It was a Saturday afternoon in Los Angeles, and I was in my garage with the great Danish pipe maker Jess Chonowitsch, showing him how I cleaned the inside of my pipes. We had three on a table, and I had separated all three — meaning, pulled the mouthpiece out so that each pipe was in two pieces. Just as I brought down the alcohol and tube brushes that we were going to use for cleaning the pipes, my wife called out to say that lunch was ready.
I started to walk into the house, and Jess said, “We can’t leave the pipes separated like that.” I explained that we would be back in less than an hour, but he was concerned, saying that pipes should be held together as one piece except for very short periods of time. “Otherwise,” he said, “the wood will expand or contract and you will lose your perfect fit.”
Mike McNiel of McClelland Tobacco Co. shared some intriguing vintage tobacco tins with me during the Kansas City Pipe Show. There were five tins, four from Dunhill, plus The Savory Blend from H.L. Savory & Co. Ltd., London. The four Dunhill tobaccos were; Standard Mixture, Three Year Matured, Aperitif, and Durbar.
According to Mike, Fred Hanna said that these tins, rather than being collectibles, should be in a museum. Their years of origin range from 1944 - 1955, and they came from retail tobacconist Iwan Ries & Co. in Chicago. They have never been opened, and the lids are bulging from the top due to the gas created by the fermentation that has happened over the years.
Mike received the tobaccos from a collector a couple of years ago. The tins have been kept cellared, cool and hidden from light, the entire time Mike has been in possession of them. The title of this post was suggest by Mike, and PipesMagazine.com was happy to oblige. Some people will get it, and some won’t, but we do like to have fun around here.
Here are some photos of the tins. (Click for larger images.)
Estate Meerschaums cross oceans of time in their lifetime of service for those lucky enough to smoke them. In a market where the buyer can find himself at odds with the skill, judgment, and honesty of the seller, the seller is sometimes found lacking in these qualities, and may be the victim of yet an older fraud himself. The current hazards to the buyer in the meerschaum market are not new in origin, as deception has been a common practice for hundreds of years; hence the term Meer-sham continues to have credence. It is to the buyer’s benefit to pursue an education, to learn about vintage or antique meerschaums in order to avoid the more expensive results: buyer’s remorse. The rewards of a successful acquisition are many and certainly worth the risk. Vintage (a general guide is less than 100 years old) and antique (more than 100 years old) meerschaums have gained seasoned perspectives by lessons from fire and tobacco that are simply not found in the new pipes. This is one of the reasons that I’m active in the estate meerschaum marketplace as a buyer who seeks the virtues that these old soldiers have to offer. The smoking qualities and advanced patina of these pipes are also the primary source of distraction to those who haven’t done their homework but continue to look for bargains, e.g., that overlooked Andreas Bauer.
Joaquin Verdanguer makes an amusing note of market manipulation in his book, The Art of Pipe Smoking, (The Curlew Press Limited, 1958, 28-29):
Jerry L. Eischeid
There are some things that are just in ones blood. Take beer for example. In the long-gone days of my youth, I belonged to an abstemious tea-totaling church. On my very own honeymoon My Newlywed Majesty thought we should try the (free and ice-cold) beer at the end of touring a major east-coast brewery. It was a hot, humid, Virginia day in June and I wrestled with the idea. Having never had it before, I absolutely intrinsically knew that if I tried it, I would like it. I mean look at my surname! You Google that with a "de" for Deutschland and you get a tiny village of the exact same name just outside of Köln (Cologne), Germany in the region of Neunkirchen-Seelscheid! Beer is almost our middle name! Even when My Majesty and I were courting, my dad referred to her as Die Lorelei, the Rhine River golden-haired siren nymphet whose singing lured many unwary river-sailors their death on the rocks far below her perch. Anyway about the beer, I tried it, love it, and imbibe far too much of it to this day to sustain my manly-Bavarian style belly.
And then there are the pipes. My first memory of a tobacco-smoking pipe was the occasional exposition of my great-great-great-Grandfather "K’s" pipe. To ease the word-burden from here on, let me refer to this particular ancestor of mine as Pappy K. Pappy K’s pipe eventually was passed down to my mother and now resides with me. It is one of the oldest of very precious few heirlooms in our family, dating, we think, from the mid-19th century. It’s a traditional German porcelain pipe variously referred to as a porcelain wine pipe, Tyrolean pipe, Black Forest pipe, alpine folk pipe, and several other variations on those themes. Starting at the tobacco burning end of Pappy K’s pipe, there are two glazed porcelain sections, a traditionally wind-capped bowl, and what I’ve heard more than one writer refer to as the "chamber-pot" section, or "wine bowl" as some nomenclaturists posit. I’ve actually heard lore that some Germans floated a little wine in the pot to both flavor and gentle their smoke. The two porcelain sections are fired with a deep loden-green glaze highlighted with thin delicate gold lines.
