Starting in the 1930s, Albany, NY was home to a legendary tobacconist- The Smoker. The shop was a mainstay, operated by Solomon Levin, first on Madison Avenue, and after being sold to Mel Feldman in 1973, moving to Washington Avenue not far from the Capitol building in the 1980s.
Many pipe smokers looked upon the shop as the place to search for estate pipes of all kinds. The owner for the last thirty years of its existence (the store closed in late-2011), Mel Feldman, has been well known for his knowledge of estates, and particularly Barlings. In fact, Mel picked up the nickname “Mr. Barling” for his extensive background regarding that iconic brand.
But Mel and his shop were also renowned for the widely varied house blends that he made by hand, one pound at a time. When Feldman began appearing at the consumer pipe shows, which began in the eighties, many people around the country were finally exposed to these wonderful tobaccos and became fans. In response, Mel worked with Cornell & Diehl to take his fourteen most popular blends and have them tinned. As a result, even more people became steady customers of The Smoker.
After the new millennium arrived, Feldman realized that the hassle of day-to-day operations wasn’t worth the strain, so he turned to mail order. Unfortunately, due to a questionable interpretation of the laws, New York State forced him to close. It seemed that the devotees of his blends wouldn’t be able to purchase them any longer.
In early 2013, the owner of Pipes and Cigars.com, Scott Bendett approached Mel about the idea of bringing back those original tinned blends, some of which date back to the 1930s. When he expressed interest, Feldman worked together with longtime friend and blender for Pipes and Cigars.com, Russ Ouellette, to recreate those blends.
When Feldman was satisfied that the blends were up to his standards, an agreement was made to have them tinned for sale through Pipes and Cigars. As a bonus for his customers, Mel pulled out the formula for a blend that he had made for well-known pipe and tobacco collector Fred Goldring, and with Mr. Goldring’s blessing added that to the lineup.
To reintroduce these blends in grand style, PipesandCigars.com will distribute samples of the blends at the Chicagoland Pipe and Tobacciana Show on May 4th and 5th, in St. Charles, Illinois at the Pheasant Run Resort. At the same time, 1.5 oz. tins will go on sale on the website.
G. L. Pease
Mike and Mary McNiel of the McClelland Tobacco Company have something very special to present this coming weekend, 4-5th May, in Chicago.
Several 4-ounce tins of rare, very old Dunhill tobaccos were discovered last year amongst company artifacts. These will be on display and made available in a silent auction conducted at their table at the 18th annual Chicagoland International Pipe and Tobacciana Show.
Fred Hanna and I were present during an informal unveiling at last year’s Kansas City show. Never at a loss for words, Fred said, “These are not collectors’ cans, they are museum pieces.” Included in the lot is a tin of Savory’s Savory Blend, something neither Fred nor I had ever seen.
To say that they are remarkable specimens would be a dramatic understatement. If their considerable age establishes their rarity, their exceptional condition amplifies it. For the tobacco geeks amongst us, these are nothing short of magnificent.
The tins appear to date to approximately 1952-1953. All but the Durbar have intact tax stamps, and all are marked with the Royal Warrant and accompanying text, "By Appointment to the Late King George VI," who held the throne until his death in February, 1952. This text would have been used at least until the accession of Queen Elizabeth II in June, 1953. The tins are puffy and tight, with no pinholes or leaks. Hanna commented, "I’ve never seen anything like this." Neither have I.
Mike and Mary will be accepting silent, sealed bids for these tobaccos during the show at the McClelland Tobacco table in the Expo hall, where the tins will be on display. Winners will be announced at noon on Sunday.
DUNHILL’s Standard Mixture, 4 oz - starting bid $1500
DUNHILL’s Aperitif, 4 oz - starting bid $1500
DUNHILL’s Three Year Matured, 4 oz - starting bid $1500
DUNHILL’s Durbar, 4 oz - starting bid $1500
SAVORY’S Savory Blend, 4 oz - starting bid $1400
A few other interesting vintage tins will also be available. Be sure to stop by at least for a look. These tins are a rare piece of history that simply must be seen.
