Rich Esserman: Big Pipe Guy

Rich Esserman Smoking

The Pipe Smoker's Ephemeris was a journal of vast pipe experiences submitted for publication by collectors and pipe enthusiasts around the globe. Tom Dunn founded The Universal Coterie of Pipe Smokers in 1964 as a means of exchanging information about pipes across the entire world. Most of his issues in the first decades were hand-cranked on a mimeograph machine, and Tom typed the contents on his manual typewriter.

It comprised letters written to him by pipe smokers about their experiences, their understanding of the history of brands, their delight in excellent tobacconists, their fun at pipe gatherings, the publication of pipe books, personal tobacco reviews, and pipe makers and companies contributed as well. Anything and everything concerning pipes and the people who enjoy them was found in the pages of The Pipe Smoker's Ephemeris.

Tom called his publication an "irregular quarterly," but it was a lot of work and sometimes appeared only once or twice a year, other times more often. No one complained though everyone wanted more. There was no cost for the journal; one needed only to request it to be added to the mailing list. It was a source of information, inspiration, and camaraderie across the entire pipe community, lasting until Tom's death in 2005. In recognition of his work, Tom was named a Doctor of Pipes in 1998, the first year that the prestigious award was granted. It's conferred to two individuals by the Chicagoland pipe club every year at their pipe show to applaud at least 20 years of helping the hobby.

The Pipe Smoker's Ephemeris was an essential element in collectors and enthusiasts finding each other. Contact information for new members of the Coterie was included in each issue. There was no internet back then; everything was conducted by mail and phone, but collectors now found other collectors. Trading, selling, and buying special pipes between individuals became possible. The publication helped people refine and add to their own special pipe interests.

An Important Contributor

Rich Esserman became one of the most prolific contributors to Tom's journal. His expansive letters were full of detail for an audience parched by informational drought. Rich contacted and visited other collectors, pipe makers, distributors, and many tobacconists, and wrote about his experiences, including enormously helpful information about the histories of brands and the various rationales for collecting, and the successful searches for and often the triumphant discovery of incredibly rare pipes to elevate a collection.

Michael Parks Magnum

Named a Doctor of Pipes himself in 2001, Rich is now the Governor of the Doctors of Pipes, coordinating the candidacies of potential new members (limited to two a year) and the voting for their entries by the Doctors into that rarified order of pipe cognoscenti, scholars, and specialists. His current position is perhaps the culmination of a lifetime of pipes, which started when he was only three years old.

Rich is now the Governor of the Doctors of Pipes

"My mother told me," says Rich, "that when I was three or four years old and we were walking down the sidewalk, if there was someone smoking a pipe and going in the other direction, I could disappear. I'd turn around and follow them. So I don't know. I guess my interest in pipes is innate."

Later, in 1971 at Syracuse University, Rich noted that all of the professors were smoking pipes and he decided it was time for him as well.

"I went into a tobacco shop and got a no-name Italian pipe, and the proprietor said, 'Oh, this pipe has no fills in it.' I had no idea what he was talking about, but it sounded like a positive attribute. It was $12. I bought some Captain Black-style tobacco. I tried to smoke it a few times and nothing happened. And then I got a Lorenzo pipe, which was more expensive. That wasn't too good. One of my professors said, 'Why don't you try my tobacco?' It was Balkan Sobranie Black. I took two puffs, my face turned green, and that was the end of that."

Rich continued haphazardly with pipes but didn't have success until he went to graduate school, also in Syracuse, NY. His father had given him a gold Plymouth Duster, so he was more mobile and able to explore. "I started to tool around to the malls because I wanted to see what was out there. I walked into a Tinder Box, a very high-end store. This guy, Nick, I don't know his last name, owned the place. He had Caminettos, and he had Dunhills, and he had all kinds of top-grade Danish pipes. Everything was top notch."

Discovery of High-Quality Pipes

Three Savinelli Autographs immediately attracted his attention. "One was a number five sandblast, one was a six, and one was a zero. That's in my mind. I looked at the zero. I wanted that pipe but it was $270, no way. So what I did was I took the sandblast, I put it on layaway like everybody else did, and in about four or five weeks, I got the pipe. 'You get two ounces," Nick said, 'You get two ounces of tobacco, free.' And so I said, 'Well, let me try this Black Cavendish.' And he said to me, 'I'm not allowing you to smoke that crap in this pipe.'"

