Pipes Magazine » Pipe Tobacco Discussion

Search Forums  
   
Tags:  No tags yet. 

Balkan Sobranie - The People Behind The Mythic Brand

(27 posts)
  • Started 3 years ago by misterlowercase
  • Latest reply from jvnshr
  1. misterlowercase

    misterlowercase

    Member
    Joined: May 2012
    Posts: 4,542

    offline

    Login to Send PM

    It's a rather odd tale, how two people from opposite coasts in Russia, one from Bessarabia and one from Yakutsk, first met each other in jail, and within earshot of the hoofbeats of revolution and entrenched cruel xenophobia, could somehow escape the devastation and end up in London Town to form one of the most mythic names in baccylore: The House of Sobranie.

    I'd discovered this book a while back by complete accident, then forgot about it, then remembered it and finally got myself a copy --- when it arrived I quickly scanned it for relevant info, interesting but not earth-shattering, it didn't grab me, I sat it aside.

    Today I drove my father down for a procedure and knew I'd be in the waiting room and was desperately trying to find something to read, having no luck, but then I noticed this book and grabbed it.

    This time I was in the correct frame of mind to absorb the qualities of what this book is, initially I'd thought it'd be tediously boring reading and never really got around to it outside of the quick scanning over.

    Well, this afternoon I was totally and fully engrossed with this book, it is a gripping tale, emotional and educational.

    Written by a grandson who is trying to unravel a mystery, and a sense of love is felt upon the pages, breathing, giving breath to lost memories while uncovering facts and forming an overall whole.

    Right from the acknowledgements,
    I was hooked.

    ...from the lawyer-encircled wagon train, which is all that remains of the UK tobacco trade, David Lewis of the premier cigar importers Hunter & Frankau Ltd introduced me to Robert Emory of Sobranie's very first retail outlet James J. Fox and Robert Lewis Ltd, who generously gave me one of the rare porcelain cigarette boxes which were one of the firm's hallmarks.

    The first go round I admit to being a lazy reader and not even attempting to read the first few pages,
    but it all came to me eventually I guess, sometimes it's like that, things will just serendipitously hit you when you're at your most receptive.

    On page 2 it says:

    This is a story of what led to that strange encounter, and of their tale, it is like a nest of enamel-painted matryoshka dolls. Layer by layer, new images emerge. Though they are images of times long gone, of parts of the world even today unfamiliar and hostile, of a family that never made the headlines, the underlying issues and values are much on our minds today: the ineradicable curse of terrorism, the systematic cruelty and criminality of authoritarian regimes and their legions of servants and officials, massive social upheaval and suffering, and quiet courage in the face of adversity.

    Then the snowball starts and I'm at page 50 before I know it, time to pop out for a pipe and continue reading --- will probably finish it up this evening because at this point I am completely immersed within that world.

    The author says of his grandfather, Mr. Redstone:

    David was small - a little over five feet tall - eyes twinkling behind his spectacles, and always formally dressed. His shirts were the kind that required bone and brass collar studs back and front, and cufflinks, and his three-piece suits were impregnated with the fragrance of the rich Yenidje tobacco that was the lifeblood of his business, much as an elderly priest's soutane might carry the faint breath of incense.

    It's a thoroughly enriching read,
    good for anyone so interested in such, and along the way one picks up some solid history too, I'm not that familiar with revolutionary Russia and it was an extraordinarily complex time, the author has a knack for putting everything in a proper perspective and I'm glad he wrote such a book.

    A good book!
    From Siberia with Love: A story of exile, revolution and cigarettes
    by
    Geoffrey Elliott

    http://www.amazon.com/From-Siberia-Love-revolution-cigarettes/dp/0413774597

    Posted 3 years ago #
  2. thefalcon

    PipeDreamer

    Member
    Joined: Dec 2012
    Posts: 251

    offline

    Login to Send PM

    I find it very intriguing to learn more of the History behind some of these fabled Blends! Sounds like an enjoyable read. Thanks for sharing ole boy!