Kansas City, KS - The Briar Portrait Gallery (BPG) announced today the launch of its newest product, "The Pipe Smoker’s Poker Deck" just in time for the Chicagoland Pipe Collector’s Club Pipe Show. This beautiful 54 card deck features full color portraits of pipes from over 50 of the world’s most beloved pipe carvers.
The initial run of the deck will be packaged in a limited edition "Nostalgia" tin. The run will be limited to 500 decks and will be a suggested retail of $16.99.
BPG founder and deck designer, Dustin Babitzke, is thrilled that the launch will coincide with the Chicago show. "I’ve been working really hard with the playing card manufacturer over the past four months to get this deck just right. When I saw heard the news that the decks would be delivered on the last day in April, I was ecstatic! Chicagoland here we come."
BPG has been a steadfast proponent of the UPCA and NASPC and wants to use the initial release of these decks to help promote Pipe Clubs nationwide.
BPG will be donating 10 percent of the proceeds from the sale of the deck to a pipe club (registered with the UPCA) of the purchaser’s choice. Pipe Shops and Pipe Clubs around the world will now be able to enjoy their favorite card games while getting to appreciate some beautiful works of art in the process.
This is just the start for "The Pipe Smoker’s Poker Deck" series. Pipe shape specific decks, country of origin specific decks, and custom decks for dealers and pipe makers featuring their logos and pipes are already in the works. Decks will be distributed through BriarPortraitGallery.com and on sale in person at the Chicagoland Show. A limited quantity are available for online dealer and retail store purchasing. For more information on distributing or custom deck design please contact the Briar Portrait Gallery at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Briar Portrait Gallery
The Briar Portrait Gallery was founded by Dustin "Big D" Babitzke in 2012 to help promote the beauty and artistic expression that has emerged from the modern pipe making movement. The Briar Portrait Gallery has been working with pipe makers and pipe clubs from around the world to showcase the talent and skill of today’s top Artisans. The company’s main goal is to show the world that our hobby is not just about a "quick nicotine hit"but about a fine appreciation of the nuances of materials, craftsmanship, and true woodworking mastery that goes into the creation of a pipe.
Rumors and speculation were running rampant yesterday about the future of PipesAndCigars.com. They were in fact acquired by Cigars International. The confusion and conflicting information was the result of their original intent of not making the announcement until the The Chicagoland Int’l Pipe & Tobacciana Show. The show takes place in early May.
The Chicago show is the largest pipe and tobacco show in the world, so many companies make their big announcements there. Those plans were foiled for PipesAndCigars.com when an email from a former disgruntled employee was posted and re-posted in different online forums—the sender and recipient names having been removed. The email is shown below.
Richmond, VA - Today it was announced that the Mac Baren Tobacco Company of Denmark has agreed to buy the Pipe Tobacco Division of Altadis USA in Richmond, Virginia. The transfer of ownership will be final on or about May 1, 2013.
With the new ownership comes a new / old name for the company. Altadis USA Pipe Tobacco Division will now be a stand-alone company named Sutliff Tobacco Company. This was the original name of the business when H.W. Sutliff founded it in San Francisco in 1849.
All production and distribution will remain the same, including product lines that do not contain the Sutliff brand name, such as Tobacco Galleria pouches. In other words, everything made in the Richmond factory will continue to be produced and distributed just as before. The product mix will not be limited to Sutliff-branded products, even though that will be the new company name.
In time, the pace of new product introductions from Sutliff is expected to increase, and there may be new jobs created with the need for an expanded salesforce. (No layoffs are anticipated with the new ownership.) Additional salespeople may be needed to take over the Mac Baren distribution from Phillips & King International.
As part of the deal, Sutliff Tobacco Company will be the new U.S. importer / distributor of Mac Baren products. There are synergies with Sutliff’s stronger focus on pipe tobacco, which should increase market share of Mac Baren products in the U.S. Sutliff’s retailer-base is more closely aligned with Mac Baren’s. The former distributor, P&K is involved in several other product categories that did not afford them the opportunity to focus solely on pipe tobacco. (All Mac Baren products will continue to be made in their factory in Denmark. See the factory video tour here.)
