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Pipes & Tobaccos eBay Horror Stories

Back in 1999 or maybe 2000, I can’t remember which, I was innocently working in my office at the Texas Sports Hall of Fame when my curator of the museum, Jay Black, came in to visit about an historic Texas sports memorabilia item on eBay that he wanted to purchase for the museum archives. “eBay, What’s that?” I innocently inquired. So, using my computer, Jay quickly took me to eBay and showed me the item in question, which was a book written about Texas Sports Hall of Fame member Tom Landry, former long-time head coach of the Dallas Cowboys NFL football team. I watched Jay make the purchase using something called PayPal. I thought that was pretty cool and Jay then explained how the whole eBay thing worked. I was fascinated.

I was then totally hooked when Jay, who knew I was a pipe smoker, took me to the pipe pages of eBay. All of a sudden right in front of my eyes were pipes for sale that I’d only read about. Pre-Transition Barlings, patent era Dunhills, Great Line Castellos, etc. It’s hard to believe, but back then one could find only 200-300 unsmoked and estate pipe listings total. I just checked and as of the day of publication of this blog, there were 29,719 unsmoked and estate pipes listed!

That night when I got home, I signed up for eBay and PayPal and looked over the 200-300 pipes that were listed. I found an early GBD Prehistoric bent bulldog that appealed to both me and my wallet. So, I bid on it and wound up winning. The owner said it was in “pristine” pre-smoked condition. There was only one photo of the pipe in the listing but that was not unusual back in those days. I’m not sure but I think 2-3 photos was the max allowed back then anyway. A week or so later I received the pipe and with trembling hands I opened the package. The pipe had a little cake in the bowl but sure looked nice otherwise. Well, it looked nice until I looked at the left side of the pipe and saw a shank crack that was as long as the Mississippi River. The seller’s photo showed only the right side of the pipe. I quickly emailed him and told him about the problem and that I wanted to return the pipe for a full refund since the shank crack was not mentioned or shown in his listing. He told me that he knows nothing about pipes and that it was sold in as-is condition, so no refunds. I left the guy negative feedback and he in turn left me retaliatory negative feedback – in those early days sellers could leave negative feedback for buyers but eBay later changed the rules after many complaints by buyers of retaliatory negative feedback. So there I was, sitting with a feedback history to start off my eBay career at a glorious (-1).

My first eBay tobacco purchase didn’t go much better and I’ll get to that in a minute. First, a little background on why I first started “collecting” pipe tobacco. When I first began seriously collecting pipes and tobaccos in the late 1970’s, I was just starting my career as a television sports broadcaster and expendable income was scarce. I had about a half dozen pipes that I purchased from those wonderful Iwan Ries catalogs and my local pipe shop in Austin, Texas, where I was living and working at the time. But I always had a fascination with pipe tobacco tins and collected them right and left. Hey, you could get a flat 2 oz tin of Balkan Sobranie for $2.75 back in those days and I could afford those kinds of purchases – well, barely. Anyway,from the late 1970’s right up until I discovered eBay at the turn of the century, I had accumulated literally hundreds of all kinds of tinned tobacco. And not because I thought that any of them were collectible or good money making investments, but because I just loved the tin art. I didn’t have the money back then to gather a collection of nice pipes, so I collected full and sealed pipe tobacco tins.

Fast forwarding now to my start with eBay (again, in 1999 or 2000). One night after work I went to eBay and somehow found the pipe tobacco listings – yes, you could sell or purchase full and sealed pipe tobacco legally on eBay up until recently. Once again, I became fascinated because right in front of my face were tobaccos that I had only heard of – original Bell’s Scotland made Three Nuns, Sullivan Powell Gentleman’s Mixture, Cope’s Escudo, Balkan Sobranie 759, etc. And then I saw a tin at auction of something that I had personally always wanted. Again, just one photo in the listing but it looked beautiful. An old 4 ounce tin of Rattray’s Hal O’ The Wynd made by Charles Rattray in Perth, Scotland. The seller indicated that the tin was full and sealed and had no rust or dents and was still heavy with tobacco. I bid $150 for that tin and was shocked when I won it for only $78.50. I was giddy with excitement and went out to my mailbox every day for a week until the package arrived. I raced back into the house, got out the box opener and carefully opened the package. Excuse me while I stop typing for a moment as I feel tears coming on.

(This pause to recompose myself lasted about 5 minutes.)

Okay, I’m back. I reached into the box where the Hal O’ The Wynd tin was nestled right in the middle of a bunch of packing peanuts and lifted it out. Yes, the tin was heavy but not with tobacco. Some of you may remember the old days when there would be displays of fake products in store front windows and/or store counters. What I pulled out of the box was such a display for pipe shop counters! The top of the tin and paper wrap looked exactly like an old Perth era tin of Hal O’ The Wynd, but when I flipped the heavy tin upside down, the bottom was nothing but bare concrete. I had purchased a paperweight display that had no doubt been on the counter of some pipe shop somewhere!

I didn’t want another negative feedback on my less than glowing record, so I left the seller positive feedback this time. All I said was, “Congratulations, you got me.”

Happy puffing,

Steve

 

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Sex Sells & So Do Pipes & Tobaccos!

I’ve been a little busy these days but I guess most of you who are reading this blog have been a little busy, too. I don’t know any other way to operate if I want to take care of my family and my long-time habit of keeping myself well stocked up with pipes and tobaccos. Those are certainly a necessity for those of us who are fortunate to be lovers of this great hobby, right? Don’t you feel sorry for the rest of the world who never jumped in? I do.

Speaking of jumping in; have you noticed that I’ve begun the process of ramping up my pipe sales on this website? At pipe shows this past year I spoke with many people in the hobby to let them know that I was now on the hunt for great wood but only if I could list the pipes I received for prices that put them in the category of actually being sellable. I’ve actually had to turn down way more pipes than I accepted that way, but in the end it benefited me because I am not spending untold hours putting in the work on pipe listings only to watch them sit because they are over priced. And to that end, I want to thank all of you who have been making pipe purchases from my website. It has been gratifying!