    Eric

    Posted 3 years ago #
  3. deathmetal

    deathmetal

    Preferred Member
    Joined: Jul 2015
    Posts: 7,848

    offline

    Login to Send PM

    I remember how highly prized these cigarettes were in the 1980s. Fascinating history, and something to hunt down at our local library.

    "My own experience has been that the tools I need for my trade are paper, tobacco, food, and a little whiskey." -- William Faulkner

    The Metal Mixtures
    Posted 3 years ago #
  4. arno665

    arno665

    Senior Member
    Joined: Apr 2013
    Posts: 356

    offline

    Login to Send PM

    Another book I have to acquire.. Thanks Troy!

    Posted 3 years ago #
  5. chasingembers

    chasingembers

    Captain Of The Black Frigate
    Joined: Nov 2014
    Posts: 15,581

    offline

    Login to Send PM

    Books, yet another one of my vices. Grabbed a copy at Amazon for under three bucks. Can't wait, sounds very intetesting, and I do love historical reads. Thanks for the info!

    I like coffee exceedingly.
    - H. P. Lovecraft
    Posted 3 years ago #
  6. misterlowercase

    misterlowercase

    Member
    Joined: May 2012
    Posts: 4,542

    offline

    Login to Send PM

    Another cool unexpected surprise was an appearance by one of my cultural heroes...

    page 62

    Many passed on from the provincial jails to Moscow's Butyrki prison. It lies on what was once the highway from Moscow to St. Petersburg, near to the Petrovsky Park, whose chateau was said to be the closest Napoleon came to the heart of Moscow. About half of the 1,300 convicts in Butyrki at the turn of the century were 'politicals'. Their communal cells, twelve paces long by five wide, lined by wooden sleeping platforms, held twenty-five prisoners. To the 'house spirits' of the Butyrki and into its generations of warders, a scratching, hawking, feverish prisoner was just another number, whether murderer, revolutionary, poet or peasant; the roster of those who passed through its gates over the centuries is the story of Russia. Some found inspiration. In his first published verse, the futurist poet Vladimir Mayakovsky, a troublesome sixteen-year old prisoner whose cell window gave him a sobering view of an undertaker's parlour, wrote in 1919 after several months in solitary confinement:

    I learned to love
    In Butyrki
    Who cares about the Bois de Boulogne?
    Who sighs over seascapes?
    You know I fell in love with a 'funeral establishment'
    Through the peephole of Cell 103.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  7. User has not uploaded an avatar

    graydawn

    Member
    Joined: Feb 2014
    Posts: 169

    offline

    Login to Send PM

    Troy, thanks for the info. Fascinating. Ordered a copy this morning.

    Richard

    Posted 3 years ago #
  8. misterlowercase

    misterlowercase

    Member
    Joined: May 2012
    Posts: 4,542

    offline

    Login to Send PM

    Might as well add this footnote,
    a short manifesto written by David Burliuk, Alexander Kruchenykh, Vladmir Mayakovsky, and Victor Khlebnikov
    1917

    Пощёчина общественному вкусу

    A Slap in the Face of Public Taste

    To our readers – an Unprecedented Unexpected First.
    We alone are the face of our Time. The horn of time is trumpeting through our lingual arts.
    The past constricts us. Academia and Pushkin make less sense than hieroglyphics. Dump Pushkin, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, etc., etc. overboard the ship of Modernity.
    Those who don’t forget their first love won’t recognize their last.
    Who would trustingly turn their last love to Balmont’s perfumed lechery? Does it reflect the vigorous spirit of today?
    What coward would fear to tear the paper armor from the warrior Bryusov’s black tuxedo? Or does it shine with unknown beauties?
    Wash your hands that have touched the filthy slime of books written by countless Leonid Andreyevs.
    All those Maxim Gorkys, Kuprins, Bloks, Sologubs, Remisovs, Averchenkos, Chornys, Kuzmins, Bunins, etc. need only a dacha on the river. Thus fate rewards tailors.
    From the heights of skyscrapers we look down on their sorry asses!
    We order the reverence of poets’ rights:

    1. To enlarge the scope of the poet’s vocabulary with fabricated and derivative words. (word-novelty)
    2. To insurmountable hatred for the language existing before their time
    3. To wrench with horror from their proud brows the Wreath of cheap fame you have made from bathhouse switches
    4. To stand on the rock of the word “we” amidst seas of boos and outrage.

