Thursday, July 31, 2008


Last night I smoked the last of my Blockade Runner. Sniff. Next time I'll have to order a whole pound.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Featured Pipe Smoker: Matthew Baillie Begbie

Matthew Baillie Begbie (1819-1894)

Judge Matthew Begbie was a famous judge in the frontier days of British Columbia. His parents were Scottish, but he was actually born either aboard ship or on the island nation of Mauritius. After attending Cambridge University, he became a lawyer in 1844 and spent ten years as Chancery Court lawyer and court reporter for The Times of London. In 1875 he was knighted by Queen Victoria.

There are several theories as to why he eventually went to Canada, but in any case, he arrived there in 1858. More than one version of why we went there may be true, but I will only say that, from what I have read of him, he had obviously already traveled Europe and other parts of the world extensively and was an avid outdoorsman. An opportunity was available for him to continue his career in the wild and beautiful frontier of British Columbia, and he took it. (On a personal note: I have been through B.C., and although I haven't seen all of it, I will say that what I did see was the most beautiful wilderness I have ever seen).

He came to be known as "The Hanging Judge," although this may be unmerited. He hung only those who were found guilty of crimes for which the law required the capital punishment of hanging.

He had a commanding presence, standing 6'5" tall with white hair and a black beard. Some have portrayed him as a sort of Judge Roy Bean of B.C., but this was not so. He was very well educated in the law and had at least ten years of experience in England before moving to Canada.

He traveled a circuit, and during his travels through British Columbia he recorded many details regarding weather, sources of water, fording points of rivers and streams, information about flora and fauna, and often hunted and scavenged for edible plants. He took his judicial robes and wig with him wherever he went, and always wore them while conducting court.

During a time when advocating for minority rights had hardly even been conceived, there were notable cases in which Begbie showed he did not discriminate by race. In 1860, a white man from California was accused of assaulting an Indian (or Native American, if you prefer). This was the first time that a white man was convicted solely on evidence presented by natives.

There was also a municipal by-law that was passed with the intent of putting Chinese laundries out of business by declaring them "nuisances." Said Begbie: "Blacksmith's forges are probably more liable to give and take fire from sparks; butcher shops are far more offensive to the eyes and clothes and olfactories of foot-passengers, with greasy and bleeding carcasses lumbering the sidewalks and infecting the air with the odour of meat curing; stables with their muck-heaps several yards high are more pregnant with pungent and misalubrious gases, large packing-cases more obstructive to the thoroughfare, than anything that can be alleged against these wash-houses. Yet all these other matters, each of which might be termed a nuisance of no common degree, are allowed to exist clustered together in the very busiest part of the centre of the city without a word of rebuke." He declared the by-law invalid.

Begbie once wrote Governor Sir James Douglas, "My idea is that if a man insists on behaving like a brute, after fair warning, and won't quit the Colony; treat him like a brute and flog him."

At the conclusion of one case in which the jury had acquitted a man of assault, but whom Begbie nevertheless believed to be guilty, he stated, "Prisoner at the bar, the jury have said you are not guilty. You can go, and I devoutly hope the next man you sandbag will be one of the jury."

For further reading, I recommend Judge Matthew Baillie Begbie: First Among Men.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Vintage Ad (1908): Turco American Glass Pipe

Bull. I don't know if this is the most outrageous claim I've seen for a gimmick pipe, but it's gotta be pretty close. A pipe with an "inner bowl/outer bowl" design, they claim that somehow the icky stuff gets drawn into the outer bowl, while only cool, clean, flavorful smoke still somehow manages to go up the stem into your mouth. If you read the whole thing, you will even see they make the explicit claim that no nicotine will get to your mouth, even though (somehow) smoke does.

Heh. But you could make all kinds of outlandish claims a hundred years ago.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Featured Pipe Smoker: F.A. Mitchell-Hedges

Frederick Albert "Mike" Mitchell-Hedges (1882-1959)

Here we have another interesting character. F.A. Mitchell-Hedges was an English adventurer and writer, and was...shall we say...quite fond of telling elaborate tales of his adventures. Some have even compared him to Baron Munchausen because of his tale-telling.

He traveled often in the Caribbean and Central America, where he claimed to have discovered some forgotten tribes and lost cities. Wikipedia tells of how he even had a radio show during the 1930's, in which he related harrowing tales of his narrow escapes from death during his jungle adventures--once barely escaping the wrath of an attacking iguana. That's right: iguana.

He also claimed to have fought alongside Pancho Villa, for what it's worth.

Mitchell-Hedges is well known to those who are interested in strange phenomena as the owner of a crystal skull.

He claimed to have found it in one of the lost cities he discovered in Central American during the 1920's. A lot of people believed him at the time. Some years later it came to light that he had actually purchased it at a Sotheby's auction in London in 1943. He didn't mention to anyone that he had the thing until the late 1940's. I should note that the true origin of the skull has never been determined.

