I Don’t Always Go To Pipe Shows But When I Do, It’s The Chicago Pipe Show

I Don’t Always Go To Pipe Shows But When I Do, It’s The Chicago Pipe Show

His grandfather came to the US with a $50 gold coin in his shoe, opened up a cigar shop, and his most famous customer was Babe Ruth. 

He holds the record for the longest slow smoke in the world at over 24 hours, and he is the only man who stopped Chuck Norris from round-house kicking the Nording Pipe Statue. 

The most interesting man in the world, Jonathan Goldsmith, stopped by the Chicago Pipe Show this year to get kissed on the cheek by Neal Osborn

Jonathan Goldsmith meets Neal Osborn
Jonathan Goldsmith meets Neal Osborn, Shane Ireland and Sykes Wilford are also pictured.

Wait, what? OK, I kid. Jonathan came to honor his friend and fishing buddy Steve Norse of Vermont Freehand at the annual Doctors and Masters of Pipes award dinner. Steve was one of the two recipients of the Masters of Pipes award and asked Johnathan to show up and add some color to his acceptance speech. 

Steve Norse and Johnathan Goldsmith
Steve Norse and Jonathan Goldsmith


Slightly overshadowed but no less important!

Jay Furman was also honored as this year’s hobbyist Master of Pipes, joining me and a pipe-star-studded list of great contributors to the hobby and profession of pipes.   Jay is a character in his own right. While I don’t know him as well as I would like, I’ve learned that he’s a kind-hearted collector who started the Artisan Pipe Makers Club, a place where new artisans learn, grow, and are challenged. There are around 60 artisans who participate, collaborate, and learn. Jay and Mike Bishop also started the Long Island Pipe Club, which has around 50 members and meets twice a month on different sides of the island.   

Master of Pipes, Jay Furman
Master of Pipes, Jay Furman

What is not featured here are pictures of the Doctors of Pipes.  Both recipients were unable to attend:


Marco Parascenzo – Doctor of Pipes, Trade/Industry

Regis MacCafferty – Doctor of Pipes, Hobby

Please join us in congratulating these newly inducted Doctors and Masters of Pipes.  It is a great honor, and each of these men embodies what our hobby and industry strive to do: grow, educate, and cultivate its future.  I encourage everyone to attend the dinner next year as it’s always illuminating. 

And now, on with the show.  Sort of.

You may be wondering what the most interesting pipe smoker in the world smokes…. I didn’t miss the opportunity to chat with this incredibly nice man, whom Brian Levine and I also remembered from one of our favorite TV shows, the A-Team.  He was also in many other shows from the 80s, such as Magnum PI, Murder She Wrote, Dallas, and MacGyver, just to name a few.

Jonathan:  I actually enjoy simple and readily available tobacco like Captain Black or some black cavendish from my local cigar and pipe shop in Vermont. 

What about your first pipe?

Jonathan: I picked up my first pipe; I think it was a billiard when I was in London many years ago at a place called James Fox.  

How often do you smoke?

Jonathan: Almost every day. I enjoy a pipe in the morning and a cigar in the afternoon. 


I want to thank Jonathan Goldsmith for taking a few minutes to sit down with me and being gracious enough to snap pictures with many of us at the show; it was a ton of fun and made this year’s show even more memorable! 

2024 Chicago Pipe Show Map
2024 Chicago Pipe Show Map

This year, the Chicago Pipe Show kicked it up a notch with a new location, new signage, new pre-registration and payment system, new show executive staff, and lots of new surprises.  Now, Tim Garrity, President of the Chicagoland Pipe Club, tells me that over 400 attendees were at the show, but they are still tabulating the numbers too, so this is subject to getting updated and expanded.   We do have our dates for next year at this same location – the first weekend of May at the Hyatt Regency, Chicago O’Hare.  

The Smoking Tent
The Smoking Tent


Of course, like any good Chicago show, there was plenty of room hopping and the announcement board.

Room Hopping Board
Room Hopping Board


The signage this year was super helpful in knowing where to go when to go, and what tables our favorite vendors were at.

Show Table Guide
Show Table Guide



Saturday Show Floor
Saturday Show Floor

While the show was jam-packed, the spacing of the tables allowed everyone to move around freely and didn’t feel over-crowded as the tables and isles were spaced out to allow room for vendors and collectors to stretch out. 