I have now started accumulating pipes to sell from consignors who understand that it is my job to know the market, not theirs, and that every time I prepare a pipe to list for sale, when it comes time to set the price I simply ask myself “what is the price that I want on this pipe that is fair to my consignor, to my customer, and to me? That’s quite a trifecta to try to hit every time (I use that same criteria for every tin of pipe tobacco I sell, too). I freely admit that I don’t always succeed, but try to learn from my mistakes.

I do hope you are enjoying seeing the many different pipes from makers all over the world that I am now selling along with the rare, aged, and / or out of production pipe tobaccos. If you keep buying, I am darned sure going to keep selling at prices that I hope fit every sized pocket book. You folks sure have been good and loyal to me over the years and it is my hope that I remain good and loyal to you, too!

And to conclude this blog; yes, sex sells but I know way more about pipes and tobaccos, so I’m sticking to that subject!

Happy puffing,

Steve

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A Recap of Favorite Email Questions From 2019

The year 2019 is about to come to a close and I hope it was a great year for all of you. 2019 has been a banner year for the growth of Pipestud’s Consignment Shop. We actually began the new adventure together in late 2018 of upgrading the website after my having run the site manually since 2006, and we are now absolutely rolling! And just recently my webmaster, Andrew Wohlmuth, informed me that while going over the statistical data for the year one of the things that really stood out was the fact that since the upgrade in October of 2018, pipestud.com recorded its one millionth site visit in early December! One million visits to the site in just 14-months is phenomenal and I want to thank Andrew for building this wonderful new upgraded site and also thank all of you for such tremendous support!

Another statistic that really stood out to me was the fact that of all the blog posts I made on this site in 2019, the most “hits” occurred when I wrote about my Top-10 All Time Favorite pipe and tobacco questions that were sent to me. So, I thought that perhaps it might be fun to revisit my top-10 emails received this year. I’ve posted them below and if you are on the list, congratulations!

  • Question– I just received the Peterson’s pipe that I won on your eBay site and you sold me a pipe that has obviously already been smoked! It has cake in the bowl and tooth scratching on the stem. Nobody wants to buy an already smoked pipe and I demand an immediate refund!

Pipestud – What part of the item description did you not understand? Was it the part where I listed the pipe as used? Or, maybe it was the part where I said the pipe has been well smoked and retains light tooth marks on the stem? I note that you just joined eBay a month ago and have a feedback rating of (2). Here’s a tip. In the future, reading the seller’s item descriptions should be helpful to you. And for the record, more used pipes are sold on eBay every day than new ones.

  • Question– Dear Seller, I bought this pipe a month or so ago but want to return it for a full refund and I am warning you that you will receive NEGATIVE FEEDBACK if you do not agree to do so. I bought this pipe for a friend in Russia and sent the pipe to him at his address in Kazan, but he never received it. Apparently, it was lost in the mail, which is certainly not my fault and you need to make good on the loss.

Pipestud – You must be writing to me from an asylum for the insane. But thanks for the heads up. I forwarded your email to eBay and fortunately, they assure me that any negative feedback you leave will be removed as I am not responsible for your shipping issues. And just a quick question; How’d you manage to get out of your straight jacket to bid on my auction?

  •    Question– I am going to return this Aldo Velani pipe. I am an expert on this brand and have over 60 of them in my collection. This pipe is an obvious forgery. The writing on the wood, which we in the pipe collecting business call “nomenclature,” has a totally different font style than any of the others. This is just another sad indication of eBay allowing people who have no expertise in what they sell to sell anyway with reckless abandon.

Pipestud – Forgive my ignorance and please return the pipe for your $27.50 refund. I should have known that a pipe that expensive would be a prime target for potential forgeries.

  •    Question– Pipestud, I am sorry but am going to have to return this Stanwell pipe. I know that you listed the size and weight but you need to be more careful when taking photos. Your pictures made this pipe look a lot bigger than it really is.

Pipestud – Oh sure, just send that pipe back for a full refund. And thanks for the heads up on the photos. It sounds to me like I need to buy a smaller camera. Do you think that will fix my issues with the pictures coming out so big?

  • Question– I read in your eBay terms/conditions that people with (0) feedback must email you first before bidding. I was going to email you anyway because I like that Cavicchi Canadian. Rather than payment through PayPal, would you accept a pipe of equal or greater value in trade? I have a rare, unsmoked pipe that my late father owned. I believe it was made by a famous doctor and even has his name stamped on the pipe, Dr. Grabow. I can send you pictures if you want to do the trade.

Pipestud – Sorry for my delayed reply to your email. I had to think long and hard about your trade offer but in the end, have decided to take a pass.

The following is not really a question but rather an occurrence – A few years ago a consignor sent me a very nice Pre-Trans Barlings EXEXEL Billiard pipe to sell. It arrived in a plain brown box and when I opened the box, the pipe was carefully wrapped up in a male Depends diaper! I carefully pulled out the diaper wrapped pipe (I say carefully because I wasn’t sure whether it was a new or “estate” diaper – thank goodness it was new), and found a note. It said the following – “Steve, here is the pipe that I want you to sell for me. I would like for you to return the diaper in this same box and please don’t ask any questions.”

Pipestud – I did as I was asked and sent the diaper back in the same box it came in and sure as heck didn’t ask any questions, mainly because I didn’t want to know the answer!

  • Question– I am 22-years old and just starting to smoke a pipe. I saw where you have reviewed thousands of tobaccos on the website tobaccoreviews.com, so, I figured you would be a good person to ask this question. My mom was not very happy when she found out that I was smoking a pipe and told me that doing so could actually cause Herpes. Have you ever heard that?

Pipestud – No. But it can give you tongue bite if you don’t practice safe puffing.

  • Question– My girlfriend hates my pipe smoking because she says it gives me bad breath. Is this a problem for other pipe smokers? And if so, is there a solution to this problem?

Pipestud – Yes, it has been a problem for some pipe smokers and my advice has always been for them to dump their girlfriend and find another one who has Anosmia. Or, brush your teeth prior to kissing, whichever is easiest for you.

  • Question– This might be a dumb question, but are there any tobacco blends that have beef or chicken in it?

Pipestud – You are right, that is a dumb question. In fact, one of the dumbest questions that I’ve ever heard.