    And if your filthy stigmas of “common sense” and “good taste” are still present in our verses, they nevertheless glimmer with the first heat-flashes of the Newly Approaching Beauty of the Word – sufficient and valuable unto itself.

    Word.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  9. chasingembers

    chasingembers

    Captain Of The Black Frigate
    Joined: Nov 2014
    Posts: 15,581

    offline

    Login to Send PM

    From the heights of skyscrapers we look down on their sorry asses!

    Yep, I'll be taking the day off when this one comes in.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  10. misterlowercase

    misterlowercase

    Member
    Joined: May 2012
    Posts: 4,542

    offline

    Login to Send PM

    That wasn't in the book,
    just thought I'd add some context to Mayakovsky.

    I was pleasantly surprised to see him show up in the story!

    Posted 3 years ago #
  11. deathmetal

    deathmetal

    Preferred Member
    Joined: Jul 2015
    Posts: 7,848

    offline

    Login to Send PM


    Thus fate rewards tailors.
    From the heights of skyscrapers we look down on their sorry asses!
    We order the reverence of poets’ rights:

    1. To enlarge the scope of the poet’s vocabulary with fabricated and derivative words. (word-novelty)
    2. To insurmountable hatred for the language existing before their time
    3. To wrench with horror from their proud brows the Wreath of cheap fame you have made from bathhouse switches
    4. To stand on the rock of the word “we” amidst seas of boos and outrage.

    And if your filthy stigmas of “common sense” and “good taste” are still present in our verses, they nevertheless glimmer with the first heat-flashes of the Newly Approaching Beauty of the Word – sufficient and valuable unto itself.

    I can get behind this. Most of what succeeds is merely popular instead of good.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  12. chasingembers

    chasingembers

    Captain Of The Black Frigate
    Joined: Nov 2014
    Posts: 15,581

    offline

    Login to Send PM

    Most of what succeeds is merely popular instead of good.

    Uh-oh, this is starting to sound like a Penzance thread!

    Posted 3 years ago #
  13. deathmetal

    deathmetal

    Preferred Member
    Joined: Jul 2015
    Posts: 7,848

    offline

    Login to Send PM

    And yet, I think highly of Penzance (Mixture 79).

    Posted 3 years ago #
  14. chasingembers

    chasingembers

    Captain Of The Black Frigate
    Joined: Nov 2014
    Posts: 15,581

    offline

    Login to Send PM

    Posted 3 years ago #
  15. misterlowercase

    misterlowercase

    Member
    Joined: May 2012
    Posts: 4,542

    offline

    Login to Send PM

    Looking around at pipe porn this morn,
    and close to pulling the damn'd trigger onna Tupitsyn --- it's taking fierce willpower to resist.

    I dig Grechukhin's aesthetic,
    http://tobaccodays.com/interviews/vladimir-grechukin-the-new-classics-master/
    ...but cannot come close to affording an example of his work,
    Tupitsyn closely follows along the same lines, but also has a 'facet' influence from Poul Ilsted, and he makes some killer Rhodesians.

    Here's a few pipe porn keywords to do in google images iffit strikes yer fancy...

    ТУПИЦЫН трубка

    КОВАЛЁВ трубка

    ШЕКИТА трубка

    Харламов трубка

    Пономарчук трубка

    :

    ...yes,
    I am currently in a very Russian mood.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  16. deathmetal

    deathmetal

    Preferred Member
    Joined: Jul 2015
    Posts: 7,848

    offline

    Login to Send PM

    http://imgur.com/gallery/6hZjK

    Posted 3 years ago #
  17. misterlowercase

    misterlowercase

    Member
    Joined: May 2012
    Posts: 4,542

    offline

    Login to Send PM

    http://imgur.com/gallery/6hZjK

    Odd.

