, and if we count Brian Levine, who previously worked with us, that number is actually five. It's a testament to our commitment to expertise that we attract such individuals, and perhaps even more telling that people here like Adam Davidson and Shane Ireland, through their continuously expanding expertise and high level of dedication have risen to such a level of recognition.

You may be wondering how one can be nominated. No one can nominate themself; recommendations must be generated organically through observation of the deeds and accomplishments of potential inductees. However, any Doctor of Pipes may be approached with ideas for future awards, and if they find merit in the recommendation, they can forward the proposal during the next nomination period (in January of each year).

Doctor of Pipes recipients Brian Levine, Sykes Wilford, and Michael Parks

From left: Doctor of Pipes recipients Brian Levine and Sykes Wilford, and Master of Pipes Michael Parks

Here are the qualifications that must be met for each category, borrowed from the Chicagoland Pipe Collectors Club website:

Hobbyist: Any person who collects any component(s) of what, generically, is called tobacciana: pipes, pipe tampers, tobacco jars, boxes, and tins, snuff-related accouterments, cigar-related accouterments, tobacco advertising, literature, ephemera, inter alia. Beyond collecting, to qualify as a nominee, this person must be known to the general collecting public, and he/she must demonstrate knowledge and dedication to the hobby by means of any of the following as evidence of his/her selfless contributions to this special field, such as exhibiting, tutoring, lecturing, creating a virtual online museum, and researching/publishing articles on collecting, etc.

Tobacco Trade: This is a broad, general, inclusive category: any person who works in the U.S. or international tobacco industry full time/part time in any capacity. The trade is defined as retailer, wholesaler, distributor, importer, manufacturer, or promoter of any consumer tobacco or tobacco-related product. It also includes freelance writers (other than those who more aptly qualify as hobbyist), editors and managing directors of tobacco- and pipe-related publications for the trade or for the consumer; those employed in tobacco trade associations; those employed in generic tobacco advertising; and those who are tobacco and pipe ombudsmen, public advocates who represent the interests of the smoking public but do not qualify in any of the other occupations. The nominee must be well known to the general smoking (preferably pipe-smoking) public and who demonstrate that he/she is committed to advancing the tobacco trade by marketing and merchandising new products for the consumer; by advertising and promotional campaigns of said products; or by any other effort that results in a positive and enlightened view of this social custom.

Because our hobby is filled with enthusiastic, knowledgeable, generous, and helpful individuals, many of us know multiple people who are deserving of recognition. These awards may seem silly to some. For anyone outside of the community of pipe smokers, it must inevitably seem so when they hear titles so outlandish as Master of Pipes or Doctor of Pipes, but those who are active in the pipe-smoking community know how important these particular accolades have been.

Many people are unimpressed by awards, and that's understandable. People should stand on their own merits without relying on titles. However, those who populate this list of recipients have proven themselves uncounted times, and even without their honorary degrees, they are individuals who we rely upon and who have contributed far beyond any one person's understanding. They are examples of the most dedicated in the world of pipes, and our community has advanced to the degree that it has in many ways because of their commitment and talents.


    • Bill on June 12, 2022
    • Sorry, but it is sort of silly, clique like and pretentious.

    • Mark Cundiff on June 12, 2022
    • Has Richard Carlton Hacker made it close to either list..?

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