On the Closing of Pipes and tobaccos Magazine

William "Cliff" Nelson, editor of Pipes and tobaccos magazine, phoned me a couple of days ago. "The new owners are discontinuing the magazine," he said. "I have two weeks to finish this issue and that's the end."

I first saw P&T in my local tobacconist in Tampa, Fla., where I was attending graduate school. I started grad school late, in my mid-30s, in yet another attempt to find what I wanted to be when (if) I ever grew up. By 1996, I had only my dissertation to write while I taught a few writing classes. I'd learned a lot, including the fact that I didn't care for the politics of academia and that I preferred doing stuff to teaching stuff. I learned I didn't want to be a college professor. That's when I met Dayton Matlick, the owner/founder of P&T, who had completed the first two issues at the time.

We talked at the trade show in Cincinnati that year, where I was helping my pal, John Sabia, choose pipe inventory for his shop back in Tampa. We met Dayton and John talked him into letting me write a freelance piece. I was no salesman, but John could sell anything, even me.

I wrote a piece on Randy Wiley and Dayton called after I submitted it to see if I was interested in a job as an assistant editor, something I had no experience for. But I'd be working in my favorite hobby and able to smoke at work, so I accepted.

P&T started with a conversation between Dayton and Peter Stokkebye. Dayton owned SpecComm International, a small magazine publisher with titles such as Tobacco Reporter, Tobacconist, Tobacco Farm Quarterly, and a few others. Peter wanted Dayton to start a pipe magazine, something of equal quality to Cigar Aficionado, but for pipes.

Investigating the viability of such a project, Dayton found that every previous commercial pipe publication had folded inside of five years. Could he do better? Would he have the support of the industry? He made call after call, talking to everyone he could think of. What he found during that period of the very early internet was that he could expect no industry support if he advertised estate pipes or any company that operated solely online. At a meeting of the TAA (Tobacconist Association of America) he announced the launch of the magazine, much to the surprise of his staff, and he assured everyone there that he would commit to supporting retail tobacconists by not accepting ads for online vendors or estate pipes. Obviously, that policy changed a few years later when online commerce became essential.

Our goal was to help pipe smokers orient themselves in a world of pipe heritage, history, and enthusiastic practitioners and participants.

P&T would have failed in its first couple of years if not for the cigar boom. At SpecComm, P&T was in the same division as Tobacconist, which was a trade magazine for retailers, a population that manufacturers and distributors were especially keen to connect with, and it was doing extraordinarily well at the time. Clients weren't particularly interested in P&T, but we offered sweetheart combo deals for ads in both publications that made it irrational to refuse. That's why there were cigar ads in the first couple of years of publication. Readers complained, saying that a pipe magazine should concentrate on pipes only, but at the time it was the only way to keep the magazine afloat. P&T had a couple of years with a little profit, but for the majority of its years it broke even or lost money. Dayton kept it going because of his love for the hobby and, I think, his affection for me. It was not rational business sense, but pipes are the subject and they transcend rationality sometimes.

Dayton and I became friends during my 21 years with the magazine, and we're still friends. From the beginning, Dayton and I agreed on a couple of foundational philosophies for P&T. First, the tone of the magazine should never be one of experts telling others how to do things. We are all explorers in the activity of pipe smoking, and we learn from each other. Our job was to present multiple perspectives, providing enough information so readers could reach intelligent personal decisions.

Second: Always do what's best for the hobby. Take care of the hobby, and the hobby will take care of you. We could thrive only by helping the hobby thrive. And I think we did. We promoted many new pipemakers who have become respected artisans. We helped promote new businesses and new craftspeople. We spread the word about different tobaccos and different pipe techniques for enjoying them, and the history of every aspect of pipe smoking. We printed tobacco reviews for decades (and we purchased Tobaccoreviews.com — mainly to be sure it was preserved, but it ended up being an important part of the division). Our goal was to help pipe smokers orient themselves in a world of pipe heritage, history, and enthusiastic practitioners and participants.

We are all explorers in the activity of pipe smoking, and we learn from each other. Our job was to present multiple perspectives, providing enough information so readers could reach intelligent personal decisions.

Dayton and I have similar personalities, and though we are fond of each other, we sometimes clashed. Part of our similarity is in our stubbornness. In the early years it was usually about covers. I commissioned an artist to do cover art for an article on J.R.R. Tolkien, and I thought it turned out well. When Dayton saw it, he lost his temper and started yelling at me in the middle of the production department. The magazine had already shipped by that time and he was livid, insisting it was too busy an image. We argued. I may have brought up the Dave Berg cover, which was a hideous green that Dayton chose himself and I thought was a travesty and an insult to modern sensibilities.

