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Charatan Summa Cum Laude

(13 posts)
  • Started 3 months ago by kenbarnes
  • Latest reply from fredhanna
  1. kenbarnes

    kenbarnes

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    The Charatan Coronation on the previous thread is very nice and I think this one is a real 'corker'! Below is a photo of a photo that my father took of the first Charatan Summa Cum Laude – I think that there were only 3 ever made? He took this picture in the factory's showroom with a black & white film on a Polaroid camera! I think this one is from 1971 or 1972?
    When I saw it, I remember going weak in the knees as it had the most beautiful grain, right around the bowl, that I have ever seen. The plaque says 9000. I think that was the price of it in 1971 - $9,000 which, in those days, was a huge amount of money. I think this one was the pre-cursor to Herman Lane's first $10,000 pipe.
    Charatan used to make a duplicate mouthpiece for only a very few pipes that were truly exceptional. I think this second mouthpiece was made from catalin which was the material used to make the Charatan 'after hours' series.
    I would love to know who is smoking this pipe now - has anyone seen this pipe or has anyone got this one in their collection? Any feedback from members re: the dating or the ownership would be most welcome.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  2. sablebrush52

    sablebrush52

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    I remember a story that Richard Hacker wrote about the Summa Cum Laude. One of them was given as a gift to Pablo Casals who promptly filled it with his favorite blend and put a match to it!

    It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt. - Mark Twain

    It is pointless to argue with a fanatic since a dim bulb can't be converted into a searchlight. - Jesse Silver
    Posted 3 months ago #
  3. verporchting

    verporchting

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    Respect!

    Kudos to the man who lights a pipe like that and uses it in good health.

    What an outstanding piece of usable art! Just lovely.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  4. kenbarnes

    kenbarnes

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    One of them was given as a gift to Pablo Casals

    Yes, I saw that one, it was shaped in the form of a cello and the grain, in my opinion, was not as spectacular as this one.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  5. pitchfork

    pitchfork

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    Holy smokes!

    Posted 3 months ago #
  6. ssjones

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    Dennis C might know, but to my knowledge, he's only available at shows. Rick Esserman might know how to reach him. Or Fred Hannah? Even in that B&W photo, that grain stands pretty tall. Supplying a 2nd mouth piece must have been a headache for the carver (I assume that for all the reasons George has described on making a replacement stem) OR, is creating a 2nd stem done earlier and at the same time?

    Al

    Posted 3 months ago #
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    oldgeezersmoker

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    I have reached out to Dennis by the only means I have, but not sure when or if he will respond.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  8. georged

    georged

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    OR, is creating a 2nd stem done earlier and at the same time?

    Almost certainly made before the final, delicate shaping and coloring steps. Much easier then than if the stummel couldn't be touched. (In a commercial production environment, deliberately doing it the "hard way" would probably get you fired. )

    Dogs live such short lives... and spend most it waiting for us to come home
    Posted 3 months ago #
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    jguss

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    Beautiful grain. Maybe Tad Gage, who interviewed Herman Lane, would know what happened to this pipe.

    Posted 3 months ago #
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    fredhanna

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    Hello all. And greetings to kenbarnes. That is a tremendous Summa. Thank you for sharing that photo. You and your father are legends in the pipe world.

    I remember holding a huge Summa Cum Laude that was the centerpiece of a large Charatan show held at Smoker's Haven in Columbus back around 1977 or so. At the time, it was $10,000 and promoted by Lane Limited as the most expensive briar pipe in the world. Being in my 20s at the time, I remember Dick Dimeola, the vice president of Lane Limited, looking upon me with kindness as I openly gawked slack jawed at the pipe. Earlier, I had been assaulting him with Charatan questions and he patiently answered them all with both detail and a surprising degree of candor. At some point he quietly walked over to the Summa, opened the glass display case in which the Summa was housed, and pulled the pipe out and gave it to me to hold and inspect for several long minutes. It was a major highlight of my 52 years of pipe smoking and pipe collecting.

    And by the way, in answer to the post of my close friend jguss above, our close friend Tad Gage did indeed once interview Herman Lane for his long missed pipe magazine, The Compleat Smoker. The interview took place in Herman Lane's NYC apartment. Tad has told me several times that he saw and held a half dozen Summa Cum Laudes that were laying around in Herman Lane's flat at the time, and that the story of there being only three ever made was obviously mistaken. Tad also told me that, after seeing my Coronation in the other thread (which was made in the early to mid 1960s before the Summa grade was created), that the grain of my Coronation was the equal of, and in the same league as, the Summa Cum Laudes that he saw at Herman Lane's home. Tad said that he honestly believes that that Coronation would have been a Summa Cum Laude if there were such a grade at the time of its making. But of course, that is just speculation, intriguing as it may be.

    According to rumors, those Summa pipes along with other top Charatans were passed along to Herman Lane's son and were never seen again by anyone in the pipe world that we know of. Many of us Charatan devotees have often wondered what ever happened to those legendary pipes. And of course, I don't know if that story about his son is true. But there it is for what it is worth.

    And I want to send a public thank you to my friend Geoged for posting the photos of my Coronation in the other thread and doing an absolutely fantastic job on the stems, which I received in the mail today. I am a happy guy!

    Posted 3 months ago #
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    oldgeezersmoker

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    I heard from Dennis C. He has not seen the Summa.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  12. kenbarnes

    kenbarnes

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    Thank you very much for this information fredhanna,
    your words have definitely taken me down memory lane. I have just been on the ‘phone to Barry Jones and we spent one hour going down memory lane too. Barry was telling me that the first Coronations that were made were classically shaped in the early to mid1960s as were the first ‘few’ Summa Cum Laude pipes some years later. Then the demand for Summas, the 3 Achievement grades and Coronations in extra, extra-large sizes became so strong that Barry and Stan Haney simply selected and cut the finest quality plateau that Charatan had in stock (possibly 10 blocks a week) and simply turned the tobacco chamber on the lathe and the rest of the shaping was done by Joan Nicholson, Barry and Stan on the sandpapering wheels. Seven-day sets were then created from these. Barry said that the reason for making two mouthpieces for some of these pipes was because of their size, as they thought the inevitable would happen to the bite of these stems. He said that Johnny Mahoney was in charge of making these hand-cut mouthpieces. I was incorrect here when I said that Sid Percy was responsible for these. Barry said that Sid’s workshop was next to Johnny’s and he would carry out all the hand-cut replacements/repairs.
    Incidentally, I never met Herman and Elsie Lane’s son, only their daughter (Jeany?). She would come with her parents to London and whilst Herman was ‘dealing with my father’, the ‘girls’ would go shopping! I don’t think their son was interested in the business.
    Dick Dimeola did contact me some years ago to say hello to the family which my mother found heart-warming.
    Finally, I must say that George carried out an exquisite piece of work on this Coronation.

    Posted 3 months ago #
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    fredhanna

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    Thank you kenbarnes for sharing that great information. This is very valuable knowledge for me and no doubt many more of us who are Charatan lovers. What an exciting time period that must have been. It would be a great experience to be in the same room as yourself, Barry, and Dick, listening to you guys telling great stories of those golden years. Meanwhile, I am happy that you are contributing and sharing your knowledge with the rest of us. Thanks again.

    Posted 3 months ago #

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