  • Question– Just curious; if you couldn’t smoke pipe tobacco what would you smoke?

Pipestud – If you don’t mind, I don’t think I will answer your question because in some states my answer could get me arrested.

  • Question – A few days ago I purchased one of those limited edition Lord of the Rings tobaccos made by Greg Pease from your website. I got it today and thanks for the fast shipping but I have a question. In the tobacco description on the back of the tin it says that this tobacco was found in an oak barrel that had washed ashore from the sea. I was wondering if you think that maybe sea salt seeped into the barrel and if so, would that maybe make the tobacco not good for consumption?

Pipestud – Yes, sea salt did infiltrate the tobacco, and on the contrary, it made it better and that’s why those tins are so collectible. Whenever I purchase one, after opening the tin I also add a little Tabasco Sauce to spice up the contents a little. Please try that with your next bowlful and let me know how that worked out for you.

If 2019 is any indication of what kinds of email questions I might receive in 2020, then I will have another great year!

Happy puffing,

Steve

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Pipes That Take Me On A Sentimental Journey

If you are like me, and especially those of you who have been smoking for many decades (yes, like me), you probably have some pipes in your collection that have very special meaning. Some of them may not smoke very well, others may smoke brilliantly, and others may never have been smoked but you keep them due to their sentimental value. I have such a collection myself. Pipes that have special meaning and every time I light one of them up I sit back recall memories of how I got the pipe and / or memories of the person that gave the pipe to me. I hope you don’t mind if I take a nostalgic ride back in time and share some photos of my sentimental favorites and the history behind them.

 

 

First up is this handsome Ferndown Two Star Bark that was presented to me by the Board of Trustees of the Texas Sports Hall of Fame during the museum’s annual Induction Banquet in February of 2014, which occurred just a month before my retirement. When told a few months prior to the banquet that the Board and staff wanted to gift me a pipe, I said I’d like to have a Ferndown simply because I had never owned one. So, for my 17-years of service as Director and CEO of the organization, my wish finally came true! I retired on March 1, 2014. And every year on March 1st, my first pipe of the day is that Ferndown and I do not smoke it at any other time of the year. So this coming March, I will be firing it up for only the 6th time.

This Lovat shaped Steve Liskey tan blast is a one of a kind. If you’ll note in the second photo, there is a blue circle as part of Liskey’s nomenclature. It is the color the American Cancer Society uses to denote Colon Cancer. I had a year long battle with that disease in 2012 and once I was pronounced cancer free (thanks to the grace of God), my good friend Chris Garlasco and his lovely wife Sora, pipe smokers themselves, presented me with this handsome pipe to celebrate my having beaten Colon Cancer. And I sure am glad that I’m still around to smoke it! I thanked Steve Liskey for making such a wonderful pipe that I’ll always cherish the next time I saw him.

 

This next pipe is sort of a bragging pipe. Every time I go to a pipe show that has a Slow Smoking Contest, I enter to support the show and to have fun. I always finished at the bottom of the pack. A slow smoker, I am not. But, in 2007 at the Greater Kansas City Pipe Show, all contestants were presented with these eight panel brandy shaped pipes made by Genod. Once the contest began I immediately noticed that I had a piece of tobacco stuck in the shank. As many of you know, pipe cleaner use is not allowed in slow smoking contests. So I had to suck like a Hoover vacuum just to keep smoke coming up through the bowl, shank and stem. I kept up that urgent puffing for one hour and seven minutes and finally was declared the winner when the last competitor’s pipe went out. Thanks to that tobacco that was stuck up in the shank, I had won my first (and unfortunately, last) Slow Smoking Contest.

This early 1990’s Tonino Jacono billiard is the first hand made pipe that I ever owned. I purchased it sight unseen from the McCranie’s pipe shop in North Carolina. I had read an article about McCranie’s in Pipes & Tobaccos Magazine, and in it were photos of other Jacono pipes. I thought they were beautiful. So I called Trent McCranie on the phone and told him I wanted a billiard and I didn’t care what it looked like but did want one that was about a group-4 in size. This is the pipe Trent sent to me and I immediately fell in love with it. And smoking a hand made pipe with perfect engineering and exceptional wood enhanced the entire smoking experience for me to a new level. Every tobacco I smoked just flat tasted more lively. Yes, I have been smoking hand made pipes only ever since and every time I light up this Jacono – which is still frequently after more than a quarter-century, I get a great smoke!

I have a now deceased uncle by the name of Porter Loring. He was one of the USA’s foremost authorities on Castello pipes back in the 1970’s and 1980’s. He attended all the pipe shows and displayed his beautiful Castello pipes at all of them. Most were fascinated because Castello was not importing pipes to the USA in the 1970’s through any dealers, and the Castello pipes that my uncle displayed were often the first Castello’s that American collectors had ever seen. Remember, there was no Internet back then and mailers were all in black and white (as well as few and far between). Uncle Porter never smoked any of his Castello’s but smoked Don Carlos pipes incessantly. He gifted me one of his prior to his death and I think fondly of him every time I light this one up.

This next pipe is, to me, the most handsome pipe that I own. It is an old Larsen “Straight Grain” stamped pipe. Note how the straight grain around the bowl goes up into the sandblast. Remarkable! Many years ago one of my local pipe club members, a brain surgeon by the name of Marcial Lewin, had toured the Larsen Pipe Shop in Denmark, and came back with this pipe which he presented to me for no reason other than friendship. Dr. Lewin is still a very active member of our club and I do think of him fondly every time I light this beauty up. And yes, it smokes as good as it looks!

Speaking of our pipe club, it is called the Bud Price Pipe Club of Central Texas and we’ve been in operation since 1999. Bud Price co-founded the club with me and unfortunately, he passed away back in 2009. Shortly thereafter, we renamed our club after him. Prior to his death, Bud had gifted me this 1940’s era pipe that was made by Mission Briar, which was a brand created during WW II. In 1941, due to the difficulty of importing briar, Kaufman Brothers & Bondy (KBB), through Kaywoodie, started making pipes out of Manzanita wood, known as “mission briar”. This is one of those pipes. So, it is a war era historical piece. I have never smoked it but remember my good friend Bud Price every time I pull it from my rack just to look at.