By Dustin Babitzke
Whizzing down I-70 at 75 mph, wind blowing through my hair, the open road ahead of me; it all sounds so glamorous. That is until I try to hold a pipe in my right hand and pack the bowl with my left hand, while an open can of tobacco is precariously balanced on one knee.
This of course requires me to steer with my other knee as I deftly maneuver that final tamp and my charring light. Any pipe smoker who enjoys a quiet puff in their car has faced this time-tested and quite frustrating dilemma since 1896 when Henry Ford sold his first “Quadricycle”.
Henry Ford’s 1st Experimental Car - The Quadricyle
By Cam Schutte
There is much tradition associated with pipe smoking that dates back centuries ago. The traditions are part of the lure of pipe smoking for many people. In more recent times however, some of the traditions have evolved and been modernized, mixed and matched, new and old. Here is a story of the newest innovation in pipe stands as told by Cam Schutte. Cam is a member of the Greater Kansas City Pipe Club and The United Pipe Clubs of America.
It all started when Anthony Harris, member of our club and wood-turner "par excellence", decided to combine rare earth magnets with his exotic wood creations. His principle is simple and very effective - embed a magnet in the core of the pipe stand and use a spherical magnet in a pipe to hold it in place n the stand. Attachment 1 is the one he created for me to use as a prop for photographing pipes.
At the 2009 Richmond Pipe Show, the International Charatan Collectors Society (ICCS) held a private meeting for members only and PipesMagazine.com was kindly invited to attend.
If you don’t know about Charatan Pipes, they actually have an interesting and unique story. The founder of ICCS, Bob Swanson invited us to attend and this is what he told us.
The ICCS is the International Charatan Collectors Society. We started the society in 2006 in Chicago, and it was actually founded by myself - it was my idea, my baby. And it was to try to bring Charatan collectors together from around the world because we just seemed so segmented, and wondered where all the collectors and Charatan pipes were. So, we got together at the original meeting - as I said, this was in Chicago. It was Charatan heaven for the Charatan collectors there. The first meeting had 33 people in it. The pipes were absolutely awesome, unbelievable. The tables were covered. We saw pipes that Charatan collectors were just drooling over. There were originally 28 charter members and five of those were from England and the club has grown to 38 at present.
There was a lot of controversy originally when we started it because we wanted to keep the club to people who own Charatans. We wanted people who were collectors and already into Charatans. So we had a rule which we started which is called the "Five Pipe Rule".
In order to get in you have to have 5 Charatan pipes. It created a lot of controversy in the pipe world and among pipe smokers, and there were pros and cons on it. Mr. Burla who runs the Chicago show was not real happy with it, but I didn’t back down and we ended up doing it and it became something the Chicago Club and Frank Burla himself finally thought it was a great thing. And it kept it a little bit … I don’t know, in my words maybe pure. So, that’s how the International Charatan Collectors Society started.
PipesMagazine: So, in the beginning Frank Burla from the Chicago Club was not in agreement with the Five Pipe Rule?
Bob: The Five Pipe Rule, yeah.
PipesMagazine: But now he’s embraced it?
Bob: He’s really embraced it and you know Frank was very turned on and very supportive. I don’t want to say he wasn’t supportive. He was very supportive it was just the Five Pipe Rule. And actually the whole Chicago Club just loved the idea and it generated and spurred more clubs. And a Dunhill Club was started. Trying to think what we called it. Originally it was like a, you know a seminar as something to further Charatans and all of a sudden Dunhill wanted to do it and Camoy wanted to do it.
So it really got a lot of activity and brought a lot of people into the Chicago show. And you know they loved what was going on and it’s, it’s been very good for all of us and we’ve marked out a lot of charter members, and you know a lot of names that everybody knows that belong; including Fred Hannah and Rich Esserman. Most of the meetings we have judgings and we get a lot of people that enter pipes and we give out awards for the top Charatans and so forth.
PipesMagazine: How are they judged?
Bob: They are judged by an independent panel, usually three to four judges and people you know that are known in the industry. And for example, the first year we had Bobby Eichorn who isn’t here tonight, but Bobby’s probably one of the, the biggest collectors in the world of Charatans. I mean he has fabulous Charatans - everything that you can think of and they are all top of the line stuff. And you know Marty … I, I think Marty was a judge one time. I know Fred Hannah was. I know Rich Esserman was, and they just, we go around and we judged on best of the grades of the Charatans and then we had a total collection award also.
PipesMagazine: Give me a brief rundown on Charatans in general, for the uninitiated.
Bob: Charatan and Dunhill for years - I’m an old man okay - were always major competitors. And Charatan was not run by businessmen. They were pipe makers. And they didn’t run the business like Dunhill did. Dunhill were businessmen. Dunhill ran, and still to this day makes frazing machine pipes. You know they’re not really handmade pipes; they’re frazing machines which is just a copy machine if you don’t know what that means. Charatan always made free hand pipes. So, the big difference is Charatan has pipes that are free hand and made with the grain. They look for grain. Where Dunhill looked to make a, a standard shape - and I’m not being demeaning Dunhill. I’m just saying they made a standard shape and they covered up the grain with stain and the grain didn’t mean much. It might have been blasted or whatever, but Charatan was always known for its grain. And there were battles for over 20 - 30 years.