In a quid pro quo, Mac Baren will distribute Sutliff products outside of the U.S. It seems both organizations are poised for increased sales and market share globally.
In a telephone conversation with Paul Creasy, the former General Manager of the Altadis division, and now President of the new company, he spoke about how this deal will reinvigorate the Sutliff Tobacco Company. "The last time this company was owned by an actual pipe tobacco company was 1969! This deal has been in the works for over a year, and I’m thrilled to have it come to fruition."
"Commonwealth-Altadis is in the cigarette and cigar business. Pipe tobacco is so different and so small that it doesn’t even merit an asterisks in the annual report. On the other hand, The Halberg Family has owned Mac Baren Tobacco Company for 125 years. They are pipe tobacco people." (In other words, they "get it.")
"I’ve known all of the guys at Mac Baren for years. I’ve been to the factory in Denmark, we see each other at shows… you should remember to always be nice to people because you never know who you’re going to end up working for."
Creasy explained that being owned by an actual pipe tobacco company will make it much easier to allocate resources for new products and marketing. He expects there to be an increase in new product introductions and promotions as the bureaucratic handcuffs have been removed, so-to-speak.
"It’s hard to make the case for a new flake that will set the pipe tobacco world tingling, but not even register on the radar of a large company—cigarette people deal in billions, cigar people deal in millions and pipe tobacco people deal in thousands. Thousands still means something to us. They don’t mean as much to very large corporations. Expect to see more new products and promotions in the future."
Since the Sutliff Pipe Tobacco Company has such a history, and part of the appeal of pipe smoking for some people is the nostalgia, we asked Creasy if some old, historic Sutliff blends may be brought back.
He quipped; "Well, we could bring back Carolina Queen, which was probably last on the market when Benjamin Harrison was in office." (Benjamin Harrison was the 23rd President of the U.S. from 1889 - 1893.)
History of Sutliff Tobacco Company as told by Paul Creasy via telephone
It’s a long history. When I originally came to the company 25-years ago, it was referred to as the Sutliff Division (1988). The Sutliff family owned the company from 1849 to 1969 when it was bought by Consolidated Cigar. Gordon Sutliff the great, great, great nephew of the founder of Sutliff comes to our Christmas party every once in a while. He sold the company to Consolidated Cigar in 1969.
Consolidated Cigar went through many different ownerships—it was owned by Gulf & Western, it was private, it went public, there was a leveraged buy-out, and then eventually in 1999—Seita, the French tobacco monopoly bought Consolidated Cigar. They only owned it briefly, then Seita and Tabacalera De España merged (and this is all unrelated to pipe tobacco - we’re just a rider on this roller coaster ride) … Altadis was formed from this merger. At the same time Tabacalera De España owned Hav-A-Tampa and Seita owned Consolidated Cigar, so now the two major cigar companies in the country are merged together because their two parent companies merged. That was around 2000-2001. Altadis USA was founded as a subsidiary of the parent company in Spain.
Altadis was then purchased by Imperial Tobacco in 2008. Prior to the purchase of Altadis, Imperial Tobacco owned Commonwealth Cigarettes here in the United States. Commonwealth Brands (cigarettes) and Altadis USA (cigars) merged to become Commonwealth-Altadis USA. In the meantime, we’re just this little pipe tobacco company along for the ride.
Commonwealth-Altadis, which is now one company that has just gotten progressively bigger, is selling the Pipe Tobacco Division separately to Mac Baren Tobacco Company. We have now come full circle and will once again become Sutliff Tobacco Company, as a stand-alone, separate business with operations being maintained in Richmond Virginia. We are a separate business from Mac Baren, but owned by them, officially around May 1st.
When Luca di Piazza, the owner of Neatpipes.com, sent this over this morning, the first thing we thought was; "What the heck is an ‘AeroBilliard’ and an ‘Inverted-Calabash’"?