The photo here does not do justice to the perfect ring grain around the bowl of this Perry White “Robert Rose” pipe that was made by decades long well known pipe maker Bob Swanson. At the year 2016 West Coast Pipe Show, Bob and show administrator Steve McNiel presented me with this pipe as a token of thanks for my various contributions over the years to that show. I was overwhelmed by their generosity and I light up this big beauty often as it reminds me of those two generous friends – and, it just flat smokes great, too!

I’m sure many of you remember Tony Soderman. His eBay handle was “Mr. Can,” and he was about the most knowledgeable pipe collector I ever met. He was a fixture at most pipe shows for more than 20-years and always had multiple vendor tables where he displayed his fabulous collection of long shank pipes from major old brands such as Barling’s, Charatan, Dunhill, Ashton, etc. Tony passed away at too young an age a few years ago after a battle with Pancreatic cancer. Prior to his death he sent me this Prince shaped pipe that he had found on eBay. He said when he saw it the pipe immediately reminded him of me. After seeing the nomenclature, I bet you can guess why. And maybe because of the name it smokes great!

And finally, I just have to show you this pipe. It’s a bald grained pipe with several fills and called a Duca Barla. Back in 1998 when I was dating my wife, she quickly discovered that I was a pipe smoker. Wanting to give me something nice for Christmas that fit the hobby, but having no clue about pipes, she went to the local tobacco shop and pulled this one out of a basket. She also purchased a pouch of a gooey aromatic to go along with the pipe. She then wrapped the gift nicely and presented it to me on Christmas day. It was at that point that I knew I wanted to marry that gal! I loaded the pipe with the very moist aromatic and lit ‘er up. Folks, Hell itself could not have burned hotter! I gutted my way through that smoke and have not used this pipe since. Please don’t tell my wife!

Happy puffing,

Steve

 

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Trends Discovered At Recent West Coast Pipe Show

The recently completed West Coast Pipe Show at the fabulous Palace Station Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas was an absolute blast! The $65-Million Dollar upgrade that the hotel has undergone over the last year and a half has made this hotel (most famous for being where O.J. Simpson was arrested after his Nationally Televised SUV trip in LA), a pure pleasure. It boasts a movie theater, the largest buffet in all of Las Vegas, an enlarged casino, many top notch restaurant choices, etc. It is the only pipe show in the country that still allows smoking in the show room, and even boasted a smoking lounge next to the show room where the old buffet used to be located.

My wife (Beverly), and I always treat this show as sort of a mini-vacation. She helps me take care of the traffic at my vendor’s booth during the weekend – I always make more sales when I’m wandering the show room floor and she’s manning the booth solo. Go figure – and then when the show ends on Sunday, we have a tradition of going to Caesar’s Palace where I sit and watch Sunday football games, smoking my pipe while drinking a margarita or two at the famous Casa Fuente Bar & Cigar Lounge while she snatches my credit card and goes shopping. The longer she’s gone the more nervous I get and the more I drink!

As for the show itself, Steve and Linda McNeil (now in their 11th year as the show organizers), and their terrific staff of volunteers, ensured the success of the show from start to finish. The show opened Saturday morning with over 100 vendor tables and traffic was heavy and a lot of sales were made. I sold 36 pipes at my table and other vendors and pipe makers were also doing well. One of the things I noticed immediately was the large number of American pipe makers who were making sales. Prices on their pipes seemed to be holding steady and those with recognizable names were keeping prices about where they’ve been the last several years. The newer pipe makers without name recognition were pricing their pipes in the same range and went back home with most of the inventory they brought. I think they’ll learn that marketing and name recognition over a period of years will earn them the prices for their pipes that they wanted immediately. But again, the trend here was that the established pipe makers were making sure that they were keeping their prices fair to both themselves and their customers.

As usual, the pricing on pipe tobacco was all over the map. Many of those who brought well aged old classics and rare tobacco to sell kept their prices affordable, but there were some who had unbelievably high prices on their offerings. One gentleman had a $250 price tag on a 100g tin of Frog Morton from 2007. Say what?! Conversely, another individual had a $75 price tag on a 50g tin of old Balkan Sobranie. I did a double take and told the fellow that if he would price it at $200 it would sell before the day was over. His eyes bulged as he asked me if I was joking. Long story short, he changed the price and sold the tin before the day was over.

Another trend that seems to be the norm at many of the pipe shows that I’ve attended this year, if not all of them, was to see so many younger people participating in the hobby. The under 40 crowd just keeps growing. Us old folks were there, as usual, but seeing couples in their 20’s and 30’s as well as singles in that age group, having such a great time at the show sure made me feel great. I hope the trend continues! Those young people were full of energy, asked lots of questions, and I received a lot of feedback from other vendors that the younger participants really made the show special for them, too.

The Saturday evening West Coast Pipe Show Dinner was also a blast. I served as the MC for the event and Shane Ireland of smokingpipes.com spoke with me about several subjects regarding our hobby and his comments were well received by the crowd. There were 14 American pipe makers in the audience and at one point I called all of them up to the stage to introduce themselves and then take questions from the audience. That was very informative and a lot of fun, too. At that dinner, American Pipe Maker David Huber was presented with the “Best Pipe in Show” award, and boy, was it ever a beauty! The included photo here does not do that pipe justice. It looked like a piece of art!

 

 

Although he is now retired, Mike McNiel of McClelland’s fame (seen in this photo with Bev & I at the show), shared his thoughts during a long visit regarding current tobacco trends. Probably the biggest change over the last decade is the way collectors have focused more on quality Virginia tobaccos rather than Latakia laden English blends. Quality Virginia leaf is not as easy to find as it once was, and when you find a blend or two that you enjoy, cellar it because the future of tobacco farming is unclear. Growing Virginia tobacco and processing it is very labor intensive and there just are not as many farmers eager to spend so much time on growing and harvesting a plant with an uncertain future. Let’s just hope that our battle with the tobacco Nazi’s of the world is a winning one!