I was gradually changing the look of the magazine. Dayton's original design was from an old, out-of-print science magazine that utilized lots of white space in its layouts. It was attractive, but I was always challenged with finding enough space to fit all the editorial. I kept finding ways to modify layouts to accommodate more material. The white space began to fill up, which made Dayton uncomfortable, but we were fitting a lot more information into each issue, so I was happier. And we realized that when we argued, it was always about what was best for the magazine. Eventually, he trusted me again, but I had to get his approval on covers for a year after the Tolkien episode.

It was a great job and I loved it. I did not want to leave it. But when Dayton's health made it evident to him that he had to sell, it was clear to me that any new owner would be crazy to maintain such an expensive, unprofitable print magazine. Its remaining days were short, and I was too cowardly to be the one sitting in that office when the news struck. I had to distance myself emotionally before that happened. I'll always be grateful to Cliff Nelson for taking the reins for the last 16 months of the magazine's life, months that would have ended with me in prison, no doubt. I could not have endured watching that process.

Do what's right for the hobby and the hobby will take care of you.

So I came here to Smokingpipes. It's turned out to be a great switch for me; I'm treated well and I can write virtually anything I want. Few companies are willing to invest in a full-time pipe writer; it's a pretty narrow niche, and Smokingpipes not only welcomed me, but carved out a new position to fit my skill set and personality. And Smokingpipes has a similar philosophy to P&T: Do what's right for the hobby and the hobby will take care of you. So I feel at home. It isn't a print magazine, it's an entirely different species. But it is the best online source for pipes and related information in existence, and we reach dozens of times the number of people as P&T.

Pipes and tobaccos is the longest-running, highest-quality commercial pipe magazine in history, but it can't weather the current social and political climate, and after the next issue, it's unlikely we'll see it again. I don't know what the future of print publishing looks like. No one does. The new information age has turned everything upside down. But our hobby needs and deserves a place to find trusted facts, something levels above online personal speculation and well-intended misinformation. I hope to be a part of the solution, and I expect it to continue happening right here at Smokingpipes. I hope we'll see P&T resurrected, or another pipe magazine spring up in its place, but whether or not that happens, we'll keep writing about pipes here. It's a weird job, but when you're as deeply committed to pipes as we are, it makes perfect sense.

Category:   Pipe Line
Tagged in:   Editorial Pipe Culture

Comments

    • Ed Duncan on February 11, 2019
    • charter member. sad to see/hear but understand. Will hang onto all issues for awhile. Thanx for the long time classy magazine
      Ed

    • Ed Duncan on February 11, 2019
    • 2nd attempt. Sad but understand. Was charter member. Will keep previous issues for awhile

    • John Tufano on February 11, 2019
    • I have every issue too, but you could see the magazines’s decline over the past few issues. It was great reading and I learned about pipe history, new brands/pipe makers and some great tobaccos to try. My thanks to all at P & t for a great magazine. Now it’s only the NASPC’s The Pipe Collector. If you don’t belong to the NASPC do so! We can’t let that journal die too.

    • Jack Gillespie on February 11, 2019
    • Dang. I really like that magazine and remember it fondly. Had a subscription for years. It was the only magazine that I literally read cover to cover. I have some back issues stashed away; I'll have to get them out and re-read them.

    • Kevin on February 11, 2019
    • A sad but not surprising development. I have seen several beloved publications (outside the pipes world) cease to exist in the last 10 years. What-if any-impact does this hold for tobaccoreviews.com?

    • Roy Cressinger on February 11, 2019
    • So sad to see it go, I stop at low country to buy my copy

    • Rob on February 11, 2019
    • I will miss P&T Mag. I've got all the issues but Winter 1999 (if you've got a spare, email me at romaso at outlook).
      Hey Chuck, how about a collection of all your editor's shorts that opened the magazine? That would be great for evening reading!

    • Smokey on February 11, 2019
    • I hope you have rights of republication, you’re a good writer. Sad to see the periodical go but I think it must be the “last man out” so I guess it was the best. In my opinion, you’re now with the best pipe and tobacco company in the USA. I hope we hear more from you...maybe an in depth on blending for the adventurous spirits amongst us.

    • Smokey on February 11, 2019
    • Worthwhile piece of sad news.

    • Mark on February 11, 2019
    • Sad news indeed. I will keep the scattered issues of P&T Magazine I have. Thank you, Chuck.

      McClelland bites the dust. That was really a blow! Then Dunhill. Ditto. Now P&T Magazine. Very worrying. What is going on? Where will it end?

      On a more local level for me, just about every decent tobacconist in San Francisco has been driven out of business through a combination of high rents, increasing and ever more taxes, and continuous government harassment, the latest of which is the outlawing of many types of pipe tobacco and cigars. (Meanwhile there are now billboards and posters here advertising cannabis!) Thank goodness for Smokingpipes!

    • Todd on February 11, 2019
    • What Mark said.

      What will happen to TobaccoReviews.com? Is that going away too?

    • Thier M.David on February 12, 2019
    • I loved this magazine and have saved every issue along with my copies of "Hali", the textile/rug magazine and sundry other periodicals. I tell my wife that it is my "Pipe Journal" and spend as much time on it as my medical journals. We are a dying breed ( I hope not ) - I still will not forgive my sister for "cleaning up my room" 70 years ago and discarding my collection of "Model Railroaders magazine". We are a loyal bunch. I wish that one of the pipe smoking San Francisco billionaires would take it on as a vanity project and keep on publishing it.

    • LC Kid on February 12, 2019
    • I was lucky enough to collect every issue for the first decade, guess up untill the online prevalescence of the media became increasingly important.

      While I also think it’s pretty sad everybody saw it coming, long time ago.

      It’s pretty obvious how print publishing business has it’s days numbered.

    • Linwood Hines on February 12, 2019
    • I so dearly loved Pipes and Tobaccos Magazine - each issue was a joy in my mailbox! Thank you Dayton, and Chuck, and the dear people that worked so hard to bring us such joy! Dayton and Chuck are Honourable Members of the Conclave Of Richmond Pipe Smokers - and rightfully so for what they have done for our world. Godspeed on your new life - both of you!

    • Charles M Patellis on February 12, 2019
    • What can I say that hasn't already been said. I was shocked to read this news. I've had three favorite magazines now stop publication. But I refuse to give in regarding reading everything using an E-reader. I enjoy reading and buy books and magazines so that I can enjoy them everywhere. I enjoy holding a book or magazine and I never have to worry about it crashing and losing it's content. I've enjoyed P&T for many, many years and being able to go back and re-read some of the articles brings me pleasure. I hope that something takes it's place or that someone picks it up and starts to publish again.

    • Craig McHenry on February 12, 2019
    • So sad to see Pipes and Tobacco Magazine folding. I looked forward to every issue. I also subscribe to the NASPC’s The Pipe Collector. If you don’t already belong, you owe it to yourself and the organization to join.

      I, too, wonder what will happen to tobaccoreviews.com. If it’s in danger of folding, I think it would be a wonderful purchase and addition to the SmokingPipes.com family.

    • Robert Schrap on February 12, 2019
    • Very disappointing, but not unexpected. It will be missed by many.

    • warren paige simms on February 12, 2019
    • Yeap. Like loosing a great friend.....it was a great run. A long Happy one. Seeya Chuck......... in Chicago

    • Jim Carrino on February 12, 2019
    • Sadly another blow to our hobby. I have collected all issues from the beginning and I treasure what has become a virtual library of pipe and tobacco reference information for our pipe club and others. I have been enjoying the pleasures of pipe smoking for over 55 years and in my opinion P&T magazine has been the best, bar none, of any like magazine that I know of. The magazine has made the last 20 years the best of times in this hobby, for me. Thanks for the memories Dayton, Chuck, Cliff and all at P&T that have been a part of this epic venture.

    • Chuck Stanion on February 12, 2019
    • No one I've spoken with knows what the plan is for TobaccoReviews.com, but I'd take just about any kind of bet that it isn't going anywhere. It's profitable and can be maintained in 10-15 hours a week. Sykes and Jon Tillman originally developed TobaccoReviews, and Sykes feels a paternal instinct toward it. He knows how important the site is to the hobby and if it's ever in danger, I have zero doubt that he will do what's necessary to preserve it.

      Regarding P&T content: It's all copyrighted; I have no rights to reproduce any of it, not even the pieces I wrote. I was paid to write that material and it rightfully belongs to the new owners. I did try to gain permission, but was denied. However, I was told nothing could be done about my remembering stories from my youth, so I may be able to rewrite some Editor's Desk pieces from the ground up, but only if I can render an improved version. Still, one never knows what the future brings. Maybe all that content will be saved. We all just need to stay tuned for future developments.