Castello Big Line

"He gave me this can of Sobranie White, and I said, 'Oh, no, Sobranie.' But I took it back to my room off-campus and I figured, well, I spent all this money on this pipe and I have to put this tobacco in it. I opened it up; it smelled weird, and I put it in the pipe. And by the time I was done with that bowl, I said, "I'm going to smoke and collect only high-grade pipes for the rest of my life.'"

"' ... by the time I was done with that bowl, I said, "I'm going to smoke and collect only high-grade pipes for the rest of my life'"

Rich knew nothing about pipes back then. "This was not about prestige or anything." No one would recognize a high-grade pipe. It was a personal connection to well-manufactured, finished, and performing pipes. "That pipe was so great. I can remember to this day that first smoke, sitting in my easy chair in my room. It was like love at first sight. Literally, that one bowl changed the direction of my entire life in terms of what I collected and whether I smoked a pipe."

That Tinder Box turned out to be very important, with lots of high-end inventory. They were the top-selling Caminetto retailer in the industry, regularly selling about 40 a month.

One of the staff went to work for Tinder Box International at the corporate level and he would come back to that shop with rare pipes. "I would be told when he was coming in, and I would visit the store and see these amazing pipes. He said, 'Well, you can only buy three; I have eight or nine, but you can only take three." The owner would let me pick out three pipes that I wanted, put them behind the counter, and I'd pay them off on a weekly basis. So I got to see some phenomenal, top-notch pipes. Another great shop was called the Briar Route, owned by a fellow named Jerry, and he had about eight or nine stores in Upstate New York. He had tremendous clout and he would get, for example, all of the Peterson Supremes in the country on consignment. He would say, 'Rich, the pipes are coming in. You can come up the day before and go through all the boxes. You can buy anything you want.'"

Rich was able to see all the Supremes, spending hours going through them. "And then he would have Preben Holms. So I got to see 125 Preben Holms. And then he had GBD Uniques and Caminetto smooths. I got to see all this stuff. And then there was a guy named Bob De Mayo who owned Manning's Pipe Store. He had all of these Freehands. I was beginning to understand what a really good pipe was. I learned so much, and those guys were very experienced, and they would spend the time. We would talk for hours about pipes." By the time he graduated in 1977, he was a bonafide experienced pipe guy. Because of his friendly nature and intense interest in pipes, others nurtured him, and he knew more about pipes at an early age than anyone expected.

"I was beginning to understand what a really good pipe was"

Rich is physically imposing, very tall with broad shoulders, and he smokes large pipes these days — very large pipes that match his stature, but more importantly, his preferences.

"When I was living in Endicott, New York, I had a lot of small pipes because I used to go home from work for lunch. It was three, four minutes away from the office." He had small pipes for those occasions to accommodate his small window of smoking time. "But at night, I would smoke a bowl or two in a larger ODA size. In those days, they were the big pipes."

Michael Parks Magnum

He drove to New York City, a trip that made a huge impression on him. "There was a Charatan shop with a tremendous number of Charatans. There was a Wilke pipe shop. There was Hollco, which imported Castellos, which you could never find. And then there was Dunhill. And Nat Shermans came a year later. And then there was Connoisseur Pipe Shop and all these pipe stores that were just unbelievable. Again, one of my strategies is always to become friendly with a salesperson because I like talking about pipes." That helped him at the Dunhill store, where the clerk was unenthusiastic about showing Rich pipes because Rich was so young and he assumed he was merely window shopping.

"I said, 'Let me look at that piece up there on the wall, the group-five Billiard.' It had great grain on both sides of the bowl, and I bought it." That's when the clerk knew that Rich was a serious pipe guy. "I was able to become friends with him. They had a 366-day set there that was just unbelievable, $125,000 or something like that, maybe more. And at one point he allowed me to go through the whole set. He said, 'Look at whatever you want.' They eventually broke it up. I didn't find out until late, so I could get only one or two pipes from the set."