Finally, Bev and I always take in a show each year on our Vegas trip. Since she is so accommodating and helpful at the pipe show, I treat her to whatever show she decides she wants to see. This year it was Gwen Stefani’s “Just a Girl” show at Planet Hollywood. Definitely not  the country music that I enjoy, but Gwen is not unpleasant to look at and she was full of energy. And since she dates country music star Blake Shelton, I was the forgiving sort and somewhat enjoyed the pop music that she is famous for.

 

Happy puffing,

Steve

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Much Needed Pipes & Tobaccos Inventions For Our Hobby!

Just between you and me, I don’t often just sit around and think. That sounds too much like work. “Anywhoo,” as my Pipestud’s Consignment Shop webmaster Andrew Wohlmuth likes to say, I recently did put my not often worn thinking hat on to see if maybe I could invent something that would be of value to the members of our pipe smoking hobbyists. After much pondering, I did come up with a list of items that I think I could sell for good money, but unfortunately, have no idea of how to actually make and sell these products. If you come up with a plan just let me know and I’ll split the profits with anyone who wants to follow up on any of these brilliant ideas that would certainly keep us in fancy pipes and tobaccos for the rest of our lives.

 

Here are some things that I would like to see on the market at some point in the near future:

The Warp 10 Mouse – I could easily sell this item to all of my First Responders members who would then be able to load their shopping carts and check out faster than anyone else once I publish the new listings each Saturday morning. No more discovering that you’ve been “robbed” when you are ready to pay for the items in your cart. The clicking speed of your mouse would be ten times the speed of light! 

 

The $100 Pipe Lighter that Actually Works – I don’t know about you, but every time a new pipe lighter hits the market I buy one. They all work great for about ten minutes, then the fuel tank starts to leak, the flame goes into hibernation, the striker and the flint don’t get along, the finish wears off, etc, etc, etc. I’ve got a drawer full of those sucker punching things! Would somebody please invent a lighter that is as faithful as the family dog?

 

Pipe Smokers Fire Proof Shirt & Britches – I’ve spent a fortune buying handsome shirts and pants to take to my next pipe show only to find out when I get home that they look worse than an old molded bag of Swiss Cheese. I promise you that I try to be careful, but somehow I manage to burn holes in whatever I am wearing and wind up chunking them into the nearest trash can when I get home, and then waste a bunch of good packing material – wadded up newspapers – to put on top of the clothes so that the wife won’t see my sloppiness and waste of good money. Would somebody please invent fire proof shirts and pants to stop the madness?

Heat Proof Tongue Sheath – And while on the subject of heat, just how hard would it be to find a way to cover the tongue while smoking? I’m out in my shop working all day listing tobaccos for my website that make my mouth water. Naturally, that makes me want to load up a pipe and smoke it. So I do. And when I’m at a pipe show everybody in the place invites me to try one of their special blends. So I do. Home or away, I wind up going to bed every night with my tongue in a sling. HELP!

Babe Magnet Pipe Tobacco – This invention would be especially nice for those of us who enjoy Latakia. Instead of having those good looking ladies running for the exit every time you light up your well aged and delicious old Latakia blends, wouldn’t it be nice, if instead, they were fighting over each other to cozy up next to you for a whiff? Of course it would! Would someone please invent a Latakia blend that smelled like Kalvin Klein’s Obsession? Naturally, I don’t want the blend to taste like Obsession, just smell like it. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if your wife was inviting you to spend a spellbinding night in bed with her instead of her telling you to go sleep out in the the barn or garage?

 

Tooth Mark Proof Titanium Pipe Stem – I don’t know about you, but I can put a tooth mark on Acrylic, Vulcanite, Bone, and even paper mache’ stems. I once had a consignor who sent me a batch of his pipes to sell that had tooth marks all over the place and he didn’t even have any teeth. I think he was from Arkansas. I don’t want anyone from Arkansas to get mad at me but their state is where the toothbrush was invented. How do I know that? Well, if it was invented in any other state it would be called a teethbrush. Anyway, is there somebody out there in cyber-space who can invent a comfortable stem that doesn’t act like those molds that dentists use for impressions of our teeth?

Bowl Cake Remover that works in seconds! – I don’t know about you, but I’ve had to purchase new pipe reamers about once a month for the last 20-years. Not only do my own pipes build up cake quickly, I sell about 40 pipes a week on eBay from consignors. And for many, their idea of a clean bowl is way different than my own. When I get otherwise nice pipes in here to sell and see a cake build-up that would rival the stalagmite at Carlsbad Caverns, I am not happy. Talk about working up a sweat and dulling blades! I’d sure like to treat cake build-up easily by just squirting a bit of Mr. Clean Bowl Cake Remover into the bowl and watch it all fall out. Can anybody out there help me, please?

 

Spit Wad Pipe Tobacco – Wouldn’t it be great if when you opened a tin of tobacco the leaf would be in perfect little wads so that all you had to do was pull one out and put it in your pipe? Those little wads would be pre-packed just right (not too loose and not too tight). And you could purchase the tins with the gauge on the label. Example; let’s say that you smoke group-4 sized pipes, so the next time you order a tin of G.L. Pease Haddo’s Delight, you just order a 4-gauge tin of the weed. If you’re like that famous guy who smokes gargantuan pipes (Rich Esserman), order the Haddo’s in the 10-gauge size. Simple, right?

 

Blenders Stamp all tins and bags with date of production – This one would save me untold hours of work. Over the years I have amassed countless files to help me date tins. I often get in tins to sell that the owners say are at least 10-years old but they can’t remember exactly when they purchased them. I have no problem with Pease, McClelland’s and other blenders who date stamp or date code their tins, but as you know, there are plenty of them who don’t. Instead of having to search through my files to check things like changes in the tin labels, weights, sizes, recipe, etc, it sure would be nice to just look at the tin bottom to get the year of make by the date stamp.

 

Pipe Tamper Necklace – I never lose a pipe (well, there was that one time in Vegas when I had one margarita too many… ), and I never lose a lighter, but I darned sure can lose pipe tampers. Those little buggers can escape with no trace at any time. It doesn’t matter whether I’m toting around an expensive tamper or a ten penny nail, they’ll just flat disappear on me. I’m sure a lot of you suffer the same fate with your tampers. Why can’t someone invent a handsome necklace that will always keep the tamper secure, yet have a little latch of some sort you can clip the tamper on and off of in an instant? I’d sure buy it!

