God Save the Queen!

Fred Brown
Well, while reading all this scary stuff about Brexit and Britain
causing the end of the world as we know it, I began to think about something else. Let’s sprinkle a little fairy dust on this scene, shall we?

And, uh, you may want to fasten your seatbelts.

Brexit might actually be good for us pipe and tobacco fanatics. I know, I know, the Pundit has lost his alleged mind.

First, you need to understand that I am no financial expert. I might polish up to look bright as a new penny, but there are sharper tools in the shed when it comes to money and what to do with your extra cash.

Over the years, I have purchased many a British pipe and tin of tobacco. My house and so-called tobacco cellar are littered with very British pipes, stamped Dunhill, Ashton, Charatan, Peterson, Upshall, Northern Briars, Ferndown, etc.

Tobacco tins range from Samuel Gawith to you name it. I ordered tobacco from England before England "officially" banned shipping tobacco to the U.S. I ordered from Germany, so I know my way around those invoices and manifests. I have several old Dan Pipe Catalogs in my collection! 

So, here is the crux: The British Pound Sterling has dropped faster than Marie Osmond can lose 10 pounds! Last time I looked, a single pound was worth about $1.37. That’s going to change, of course, and probably get worse for the sterling.

You see where I’m going with this? Okay, I have also read the really smart money guys who say, no, the drop in the pound won’t translate to a dip in tobacco prices from Great Britain.

I beg to differ a smidgeon.

We know you can no longer charge British tobacco to a credit card, right? But, please tell me why if airline fares to Britain are expected to hit the Brexit wall, as are other consumer goods, such as tea, why not tobacco?

I understand that British retailers purchased world-class tobacco at market prices years back to keep their stocks high.

But here again I’m just saying, why would those same retailers prefer to get caught with a ton of tobacco that has dropped in value and not sell it for what they can get on the dollar against a falling pound?

This sounds like Eco 101 to me. I’ll leave it to you brainiacs to enlighten me.

But, if I own, say, a British warehouse full of tobacco purchased for, say, 200,000 pound sterling, which was worth $314,000 U.S. dollars last September and on June 23 was worth $274,000, that’s a loss of $40,000.

It doesn’t take a fiscal genius to see that my warehouse full of tobacco is heading south, fast.

I’m thinking that before this Brexit thing runs its course, those tobacco retailers who are left standing in Great Britain will indeed be willing to cut deals to clear off some shelf space.

And, I haven’t even mentioned the piece-de-resistance, those expensive Dunhill pipes! It is highly unlikely that a firm like Dunhill, which survived World War I and II, will be in a giving mood.

But, a Dunnie worth $783 in September began shedding money like falling leaves with the Brexit vote. A $700-and-up Dunnie began losing some serious value, say $600 in some cases, overnight.

You could fly to, say, Merry Old England on a roundtrip ticket for $580 in the fall, according to a Washington Post recent review of Brexit.

And that ticket is bound to drop later when U.S. commercial airlines are willing to cut deals to fill up seats, since it will cost more for Brits to visit America. The Brits might choose to stay home to see what is going to happen to their little family nest eggs, instead of taking a holiday in what was once cheap America, eh?

So, for a cool $1,000 or so, you could fly to England, take in a few sites and then drop off at the corner of Jermyn Street and Duke Street where Mr. Alfred Dunhill opened shop in 1907. You could haul in a Dunnie and still have a little change left.

I’m just saying.

This is not a scientific economic study, understand. It’s purely a Pundit view of life as we know it today.

God Save the Queen!

And, Another Thing

A couple of issues have wedged themselves into my consciousness lately and then acted like a sledgehammer to the head.

First is it just me or have pipe prices headed north of sanity? I mean, I saw a regular pipe on a popular pipe and tobacco web site for more than $3,400! Holy pipe tool, that’s a lotta money!

There are many $1,000-$2,000 pipes on the market today. The de rigueur seems to be somewhere around $600-$800.

Now, I realize that these prices are being posted because the pipes are handmade by very fine artisans. The Pundit has no problem with pipe art and those nose-to-the wheel artisans working to produce fabulous pieces.

But there is a whole other world out there of pipe smokers who are looking for good, smokeable pipes in the $100-$300 range. There are some very good pipemakers carving pipes at that price point, too.

But this brings up the other nightmare that has been working in my head.

The FDA, as we all know, is out to destroy the pipes and tobacco industry as we know and love it.

So, why are pipemakers creating these beautifully-crafted pipes for jaw-dropping prices when the market is about to be eroded significantly by federal regulations?

Okay, I get it about the artiste, the shop-worn, dusty, artist in beret sitting at his lathe or cluttered work table through the night working the final touches to a masterpiece.

But at some point, isn’t reality going to set in? I mean, if you are turning out $3,500 pipes and the market is going south, does it make sense to continue turning out master works when a finely crafted pipe of lesser aura and character will suffice?

I’m not talking about returning to the days of yore when pipes of dubious quality rolled out of the factories, and gathered dust bunnies in some drugstore. I bought those, too, and have only one left. It is reserved for Codger Blends only.

But, honestly, pipes hitting the $3,000-$4,000 stratosphere are stretching credulity. I know the Formers and Dunhills, Bo Nordhs, S Bangs, Ivarssons and Chonowitschs can fetch mighty high prices for their work, and should. I drool over those as well as you.

But, we are talking legendary pipe makers here, not fresh faces at the work bench.

I believe in the law of supply and demand model.

But Pundit’s Law says until you land in the league of legends, the demand for your supply needs to reflect lucidity.



Fred Brown
is a journalist who lives in Knoxville, TN. He will write this column for PipesMagazine.com monthly. He can be contacted at


3 Responses

  • I think the question for most of us, who won’t be jumping a jet during the Brexit currency adjustments, is will we see any easing of prices on Dunhills and Ashtons, or for that matter Parkers and Britannia, right here at U.S. online retailers? For most of us, that’s the marketplace for British pipes.

  • I suspect that the Dunhills, JJFoxes, Davidoffs, all of the St.James area of Mayfair have a long view, and will be in no hurry to drop their prices. That we Yankees can buy more Pounds Sterling with our dollars may allow Brit pipe makers to charge more in the American market. Prices, though, will fluctuate!
    Still a trip to the auld sod would be timely for many reasons.

  • If You want perfection You’ll just have to realize that You’re going to PAY THE PRICE!!!! Now quit whining about it.