As many of you know, I attended the renewal of the Chicago Pipe Show that was held from Thursday, May 26th through Sunday, May 29th. The return of the world’s largest pipe show after a two year COVID related shutdown was a smashing success! And the new venue, the Marriott Resort Hotel in Lincolnshire, Illinois (just outside of Chicago), is an absolutely beautiful facility and the management and staff of the resort were extremely professional and courteous to all of the pipe show participants. In fact, most of the hotel staff seemed amused and yes, even impressed, watching literally hundreds of pipe enthusiasts roaming the huge grand ballrooms where the show was held. One ballroom was used for vendors and enthusiasts who had rented tables to display and sell their pipes and tobaccos, and right across the hall was a second large ballroom for all of the pipe makers in attendance. And there sure were a lot of those. Not only was there a very large contingent of American pipe makers at the show, but many from other parts of the world as well – including Denmark and Germany. I over loaded my old eyeballs just looking at the fantastic wood displayed over the course of the two days of the show.
Perhaps the most visited place at the resort over the weekend was the fabulous and well ventilated 4,000 square foot smoking tent. I admit that I spent a lot of time in there while visiting many friends that I had not been able to see in person for three years. One such individual, shown with me in this photo, is Dr. Fred Hanna, who invented two of the terrific McClelland’s blends known worldwide as Legends and the Syrian Latakia blockbuster, Wilderness. Naturally, we wore ourselves out talking about the latest craze for well aged pipe tobaccos. And Fred is also known for one of the largest straight grain pipe collections in the world and I sure had fun watching him pull a few of them from his bag to view. While only a small sampling of his straight grain collection, all were mesmerizing! I also loved hearing Fred talk about how he created his two amazing pipe tobacco blends.
I also had fun in the smoking tent during the weekend by listening to Rick Newcombe talk about pipes and tobaccos. Rick, like Fred Hanna, has been in the hobby for over 40-years and has written several books about pipes and tobaccos. He is an ardent collector of Danish made pipes (as well as many other brands), and has travelled to Denmark many times over the years to meet Danish pipe makers. He was good friends with the late Bo Nordh and Lars Ivarsson, as well as some of the still living pipe making legends like Jess Chonowitsch, Nanna Ivarsson, Ann Julie, etc. In his younger days, Newcombe was a body builder and has also written a book about that subject. He still hits the weights regularly, and while he’s now in his early 70’s, I sure wouldn’t mess with him!
Here are a couple of more photos of the smoking tent. It was always packed except for perhaps the early morning hours when early risers like myself were able to sneak in for a smoke and coffee before things started to get busy. The photo on the left shows the tent full of people for the Friday “pre-show” where collectors could sell their products and the photo on the right is of how the smoking tent looked during both days of the Saturday and Sunday show itself. These two photos are courtesy of Jon Guss, who has been a mainstay of our P&T hobby for many years. Thanks Jon! And below are more photos of the smoking tent, courtesy Dr. Neal Osborn, who received this year’s Master of Pipes Award for his many years of contributions to our hobby. And he certainly is a talented photographer, too!
Without trying to brag too much, I was the year 2021 Dr. of Pipes Award winner, but due to the COVID shutdown, had to wait until this year’s show to receive my award. I added a photo of that beautiful plaque to the About Me page of my website about as fast as I could! This is a photo of me attending the Saturday night Awards Dinner to officially receive my Dr. of Pipes award, and I sat at a table with some of the hobby’s most respected people. Famous pipe author Rick Newcombe is sitting to my left in the photo and to his left is the president of Laudisi Enterprises, which owns smokingpipes.com, Sykes Wilford. Just to my right is long time pipe collector Dr. Fred Berger and to his left is one of the USA’s most talented pipe makers, Jeff Gracik of J. Alan Pipes (I bought one of Jeff’s pipes at the show and it is a beauty!) The lady on the right in the photo is considered to be another one of the world’s most famous pipe makers, Nanna Ivarsson of Denmark. She is the daughter of the late Lars Ivarsson and granddaughter of Sixten Ivarsson, who were also among the world’s greatest pipe makers when they were living. So, Nanna certainly has the pedigree!
As for my own personal successes at the Chicago Show this year; since I was driving rather than flying, I brought back a lot of terrific old tobacco from new consignors and a few consignors that I have worked with in the past. So, you will soon be seeing some wonderful leaf on my site that I brought back from the show. And I was also fortunate enough to win an auction at the show for a cased 7-day set of still unsmoked Ashton pipes made in 1988 by William Taylor. All have Sterling Silver rings and each pipe is either a XXX or LX in size. An absolutely beautiful set and the blasts on all of these pipes are terrific. A piece of pipe smoking history that I just couldn’t pass up.
Every time I go to a pipe show, I purchase a pipe for myself that I call my “Show Pipe.” It is always a pipe from an American Pipe Maker. At the Chicago Show, the one I selected was this beautiful J. Alan sandblast with Cumberland stem. J. Alan pipes are made by Jeff Gracik, who is highly respected for his exceptional pieces. This is my third J. Alan pipe, and if it comes close to smoking as well as the other two, then I am going to be one very happy pipe smoker!
I want to close by saying a huge thank you to the Chicago Pipe Club for working way above and beyond for many months to make the year 2022 Chicago Pipe Show so special for all who attended. And a very personal word of thanks to all of the previous Doctor of Pipes Award winners who voted to have me join such an exclusive club. It is something I will always remember and cherish. And I will wind up this report with more photos below, also taken by Dr. Osborn during the show itself. You can see Neal giving extremely talented Danish pipe maker Tom Eltang a peck on the cheek in the top left photo. It looks to me like Eltang enjoyed Neal’s greeting! Enjoy the photos and if you couldn’t make it this year, be sure to put the Chicago Pipe Show on your calendar for 2023!