What do you have when you take the best piece of briar you can find, cut it and shape it by hand, buff it to ultimate smoothness, fit a hand-cut mouthpiece individually crafted to complement the bowl, and polish it with pure carnuba wax to enhance and protect the wood grain with a brilliant luster? Most likely a fine quality handmade briar pipe that will please any smoker. But will it satisfy the demanding standards of Richard Dunhill, who alone decides which of the top-quality pipes his company produces deserve the highest accolades? That is another story, as Dunhill’s rigorous grading process determines the following designations for the famed line of Dunhill pipes:
Peterson of Dublin has started another Irish revolution, but with no manifestos or righting of wrongs. With a "declaration of independence" from the ways of yester year—not in quality, hut in concept—the 136-year-old company has recently positioned itself for the coming millennium. A carefully planned marketing strategy based on consumer research and testing, has enabled Peterson to design new collections for the smoking revolution of the ’90’s. Every way that pipes, cigars, and accessories suit a well-turned, affluent, and varied lifestyle has been thought out and developed, from cutting-edge contemporary artifacts to nostalgic recreations of glory days past. This is the story of a successful marketing campaign.
From the moment you walk in to the A&C Petersen factory, you know these guys don’t just make tobacco, they live it. On the horizontal support beams that cross the room are literally hundreds, maybe thousands, of tobacco tins collected over the years by the Petersen brothers, Hans and Jens -including many older American specimens that tobacco museums and collectors would envy. All around the office are other artifacts - antique machines for pressing, cutting, and mixing tobacco are standing accents, along with cigar store Indians, old smokeshop signs, and display posters.
Hollywood has always been about looking good. That’s why the pipe has been there since the first cameras rolled. It’s the ultimate accessory. You wear it both in your face and in your hand. You display it in your home. And with proper care, it will last a lifetime. Let’s face it, most marriages in Tinseltown are based on the same principles, and don’t fare as well. But a pipe is more than just a smoke — something you dispose of when you’re through — it’s an appendage. And just like Liz and Dick, Lucy and Desi, Groucho and his cigar, some Hollywood celebrities are forever linked…with their pipes.
Tucked away on the third floor of the New York Public Library on 5th Avenue are two Georgian-style, pine-paneled rooms, resembling those of a country manor house - which indeed they once were - that contain the finest array of tobacco-related material in the world: The George Arents, Jr. Collection.
I. Cultural Icons - In Giancarlo Savinelli’s office, just around corner from the famous Savinelli shop in the heart of Milan, the ruggedly good-looking great grandson of the founder, dressed fashionable in a light-colored suit with a dark blue shirt, designer tie and handmade booths argues was the analysis of Italian schools of pipemaking developed earlier in this story [see PipeSmoke, Winter 98/99]. His doctorate in political science has trained him to be a cogent arguer always ready to document his thesis "There aren’t three schools, only two: the industrial, and the artisan. The first is the factory tradition and the second is the Pesaro school of Ser Jacobo, Mastro, and the others.
Because of the Italian Renaissance of the pipe is in its full, PipeSMOKE made a pilgrimage to Italy. We started in Rome and continued a peregrination around the country northward to visit the industry saints or sinners (depending on whom you ask), and hand carvers in smaller workshops, as well as large factories. But, with so many pipe manufacturers and an enormous range of stylistic variations, we decided to acquaint or readers with the pipe culture of Italy and look at the "schools" of pipe making. Rather than trying to list everyone or trying to establish hierarchies we tried to find some unifying ideas to help understand this recent phenomena. Because it is nature and nurture in Italy to argue ones opinion vehemently and passionately, but without personal animosity, we must emphasize that the ideas expressed below are those of the individuals interviewed and not necessarily those of this magazine.
When briar was first used in pipemaking, the shapes and models hardly differed from those made from other materials. But by the time the briar pipe industry was, fully established in 1855-1860, pipe makers had realized the flexibility of the material, and briar pipes began to acquire their own characteristics. As a result, the demand for briar pipes grew very quickly and a basic range of popular shapes and models was developed. These shapes still form the foundation for current models on the market. To help both the new and experienced pipesmoker understand the myriad shapes and sizes available in the world of pipes, PipeSMOKE presents the following guide.
One of my dearest friends since my college days comes to our country house for a weekend, packing more than I take for a two-week trip to Europe. His pipes accompany him, in a purpose-built attaché case that holds a dozen of his favorites. I frequently travel on business and carry a spare suit, a few shirts, and other amenities of a man’s life, with two pipes nestled in my briefcase and one in my jacket pocket. Who is right, and who is wrong? That, ultimately, is for the reader to decide, as each approach is a reflection of personal tastes and perception.