If you are a pipe smoker or pipe collector and you missed the Richmond Pipe Show this year, we feel bad for you. The good news is that you can see what you missed here.
The show is put on by the Conclave of Richmond Pipe Smokers club or C.O.R.P.S. Bob Tate and I attended the show October 2 – 4, 2009 to work, reporting on it here for our audience. This is the best definition of work I ever experienced. It was such a great weekend being surrounded by hundreds of people that love collecting pipes, love smoking pipes and love talking about pipes and doing all three at the same time non-stop all weekend long. It makes you wish there was a pipe show every weekend.
When we arrived Friday evening around 5 pm I think we were one of the last to get there as the Holiday Inn Select – Koger South Conference Center was already filled with hundreds of "Pipers". Many recognizable faces were seen in the lobby and throughout the hotel right away. A few notables were; Craig Tarler, Rich Esserman, Rick Newcombe, Tad Gage, Rob Cooper, Bob Swanson and many more.
The first thing we did was join C.O.R.P.S, the Conclave of Richmond Pipe Smokers club. (We also crashed the International Charatan Collector’s Society Meeting, Read About it Here.) They had a great deal for the show. $25 membership got you the Friday dinner, admission to the Expo both days, club pin and discounts on club stuff. We will also be offered the club pipe at the club’s cost + shipping in 2010. Without club membership the rates are: Friday meal: $35.; admission to Expo (2 days) – $10.; no pin, no discounts, no club pipe offer. How could we pass that up? Bob & I are now proud members of C.O.R.P.S. The dinner was excellent. It included chicken, roast beef, prime rib, scallops wrapped in bacon and several other delights including pound cake ala mode with cherries jubilee.
After dinner, Linwood Hines spoke about several things including the need to support pipe clubs and to bring new people into the pipe collecting and smoking hobby. We couldn’t agree more. We smoked the night away and got ready for Saturday morning.
Saturday morning we started off speaking to one of the members of PipesMagazine.com, John Goldberg. John had a table showing his pipes and told us, "I’ve come here probably nine years and I basically have some extra pipes that I’m trying to sell to make room for more pipes."
Kevin: Which pipes do you have here that you’re selling?
John: There’s some Dunhills, some Radice, some Beckers, and some Ruthenberg pipes.
Kevin: And what’s the age range?
John: Oh, probably over a 20-year period of time.
Kevin: Okay and the price range?
John: Anywhere from $100 to $300.
Kevin: Okay. Sounds great and you’re a proud member of Pipes Magazine?
John: I’m a proud member of Pipes Magazine.
Next we saw Carl McAllister of Altadis U.S.A. and he spoke to use about the creation of the Sutliff Private Stock line.
"My team position is research and development, quality control. I’m looking at a line of retro blends, House of Windsor blends primarily, a couple of Dunhill blends as well. I’ll go over these blends one by one. we have Maple Street, for example, is our version of Rum and Maple. Man’s Best Friend is our version of Barking Dog. Great Outdoors is our version of Field and Stream. Our Blend is our version of Revelation. French Quarter is our version of Bourbon Street. Country Doctor, our version of Country Doctor is C.D. Blend. BRG mixture is our version of Breaks. Navigator Blend is our version of Argosy Black. Sunrise Smoke is our version of Early Morning Pipe. And Blend 5 is our version of Dunhill 965. Windsor brands have become recently hard to find and it left a big hole in the market, so we painstakingly tried to match their blends as closely as we could. It was a labor of love for me. I think I did a wonderful job replicating the character of each blend."
Kevin: What’s the process you go about to achieve your end result, without giving away any trade secrets?
Karl: Well, it’s more of an art than it is a science. I start out by smoking the tobacco. I reflect upon what I’m smoking. Then, I’ll make my own notes on what I think it has in it as far as the flavors. I’ll examine the leaf visually. Try to ascertain the mixtures of tobaccos that comprise the base. From there, it a series of trial and error. I’ll make a blend. I’ll look at it. I’ll evaluate it and then I’ll think well what do I need to get this closer. Sometimes, I can get lucky. I can get a blend in three of four tries, but it has taken me sometimes as many as 30.
Karl: I’m very, very tenacious about getting a good match. I have almost a bulldog tenacity. I just do not give up until I get it. As long as I think I can get closer, I’ll keep striving.
Kevin: Well, I’m sure there’s probably a lot of people out there wondering if you need an apprentice.
Karl: Well, it would be nice to have one at times. It can be very harrowing doing it all, but I enjoy it.
We spoke with Bill Shalosky from Smokers Haven and Shalosky Pipes in Columbus OH. He was displaying some exquisite original pipe designs.