Big Pipe Guy

Rich is often referred to as Big Pipe Guy because he smokes enormous pipes and his collection centers around Dunhill Magnums. "I don't like smoking two or three small pipes in a row just like that. I don't get the taste in the second pipe. So I started to get into larger pipes just because that's my smoking habit. And then I got into really large pipes, huge pipes." Part of that attraction is the smoking time, which Rich prefers to be quite long.

"And then I got into really large pipes, huge pipes"

"I like to smoke at a minimum an hour-and-a-half, maximum two-and-a-half hours. Well, you need a large pipe for that. And I'm a fast puffer, which means that where you might smoke one of my pipes and take five hours, I smoke it in two hours. So I need to get larger pipes for the capacity. That's the key. And then secondly, I find that the larger pipes taste better. The tobacco is much more flavorful. There are guys I know, dealers even, guys who've been smoking for 50 years, and I've suggested they try a little larger pipe. And they smoke it, and they can't believe the difference in taste."

Some of Rich's pipes have chamber walls that are three-quarters to an inch thick, and though he doesn't claim that they smoke cooler, their thickness contributes to the experience.

Larry Roush Magnum Poker

"I've always liked Dunhill, and not just for the name. When I first started to buy Dunhill pipes, I loved them because they smoked well. In 1978 they put out what's called the Collector. These were big Root pipes, the biggest pipes of the day. I began to buy them and smoke them, and I really liked them. Right now the heart and soul of my collection are my Dunhill Magnums. They're just tremendous. The Magnum was made from 1921 to 1939, and World War II came and then after that, briar was rare, especially large briar blocks."

Each pipe that Rich acquires has one primary purpose: smoking. He doesn't buy pipes to fill out his collection; he buys them to smoke. "If for some reason I'm not smoking even a particular Dunhill Magnum, I'll move it on. I have a number of Dunhill Magnums. I love Parker too, Parker Magnums from the '20s. I've acquired eight or nine of them. I have Sasieni Magnums. Recently, I was able to obtain an unsmoked 95-year-old Dunhill Magnum and later that day I had to light it up. And also, for current day production, to me, nothing beats a Castello pipe." One of the rare Castellos that Rich found some years ago was a giant 65 bent Billiard.

" ... for current day production, to me, nothing beats a Castello pipe"

"The biggest one I ever saw. Almost three inches tall with a gold band. It had 'Castello' in script on it. Not just stamped, but in script, which means it was a display pipe. I showed it to Marco, the Castello Distributor for the U.S., and he flipped out. He was excited, and he went back to Castello and had them make me a seven-day set." The pipes were stamped as is normal, but with the addition of the Big-Line stamp. "They used the Big Line stamp back around 1971-1972 for a short period of time. I love these new Big Lines. The Big Lines are the largest production pipes that Castello makes. I have Dunhill Magnums, Parkers, two Sasieni Magnums, and then a lot of Castello Big Lines. I like other makers' pipes too, such as J.T. Cooke's and Rinaldo's. I'm in love with some of Michael Parks' pipes. He makes some tremendous pipes. I have, I think, the largest pipe he ever made, which is a Cup and Saucer shape and natural. It's almost four-inches tall, if you can believe it."

Pipe Shows: Fun and Important

Rich was involved with a pipe club in Endicott, NY, near where he was living in 1982. It was through a member of the club that Rich discovered The Pipe Smoker's Ephemeris and started connecting with other collectors. Rich was invited to a private pipe show where collectors displayed their pipes. "I got to meet all the top guys who were known collectors and we displayed all of our pipes, and I saw things that were just unbelievable. There was one fellow, Dr. Phil Bennett, who privately invited me to see his Dunhill Magnums, and there was one pipe, a 1939 Canadian Patent. I said, 'Phil, someday I'm going to get this pipe from you. You watch.' And we all laughed." Eight years later, though, he was able to get that fantasy pipe, thanks to the collecting community and early pipe shows.

