The 2009 Chicagoland Int’l Pipe & Tobacciana Show had over 350 exhibitors and nearly 4,000 attendees from 65 countries. I spoke with several of the exhibitors such as; Cornell & Diehl, XYZ Direct, Tobacco Pipe Exports, Viprati Pipes, Pipa Castello, Harkam Pipe, Mac Baren and others about their new pipes and tobaccos.
Cornell & Diehl
Popular tobacco producers Cornell & Diehl were exhibiting and I spoke to the owner Craig Tarler. "Every year at the show we introduce a blend with a Comic label on it and this year its Good Morning and it shows a gentleman picking up his newspaper in his bathrobe and a Preacher and two ladies from the church saying, "Good Morning" behind it. And we enjoy doing this; everybody kind of looks forward to what we’re going to bring out. This is an early morning blend, it’s a Light English." Cornell & Diehl’s Website
I met Alan Schwartz, whom some of you may remember as the former editor of the now defunct Pipe Smoke Magazine which used to be inserted into Smoke Magazine. Alan and his wife Joan are the owners of XYZ Direct which is a distribution company for several popular brands of pipes and tobacco.
Alan told me, "We distribute Chacon, Molina, Mastro De Paja, Peter Jefferson, Arab Pipes, Wessex Pipes and a few others. We’re actually two companies because Mastro De Paja is a separate entity. It’s an independent company, but it’s included in our group."
"There’s a third company, the Nicotier, which is the world’s largest maker of filters for pipes for 9mm filter pipes that are 95% of the market now in Central Europe and also makes the filter cigarette holders. So, we’re Nicotier USA and Mastro De Paja USA and the overall umbrella company is XYZ Direct.
The products we sell in pipes are Chacom, which is an old French company; the original Comoy company is now Chacom which is a conflation of two names, Chapre and Comoy to Chacom. And, because Comoy no longer exists as a manufacturing entity, it’s a trade name. Their actual pipes are made by other people, but used to be made by Chacom or the original Comoy factory in France.
We have Mastro De Paja which is an Italian company; a very fine, hand-made, high-grade pipes which you can see a few here. We sold out this show. We did very well.
|Chacom Pipe||Mastro De Paja Pipes|
We have up until now represented in Europe a good, lower priced, low/medium price Danish handmade pipe. We’re discontinuing our representation as of this show. These are the last of the Neerup Indian style. Our discontinuing representation has nothing to do with the pipe, it’s just a business matter between myself and Peter Jefferson, who owns the company. He’ll be represented by someone else from now on and I frankly, and I’m not kidding, I don’t know who. But he’ll be on the market and it’s a good pipe. It’s a good worthwhile pipe."
We also sell an enormous quantity of tobacco, at least half of our business if not more. We bring in most of the classic English brands which are Astley’s, Fribourg & Treyer, McConnell, Rattray’s,Wessex … Those are the five major food groups. And, then we have some other, you know lesser known tobaccos that we also sell. But we’re known for the other stuff. We sell only to the trade. We will occasionally sell to the public at a pipe show but that’s mostly to fly the flag. We sell at retail price anyway at the trade show so we do not undercut our retailers." Pipe smoking enthusiasts should look for these products are their local retailer or at the online store where they shop.
|Mastro De Paja Tobaccos||Robert McConnell Scottish Cake|
|Rattray’s Hal O’ The Wynd||Rattray’s Red Rapparee|
Tobacco Pipe Exports
Next, I met up with Kevin Brackett from Tobacco Pipe Exports in Seattle.
"We’re the importers for Amadeus Pipe Company out of Pateros, Greece. The pipes that we have here are the Gentlemen, the lead line. We’re bringing out new finishes in a rustic, in a yellow, in a natural, in a blonde and a red finish. There’s 16 different shapes in each of the new finishes and they’re our new product for this year. This is the most popular shape we have; it’s the #17 in the Gentlemen Elite line."
|Gentlemen Elite Rustic||Gentlemen Elite Yellow||Gentlemen Elite Natural|
|Gentlemen Elite Blonde||Gentlemen Elite Red|
"I am Maurizio Fraternale. Viprati is located in Pesaro, in the North of Italy. The new one that we have this year is the Luigi Viprati 25th Anniversary Pipes. Under 50 pieces are produced worldwide. It comes in three finishes; smooth light, smooth dark, and sandblast. They have the ring in jade and the top ring in silver. This year we also have the new Heart & Crown pipes in theSalvador Dali collection.