Smoking Tent
Smoking Tent

The smoking tent was hopping all the time, but luckily, air flow and some great air purifiers by Lake Air kept it fresh.  As usual, there was a great sample table with tons of things to try in the tent, and on your way to the tent, there was a conveniently placed cash bar.  This year the tent was 25% bigger than last year, although you wouldn’t notice because there were more people at the show!  

Kaywoodie is under new Management.

At the show, I chatted with Nathan “Greywoodie” Davis about how he came to take over the 173-year-old company. 

Nathan Greywoodie Bowman
Nathan “Greywoodie” Davis

Tell me how this happened.

Nathan: This month is my 5th anniversary of Greywoodie opening.  I was friends with Bill and had a huge collection of Kaywoodies – I approached him about having them available outside of brick and mortar.  He had no online presence and didn’t sell direct.  He said if I wanted them to be more available, the best thing I could do was quit my job and sell them myself.  He was mostly kidding because I had a really good job in the legal profession, but I wasn’t happy so one day I did give him a call and said “hey whats your minimum order,” and he said “You didn’t just quit your job because I was joking?”  I did and I started out that way as an online retailer. 

So, in working with him, we did exclusives, and I learned about pipe making from him, both production and hand-made. We brought back some historical lines as well, and soon enough, I was helping to make the pipes I was buying from him. It was great for him to get my labor making the same pipes I was buying from him, but I was learning a ton from him, so it was a wash.

Nate Bowman (Greywoodie)
Nate Davis (Greywoodie)

Does Bill have a frazing machine?

He does, but its not being used, Bill bought already frazed stummels from a factory that he had been working with because they were shutting down production and now we have over 100,000 aged briars that are at least 60 years old at this point.  

This year, Bill asked if you’re interested?

Bill had gotten ill, and they had induced a coma, it was really scary time, he did come out of everything and he’s recovering now.   He was both tired and slowing down anyway; he realized he didn’t want to do a couple hundred Kaywoodies a month anyway.  We had planned in the next 10-15 years that I would buy Kaywoodie from him, but with his health, he called me and asked me to come down, and he said, ‘I would really like you to take over now. ‘ Initially, it was daunting and scary because there were a lot of numbers thrown around.  It is a 173-year-old company, and Bill was the 4th generation from his family to own it and run it, so coming in as the outsider and retailer, it was a lot to take on financially, but because we’ve been so close, we found a way to fit our relationship and pull off a purchase that I could handle.

What can we expect under new management now?

A lot of it is just the same; I’ll continue to make the same lines he was.  I was really excited when I took this batch down to show him; I had a moment of “Are these just Greywoodie pipes masquerading at the real thing?”  Then I took a step back and said, oh, these look really good, like Bill’s work.  When he looked at them, he said, “You’re good, you’re ok.”  Already today and yesterday I’ve had a lot of people interested in putting the pipes in their shops, and I’ve had asks for collaborations. 

I would look for more of a return to the historic Kaywoodie lines.  I’ve been looking through the stamps. I’ve found stamps from lines that haven’t existed in 50 years, and I have the notebook from his great-grandfather of all the old stains, so I have 150 years of stain recipes.  I’ve found the powdered stains that are already 100 years old on their own.

I know everyone loves the push bit as we’ve modernized the Kaywoodies, but the campus lines still have the old stingers.  I have a ton of those stems but we’ve run out of the piece that goes into the shank.  So I have machinist friends working on reverse enginging that piece so we can have some dedicated stinger lines.  I’m not going to make them all stingers again because people don’t want that, but there are collectors who want to see a modern stinger like Kaywoodie.  So, I’m going to bring that history to the forefront rather than just the status quo. 

Are you still open to doing club pipes, etc?

One hundred percent! Once I’ve gotten caught back up with my backlog.  When I  can  consistently be able to deliver then I’ll start to talk to clubs and I’d be interested in seeing what we can do to help out the clubs.  It’s hard to find a moderately priced club pipe these days.  

Anything we left out?