I do a little bit of everything at the shop. It’s in Columbus, Ohio. I make the Chheda Pipes which is the owner, Premal Chheda. My pipes are Shalosky. I’ve been at pipemaking for about 2½ years now and coming to the shows. I think this is my third Richmond show.
Kevin: Tell us about the pipes.
Bill: The Chheda pipes are usually pretty conservative in shape. Lot of classics and variations of classics and the Shalosky pipes, we have a little bit more fun with. Try to come up with some new shapes and play around and have fun with the old classic shapes and various styles and finishes.
Kevin: They’re all handmade?
Bill: All handmade. Stems handout. Italian briar mostly. Lots of different decoration materials.
Kevin: Where do our readers if they’re interested in purchasing any of these pipes go about doing that?
Bill: Right now, I don’t have my own website, but right now through smokershaven.com.
Kevin: Smokershaven.com. Great. What’s the price range?
Bill: Right now, it’s $200 to $600 on average.
Kevin: And they’re one of a kind handmade.
McClelland Tobacco Company
We had a pleasant chat with Mary McNiel, the owner of McClelland.
Mary told us that the ever-popular McClelland Christmas Cheer 2009 is out in stores now in a 100 gram tin. The 2009 blend is made with a special selection of beautiful, ripe, sugary, deep orange South Carolina Border Belt flue cured Virginia from the 2003 crop.
McClelland was also showing the 25th (1977 – 2005) Anniversary Blend. Mary told us, "We brought it out originally in 02 as a one-time deal to highlight our 25th anniversary and it sold so well and we had so many requests to bring it back that we tinned it again in 05.
It’s been aging since then. When this runs out, we’ll do another tin. The 02 tin had a red wax seal on it. The 05 has a green wax seal on it, so when we tin it again, it’ll have another color.
The newest series is the Collector Lid series and the two newest products in that series are the Three Oaks original and the Three Oaks series and that makes three.
Perry White Pipes – Bob Swanson
"I guess one of the things that’s note worthy to me would be that being a veteran in the Richmond show and Richmond being one of my favorite shows, I’ve seen more traffic and more people here than I think I’ve ever seen. It’s been a jammed pack show and that’s encouraging for not only the economy, but for tobacco and pipes, so.
Kevin: Anything you can attribute that to?
Bob: I think it’s pent up demand and desire, you know. I think we’ve all been a little hesitant to spend the extra dollars with the economy and I think it’s starting to loosen up and the liberal press is coming around and saying even that it’s starting to recover, so, that would be my answer for it.
Bob Tate of PipesMagazine.com asked: "Have you noticed if there are more younger people in the crowd this year than last?"
Bob: Absolutely, absolutely, and that’s very encouraging and exciting because there are a lot of younger guys and I really like seeing that. It’s a good thing; including you guys.
[Editor’s note: Being that I am 45, and my colleague is 35, it’s flattering to be referred to as one of the younger guys at the show, but it also says we need to get more of you younger guys to come out here.]
Kevin: You want to give us a brief overview of Perry White Pipes?
Bob: Basically, what I’m doing with my pipes is doing a lot of sandblast now, but I do a lot of what I call Charatanesque type pipes, because I’m a Charatan collector for probably about 35, 40 years. I cover all ranges. I got a very small pipe and I go up to the magnums, to the big magnums, and most of my pipes are; I’m a nitpicker with engineering and they’re what we call opened up pipes. Most of them are 5/32nds, and Charatan for example, use 9/64th’s for the draft hole. So they draw very easy, they smoke well, and that’s feedback that I get.
I have a proprietary curing process I use on my bowls and I also have a Red Algerian Briar that’s been aged for over 50 years, actually closer to 60 years now.
And that’s briar that came out after the 2nd World War, when we could finally get some brair imported, so it was in the late 40s and a very good briar, very cool smoking, and very light, and makes a really nice pipe, and it was a nice smoke.
Kevin: Are there different divisions in the line?
Bob Swanson: My grading system is actually pretty simplistic. I have A’s, which are smooth, and I have A1, A2, and A3; A3 being the highest grade. And then I have B’s, which are rusticated or blasted, mostly they’re blasted. And those are B1, B2, and B3; B3 being the highest. My average price is probably about $325.
Kevin: Okay, and what’s the full range prices?
Bob: I run from $285 is my lowest and I’ve had some of them that sell as high as $850. But I’d say my average high is $475.
Kevin: And all the pipes are made where?
Bob: All the pipes are made in my shop in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on the North fork of the Middle River.