The 25th Anniversary Pipes range from $690 to $1,100. The Salvador Dali series ranges from $620 to $790.
|Luigi Viprati 25th Anniversary Pipes|
|Heart & Crown pipes in the Salvador Dali collection.|
Another "Italian sports car of pipes" was Pipa Castello. I spoke to Marco Parascenzo.
"All of our pipes are hand-made. We have all the different finishes, smooth, rusticated and sand-blasted. Although all of our pipes are made by hand, we stick to the classic shapes. So the power of our brand is to make a classic shape in the handmade way. Everything is completely handmade including the mouthpiece, logo, everything. We also have pipes that come with a box that is made from the scraps of the briar."
|Pipa Castello Pipe in Briar Case||Pipa Castello Pipe in Briar Case|
|Pipa Castello Pipes in Briar Case||Closed Briar Case|
"I am Karl Harkam from Austria. I started to produce pipes in the middle of 2005. Our latest new invention is "Curve Drilling" which means it’s not a straight line in the stem. It’s really curved and so they are really beautiful shapes of pipes. All pipes are handmade and a lot of work goes into them. I do this part-time so not a lot of pipes are produced, only about 25 per year.
|Harkam Pipe Cross Cut to Show Curved Drilling||Harkam Pipe||Harkam Pipe Coffee Cup|
James Island Piper
Don Cedar from James Island Piper, Charleston, South Carolina explained, "My website has usually between 400 and 500 pipes, really in all price ranges. I carry a lot of Estate pipes in the $29 to $69 price range and then I have some premium Danish pipes that retail for over $1,000, so I have a pretty good mix and I have a lot of pipes that nobody else seems to have."
Kevin: "What would some of those be?"
"Well James Upshaw here in the United States is not widely sold. It’s an English Company, they lost their US distributor a number of years ago so there’s not many of them you see available in pipe shops. But I have a good supply. I also am the exclusive USA retailer of Julius Vesz pipes, Julius Vesz from Toronto, Ontario Canada. And I have anywhere from two or three to a dozen of any number of premium pipes, including Costello’s, Jurgen Moritz, Peter Heeschen, former Lasses Skovgaard, Benni Jorgensen, and on and on.
|Some of the Pipes Displayed by James Island Piper|
I spoke to Antonio Saintiague, V.P. Managing Director of SmokingPipes.com.
"We’re located in Little River, South Carolina and primarily are web based business but we do have a local shop. The show this year has been fantastic for us. You know, folks kind of came in with mixed expectations because of all the news that’s out there in the world unfortunately, but it’s been quite a success.
We actually released a new tobacco called Low Country Black, which is a Latakia mixture somewhere in the vein of Frog Morton and it’s got a little bit of aromatic quality. And we feature pipes from all the Japanese pipe makers that we have exclusive relationships with, as well as some Danish makers Teddy Knudsen, Tom Eltang just to name a couple.
I couldn’t be happier with the show and how it went and the guys here at CPCC, they do a great job and Frank Burla, I mean I don’t know how he keeps it up but he is just the man. The show grows every single year. So, that’s pretty much it.
"It’s been a great show this year and I’m coming again next year."
Kevin: Is this your first time at the show?
Gordon: This is my second time and it’s increased in variety, quality, number of exhibitors since I was here last time three years ago, so I had a great time.
Kevin: And you’re definitely coming back next year?
Gordon: Oh, yeah.
Kevin: Did you buy some stuff at the show?
Gordon: Absolutely, bought, traded. I got three pipes; I traded some pipes and some accessories.
Per Jensen described the new Mac Baren blend, HH Acadian Perique. "It’s a very unique tobacco, it’s a very complex tobacco. It contains Virginians, Kentucky, and a little bit of Burley. But the key issue is that there is no top flavor at all. We haven’t put anything on top of it so the taste doesn’t come from anything else but the tobacco. And the casing is on the low side, it’s only to keep the moisture in the tobacco. So, what you experience when you smoke it is a pure, natural taste. And you get a hint of the Arcadian Perique."
Kevin: How would you describe the blend as far as mild, medium?
Per: It’s more than a medium, and it’s the third member of the HH family. Well we started with the Vintage Syrian, the second one was the Mature Virginia. With all three of them we go very, very easy on the top flavor. Acadian Perique has none, the others have just a little bit, and on the low side as well, very low. So you have tobaccos with no tongue bite, that smokes easy, are finished and you smoke to the bottom of the bowl. It’s only gray ash. And that is, in my opinion, quality tobacco.