Kansas City, KS - The Briar Portrait Gallery (BPG) announced the launch of its new website www.BriarPortraitGallery.com. The BPG showcases photographs and artwork featuring pipes from around the world. Founder Dustin Babitzke is excited for the launch and hopes it will help smokers and non-smokers alike to appreciate the hobby. “Our goal at the Briar Portrait Gallery is to help people to appreciate the hours of labor and training that pipe makers go through to hone their skills in this craft. A pipe is not simply a smoking accessory; each pipe is a work of art in and of itself. We want to bring that artistry out and show it to the world. We also want to help pipe artisans new and old to market their artwork and get their name out in the community.”
The site will feature several galleries of pipe centered artwork and photography, a directory of pipe makers, a shop where visitors can purchase some of the art in print and other forms, and a blog featuring articles on various topics. For more information please visit our website.
About Briar Portrait Gallery
The Briar Portrait Gallery was founded by Dustin “Big D” Babitzke in 2012 to help promote the beauty and artistic expression that has emerged from the modern pipe making movement. The Briar Portrait Gallery has been working with pipe makers and pipe clubs from around the world to showcase the talent and skill of today’s top Artisans. The company’s main goal is to show the world that our hobby is not just about a “quick nicotine hit” but about a fine appreciation of the nuances of materials, craftsmanship, and true woodworking mastery that goes into the creation of a pipe.
It is with deep regret that we report to you on this New Year’s Day of 2013, the passing of Bill Unger. Bill was the longtime Secretary/treasurer of the North American Society of Pipe Collectors. He died from complications of Leukemia. He was 70-years old. Even though Bill posted an open letter about his condition on November 30th, his passing was still somewhat of a surprise as his letter stated; "Barring a miracle (which of course I would never bar!), I have less than a year left." To the optimistic and hopeful mind, one would think that meant closer to a full year rather than just one month.
It was just announced moments ago that Savinelli USA is closing its North Carolina-based U.S. subsidiary and appointing Laudisi Distribution Group (LDG) as their new American distributor.
LDG is a subsidiary of Laudisi Enterprises, run by Sykes Wilford. As many industry people are aware, Laudisi Enterprises also runs Smokingpipes.com. The two company divisions will operate independently, with SmokingPipes.com being a customer of the distribution company.
Over the 11-years that the retail division has been operating they have built-up a substantial logistics infrastructure. The processes that are already in place should well-serve the national retail tobacconist network, perhaps even better than the Savinelli subsidiary was able to.
The following letter just went out to retailers.
As you probably know, Craig Tarler, the founder of Cornell & Diehl, peacefully passed a little over a week ago. After PipesMagazine.com posted the news, we received several emails asking what the future held for the company now that it’s founder and tobacco blender had departed. I spoke to Craig’s son, Chris, yesterday afternoon via telephone.
Craig Tarler was such a strong personality, incredibly well-known, and exceedingly loved in the pipe community, that he was synonymous with the company. A tin of pipe tobacco with the name Cornell & Diehl on it was just like having the name Craig Tarler on the tin. However, Craig was not only an accomplished tobacco blender. He was an astute businessman, and knew that he needed a succession plan for his company to continue without him.
While the news of his passing was sudden, shocking, and unexpected to the pipe community—the business succession plan was put into place 4-years ago when Chris Tarler joined the company. Chris came to Cornell & Diehl after gaining 35-years of corporate experience in the food service business. The change was an easy choice. Chris didn’t need any persuading to join the family business. After three and a half decades in the "corporate rat race" and going through his "midlife crisis", he was ready for something new.
Chris literally obtained hands-on experience blending tobaccos, and running a tobacco manufacturing company from one of the best in the business. He actually took over the day-to-day operations 2-years ago while his father spent less time at work. C&Ds founder had been ailing for the last 1.5-years, and spent his last days in hospice. Chris extols the benefits of hospice as one of the best and easiest ways to get through the difficult time of a loved one going through their final days. He also expressed how moved he was by all of the kind words from members of the pipe community and industry. He said; "My father was well-loved in the industry, and everyone showed it."
So, while "one of the greats" has left us, his legacy will live on, and Cornell & Diehl is looking forward to a bright future delivering your favorite blends, and releasing new tobaccos for your smoking pleasure.