I think the important thing is the only reason I’m here is the support of the community.  When I first got into pipes, the PipesMagazine forum was really where I broke my teeth on everything.  They supported my love of Kaywoodie and helped me meet a ton of  people and to get here now to be buying the brand; if I didn’t have friends in the community, none of this would be possible.  It’s been an incredible ride, and the PipesMagazine forums have probably been the basis of all of it. 

Biggest and Smallest Pipes of the Show

Dave Shain smoking the biggest pipe.
Dave Shain smoking the biggest pipe.

Dave Shain smoking the biggest pipe. Maybe next show we’ll have a contest for largest and smallest pipes smoked at the show, but this year Neal Osborn snagged two pictures featuring them. Above is David Shain holding the biggest functional(?) pipe and…

Nate King
Nate King with his recent acquisition, a Kevin Foster mini-billiard.

…Nate King lighting the smallest pipe of the show caught on camera made by my “cousin” Kevin Foster.  Funnily enough, Kevin had it on his table as the last pipe he hadn’t sold, and Nate stuffed some cash in his hand and took it off his table.  Kevin mentioned the hardest part of carving that pipe was being worried about breaking the shank when he put his stamp logo on it. 


New Pipe Tool and Plug Cutter

4th Generation Pipe Tool and Knife
4th Generation Pipe Tool and Knife

The 4th Generation line has a couple of new items so far this year, which I know might resonate with many. I saw people struggle with cutting plugs and ask for knives to help cut. This tool has a blunt tip and sharp blade specifically for cutting plugs and flakes. Of course, it’s still a roll of the dice if airline security lets it through, but if you can check a bag, this should be there to make things much easier.  

4th Gen Freja and Loki Small Batch
4th Gen Freja and Loki Small Batch

Also new in the 4th Gen line is the Feja and Loki small batch blend that features dark burley, black cavendish, old belt matured red virginias, Canadian bright virginia, small leaf Katerini and a dash of St. James Perique.  From the can, it says this year’s small batch plays homage to his (Erik Stokkebye) grandfather’s storied exhibition in the cultural museum in Odense, Denmark, which features two figural pipes from his collection, one made of wood and the other from meerschaum, both dating back to the 1800s. 

New Book!

The X Pipe
The X Pipe

The (X) Pipe and other mystagogic stories for the pipe smoker. 

Mark Irwin and his new book
Mark Irwin (center, standing) and his new book

Mark Irwin’s latest book covers seven tales of two pipemen with an academic approach mixing history, mystery, and secrets to uncover what lies behind the puffs of smoke.  Mark summed it up without giving too much away:

First, it’s about the value of pipe smoking as a contemplative activity. That is the foundational idea.

Second, this idea is wrapped in a fictional binder of two modern-day pipemen who spend decades trying to figure out who carved a mysterious pipe in the Vatican Secret Archives (a real place, now called the Apostolic Archives). They suspect it’s the same pipe maker who wrote a number of books in the early 20th century under the name Nicholai de Tabbakuk.

Third, the fiction moves through seven tales to talk about some major pipe lore and history: things like “the bad smoke,” smoking Bach’s pipe, the five laws of pipe smoking, etc. The lore and history are 98% real, documented to comic excess in footnotes.  

Mark had some expanded thoughts he shared, but I hope this whets your appetite and doesn’t spoil it for you.  Rumor has it Silver Gray made her “reproduction” of the X Pipe from her visit to the Secret Archives just for the book.

Sutliff 175th Anniversary

Jeremy McKenna, Sutliff
Jeremy McKenna, Sutliff

I had a chance to catch up with Jeremy McKenna at Sutliff and got a few tid-bits from him about what 2024 will look like. 

What’s happening this year at Sutliff?

The biggest thing for us this year is the 175th anniversary, so you’ll see a lot of our limited releases around that theme.  The Old Boss comes out in 2 weeks and its very Latakia forward. The tin art features our founding father, it was an old recipe that was a lose cut back in the day that we pressed and made a crumble cake out of and re-releasing it for our 175th.  

We also updated our history. The first 100 years were documented back in 1949, and our writer Greg went back and updated for the most recent 75 years.  We were supposed to have booklets to give away here at this show but the printers didn’t get it to us in time.

Limited Release Brought back
Limited Release Brought Back

This year, we’re also really embracing the podcast culture and letting them blend their own tin and keeping the money to help support them to get their shows going and help them come to shows.  We’ve got a few more pipe forces coming out this year.  

