I’ve had this tin of tobacco staring at me, shoved aside and reappearing for some months now. The label is a simple white background featuring an inked character, who is in the act of painting on a very large easel while smoking a pipe. I wasn’t sure what these graphics were suggesting toward the tobacco, but I am guessing it didn’t taste like paint. The namesake of this tobacco is for Norman Rockwell, and I’m not going to get too deep into the history of the man and the artist. To be completely honest, I never really felt particularly moved by his work—maybe if only for his eye for detail and lively style. His art in my mind consists of cherry-picked cozy ideals and views few truly had (or pretended they did), from gee-whiz American youth innocence, to traditional seasonal celebration, perfect family, unquestioned patriotism, pious and humble church and the pride of daily life therein. They were lifestyle snapshots intended for a time long ago, and today it seems to lean somewhat artificial and creepy. Both of my biological parents hail from this time, and they yearned to be Rockwell’s ideal subjects, and they were far from it. It reminds me that old-fashioned simplicity in rose-tinted hindsight usually means someone cut corners or paid for it in scenes better left unseen. I prefer the whole picture. Let’s hope this pipe tobacco, “Portrait,” doesn’t suffer from this.
Welcome to The Pipes Magazine Radio Show Episode 408! Our featured interview tonight is with John Semel. John is a New York City resident that through his career, he has been able to travel the world meeting pipe makers. He is an MBA Graduate from Harvard Business School, and an executive with experience in publishing, media, gaming, technology and entertainment. At the top of the show, for our pipe parts segment, Brian will refer back to the Seven Questions for Seven Experts, and give you what his answers are to one question a week. Sit back, relax with your pipe, and enjoy The Pipes Magazine Radio Show!
I had a chance to sit down with Chris Gawith and chat to him about his two brands, Samuel Gawith and Gawith and Hoggarth. It was an audio interview, so I have transcribed it as such.
Are you thinking about dropping one of the brands?
No, not at all. They are all made under the same roof; when Sam Gawith came over to us we bought the men, machinery, and the brands, basically everything just sort of moved, more or less all of them stayed, maybe one or two decided to move on. It has been run up to now as just their company under our roof, which works to a point. But now we’ve discovered what the demand is, but the two brands will remain as they are.
The problem with leaving it just at that stage which we are trying to address. You can’t operate as a business with two teams of people; we need to manage the equipment and the human resources to deliver what pipe smokers want us to deliver. Gawith Hoggarth can produce tobacco a lot quicker; it’s just the nature of how the tobacco is made at Samuel Gawith.
Now that we are in the month of America’s independence, our national holiday celebrated, of course, July 4th each year, requires a moment of reflection.
America’s founding fathers were pipe smokers and planters of tobacco. By the time of the nation’s independence and the signing of the Declaration of Independence, tobacco was an integral cash crop in the fledgling former colonies.
Europe, especially England, which American patriots had defeated in the Revolutionary War, could not get enough of the former colonies’ tobacco from Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Tennessee.
Although other states would grow tobacco, the southern half of the new nation, with its more tropical climate and soil, was especially suited for the crop.
Last May I attended the Chicago Pipe Show, and the first person I saw was an Englishman named Reggie Stevens. Reg lives in Birmingham, England and speaks with the accent of someone who has lived in the north of England his whole life. He sounds a little like Ringo Starr.
“Reg!” I said, “It’s so good to see you!” as I gave him a big bear hug.
“Well, I’ll tell you, mate,” he said, “I’m feeling a little better now. My wife of 54 years died in January, and this is the first time I can feel the cloud lifting a little – because of all the love and friendship there is at this pipe show.”