Again, if any of you want to take one of my superb ideas and run with it, feel free to do so. Just remember to split your profits with me!

Happy puffing,

Steve

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Current Trends in the Pipes & Tobaccos Market

I have spent quite a few years as a member of the pipes and tobaccos hobby. In fact, quite a few decades (despite my obvious youthful appearance), and I have seen all kinds of changes in the hobby since I first jumped in back in the early 1970’s. The biggest change, without question, has been the amazing battle we are having with those who actually want to do away with our hobby. I simply fail to capture the vision. Why is the legalization of marijuana sweeping the country while at the same time the “anti-smoking” crowd is trying to snuff out our pipes filled with simply pipe tobacco? And some of those people are the ones regularly taking tokes on hemp weed! And did you know that there has NEVER been a single certifiable study done on nicotine that says that drug is dangerous or hazardous to your health? Yes, it is addictive. But no one in the history of mankind has overdosed and died by smoking a pipe filled with pipe tobacco. No one has crashed their car and killed innocent people by smoking a pipe filled with simply pipe tobacco because it impaired their judgement. Can the same be said for marijuana? No! My oldest son is a police officer and he says that over the years that he has been in law enforcement, there have been many reports of serious accidents caused by individuals who were high on weed, but that he’s never seen or heard of a single report of an auto accident with injuries (or even without injuries), caused by someone who was impaired because he/she was smoking a pipe filled with nothing more than pipe tobacco. Have you?

Another major change that I have noticed occurred just a couple of years ago when McClelland’s shut down. All of a sudden, the collectors were (and still are), hoarding Virginia leaf because they discovered what McClelland’s had known for quite some time, quality Virginia leaf – particularly the sweetly tart and high sugar content Red Virginias – were getting scarce. I could use up a lot of cyber space going into all the reasons why, but suffice to say that Mike and Mary McNiel (owners of McClelland’s), knew what they were talking about when they said that the quality of the Virginia leaf they needed to continue the high standards that their blends required was just too hard to find to stay in business. Plus, they were just worn out fighting the “anti’s” who were making it harder and harder for them to stay in business without being tobacco taxed through the roof. Don’t get me wrong, there is still quality Red and other varietals of Virginia leaf still being grown, but because so many long-time tobacco farmers have spit the bit due to mounting losses, the quantity has diminished.

Now for some good news; there is still some very nice, quality tobacco being harvested in the USA and elsewhere according to the blenders that I have talked to, and enough buying power is still out there to keep them in business. Oriental tobacco of exceptional quality is still being imported from other parts of the world, and the USA, in particular, is still enjoying relative success in growing and harvesting outstanding Burley leaf – although in lesser numbers than the roaring 20’s through the 1970’s. As for Perique, Mark Ryan has helped that special processed tobacco enjoy a renaissance due to sheer dedication and willpower. The Perique he is producing in Louisiana is nothing short of spectacular, especially considering his daily battles with the FDA, the anti smoking Nazi’s, etc. With the likes of Mark, Gregory Pease, Russ Ouellette and several other blenders of quality and character both here and abroad, I think we will be just fine.

Why am I so optimistic that we’re not going away anytime soon? One of the main reasons is that at all the pipe shows I attend, I am seeing great resolve from the younger pipe smokers. Let me tell you something folks, the Gen-X and Millennial’s are a lot tougher than you think. They are getting “in your face” with the vocal and wimpy anti smoking crowd, telling them that they have equal rights and don’t need to be told what to do or what not to do when it comes to their pipe smoking. Just recently at the Kansas City Pipe Show I had the opportunity to visit with pipe makers in their 20’s and 30’s (and simply pipe smokers in that age group, too), and they were fiery and determined to enjoy what they are doing and ready to fight the old guard with all the vibrant energy that they have in order to continue to enjoy the wonderful hobby that they have chosen to be a part of.

One of the young folks that I thoroughly enjoyed visiting with was a big, strapping young man by the name of Alexander Hasty. One of his pipes was selected for the annual North American Pipe Makers 7-Day set that was actually won by his father. Alex is a former major college basketball player, was a starter for four years, and while friendly, I could see that he was a fighter. I’d hate to go toe to toe with him, and as you can see by this photo of an Alexander Hasty pipe that I purchased from him at the show, I would rather smoke one of his pipes than do battle with him any day of the week and twice on Sundays! That young man has talent and I predict that his pipes will soon be among the elite.

Ever heard the expression,”Don’t feed the trolls”? “Trolls” refers to a problem in today’s digital world – online users, who repeatedly post intentionally inflammatory and hurtful comments on news or social media discussion boards. But ignoring such comments – not “feeding” the trolls – makes it harder for them to derail a conversation. Of course, it’s nothing new to encounter people who aren’t genuinely interested in productive conversation. And all of this certainly applies to our own P&T hobby. Instead of focusing on the negatives, I like to focus on all of the positives. And attending the most recent Kansas City Pipe Show on Sep. 21 & 22, further solidified my love for this hobby. Being able to share positive and fun P&T stories with like minded individuals, and being around literally dozens of classy ladies and gentlemen who share our hobby, was once again a blessing to me. Kudos to the Greater Kansas City Pipe Show organizers and club president Quinton Wells for their efforts to put on a fun show for everyone who attended. If you want to experience a pipe show that epitomizes hospitality, put that one on your calendar!

Happy Puffing,

Steve

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Rating Pipe Tobaccos and Being Spotted in Lego Land

At the recently completed NASPC Pipe Show in Columbus, Ohio I spent a lot of time talking pipe tobaccos with many of the attendees and vendors. Since I’ve been putting tobacco in pipes and then smoking the contents for over 45-years, and because I run a website that features pipe tobacco,  and especially because I look old and harmless, people just seem to gravitate towards me when they want to share their pipe tobacco experiences. And I love that. Seeing how excited so many of our fellow hobbyists seem to be when discussing pipe weed gets me excited too! I was especially thrilled to discuss  pipes and tobaccos with so many younger people who attended the NASPC Show. Those young folks are the future of our hobby, and to be able to share in their youthful enthusiasm made even me feel more youthful. My only regret is that it didn’t help me look more youthful, too (insert heavy sigh here).