1988 Ashton Black Pebble Grain & Michael Butera Magnum Natural Carved

"From '84 to '89, when Frank Burla had the first series of Chicagoland pipe shows, I went to every one of them. And then Frank stopped, but I was still going to the Richmond show and the Indianapolis show. And so I was meeting a tremendous number of people, having a great time." He built a network of friends, and they watched out for each other. When they discovered a pipe that they knew another collector would want, they helped arrange it. That's how collections were built: through personal connections.

"I've had so many not just good friends, but great friends who you like not only because they smoke a pipe but because they're really nice people. And people have looked out for me. When they see something they know is really important to me, they'll contact me, and they'll say, 'Rich, you should look at this or contact this guy.'" And Rich has reciprocated. He's helped out many newer pipe smokers over his years as well as established collectors. Everyone who regularly attends pipe shows knows Rich. "You're always with people who you like and they like you, and then you have pipes on top of it, which makes everything really terrific."

Up to 2005, he was writing an average of 30 pages of hand-written material for Tom Dunn every issue, and was also being published elsewhere: Bob Hamlin's The Pipeline newsletter, Tad Gage's The Compleat Smoker, Pipe Friendly magazine, Pipe Smoker by Pipe Collectors International (PCI), and The Dunhill White Spot. He was becoming well known for his pipe writing, and people took notice. The Richmond pipe club gave him their Man of the Year Award, and PCI named him a Certified Kapnismologist, both prestigious honorifics. For the past 16 yeats, Rich has been writing a missive called "News and Views" in The Pipe Coolector, the newsletter of the North American Society of Pipe Collectors

The Smoking Quality of Big Pipes

Extra-large pipes are not as rare these days as previously, but they are still unusual. A pipe maker could often make four pipes from the briar invested in a single giant. Rich goes to the trouble of finding them because he feels they smoke better than smaller pipes. "The taste of the tobacco is just better. And I think it has something to do with wall thickness, in general."

"All of my pipes have to smoke at a particular level. They all have to smoke very well. You can never tell what will happen because I think each individual piece of wood, no matter who the maker is or how they've cured it, is different." Curing certainly impacts the quality of the smoke, but the inherent nature of the briar contributes as well.

There are theories about big pipes. It's often surmised that larger pipes act almost like reverse Calabashes. The large bowl acts almost as an air chamber, except all of the smoke further permeates the tobacco and imparts additional flavor. Rich doesn't confirm or deny this attribute, but "the flavor is more full in large pipes."

"I generally smoke English mixtures with medium to heavy Latakia. But I don't smoke just one tobacco; I blend different tins of tobacco to get the taste that I'm interested in. So I might blend up say a 20-year-old can of Crown Achievement, a 20-year-old can of Durbar from Dunhill, and then maybe a Virginia from McClelland and mix that in." He's been smoking this way for about 25 years.

"I blend different tins of tobacco to get the taste that I'm interested in"

"My two favorite tobaccos in 1995 were Baby's Bottom from the Dunhill pipe store in London and an old tobacco called My Mixture 1066, which is, I think, Durbar, the real Durbar from years ago. Anyway, I loaded up the Baby's Bottom, took some puffs. Didn't like it. Emptied the pipe. Opened up the 1066, took some puffs. I didn't like it. So I'm saying to myself, 'What am I going to do? My two favorite tobaccos. I'm not getting enjoyment.' I decided to mix them 50/50. Perfect. I had no other options and it was great. I couldn't believe the taste."

Castello Presentation Sea Rock

From that point on, Rich has been blending various tobacco for each smoking session, and he doesn't measure percentages. "I go by smell. I know when the blend is coming around to where I want it to be. Tobacco is like food. You go to a restaurant, you order a great steak or whatever you're going to order. It comes out. You put a little salt on it. You might do something else. You might use a sauce. And that's the way tobacco is. Tobacco is a consumable product, and I want it to taste the way I want it to taste. So you may like a steak well done and I may like it rare. It's the same steak, but how you cook it and prepare it are two different things. And so I want my tobacco to be a certain way. For instance, Dunhill pipes smoke a certain way for the most part. And they're very sensitive. I can't put a heavy Latakia in a Dunhill. Castellos accept a heavier Latakia, but not light Latakia, at least not for me."