September the 13th in downtown Richmond we’ve rented out a 3 story restaurant for the party we’re looking forward to.  We’ll have the factory open to the public for tours as well. 

Charatan Blends
Charatan Blends

Charatan tobacco here is not new. We started importing it 2-3 years ago, so we wanted to highlight it because no one here has noticed it. It’s available at all your big online and local retailers. It’s an amazing tobacco that has been overlooked. We’ll have it on display at all the upcoming shows for people to check out. We’re the importer and distributor for the US for them. 

We’re coming out with a Seattle Pipe Club Hogshead bourbon-aged tobacco soon and we’ve sold out mostly of our first production run of our Seattle Pipe Club cigars we do have more on order that we’ll be getting – hopefully this summer. 


Per Jensen
Per Jensen

Also new this year is Per Jensen’s line of blending tobacco which he’s got samples of each one available for you to try and blend together to get a desired pleasant smoke.  When I asked him to chat with me a few minutes Per said ‘can we go outside and smoke?’  So of course like always we sat down and he lit a pipe and talked through his latest venture. 

Tell me a bit about this:

These are in collaboration with Sutliff. We started before with MacBaren, but we’ve just continued with Sutliff. We’ve made some astonishing things, like Rustica as a cavendish and Katerini oriental as a cavendish, which has never been done before. It gives some very interesting opportunities and tastes as tobacco.   I will say if you’re sensitive to nicotine, keep the amount of Rustica low because it packs a punch. 

What’s been the most fun of bringing these to market?

Getting them aligned so you can mix them without creating an odd taste.  Normally, if you buy two tins of tobacco from two different manufacturers – very often, the casings end up not tasting very well.  The idea is that you can take the tobacco to your own taste – in the blending seminar, I said, ‘Don’t ask your neighbor what he thinks because it doesn’t matter. This is your taste, your preference.’  Blend it until you get what you want.   The fine-tuning is up to the pipe smoker. For the blending collection, all these tobaccos are made in Denmark, and they are made out of the experience I got out of working on the H.H. line.  

What can we look forward in the future?

I have ideas but when they come, I don’t know but right now I can’t talk more much about them.  I will be at the Vegas show, so I look forward to seeing everyone there and talking more. 


UPCA 2024 Annual Slow Smoke 

This year’s Slow Smoke featured a new line of Chris Morgan pipes that he’s coming out with, the Specimen Bones pipeline. The “Specimen” finishes are done by Chris Morgan in house. The airways are opened to allow for a better draw. The pipes are stained, oiled, and finished.  

Slow Smoke Contest
2024 Slow Smoke

The contest blend was done by L.J. Peretti. And as usual contestants have 5 minutes to pack, 2 minutes to light and then smoke until they can’t produce any more. 

Jared Coles waiting to pack his pipe
Jared Coles waiting to pack his pipe

Lester Young managed to snag the title yet again! He will be heading up Team USA, which will go to Poland later this year to represent us at the International Slow Smoking Competition. 

Official Times as follows:

1st Lester Young: 1 hour 1 minute.

2nd Krister Kittleson: 1 hour 0 minutes and 20 seconds.

3rd Joey Hayes:  58 minutes and 57 seconds


Lester Young, 2024 Slow Smoke Champion
Lester Young, 2024 Slow Smoke Champion

And way down in the middle, I had a modest 46 minutes on my own time.  Because of the community’s generosity, I still walked away with a prize.  We’ve got some amazing sponsors and donors that support the UPCA and the slow smoke contest, so if you haven’t tried it – give it a shot next year.  In fact, we had several people who had never tried it, one of whom was our second-place winner who had to be poked and prodded to get up and do it.

155th Anniversary of Missouri Meerschaum 

Brett and Shannon, Missouri Meerschaum
Brett and Shannon, Missouri Meerschaum

Shannon and I chatted about the upcoming 155th Anniversary Celebration at Missouri Meerschuam – on September 28th, 2024.  It will be located at the Missouri Meerchuam Company, and the Skillet Fork Pipe Museum will have a display on the 2nd floor of the factory with its full corn-cob pipe history.  100s of vendors, food, music, drinks, and more will be happening!  Greywoodie show will be podcasting live that day during the event as well.