    Straight outta Brooklynski!

    Favorite comment:
    This is the kind of stuff that gets you on a government watchlist

    The Present Day Proletariat Refuses to Knuckle Under Imperial Wax Solvent

    :

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxDq5KKNVbA

    Posted 3 years ago #
  18. jvnshr

    jvnshr

    Mod
    Joined: Sep 2015
    Posts: 4,011

    offline

    Login to Send PM

    I remember how highly prized these cigarettes were in the 1980s.

    I don't know about USA, but Sobranie cigarettes are still sold here. The interesting thing is the flavor they have. Very distinguishable. By the way, Sobranie means "meeting" in Russian. Whenever you need a Russian speaking person, I am here

    Javan
    Posted 3 years ago #
  19. misterlowercase

    misterlowercase

    Member
    Joined: May 2012
    Posts: 4,542

    offline

    Login to Send PM

    Thanks for the info jvnshr.


    Whenever you need a Russian speaking person, I am here

    ...and much appreciation for the linguistic services offer as well!

    What is the Russian word, in Cyrillic, for sandblast?

    Posted 3 years ago #
  20. jvnshr

    jvnshr

    Mod
    Joined: Sep 2015
    Posts: 4,011

    offline

    Login to Send PM

    @misterlowercase

    бласт (blast) - sandblast
    пескоструйная камера - sandblasting equipment
    бластовые трубки - sandblasted pipes

    Posted 3 years ago #
  21. baccyfart

    baccyfart

    Member
    Joined: May 2015
    Posts: 159

    offline

    Login to Send PM

    dobro utro, comrade jvnshr!

    Posted 3 years ago #
  22. misterlowercase

    misterlowercase

    Member
    Joined: May 2012
    Posts: 4,542

    offline

    Login to Send PM

    @misterlowercase

    бласт (blast) - sandblast
    пескоструйная камера - sandblasting equipment
    бластовые трубки - sandblasted pipes


    Many thanks!

    ...was able to find this really cool tile montage, makes me want to make something similar, with pix of my pipes, and blown up into poster size for the wall!

    Posted 3 years ago #
  23. misterlowercase

    misterlowercase

    Member
    Joined: May 2012
    Posts: 4,542

    offline

    Login to Send PM

    ...another great find,
    a briar-stemmed blasted pipe.
    A particular and peculiar favorite style of mine!

    http://pipefaq.ru/mastera/viktor-yashtylov/4/

    Posted 3 years ago #
  24. skraps

    skrapsoftobacco

    Preferred Member
    Joined: Sep 2015
    Posts: 801

    offline

    Login to Send PM

    Did anyone actually find this on Amazon as an e-book? I'm only seeing it available in paperback.

    "People are not made better by a briar. An idiot before smoking a pipe is still an idiot after smoking a pipe, they're just more likely to speak less drivel with something in their mouth. For that, all society should be grateful."

    - Bob Runowski
    Posted 3 years ago #
  25. chasingembers

    chasingembers

    Captain Of The Black Frigate
    Joined: Nov 2014
    Posts: 15,581

    offline

    Login to Send PM

    The paperback is what I got.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  26. misterlowercase

    misterlowercase

    Member
    Joined: May 2012
    Posts: 4,542

    offline

    Login to Send PM

    A review from The Telegraph:

    Siberia and Sobranies
    Anne Applebaum reviews From Siberia With Love by Geoffrey Elliott

    12:01AM GMT 28 Dec 2004

    Perhaps because it is a lost civilisation, the Russian empire seems to exert an almost magnetic attraction on the children and grandchildren of the people who left. In recent years a notable number have traced their families back to Polish villages or Tsarist palaces, pieced together the histories of those places using family memoirs and old photographs, and written books which describe what, if anything, still remains of their ancestors' past.