Loading Large Pipes

The tall bowls of Rich's pipes require some tobacco preparation and filling technique. For example, he alternates layers of tobacco with different moisture content.

"I'll have one blend that's sort of moist, and then I'll have another blend that's not quite completely dry, but pretty dry. I'll layer in, say, half an inch of moist tobacco, then just a little bit of the dry tobacco, then another layer of moist and then dry. So it's moist, dry, moist, dry. At the top, I put dry tobacco to facilitate lighting. As you're smoking and the ember reaches the dry tobacco, you're able to keep the flame going. When you're smoking these big pipes, especially when you get into chambers over three inches tall, you're really smoking a Chimney no matter what the shape of the pipe is. Could be a straight Billiard, could be a bent: It's a Chimney. And the key to smoking these large pipes is the airflow and packing."

He loads a pipe in what he calls clumps. "Take a clump, just drop it in. Take another clump, drop it in. Another clump, drop it in until I'm about halfway up. And then I do a slight compression with my finger. Then I keep dropping in again and again and again. And then at the top, I'll do a slightly heavier compression. And then I'll put on some dry tobacco as a kindling tobacco, which lights easily."

Rich uses only wooden matches. "I've never used a lighter, just matches. I have all kinds: really long cigar matches, short matches, medium matches, and that's all I use, and that's all I've ever used, and probably that's all I'm ever going to use, for the reason that I can control the flame better. When you smoke a giant pipe, you don't want many, if any, relights because you have to stick your match into the bowl and you've got to draw. So the bowl is exposed. A friend of mine smoked big pipes, and he got some Chimneys from Moretti. Every time he smoked a pipe, he burned it out. 'What are you doing?' I said, "You're smoking it wrong. You can't smoke this pipe like you would smoke a two-inch pipe. You have to pack it differently."

"I've never used a lighter, just matches"

Tamping Large Pipes

For Rich, it takes four to five matches to get the bowl going because he briefly puffs just three puffs, four puffs, and lets the tobacco go out before relighting. That seems about right for a charring light for such a large surface area. As might be surmised, he also uses an extra-long tamper, and he says that tamping technique is critical.

tamping technique is critical

"When you're smoking and feel like the pipe may go out, you have to learn how to bring air to the flame. Once I get it going — you're not going to believe it, people say it's impossible — on the super huge pipes, I never relight." He says it's simple once you learn how. However, it requires attentive smoking throughout the bowl. Those who fail to attend a bowl will lose the flame, and correct tamping is essential.

Modern Dunhill Magnum with fitted Ventage case - Designed by Rich Esserman & Howard Smith of Dunhill Pipes

He says that by using the tamping foot to delicately pull ash away from the walls of the chamber, more oxygen reaches the ember. "What I do is I draw the ash back from the sides until I can see a little bit of tobacco. I create a little mountain on one side and a valley on the other side. Then I can see the tobacco. Two or three quick puffs, the thing is going, you put the ash back over it. Many people dump the ash out as they're smoking, but they shouldn't. The ash never gets dumped from my pipes." The ash facilitates burning properties. Without the ash layer, you're essentially redoing the charring light over and over.

"When the flame is going to start to fade a little bit, you put the tamper on the edge of the tobacco, and you pull the tobacco ash away from the wall. We're talking maybe a 16th of an inch away from the wall. So you're not piling up the tobacco in the center. You're just simply taking the ash and just pulling it a little bit from the wall so that air can circulate. And that gets air into the bowl from the sides. This is critical. If you don't do this, the thing is going to go out. You're going to have 57 re-lights. You're going to damage the bowl."

This tamping technique is used for the entire smoke. "You just have to be mindful; you can't not think about it. We all know when a pipe is about to go out; this isn't rocket science. When you think the pipe may be going out, that's when you start pulling the ash away from the walls for more air, and you keep doing it until you're all the way down to the bottom."

Friends Make the Hobby

It's exhilarating to find a special pipe to add to our own collections, and it's also fun to watch friends do the same. "Part of the pleasure of this hobby for me is seeing the success of my friends. I like the success of other hobbyists. My wife once said to me, 'Why are you telling these guys about these pipes? They're going to go after the same pipes that you want.' But I believe in infinite good; there's so much good around that if I get some and you get some, we're not competing for goodness. Pipes are something that I love and I've always loved, far more than being able to say, 'Oh, well look what I got.'"