Kevin: Where can consumers that are interested in purchasing any of your pipes go?
Bob: They should look at PerryWhitePipes.com.
Kevin: You sell them directly?
Bob: I sell them direct. Yeah. And actually you can go on the site and if there’s something that you like and you use Paypal, you just click on the Paypal button and away it goes. You’ll have the pipe within two to three days.
NASPC – North American Society of Pipe Collectors
It’s been said by Bill Unger of the NASPC that if you have one pipe, you are a pipe smoker and if you have two pipes, you’re a pipe collector. That’s certainly the way I would define pipe collectors too if I was the Secretary / Treasurer of the North American Society of Pipe Collectors. To find out more about the organization, we talked to their President, John Tolle.
"I’m John Tolle, President of the North American Society of Pipe Collectors. We’re the largest pipe organization in the world right now. And we have roughly 1,000 members, been around for 17 years now, roughly, in all the states including international. And the reason you should join is there is very little out there on pipes. We print the Pipe Collector, which is a 44 page newsletter showing everything that goes on in the pipe world. Other people write in. So we print everything and anything. Six issues a year, 44-pages. It’s on pipes and tobacco and it is a great magazine. That’s the only thing like it out there. We also do pipe of the year each year and different pipe makers make it. We’ve been doing that for roughly 10 years about famous pipe makers like Michael Clarence and Paul Bonaquisti this year. We only make the number of pipes ordered and if it’s 33 that’s all that’s ever made. And we put out the big annual Columbus show, which is the third largest show in the world now. And that is very well received, like, Richmond and like the Chicago show. It is just another pipe community for people to get around.
Kevin: What type of information do we find in the newsletter?
John: The newsletter is shows that are going on, articles on pipe making, articles on pipe collecting and the people write in all the articles. Everybody writes in articles and we make articles on different types of pipe collecting, how pipes are made, the pipe makers. We have six profiles of American pipe makers and it is everything that is going on in the pipe world.
Kevin: And it’s an annual membership?
John: It’s an annual membership. It’s $17.00 a year, six issues a year. We don’t meet. But you get the six, 44 pages, very professional. It’s a magazine basically now.
[Editor’s note: Bob Tate and I both joined for 2009 and 2010 and received all the back issues from 2009. We also bought the exclusive tobaccos.]
Kevin: And what’s the web site?
John: The web site is www.naspc.org.
There were also some interesting tobaccos displayed at the NASPC table and John told us about those as well.
One of the things we do do every year, we have John Russick’s ten years now, is we have our own tobaccos made, very limited editions that are only available at the Columbus show in August. We’ve done for the last eight or nine years. Greg Pease has worked with me and we’ve come up with very special tobaccos, limited in the sense of maybe only 200 tins. The most we’ve ever had is 350 tins. They always sell out completely at the show. It’s been based on a hobbit theme lately for these years so there’s a little story on the back, you know, some of the tobacco is at least 30,000 years old and we revived it.
Any how, it’s great stuff. It’s sought after. It’s become collector’s items all over the world but its also great tobacco. So that’s one thing we do along with the pipe of the year each time.
John: The only way you ever get the tobacco is at the show, the show at Columbus and we limit it to a couple tins and the only other time then, as soon as the show closes, you start seeing this stuff on eBay for three, four, five times as much. But if somebody wants to sell it, smoke or sell it, you got to get it off of somebody else and again, this year we did 200 tins of two different tobaccos, it’s gone. Although I’m here at the Richmond show right now and we happen to bring 10 tins just to give some folks in another part of the country a little bit chance to get it. But they’re about gone too.
|Tree Beard Story – Click Image for Detailed View
|Gimli’s Stash Story – Click Image for Detailed View
Bob Gilbert (Staffwalker), of Denton TX
Bob Gilbert, another ember of our community here at PipesMagazine.com was showing some beautiful one-of-a-kind handmade pipes at his table.
Bob told us, "I’ve been making handmade pipes now for I think three years. I think I made my first one over Labor Day weekend in 2006. I try to use the best bark you can purchase. And at present I’m using Algerian bark that I buy direct from the mills in Algeria. I use German ebonite for stems. Everything is totally handmade. I open my stems up, the buttons are opened up so that I try to get the same amount of air flow from all the way from the bow to the mouth. Like on open pipes I do 5/32nd bowing in the stem.
Kevin: Can you tell us about this pipe here?
Bob: This is an early one that I did quite some time ago, probably about the 25th pipe that I ever carved. And then I have a friend who does hand carving and so I gave it to him. I had him carve a Masonic symbol on it. And he does a really beautiful job drawing the Masonic symbol as you can see.