Shannon stated, “We are also honoring our history by doing 155th Anniversary Celebration pipe releases. Each one having historical significance.”

There will be working factory tours offered and tickets will be $5 each and you’ll get a $5 voucher for purchases at the Museum and retail shop.  Tours will begin at 10 am, and the last tour will start at 2 pm.  More information will be available as we get closer to it on the Facebook event page they set up here.  

*note there was an error about the location of the Skillet Fork Pipe Musem’s exhibit, it will be located at the Missouri Meerchaum Company, not the Skillet Fork Pipe Museum itself.  This update is now reflected above. 

Battle of the Briar

2024 Battle of the Briar
2024 Battle of the Briar

This year at the show we had the 2nd annual Battle of the Briar with announcers Steve “the pipestud and golden voice” Fallon and Jeff Gracik.  You can watch the video of the battle here.   You can check out my recap and interview with Jeff Gracik as we talked about the idea behind this here

Pete Prevost
Pete Prevost

Pete went for a traditional shape (Billiard) in these kits that were provided without the aid of a lathe, which is, as talked about in the video, is a bit more difficult. 

David Huber
David Huber

David Huber decided to work on a blowfish. 

Dirk Heinemann
Dirk Heinemann

Dirk aimed for a beautiful squat tomato shape. 

Heating the Stem
Heating the Stem for Bending

The pipe makers used a heat gun to heat the mouthpieces so they could bend them into their desired shapes. 

High Drama

Amazingly, not a single pipe or stem flew off the buffing wheels.  But in the last 3 minutes…. 

David Huber's Mouthpiece
Flying Mouth Piece

David Huber’s mouthpiece broke off! When David “victoriously” slammed his pipe on the table, the mouthpiece shot off and flew to the corner of the table. With two minutes and thirty seconds left, he decided to make another mouthpiece. 


Pulling Broken Tennon
Pulling Broken Tenon

At 10 seconds, they began pulling the broken tenon from the pipe and finally got it out with 4 seconds remaining. 

One Second
One Second

With one freaking second remaining, David Huber was able to put in the replacement mouthpiece that he made on the pipe and put it on the table, this time more gently.    

Steve Fallon Floored
Steve Fallon Floored

Steve Fallon was so blown away that he was literally “floored” by what happened during the last couple of minutes of this contest. 

Victory Beers
Victory Beers

Jared Coles (one of last year’s contestants) handed each contestant a beer right afterward as they all breathed a sigh of relief. 

When it came to points awarded for finishing first, 3 points were awarded to the contestant who finished first, 2 points for second, and 1 point for third. In many cases, because the quality of pipe making is so amazing, it does sometimes come down to time in who finishes first because of those extra points. 

Battle of Briars Contestants with Tim Garrity
Battle of Briars Contestants with Tim Garrity

Judges evaluate with 4 different categories: for example, the quality of fit and finish of the pipe. They aren’t judging the presence of flaws because of the time limits imposed and the blocks that are provided to the carvers, but they are looking for the absence of sanding scratches and how smooth the shape is. 

Next is the balance of the shape.  Does it have visual balance? Is it well thought out? How well does the shape flow? How did the carvers, who don’t use preformed mouthpieces, handle what they were given since all of them are used to making their own hand-cut stems?

Finally, the judges give their overall impression of the pipe: Was it creative? If it’s a classic shape, does it look like a traditional classic shape?

Winner Dirk Heinemann
Winner Dirk Heinemann gets bunny ears from Jared Coles

Each of the contestants came in 1st from one of the categories when it came to the judging and only 1 point separated 2nd and 3rd. 


1st Dirk Heinemann 

2nd David S. Huber

3rd Pete Prevost

Peoples Choice:

Pete Prevost.

Highest Sold Pipe in the Auction:

David S. Huber

In summary, this years Chicago Pipe Show was a brilliant success with great educational sessions, entertainment, location, schedule, and winners abound.  I look forward to next year, and hopefully, you will too. If you didn’t attend, make plans for 2025!  I want to thank Neal Osborn for his help with some amazing pictures, as always, throughout the show, capturing candid moments with fine pipe smokers. His pictures always tell the story better than words.  Any other crappy pictures were by me. 

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