 

At the NASPC Show I had several very kind comments about my reviews over the years on https://www.tobaccoreviews.com/ and questions regarding what methods I used to rate tobaccos. That was actually a discussion I had several years ago with world renown blenders Greg Pease, Tad Gage, and Dr. Fred Hanna. Pease has created some of the world’s finest ever blends such as Bohemian Scandal. Hanna is the inventor of two very special blends that were top sellers for McClellands – Wilderness and Legends. And Gage gave us his famous and delicious 3 Oaks recipes. We visited at the year 2013 Kansas City Pipe Show and I love this picture of those three famous blenders sitting together at that show as I photo bombed them in the background! Pease is on the left, Hanna is in the middle with Gage on the right. Pease has such a scientific approach to judging blends that it would take someone who understood Einstein’s E = mc2 theory to figure out how he does it. Hanna, because he has a doctorate in Psychiatry and could already get into other people’s minds, found a way to get into their taste buds too, by coming up with a formula for normal people like you and me to chart our own tobacco ratings. It is a fabulous formula that I follow religiously and maybe you will, too. Here it is and it has been very helpful to me: http://www.naspc.org/images/tobaccoratingform.pdf

 

In my last blog post, I lamented the loss of one of our hobby’s great pipe makers, Bruce Weaver. And now I must lament the loss of another wonderful man. This time a gentleman who had been in the hobby for decades and appreciated the artistry and functionality of smoking pipes as much as anyone that I’ve had the pleasure to know. His name is Mitch Michelson and he resided in San Antonio, Texas until his untimely death (heart attack), at the age of 65 just recently on August 28th of this year. This is a photo taken at a Steak House in Chicago this past May, where I had the pleasure of dining with Mitch and several of his closest friends in the hobby while attending the Chicago Pipe Show. From left to right in the photo – Mitch, myself, pipe maker Jeff Gracik (J. Alan Pipes), and well known high grade pipe collectors David Wrubel and Dr. Fred Berger. Mitch, although a very highly successful businessman, was always very humble and gracious. He was always first in line to give generously of his time and enjoyed life to the fullest. While greatly saddened by Mitch’s death, it reminded me of just how wonderful the pipe and tobacco hobby is because it is loaded with good folks like Mitch Michelson. And I have been blessed to be around people like him every time I go to a pipe show. We’ll sure miss you, Mitch!

Finally, I opened my Facebook page the other day to see this photo staring me in the face. It was sent to me by Sally Gottliebson, know in our hobby’s circles as The Pipe Tart. She has a great website where she sells beautiful pipes: https://www.thepipetart.com/ and she is another person this hobby is blessed to have around. Anyway, accompanying this photo was a note from Sally saying, “Hey Pipestud, is this you at Lego Land?

Happy puffing to all,

Steve

 

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Bruce Weaver & My Magic Pipe

I have a magic pipe and I am sure many of you do, too. You know what I am talking about; a pipe in your collection that no matter how much or how little you smoke it, the pipe performs beautifully.

My magic pipe is this amazing early production Bruce Weaver sandblasted Lovat that I purchased from Bruce at the 2008 Kansas City Pipe Show. It broke in easily and quickly. This pipe is so amazing that it has been my first pipe of the day smoker every day of the week since 2008. Folks, that’s 365 days a year for the last 11-years! Well, except for about a two week period when I showed the pipe to Bruce a few years after the purchase when he told me that he makes thinner and more comfortable stems than back when he made mine. He told me to give it to him and he would make an even better stem for it – at no cost. I cried a little when I handed the pipe to him but two weeks later when the pipe came back with the new stem, I was overjoyed as it was indeed more comfortable.

This is a photo of the other Bruce Weaver pipes that I have added to my collection over the years. All of them are terrific smokers in their own right, but none have hit the magic pipe category. I am of the opinion that true magic pipes may show up in one’s collection once or twice in a pipe smoker’s lifetime. I’m still hunting for my second magic pipe and maybe one day I’ll be lucky enough to find one.

 

 

 

Bruce Weaver was called home to Heaven a week ago (dec. July 27, 2019). He had died peacefully in his sleep at the age of 67. Bruce retired a few years ago from pipe making after a near death experience when an aortic aneurysm was discovered to be leaking near his heart. He wanted to spend more time with the three children that he raised by himself. The world lost a great pipe maker when he retired. As many of you know, Bruce Weaver pipes were considered to be among the best in the world. Whether smooth or sandblasted and no matter what the shape, Bruce made his pipes perfectly with only the finest wood available and the drilling was always perfect, too.

Bruce’s favorite tobacco was the old Murray’s era Three Year Matured, and I can’t count the number of tins of that blend that he purchased from my website over the years, but it was a bunch. I sent him some complimentary tins of that blend once a couple of years back, but he’d have none of it and paid me for them despite my protestations. He was sneaky; he just deposited the funds into my PayPal account and told me that I better not return the money.

Bruce Weaver’s story is a fascinating one. He was a world class swimmer in his younger days, he was a world class father, he was a world class pipe maker, but most importantly, he was a world class human being. I will miss our phone conversations greatly, but am placated by the fact that Bruce is now in Heaven with the parents he greatly loved and respected, as well as his Lord. Bruce’s story regarding how he lived and many of his accomplishments can be found in his obituary here – https://www.dignitymemorial.com/obituaries/nashville-tn/bruce-weaver-8793144

I am now headed off to sit and reflect on my wonderful and way too short friendship with Bruce Weaver by smoking my magic pipe filled with a bowl of Murray’s era Three Year Matured.

Happy puffing,

Steve

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The Top-10 Pipe Questions Sent To Pipestud

I sure received a lot of emails from those of you who read and enjoyed my blog of a month or so ago where I let you see my list of all-time greatest pipe tobacco related questions that have been sent to me over the years. And now, I’m following up with my top-10 list of funniest pipe related questions that I’ve ever received. As I’m sure you will agree, many of these questions are so off the wall that it’s hard to believe that they were even asked. I am always happy to respond to questions even if I have no answer myself or can’t find one.  In those instances I just cross my fingers and do my best.