Kevin: Very nice.
Bob: I do the pipes. He does the carving.
Kevin: Okay. And then tell us about this pipe here.
Bob: This little pipe has a water buffalo hand cap, water buffalo horn and the grain is quite beautiful, I think. I kept the grain running up the sides and the birds eye on the bottom, which is a rather small pipe, probably about 4 ½”. I was drawing on a block of wood one night and had no idea what I was doing, just drawing, and I came up with this shape. And so I made this one and then I made a couple of more and improved each one. Then I went online to see if I could find one similar to this. I found a guy in Germany who had made one very similar but I had never seen it before. So where the inspiration came from I have no idea.
Kevin: That’s neat. And it almost looks like the finish and the coloring, it looks like it is on fire. Quite beautiful.
Bob: I used a red stain first and then sanded it off and came back with a yellow stain. And I really like the color but I haven’t been able to duplicate it again. I’ve tried on two or three different parts to get this color and it just hasn’t come out. Why, I don’t know. I’m working on things like that.
Kevin: It is truly one of a kind pipe for a very modest price of $150.
Bob: Yeah. My prices are quite reasonable. I’m trying to establish a reputation, you know, so …
Kevin: If a consumer was interested in purchasing your pipes how would they go about doing that?
Bob: You can send me an email at StaffWalker at yahoo dot com.
Kevin: And they can buy directly from you?
Bob: Directly from me, yes.
Kevin: How about these two pipes here?
Bob: A noted pipe maker told me one time that making pipes is just a matter of correcting your mistakes. This was a mistake. I had originally intended to make a wooden stem but I ran into quite a cavernous opening in the pipe and I was flexing it a little bit to see how deep it was and it broke off. And I said, aha, bamboo stem coming up. So I created a bamboo stem and the shape of the bow seemed natural to have a center. And it sits quite well. It’s perfectly balanced. Even on this table and all the cloth, it’s …
Kevin: Does that pipe have a name?
Bob: Not really.
Bob: I’m not much of a pipe namer. I figure if you want to purchase one of my pipes you name it and I’ll agree with you that is what it is.
Kevin: Okay. Very good. Now, this one also has a bamboo stem. Is that a similar story?
Bob: No, no. I planned this one from the first as a bamboo stem. When I was originally introduced to bamboo several years ago I didn’t like it. But the more I’m around bamboo the more I like it. It’s light, you can take a pipe that’s a little heavy, put a bamboo stem on it and you’ve got a lighter pipe. It’s very beautiful and never, you know, you see bamboo stem pipes around that are quite old. They don’t crack, they don’t deteriorate, they just …
Kevin: So the bamboo is a good material because it is sturdy, its light and it’s also makes a nice pipe. It is almost like accessorizing it.
Bob: Yeah. I think so. It just makes a really beautiful pipe. And each piece of bamboo is like bark, the grain on bark. It has its own individual character, you know, no two pieces of bamboo are alike. So you take the pipe and then you select the bamboo that goes with that particular pipe, for size, for the node placement.
Kevin: Very good. And how many Richmond shows have you been to?
Bob: This is my first one. It won’t be my last. I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s a great show. I’m just now trying to get out into the pipe world. I did the Chicago show and now the Richmond show. That’s my second live show ever. So I can’t wait until next year.
If you’ve read this far, I thank you for your attention and have to tell you that LOTS and LOTS more went on at the Richmond Show and many more people were there, way too much to cover in one article.
We will end this one with Bill Feuerbach, S.M. Frank & Co., the manufacturers of Kaywoodie, Yello-Bole and Medico pipes.
Anyone that has ever met Bill knows that he is a super nice guy, very friendly and personable. Bill told us …
"Here at the Richmond Show I’d like to point out that we’ve come out with our 2009 Pipe of the Year, which is a squat bulldog. It comes in five finishes, ranging in retail price from $150 to $250. Available either direct from us, or from select retailers on the internet, and some select shops around the country. We can point you in the right direction if you’re interested.
Another item we’ve come out with is a reproduction of a 1940’s and 50’s finish called the Handmade Super Grain Kaywoodie. In a more affordable price range, in the $75 to $90 price range in assorted shapes. Our exclusive retailer for that line will be Park Lane Tobacconist, Clifton Park, New York.
If you’re wondering about the pretty lady holding the pipe at the beginning of the article, she was a cute, but shy Italian woman at the Luciano table. Bob Tate has an article in the works on their new line. I just thought it was a great "people shot with pipe" to start off the article with.
See more coverage of the Richmond Pipe Show at the links below: