The Communal Nature of Pipe Smoking

Yesterday we held our monthly pipe club meeting here at After work, we all gathered around an open area near the back of the office, cracked a few vintage tins from Shane's personal cellar, poured a glass of Dark & Stormy's, and packed our pipes. The topic of the meeting was Father the Flame, the first feature-length pipe smoking documentary ever made.

Having been given a special, 30-minute clip of the film to view in a private screening, we all huddled together around the projector and watched as our hobby came to life on the screen. While the highlights like Sykes' explanation of Danish pipe making, interviews with Jeff Gracik and Antoine Grenard, and clips of briar-hunting with Mimmo were all quite promising, there was one line that stayed with me for the rest of the night.

It was the idea that sharing is inherent in pipe smoking perhaps more than any other hobby.

Think about your local pipe club. How many times have members brought in an old tin of tobacco, passed around the sugar-crystal speckled flakes for everyone to sample, reserving nothing more than a single bowl for themselves? How many times have the veteran pipers among your group taken the time to teach those just starting their journey? Probably more times than you can count. This is the beauty of our hobby. Our knowledge, our cellar, even occasionally our pipes themselves... everything is communal — treasures valued as much for what they let us share as what they bring us personally.

When we purchase a new pipe or acquire an old tin of tobacco, we want to show it to others. We don't hoard it for ourselves. We share it. This sense of community, this communal atmosphere is the very backbone of our hobby when you think about it. You can even see it in pipe making. Think about Sixten Ivarsson, for example. No doubt, Sixten was a genius, but a genius who keeps his knowledge to himself isn't all that important in the grand scheme of things. Luckily the late Ivarsson did pass his knowledge down, not only to his son and granddaughter, but to a whole host of artisans — who then, in turn, passed their knowledge down to other pipe makers all around the globe. Without this shared knowledge, the entire artisanal pipe making movement as we know it likely would have never even happened.

I encourage you to take a moment and reflect on this idea. Can you find examples of this community and communal atmosphere in your own pipe smoking life? Has anyone influenced you? Have you passed on your own knowledge to others? With International Pipe Smoking Day just around the corner, it's important to take some time and really appreciate what we're a part of. 'Cause it really is a beautiful thing.

Category:   Pipe Line
Tagged in:   Pipe Culture Pipe Shows


    • KevinM on February 11, 2017
    • Many thanks are due to our mentors as well as fellow pipers who are generous in sharing their experience. But there is also something absolutely swell in taking a briar with a favored blend out to the back porch in the evening to enjoy the peace and solitude of the stars coming out. Granted, pipers from far and wide may be enjoying the same moment. But would the moment on your porch be better if it were shared? Hmmm. No (further) comment­čśÄ

    • Bryan Webber on February 12, 2017
    • Pipe smoking for me has always been a rather solitude event. My pipes usually accompany me whilst I'm enjoying a good book, or researching psychological articles on the computer. Occasional my wife and I will simply enjoy coffee and a couch conversation as I smoke a favorite blend in a favorite pipe of mine. I have, unfortunately, grown up without any pipe smoking comradery other than that of the online pipe smoking community.

    • Adam O'Neill on February 13, 2017
    • @KevinM We think there's definitely room for both. Even with people with access to a regular pipe club, meetings are going to be once or twice a month at best, so a fair amount of solo smoking time is kind of built in :D

    • Adam O'Neill on February 13, 2017
    • @Bryan Webber Well we're glad to have you in our community Bryan. Thanks for another insightful comment.

    • David McGraw on February 13, 2017
    • Nice article. I really enjoyed it.

    • William Blake on March 18, 2017
    • Why does the person in the first photo look like they are constipated? Must have packed that bowl a little tight I guess?

    • DAVE SOMMER on April 20, 2019
    • WOW!!!!!The only co-pipe smoker I had in my "rookie" years
      was my favorite Uncle. He and my Aunt would invite me to
      dinner and of course after my Uncle and I would return to the
      living room to watch TV and enjoy a bowl or two of our choice.
      Thank goodness for him teaching me the rotate your pipe lesson
      or by now I wouldn't have the pipes I do today. I miss those days
      and nights at their house. Thank you SMOKING PIPES for having
      reintroducing me to the wonderful world of the Pipe smoking brother-
      hood. THANK YOU AGAIN!!!!

    • Cassie D on April 23, 2019
    • Dave Sommer, We're so glad to be a part of keeping those memories alive for you! Thank you for choosing to be a part of our pipe community!

    • DAVE SOMMER on May 27, 2019

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