    • Sykes Wilford on February 12, 2019
    • As an amendment to Chuck's comment, I was involved in the early days of TobaccoReviews and it was owned by us until 2006 or 2007, but it really was Jon Tillman's baby. The relationship is more avuncular than paternal.

      Either way, we think it's really important that it continue. Right now, there's no reason to think it won't; we just don't have any news to offer.

    • Scott S on February 12, 2019
    • A subscriber since 1998, I acquired all back issues and still go back and read through them on occasion - a nice trip down memory lane. For Chuck, I always enjoyed reading your opening to each issue, and in my trips back in time, I always begin there. Thank you for your contribution and support of our hobby, both at P&T and now at SMP, and thanks for these words on a great, informative magazine. "The moving finger writes; and, having writ moves on..."

    • Bob Taylor on February 13, 2019
    • It was several years in production before I discovered P&T. It wasn't long until I started collecting every issue. I have all today and read them cover to cover. What great information and fun! Sad times as the World, as I knew it, changes and the politicians assert they know what's best for us.

    • Stephen Milano on February 14, 2019
    • Most of us here would either be liars, or full out dillusional, if we claimed to not seeing this coming. We need a strong lobby, and we need it now, if it’s not too late already. #GovernmentIsNotYourFriend

    • Byron Kimball on February 14, 2019
    • I feel like I've just lost one of my oldest best friends! The stories, writers, pictures, information, shared knowledge, even the ads will be sorely missed. Goodbye, farewell, and thanks for the ride!!

    • Brad Krones on February 14, 2019
    • Sorry to hear it. It was a great publication. Hopefully something else will come along.

    • OziFlyer on February 14, 2019
    • Chuck, you got that right - TobaccoReviews.com is important to the hobby. Very much so! I and many others I've spoken to rely heavily on it. It's a goldmine, and we certainly hope it continues. When buying tobacco I always have both SP and TR open on my desktop as a matter of course, and I'm sure I'm not alone. Thank you, Sykes, and all at SP for all you do.

    • Craig L on February 15, 2019
    • So sorry to hear about P&T. I have every issue. In fact, my own pipe smoking parallels the magazine, as I purchased the newly released issue #1 when I went in to find my first pipe after taking a personal interest in pipes. I've enjoyed Chuck's articles ever since! Thank you for some good years.

    • greg alexander koliaga on February 18, 2019
    • sad. i like holding and reading a book or mag rather then a screen, but i also like having tons of information at my fingertips on screen at a moments touch. like to smoke my pipe and listen to any kind of music on you tube without the bother of cd's. thanks to people like chuck and all the people at smoking pipes. com, but also youtube video's like bremen pipe smoker and others, i see a bright future. its not the beginning or the end, we are just evolvlng and need to take advantage of the new tech.

    • Michael Smith on February 25, 2019
    • Chuck, so good to see you still involved with pipe smoking and writing in support of it!

    • Dan Peirce on March 4, 2019
    • My requiem:
      A little late to the news... This truly was a shock when I found out; P&T has been a true source of pleasure (and knowledge) to me for over a decade. It can't be said enough that this was a GREAT publication AND a large part of that was Chuck's editorial as well. To me, Chuck's writing was very much like Patrick McManus' writing in Outdoor Life: I loved that in my youth and I loved Chuck's editorial as I got older. Thank you. I feel relieved as well to hear what Sykes and Chuck have to say about tobaccoreviews.

    • bill h on March 7, 2019
    • I am as brokenhearted about this magazine's demise as I was at my mother's passing!!!!!!!!

    • Ricardo E. on March 9, 2019
    • I started pipe smoking in 1996. As soon as I knew about P&T I ordered an international annual subscription that was held for ten years. I married, had three sons, and continued my pipe smoking through much less relaxed times than those at the beginning, when I was a thirty years old bachelor. P&T accompanied me through the first years, like Dunhill Nightcap and Elizabethan mixture. And now they are all gone. Today I feel a bit older and a bit sadder. But I would like to take the opportunity to thank Chuck and Dayton for those great hours I had reading P&T. I´ll crack open a 10 years old tin of Nightcap tonight in honor of P&T, Chuck and Dayton. Thank you.