1925 Dunhill Magnum with fitted Ventage case

For Rich, it doesn't matter what interests a fellow pipe smoker. He appreciates their collection. "I spoke to a guy who had these corn cobs from 1910, a collection of them, and he's got documents from the makers going back 100 years. It's fascinating. Whatever you're doing with the hobby is great. I love learning about what other people are doing. I enjoy listening to what you have to say about your collection because it adds to my pleasure. That's the whole thing about pipe collecting to me. When I hear that Fred Hanna got a new straight grain that's the most phenomenal pipe he ever saw, I'm happy for him. And when I can point out a pipe on eBay and say, 'Fred, check this pipe out,' and he says, 'Wow, I would've missed it if you didn't see it,' to me, that's what the whole thing's all about: friendship and camaraderie. It adds a lot to my smoking of great tobaccos and great pipes."

Connecting with and becoming part of the pipe community has enhanced Rich's life for decades. While his collection of large pipes is astonishing, his large group of friends is more so. If we might learn anything from him, it's that we should enjoy our own pursuits and cherish the people we find along the way. Connecting with other pipe smokers can lead to great things: a lifetime of interesting conversation, an elevated enjoyment of the hobby, and perhaps even achievements, friendships, and smoking contentment of a level shared by Rich Esserman.

Comments

    • Jack koonce on February 25, 2022
    • I really enjoy your articles such as this one The informative information is fantastic Thank you

    • W. Gallagher on February 26, 2022
    • Very interesting; I've always been curious about big pipes. Chuck, please look up Joss Ackland, one of my favorite actors, who was named Pipe Smoker of the Year in the UK.

    • John Wilson on February 27, 2022
    • I still have and read my copies, he was also a member of ADK 46ers, those are people who have reached the summit of NYS Adirondack 46 mountains. I miss his writings.

    • Stan R on February 27, 2022
    • Chuck drives in another RBI!

    • Ken Lamb on February 27, 2022
    • Rich is good man and wealth of knowledge. Nice read Chuck, two titans of our hobby.

    • Edwin on February 27, 2022
    • How exactly does the quality of the briar affect the quality of the smoke?

    • Matt in SF on February 27, 2022
    • I love smoking a larger pipe. Not for carrying around in your teeth, of course, but for those extended sit-down sessions. I'll have to try this specialized tamping technique Rich describes. But I agree that once a large pipe is warmed up and the tobacco is going, I find less relights needed compared to a smaller pipe. And they don't have to break the bank: I love smoking my Rattray's Coloss. It's a 9mm but you can always fit an adapter if that's not your thing.Another great article, thank you, Chuck!

    • Linwood on February 27, 2022
    • Rich found TPSE about at the same time I did - and like him, it elevated my interest in pipes, but also the humanity that was evident within it's pages. I too became fascinated, infatuated with pipes early - from my Dad smoking pipes like so many others, but that Kaywoodie full colour catalog! The one with the pipe cabinet! And the shaping of pipes was as buildings are to an architect! Maybe I should have pursued architecture - at least pipe architecture and design....Thanks for another great writing on the humans, and their pipes - the world is a better place for them, and your writings!

    • Hugh Grefe on February 27, 2022
    • I thoroughly enjoyed this article about my long-ago friend and colleague Rich Esserman. We worked together for a national organization many years ago. Could someone please share my contact information with Rich. I’d love to reconnect with him. Thanks, Hugh Grefe

    • John Wilson on February 27, 2022
    • LMAO IJUST FOUND MY OBLOONG “TPSE” PIN !

    • Andrew S on February 27, 2022
    • Wow, what a trip down memory lane. My dad, also a Syracuse alum, was my inspiration for pipe smoking. He cherished a few Dunhills, among his GBDs, Kaywoodies and Charatans. He bought me my first Dunhill, and I later inherited his collection.While I was stationed in NYC from 1977-78, I wandered into the Dunhill store, and drooled over the 366-day set on the floor, quite possibly the same one Rich saw there. The cabinet was as magnificent as the pipes. As a young enlisted man, I couldn't afford to buy any Dunhills at that point. And at this point in my life, I can't bring myself to drop that kind of cash on a pipe. But I do continue to drool.

