Tulip Mania in Old Tobacco Prices!

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condorlover1

Preferred Member
Dec 22, 2013
3,569
178
New York
Gentlemen there is a well known saying about walking a mile in another persons shoes. There is an equally well known saying along the lines that people who do not learn from the past are condemned to relive it in the future or join strange religious/political cults. I have now concluded that we have reached peak insanity pricing for cutter top tobacco tins. At 5 AM this morning a tin of Capstan Navy Cut was knocked down for $470.00. This was the small tin and not the 4 oz tin which would have been about the right price for a good condition rust free cutter top 1/2 lb of Capstan. In the past I have turned them up from friends in London and given them out to a few of you to share on here and at your pipe clubs. I have to say I am shocked at the price people are prepared to pay to buy a potential tin of mummy dust. This leads me to wonder if this whole 'aging' tobacco is a marketing wiz and that any differences in the taste are purely in the mind of the consumer, placed there by some Svengali of a marketing guru. What say you guys?

 

mikestanley

Preferred Member
May 10, 2009
1,313
14
Akron area of Ohio
Utter top tins can’t be very plentiful, and even less so, the number for sale. Prices like that eliminate this blue collar worker, I’ll tell you that!

Mike S.

 

cortezattic

Preferred Member
Nov 19, 2009
14,559
733
Chicago, IL
Notwithstanding the reality that tobacciana collections probably hold little interest outside our community, I can understand paying a premium price for a rare item that fills-out a collection.
But there are two issues in the discussion of well aged tobacco that give me pause. The first is a close reading of what G.L. Pease has written on the subject: the single greatest noticeable change in an aging blend occurs at the 6 month mark. After that, the milestones lengthen more or less geometrically (1yr., 2, 5, 10, 20...), but the changes are extremely subtle. So I question the value of pursuing extremely old tobacco for its taste alone.
The second issue is a statement I hear so often that it has become part of the "group-think" in these precincts: "Oh, this aged tobacco has become so wonderfully sweet ..." How can this be? The microbes in the tin are eating sugars, not producing them. I can understand that certain tasty organic molecules will be created where none existed before, but the sugar levels should decline, not increase.
[/rant] :lol:

 

condorlover1

Preferred Member
Dec 22, 2013
3,569
178
New York
Thats a very valid observation Cortez. One very old tin of Capstan from the 1930s that a very dear friend of mine had tasted was according to him like stewed fruit. The only stuff I have had end on exposure to is ancient War Horse and Condor Plug and they seem to be pretty much consistent across the age range.

 

jpmcwjr

Preferred Member
May 12, 2015
13,878
803
Monterey Peninsula
But there are two issues in the discussion of well aged tobacco that give me pause. The first is a close reading of what G.L. Pease has written on the subject: the single greatest noticeable change in an aging blend occurs at the 6 month mark. After that, the milestones lengthen more or less geometrically (1yr., 2, 5, 10, 20...), but the changes are extremely subtle. So I question the value of pursuing extremely old tobacco for its taste alone.
Your question is on the money, pun intended! Perhaps a bit like buying a $250,000 antique car you'll drive no more than ten miles a year.

 

sablebrush52

Preferred Member
Jun 15, 2013
9,712
363
Simon,
That 1938 Capstan tasted like zombie sludge covered in pterodactyl shit. The 1941 tasted like Capstan, just much fainter in flavor.

Buying ancient tins is, at best, a craps shoot. You don't know what you're going to get for the money. You don't know under what conditions the tin has been stored. It could have been stuck behind a radiator for 20 years, or mater's butt warmer.
I have had a few really exceptional experiences with ancient tins, but the majority have been washouts, mummy dust, zombie sludge and wraiths.
So yes, it's tulip mania on steroids, in excelsis deo, because the object of desire is a thorough gamble, a strangeling under a cloak of tin.
I hear these guys in rapturous orgasmic ecstasy, writhing with pleasure over their experiences of every tin of ancient "whatsis" that they've smoked and I call bullshit. Bullshit! Some tins, yes, pretty good. All tins, they're hallucinating, probably on the toxins that covered venerable weed before the purity laws kicked in. They have more imagination than palate.
But, if you're well remunerated for evicting people from their iron lungs, or you've made a few hundred million on a Tuesday a few hours after floating yet another ICO on a new crypto currency, why not toss a wad at a tin of who knows what? The world spins on absurdity.

 

woodsroad

Preferred Member
Oct 10, 2013
8,277
54
The difference between Tulip Mania and vintage tobacco tin craziness is the intent of the buyer. Tulip bulbs were seen as an investment. Nobody was planting those bulbs. While some people may be buying vintage tins as an investment, I strongly suspect that most people are either smoking the contents or holding on to them as a collection, not intending to resell any time soon. It's conspicuous consumption at it's finest. Those of us with old tins of crappy tobacco should be glad that there are still fools with money out there.