    Geoffrey Elliott, a British banker who writes at one point that he has lived an easy, "marshmallow" life, felt the same kind of attraction to the story of his grandfather David, a Russian socialist who met his grandmother, Manya, in a Siberian prison. Later, the two of them lived in central Siberia, before the Revolution forced them to flee across China to London. There David founded a company that produced fine cigarettes – the famous, gold-tipped "Balkan Sobranie" brand - and aromatic pipe tobacco.

    It is easy to see why this story had so much appeal for Elliott, who has meticulously re-created his grandparents' world, using memoirs, books, travel and the Russian language-skills he learned not from his family, but from the British government at the Joint Services School for Linguists.

    He describes David's birthplace in Bessarabia, at the time a mishmash of Jewish, Moldovan, Russian and Turkish cultures; Odessa, where David, a contemporary of Trotsky, studied and grew attracted to the revolutionary socialism that drew in many young men at the time; Nerchinsk, where Manya was born, a distant East Siberian town which was largely populated by the indigenous Buryats. Most memorably, he describes their flight out of Russia, which began with Manya and her children desperately clutching on to the roof of the train bound for China. Later, Manya remembered "men and women being dragged off the train to be shot, and others killed when random bullets smashed through the windows".

    At one point she hid her elder daughter in a laundry basket so that she wouldn't be seen by any of the marauding soldiers. Afterwards, they lived for months in a train car in Harbin, almost completely destitute. All they had taken with them were a few pieces of jewellery and some gold coins, hidden in the underclothes of their smallest child.

    Geoffrey Elliott has done his research, and re-creates all of these scenes with great care. Unfortunately, the characters at the centre of the book, David and Manya, remain impossible to fathom. Neither wrote extensive memoirs, and neither spoke very much of their experiences to Elliott himself. As a result, most of their memories come through other people, and he is forced, again and again, to guess at what they might have thought or felt.

    He cannot explain, for example, why David was really attracted to revolutionary socialism in his youth: "No one will ever know when and why his heart tuned in to dreams of change." He doesn't know whether David actually met Trotsky in Odessa, although he speculates that he "must have come across the man who might have led Russia". He doesn't know much about David and Manya's happy marriage either, or how they felt about their religions, Judaism and Russian Orthodoxy: "Did David and Manya pray to their respective Gods, and for what?"

    These frequent, unanswered, rhetorical questions ultimately intervene in the story, as does the author's occasional weakness for tired metaphors. Through the first part of the book, he talks about uncovering new aspects of his grandfather's life like so many Russian matryoshka dolls, and at one point he says his grandparents feared their cigarette business would disappear "in a puff of smoke".

    Reading this well-intentioned book, it is impossible not to conclude that writing about one's own family is, in the end, much harder than it seems. However amazing their stories, a daughter or a grandson will always feel much more passionate about a father or grandfather than the ordinary reader. Geoffrey Elliott has succeeded in transmitting that passion, but hasn't quite managed to convey who his grandparents really were, or what motivated them to live as they did.

    Anne Applebaum is the author of 'Gulag: A History' (Penguin).


    :

    ...and of possible other interest:
    http://pipesmagazine.com/forums/topic/balkan-sobranie-notes-quotes-links-and-pretty-pictures-image-heavy

    Posted 3 years ago #
  27. jvnshr

    jvnshr

    Mod
    Joined: Sep 2015
    Posts: 4,011

    offline

    Login to Send PM

    dobro utro, comrade jvnshr!

    Dobroe utro tovarish baccyfart!

    @misterlowercase, you are welcome sir. And I totally enjoyed that thread of yours.

    Posted 3 years ago #

Reply

You must log in to post.

 

 

    Back To Top  | Back to Forum Home Page

   Members Online Now
   smittyd, mso489, the85boro, jguss, donjgiles, yaboofive, skeeter456