Some of these questions and responses have appeared over the years in the NASPC Pipe Collector Magazine, as I have been a regular columnist for that wonderful P&T hobby publication for at least 10-years, so some of those may already be familiar to you. I have listed the ten questions in no particular order and if you find yourself on this list, congratulations!

  1. Question– I won that Castello Great Line eBay auction from you a couple of days ago. Don’t worry, I’ll get payment to you in a couple of weeks or so. My wife needed some pharmacy stuff which cleaned me out of the cash that I was going to use to pay for the pipe with.

Pipestud – I sell on consignment and would rather not tell the owner of that pipe that he’ll need to wait a few weeks to get his payment because of the winning bidder’s wife’s pharmaceutical needs. I have a great idea! Why don’t you just tell the pharmacist to give you your money back and pay me? You can tell the pharmacist that he’ll get paid in a few weeks.

  1. Question– Pipestud, I’m the guy who won five of your pipe auctions yesterday and I got my combined invoice. I guess I didn’t realize that I’d spent over $900 for those pipes. Anyway, I have a couple of other pipes I won from other eBay sellers right now and can’t pay all of you as I am a little strapped for cash in my PayPal account. But don’t worry, I’ll get you paid in a couple of weeks.

Pipestud – I don’t want to sound rude, but am not concerned about the other auctions that you have won. How about paying me for the deals you just consummated with me? I’m so greedy I just can’t stand myself.

  1. Question– I just received the Peterson’s pipe that I won on your eBay site and you sold me a pipe that has obviously already been smoked! It has cake in the bowl and tooth scratching on the stem. Nobody wants to buy an already smoked pipe and I demand an immediate refund!

Pipestud – What part of the item description did you not understand? Was it the part where I listed the pipe as used? Or, maybe it was the part where I said the pipe has been well smoked and retains light tooth marks on the stem? I note that you just joined eBay a month ago and have a feedback rating of (2). Here’s a tip. In the future, reading the seller’s item descriptions should be helpful to you. And for the record, more used pipes are sold on eBay every day than new ones.

  1. Question– Dear Seller, I bought this pipe a month or so ago but want to return it for a full refund and I am warning you that you will receive NEGATIVE FEEDBACK if you do not agree to do so. I bought this pipe for a friend in Russia and sent the pipe to him at his address in Kazan, but he never received it. Apparently, it was lost in the mail, which is certainly not my fault and you need to make good on the loss.

Pipestud – You must be writing to me from an asylum for the insane. But thanks for the heads up. I forwarded your email to eBay and fortunately, they assure me that any negative feedback you leave will be removed as I am not responsible for your shipping issues. And just a quick question; How’d you manage to get out of your straight jacket to bid on my auction?

  1.    Question– I am going to return this Aldo Velani pipe. I am an expert on this brand and have over 60 of them in my collection. This pipe is an obvious forgery. The writing on the wood, which we in the pipe collecting business call “nomenclature,” has a totally different font style than any of the others. This is just another sad indication of eBay allowing people who have no expertise in what they sell to sell anyway with reckless abandon.

Pipestud – Forgive my ignorance and please return the pipe for your $27.50 refund. I should have known that a pipe that expensive would be a prime target for potential forgeries.

  1.    Question– Pipestud, I am sorry but am going to have to return this Stanwell pipe. I know that you listed the size and weight but you need to be more careful when taking photos. Your pictures made this pipe look a lot bigger than it really is.

Pipestud – Oh sure, just send that pipe back for a full refund. And thanks for the heads up on the photos. It sounds to me like I need to buy a smaller camera. Do you think that will fix my issues with the pictures coming out so big?

  1. Question– I read in your eBay terms/conditions that people with (0) feedback must email you first before bidding. I was going to email you anyway because I like that Cavicchi Canadian. Rather than payment through PayPal, would you accept a pipe of equal or greater value in trade? I have a rare, unsmoked pipe that my late father owned. I believe it was made by a famous doctor and even has his name stamped on the pipe, Dr. Grabow. I can send you pictures if you want to do the trade.

Pipestud – Sorry for my delayed reply to your email. I had to think long and hard about your trade offer but in the end, have decided to take a pass.

  1. Question– I have seen many eBay auctions, including some of yours, where pipes are described as “nose warmers.” That style of pipe must be popular and there’s no doubt a good reason that pipe smokers want to keep their noses warm while smoking. Can you tell me what that reason is?

Pipestud – Thanks for your question. I’m really not sure why pipe smokers want to keep their noses warm while smoking. Maybe to prevent the formation of buggers up their snouts that could fall into the bowls?

  1. Question– Just curious; I see that you have a no questions asked return policy. If I buy an unsmoked pipe from you and smoke it and decide that I don’t want it, can I return it for a full refund, too? I ask because I am thinking about bidding on that new Jeff Gracik pipe of yours that still has a couple of days before the auction ends and the bidding is already over $400. That would be a lot of money to spend on a pipe that I decided didn’t smoke well enough and wanted to return it.

Pipestud – There is a caveat to that policy. If you read further you will note that it has to be returned in the condition you received it in. If you won the Gracik pipe, it would be sent to you unsmoked and would need to be returned to me unsmoked.  If you do smoke it and don’t like it you can send it back to me to re-sell as one of my consignments. I love double dipping to make money twice on the same pipe.  (-:

  1. This is not really a question but an occurrence – A few years ago a consignor sent me a very nice Pre-Trans Barlings EXEXEL Billiard pipe to sell. It arrived in a plain brown box and when I opened the box, the pipe was carefully wrapped up in a male Depends diaper! I carefully pulled out the diaper wrapped pipe (I say carefully because I wasn’t sure whether it was a new or “estate” diaper – thank goodness it was new), and found a note. It said the following – “Steve, here is the pipe that I want you to sell for me. I would like for you to return the diaper in this same box and please don’t ask any questions.”

Pipestud – I did as I was asked and sent the diaper back in same box and sure as heck didn’t ask any questions, mainly because I didn’t want to know the answer!

Happy puffing to all,

Steve