 

aquadoc

Preferred Member
Feb 15, 2017
1,480
75
United States
Cortez, regarding the microbial degradation of the sugars. Where are the microbes? If the tin is sealed, they are indeed in and on the tobacco. So there is that. But whether the transformation of sugar from one form to another or many byproducts is beneficial to taste, dunno?

 

oldgeezersmoker

Preferred Member
Oct 7, 2016
1,149
28
While my experience with cutter top tins mostly predates 2001, the dozen or so I either sampled or smoked almost entirely by myself were universally excellent, as was my most recent experience made possible by a generous forum member. A rust free cutter top tin is the best storage device that ever was, IMO.
I don't know anyone in the market for these tins at this time, but back then everyone I knew who was, was buying them to smoke at some point in the reasonably near future, not to flip. And in today's world there are people out there with lots of disposable income chasing luxury consumables. I do know someone who paid $500 for a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle, which is, to me, a hell of a lot to pay for corn liquor.

 

sablebrush52

Preferred Member
Jun 15, 2013
9,712
363
A rust free cutter top tin is the best storage device that ever was, IMO.
Agree 100%. But even a cutter top can't protect against bad storage, like someone's 140˚ attic. Besides, everything peaks fades, and then croaks out, including tobacco.

 

jguss

Preferred Member
Jul 7, 2013
674
13
i agree with woodsroad and oldgeezer. bubbles almost always have a strong speculative element (think bitcoin or florida r/e), where the market at the margin is driven by people who want to get in and out before the crash, i.e. flippers. i have to believe the market for vintage tobacco is largely driven by people who intend to eventually consume what they buy. and since there's value-in-use it's hard to see how anybody who loves tobacco can get too badly hurt, even in a frothy market, except in the sense jesse identified where the tobacco turns out to be disappointing or even bad. even then this is pretty small potatoes. i doubt the great recession redux will come from somebody overpaying for an old tin of marcovitch.

 

condorlover1

Preferred Member
Dec 22, 2013
3,569
178
New York
To me they are worth One Pound a tin. As I have often related I could have purchased all I wanted when Gidea Park Tobacco Stores closed down in 1982 after the two old biddies who ran the place either retired or died off respectively after having the place for fifty odd years. Sadly I listened to my Fathers not so sage advise that I was better off buying new stuff with my money!

 

sablebrush52

Preferred Member
Jun 15, 2013
9,712
363
I suppose it's a matter of perception. $100 or more on a tin may not represent a significant amount of money to some, and a considerable amount to others. I look at enamel tins of Escudo selling for $125 to $140 a tin and remember that just a few years ago I bought mine for less than $30 a tin. The secondary vintage tobacco market is relatively new and relatively small. It's a classic case of supply VS demand. With pipe smoking on a downward trajectory over the past ten years, coupled with tons of product cellared, also a fairly recent practice, further coupled with an aging pipe smoking population whose holdings will hit the market when they either quit of croak out, that ratio of supply VS demand stands to adjust accordingly. It's really too early to tell if these prices will hold, fall, or continue to rise. Granted, the really old stuff will always be in short supply, but it's also something of a gamble on the part of the buyer.

 

lestrout

Preferred Member
Jan 28, 2010
1,637
2
Chester County, PA
Yo Simo
If your basis of comparison is cigars, and the old tin turns out ok, one could justify a 2 oz tin of $300 or more by doing this math: 15 bowls x $20/stick.
hp

les

 

admiral

Member
Sep 15, 2017
272
2
+1 but....
here comes another point - you cant buy decent cigars for 30$ per box of 20 sticks or so

but you can buy for under 30$ per tin :)
I mean for decent cigars you need to spend 3 digit amount of $, where for decent pipe tobacco you need to spend lot less.

So people tend to think why to spent 300$ for tin of vintage Dunhill/Escudo/Powell where i can throw one tenth of the amount and buy an excellent tin of recently made tobacco.

 

sablebrush52

Preferred Member
Jun 15, 2013
9,712
363
Well, you have to consider...
You've build your custom tobacco cellar. The walls are properly covered with velvet flocked wallpaper. The sound system has been perfectly adjusted to the room acoustics. The tastefully appointed bar is stocked to the rafters with the finest and rarest booze. You've installed a large mirror in the ceiling above your circular lounging couch.
All of this would mean nothing without a few hundred tins of ultra rare, ultra expensive vintage tobaccos in which to roll around.

 

mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
26,240
440
Just for contrarian fun, let me say that from Forums reviews and others, if you shop selectively, you can buy some inexpensive bulk and bag tobaccos, and if you hit the right brand and the right crop of leaf, you can find some outstanding blends.. Just don't boast about it or you'll lose your cred'. This is sort of the "negative matter" of the quest for unicorn tins of tobacco.