The person with the biggest effect on Charatans was Herman Lane, who started Lane Limited out of Atlanta. He bought the rights to distributorship of Charatan in America. So, one of the biggest distinctions in Charatans in America versus Europe is that when you see a Lane Limited stamp - which is a pound L in a circle - a lot of people don’t know what that means, but that means that it was a pipe that was made by Charatan in England and distributed to Herman Lane and Herman Lane put his Lane stamp on it.
There is a Lane Era and this is a big thing in Charatans. If it doesn’t have a Lane stamp on it, it probably is a European made, a Charatan European made and European distributed Charatan. Okay. And this takes you back to the inability of Charatan to really be a good business manager with it. It doesn’t necessarily always mean that because sometimes Charatan forgot to stamp the Lane Limited stamp on it and so forth. It’s really very hard to date Charatans versus it’s very easy to date Dunhills because Dunhills always have date stamps on them and serial numbers that you can date them by where Charatan isn’t that way. So you have to really know what you’re doing in dating a Charatan.
PipesMagazine: How long have Charatans been around?
Bob: Charatans have been around since the ’40s.
PipesMagazine: Now are they still made now?
Bob: No. Charatan went of business in the early ’80s.
Dunhill won the battle. When Dunhill bought them out they took all of the Charatans that were still in existence and X’d them all out. They stamped them all out and sold them for whatever they could get for them. So, you’re talking a pipe that might have sold for a grand sold for 50 bucks.
Bob: And, but it was all stamped out by Dunhill.
PipesMagazine: When, when you say stamped out what…?
Bob: All the stamping on the pipe - you know the Charatan make and all this stuff.
PipesMagazine: They got kind of obliterated.
Bob: Obliterated, yeah. They were I mean evil people. I don’t mean Dunhill, I mean both of them. They were just vicious foes you know. They just hated each other. And you know there’s, I mean I could go on and on and on about this, but I mean that’s basically what happened …
And Charatan’s claim to fame was that they were England’s oldest pipe maker. So, they say that they went back to. I think it’s, 1863, but don’t hold me to that. But basically in America we’re talking like I said in the 1940s. And Herman Lane bought the rights to Charatan in 1955. And there’s a lot of questions on that. I have a book that he wrote about himself, that says 1955 he bought it. So, that’s, that’s a hard number.
PipesMagazine.com thanks Bob Swanson for inviting us to the International Charatan Collectors Society meeting at the 2009 Richmond Pipe Show, and for telling us the fascinating and interesting story of Charatan Pipes.
One of the many seminars that were held during the 2009 Chicagoland Int’l Pipe & Tobacciana Show was the Dunhill Focus Group. It was moderated by Craig Cobine and included guest speakers Rich Esserman, John Loring and Mike Reschke - all well-versed and well-known individuals in the pipe collecting community.
Each of the three gentlemen spoke in their areas of expertise at length and in detail. In this article we bring you a partial transcription of Rich Esserman’s presentation.
Rich Esserman is well-known in the world of pipe collecting and pipe smoking. He is perhaps best known as a collector and lover of Dunhill Magnums. For the uninitiated, and in the stereotypical vernacular of the Jersey Boys that Mr. Esserman and the author are, "Dem are freakin’ huge pipes!"
In the world of wine, a magnum bottle holds about twice as much as a regular bottle. In the world of pipes it is even more than double.
Magnums are very large pipes that were produced to be used for store display purposes.
(Note: The following discussion makes reference to Parker Pipes. This was a line made from "Dunhill seconds" that is no longer produced. There was a presentation on Parker Pipes prior to Rich Esserman’s talk on Dunhill Magnums.)
Rich started out with an entertaining story about collecting in general. His words follow.
Here are some of my pipes.
Bjarne Sandblast Red Made in Denmark
Sasieni 4 Dot Bulldog Made in France
Dunhill Rubybark (4110) (2007)
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This is Part II of our coverage of the Pipe Collecting on eBay Seminar from The Chicago Pipe Show.
Part II is the question and answer session from Rob Cooper’s presentation. This is a lively discussion about buying and selling collectible pipes on ebay, customer service, and debate about the auction format and sniping services.
The discussion starts out specific to collectible pipes, and then relates to several general things that would apply to anybody buying and selling on ebay. Just as with the part I, I thought it was an interesting and educational discussion even though I do not personally participate in these activities. The way the business works, the challenges involved for both buyers and sellers, and how Rob has been successful with it are an fascinating story. I imagine it will be even more captivating if you are involved in buying and selling online.
Without further adieu, here is the Q & A from the Pipe Collecting on eBay Seminar from the The 2009 Chicagoland Int’l Pipe & Tobacciana Show