    • john jones on March 13, 2019
    • Sorry to hear of the shut down; a great magazine - closing for a myriad of reasons. This has been the best info source for 'all things pipe and tobacco' - enrichment /enjoyment of our hobby. Thanks to all of you for your dedication over the years.
      P.S. Does anyone know of a similar blend that comes close to McClelland's Pipemaker' choice? JJ

    • Cassie D on March 13, 2019
    • John Jones, There are a few different blends you could be referring to. I've just reached out to you via email so we can get you the recommendation you are looking for!

    • Brian Barsamian on March 15, 2019
    • I was on a business trip in Princeton New Jersey and saw the first issue of Pipes and Tobacco magazine in a bookstore. I bought my first copy and was happy to find a treasure of a magazine that had great articles, superb photos and provided celebration to the gentlemanly art of pipe smoking (womanly too)!

      I have every edition and was fortunate to have had a short “letter to the editor published.”

      I will miss P&T and all of the nice people that I have got to know in your circulation department. I am sad to hear the news of the magazine being retired.

      I too am retired and would be happy to assist is resurrecting e-P&T should that become a possibility.

      To all the fine people at P&T, enjoy your next adventures.

    • B. Davis on March 15, 2019
    • Dammit to hell. I’ll miss those slick pages between my fingers, and all those beautiful briars I can’t afford.

      Hey, Chuck, do you remember some yokel calling you on the phone many years ago, telling you about a new business that was opening up in Little River, SC, called “Lowcountry Pipes”? Little did we know at the time that Lowcountry would soon become an industry leader in the pipe-and-tobacco world...

      Glad to see you onboard!

    • ben rapaport on March 16, 2019
    • Having witnessed the demise of Pipe Lovers, Wonderful World of Pipes, Pipe Smoker, and The Compleat Smoker (and a few others I'll not list), it came as no surprise to me that another U.S. magazine for pipe smokers and collectors has bitten the dust, although it was the longest-running magazine of its type. And it's unlikely that, as Chuck indicates, another magazine will debut anytime soon ... or ever. If anyone does assume the mantle of a future review, that person ought to find to why many similar European magazines survive and thrive while ours do not; they must be doing something right or we are doing something wrong. It's a puzzlement! I certainly enjoyed writing for P&T for so many years, but everything has a beginning and an end.

      Chuck: As the principal editor, you've been good for and to us for many years. You've left an indelible mark on this niche industry, and for this we thank you!

    • Frank Bishop on March 18, 2019
    • It was about ten days ago, maybe two weeks by now, that the Spring 2019 edition of "P&T" arrived. I had been alerted by an advertiser about a month ago that the magazine might be closing down. But, when I held that glossy, full color gem in my hand, all was right with the world. I looked forward to a few hours of indulging in pipe lore.


      I turned to the issue's editorial - and I got what felt like a sucker punch to the gut! It was then I grasped that this issue was P&T's swan song. I did not really feel anything. I just felt empty, as if I had just been informed of the death of a close friend. Well, it was in actuality a death, and P&T was a close friend.

      I did not subscribe to the magazine until a couple years ago. Before that, I bought individual magazines from bookstores. P&T, some material on ancient coin collecting and some fountain pen magazines were part of my reason to go to the bookstores. I could spend a Saturday afternoon with coffee surrounded by other nerds and comfortable in my companionship with my favorite (albeit obscure) hobbies.

      I am a disabled veteran nearing 70-years of age. I have moved back to my small hometown in rural Pennsylvania. There are no real bookstores here in Redneck Central and my ability to physically flit about town have diminished, so magazine subscriptions are imperative. Still, I could find solace in my companionship with my hobbies and their respective periodicals.

      Alas! One of those dear friends is gone. I did follow the advice of that P&T advertiser who warned me of the impending closure of the magazine and joined the North American Society of Pipe Collectors. Their February copy of "The Pipe Collector" is lying nearby as I type this eulogy. It is good to know I have some alternative to my deceased friend. Still, P&T was a very attractive magazine, wasn't it? Again, I feel empty inside. I shall stop here. If you have read this far, thank you for listening.

    • Terry Harley on March 22, 2019
    • I found an unsmoked small pipe at aa antique store for 5$ with craftsman stubbies on it.do you have any info on it by chance?i cant find it on pipedia.thanks terry.

    • Cassie D on March 25, 2019
    • Terry Harley, send a few photos over to us at info@smokingpipes.com and we will see if we can gather any information for you!

    • Shelby Stark on April 2, 2019
    • Wondering if we can buy any back issues?

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