Kevin: How do the three different HH blends differ from one another?
Per: The Vintage Syrian is the smooth, soft one. The Mature Virginia is a Virginia based blend, but it has some Oriental, a little bit of Kentucky and the only top flavor is a little bit of red wine balsamic. But all three of them are on the natural side. The Arcadian Perique will be ready in the beginning of August.
For the Vintage Syrian and the Mature Virginian we made these ceramic canisters. They are pre-packed with 1 pound of tobacco, and it’s a collector’s item. They are all individual numbered 1 through 1,500 and retail for $65.
We also have a Mac Baron pipe ashtray for $25 also limited to 1500 pieces. They are not numbered though.
|Mac Baren New Acadian Perique Blend Available August 2009||Mac Baren Limited Edition Ceramic Canisters with 1 lb of Tobacco||Gene Thompson & Per Jensen|
I met and smoked with Don and Mitzi Kesling the first night of the show and they were a very nice young couple from my neck of the woods in Florida. I stopped by to see them again at their exhibit table.
Donald Kesling: "I’m a pipe maker from Winter Haven, Florida and I’m here at the Chicago show for my first time and it’s very enjoyable and it’s probably one of the greatest shows in the country right now with the amount of tables and people. And I’ve been making pipes for about two years. I really enjoy it; it’s a lot of fun. The people that you meet at these places I really feel like they could be potential friends for many, many years. I’ve already made some very close friends. My wife comes with me which is always a fun get-away and a lot of happy times and memories made. And, I’ve also had great responses to my work. I kind of do freehand work, a lot of people said that it’s reminiscence of old Dutch style things and the ancients have robbed us of our originality so we still repeat things that have been made years and years ago. But I really like what I’ve got and think people really appreciate the artistry and the construction of the pipes. Being new like this, I’ve carved out a tiny little niche for myself and I’m really happy with it."
Kevin: Tell me about this pipe right here.
|Kesling Red Fish Pipe|
Donald: This is the Red Fish, it’s basically a blow fish design and the reason why I believe they call it that, and I had to figure this out on my own and I’m not sure if that’s even why but, because it’s got a compound angle. The hole is drilled at a compound angle into the bowl hole for the tobacco chamber, so it has to be set up compound and then that way you can curve the wood and bend it around because you’ve got a lot of room on one side so that you don’t get into the draft hole, so you can make it sort of look like a fish. And that’s my second try at a blow fish design.
Kevin: That’s superb. Tell me about this one here.
|Kesling Blonde Freehand||Burl on top of Kesling Blonde Freehand||Assorted Kesling Hand Made Pipes|
Donald: That pipe is totally based on grain. You wet the material; you look at the grain structure, the bird’s eye. The burl on top was absolutely amazing. Sometimes you leave the burl on, sometimes you take it off. You remove the bar carefully and clean the burl really nice if it’s tight, you might leave it. I prefer to leave it most of the time, and then I use all kinds of accents on the wood, like I like to use horn. And I like to use natural things like buffalo horn and elk horn and stack horn and bamboo and all types of exotic woods and then plastics also.
I’ve started doing my construction with Delron to hold all the components together, tubed all the way through and then the vulcanite or the ebonite rod is fitted to the tendon and actually presses into the Delron instead of the wood and that way you have a good fit for many, many years and you don’t have broken stems.
Kevin: Great. And the Red Fish is $230 retail and the Natural Blond is$420 retail.
Kevin: What is price range from the low end to the high end right now on your pipes?
Donald: The idea behind this whole thing when I started it is I don’t have a grading system, I don’t want to. Every pipe is numbered from one on up to every pipe I’ve ever made, which is 71. If I don’t like the pipe I keep it, I don’t sell it if there’s something wrong with it, I keep it. But my prices ranges anywhere from $95 to I’ve sold pipes for up to $600. Two years maker, two year pipe maker, 71 pipes total, $95 to, and they’re all numbered so, and they’re also initialed and signed by my wife named Mitzy. So my idea is to make 1,000 pipes and then keep them all recorded in a book and where they went and who got them and then have some eccentric millionaire search the world-over and find all of them. That’s my dream.
Even though there were many, many more exhibitors, that’s all we have time for here. Alas, there’s so many pipes and tobaccos and so little time! You’ll have to go to the show yourself to see it all.