    • John Wilson on February 27, 2022
    • This article made me realize how much I enjoyed my pipes, 4 years ago Doc said give ‘em up, so look for about 20 Dunhills and assorted Peterson in the used section, got go post office get deepish box to send in for evaluation.

    • Joseph Kirkland on February 27, 2022
    • Another excellent article, Chuck.I have always been fond of large pipes and count an old, original carved Old Antiquari, SC 15, among my favorites. Also, an SC 74 Chimney.I prefer Balkan Sobranie and Rattray’s Black Mallory.I started the process in 1959. Still going. Still learning. Mentors included Jim Kelly of The Pipe Shop in Ft Worth. Unfortunately long gone.

    • Rick Newcombe on February 27, 2022
    • This was a fascinating profile of the consummate pipe collector. Rich Esserman figured out what he likes from trial and error, and his choice of magnum-sized pipes and combined-blended tobaccos allows him to enjoy and savor every pipe he smokes. His interest in all aspects of the hobby makes the world of pipes forever fun for him and for those of us who know him. My favorite image from the article was picturing a 4-year-old boy walking with his mom, then suddenly disappearing and following a man who was smoking a pipe. Love it!

    • Herschel C. King on February 27, 2022
    • Chuck, another great article! Apparently, you never come back and read what your readers write. I always enjoy your articles, but I have asked several times if you would do an article about Henry "Smokey" Yunick. There are tons of information about Smokey on the internet. Smokey was such a rare character. Besides, he was known worldwide for his love of racing cars and pipes as well as his trademark Stetson hat. Smokey loved his pipe as much as he did his racing cars. He was a mechanical genius not to mention his service to his country during WW11piloiting B-17'S. For those of you who might want to know more about Smokey, look him up on the net. He was a very interesting person, back when most people were proud to be Americans. Remember those days? Hutch K.

    • Robert on February 28, 2022
    • Fantastic as usual Chuck. I am pretty sure I saw Rich at one of the Richmond pipe shows back in the early 2000s when I attended regularly. He was a huge man and had one of the biggest pipes I had ever seen. It must’ve been him. I had not seen such large pipes until that period of time. Awesome

    • Ed O on March 1, 2022
    • Thank you Mr. Stanion. I’ve been Smoking Pipes for more than twenty years. Rich Esserman reminds me of the gentleman that introduced me to pipe smoking. He told me that it doesn’t matter if an individual smoke a $5 Corn cob or a $3K Dunhill you have to give equal respect for both. I listened to Rich Esserman interview with Brian Levine episodes about Rich 10 times and I mean every episodes and for a collector of maybe some iconic pipes ever made. His humility and love for this hobby is something that all of us benefited in our journey for this wonderful hobby. Thank you Chuck and Rich🙏E.M

    • Cliff Bower on March 1, 2022
    • Always fascinating to read about Rich and listen to him on the Pipes Magazine Radio Show.Thanks to guys like Chuck, Rich, Fred H & Brian, the pipe smoking community is a very rich place of information, knowledge and support.

    • David C on March 2, 2022
    • Fun read. About to smoke a Manning's Syracuse Straight Grain. I'd be very interested in more information about Manning's, from what I've seen they made some very good pipes at that shop back in the day!

    • Ron Miller on March 2, 2022
    • I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to buy a bound collection of the Ephemeris… maybe from Tom himself.

    • Jon Randolph on March 6, 2022
    • "Most of his issues in the first decades were hand-cranked on a mimeograph machine . . ."At Tom's invitation I joined the TUCOPS in 1967. He sent me the current issue of TPSE plus the previous issues back to Autumn 1966 and I continued to receive them through the final issue. I assure you NONE of the issues were mimeographed.

    • Eric Stendal on April 4, 2022
    • Great article - thank you. Makes me pine for the old Pipes and Tobaccos Magazine.....I'm fortunate to have a couple issues of the Pipes Smokers Ephemeris and it truly was a unique niche publication.

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