Mitchell-Hedges is mentioned in the movie Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

People who knew "Mike" described him as a charming rogue. It is clear that he grew up reading stories by such writers as Arthur Conan Doyle, H. Rider Haggard and Robert Lewis Stevenson, and he wanted to live--or at least get other people to believe that he had lived--his own adventures.

There is a website dedicated to Mitchell-Hedges, crystal skulls and other Fortean phenomena: The Mitchell-Hedges Official Website.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Vintage Ad (1902): The Siphon Pipe

At a very basic level, there is a fundamental similarity between smoking pipes and musical wind instruments. Both are essentially tools whose operation lies in proper control of the human breath. As anyone who has ever played a wind instrument knows, the insides of those horns can get pretty sticky and nasty from the extremely humid air that comes out of our lungs. After using a horn, it is generally recommended to clean them out with a dry cloth. Some horns, especially brass, are even equipped with "spit valves," enabling the musician to expire excess moisture from his horn, even in the middle of a performance.

I give you the Siphon Pipe: the pipe with a spit valve.

But unlike the good clean healthy spit that might be expired from a trumpet, the concentrated punk that would come out of a pipe would be...I leave it to your imagination.

From the cutaway diagram, it is clear that tobacco juices that drain into the bottom of the bowl and the front part of the shank will eventually work their way to a place where you probably do not want to expectorate them all over your shirt. Or your shoes. Or your hand (ick!).

That's what pipe cleaners were made for folks. Sometimes it's best to stick with the proven methods, and leave your clever new ideas well enough alone.

Friday, July 18, 2008

All About Tobacco by Milton M. Sherman

Milton M. Sherman has spent more than thirty years in the tobacco business. After leaving the University of Wisconsin, he went to work for The American Tobacco Co. In their sales division. In 1939, he joined Frank Riggio, formerly national sales of manager of American to launch one of the first successful "king size" cigarettes in America. His career was interrupted by World War I, when he served in Africa, India and China, moving up in rank from private to major. He resumed his affiliation with Riggio Tobacco Corp after the war and has since held executive sales positions in the packaging industry and most recently with one of the country's most prestigious tobacco retail and distribution- organizations. Mr. Sherman, who is known as Milt wherever tobacco products are made or sold, has written this fascinating and definitive book in the hope that tobacco men and tobacco consumer alike, will find increased enjoyment in the products, about which there is much misinformation and much little known fact.
Via a post at My Pipes Community is an online version of an interesting book called All About Tobacco by Milton Sherman. I should note that this document is hosted by, which is an anti-tobacco organization.

Still this was published not as propaganda, but as honest information. Publish date is 1970. I've only scanned through it, and actually downloaded the entire thing so I can peruse it at my leisure. It looks very interesting and shows a rare glimpse of an insider's view of the tobacco industry. Here is a list of chapters.

I. American Leaf Tobacco
II. Processed Tobaccos
III. Oriental (Turkish) Tobaccos
IV. How Tobacco Is Flavored (Cased)
V. How Tobacco Is Cut
VI. How Tobacco Is Manufactured
VII. Blending Pipe Tobacco
VIII. How Pipe Tobacco Is Manufactured and Packaged in the United States
IX. Pipe Tobaccos Manufactured in the United Kingdom
X. Pipe Tobacco Manufactured in Holland and Denmark
XI. How Cigarettes Are Manufactured in the United States
XII. How Cigarettes Are Manufactured in the United Kingdom
XIII. How Briar Pipes Are Manufactured
XIV. How to Buy a Pipe
XV. Meerschaum and Other Types of Pipes
XVI. All About Cigar Leaf
XVII. How to Smoke a Cigar
XVIII. The Care and Humidification of Tobacco Products

As you can see from the chapter list, this book promises to be a treasure-trove of information for the pipe lover. Especially if you are someone such as myself who sees the industry only from a consumer's perspective.

P.S. I tried uploading one graphic that included a (poor) reproduction of Sherman with a pipe, but Blogger apparently isn't taking uploads right now.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The benefits of nicotine

Research suggests that nicotine may help alleviate or delay the onset of Alzheimer's.
Professor Ian Stolerman, from King's College in London, who led the studies, said that such treatments could offer "relief" to dementia patients, tens of thousands of whom are diagnosed in Britain every year.

Prof Stolerman said: "The substances we call drugs, in the majority of cases, actually do have a mixture of beneficial and harmful effects and nicotine is no exception in this."

Prof Stolerman started his research more than 10 years ago, initially not expecting to find that nicotine would have much effect on the brain's ability to concentrate.

His studies prove that the nicotine is more effective than other popular stimulants like caffeine at enhancing the brain's attention span.

His research suggests that the relatively small effect that nicotine has on healthy people would be greatly magnified in dementia sufferers.

The effect of the treatments could allow Alzheimer's sufferers to delay the onset of the disease for months, he believes.
Read the whole article. It wouldn't surprise me if Stolerman gets slammed for suggesting that nicotine might have beneficial effects, but we should be grasping at every straw we can find when it comes to Alzheimer's (in my opinion).

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Featured Pipe Smoker (Fictional): Gimli, son of Gloín

Brer once remarked that when he saw this picture, he thought that was how I must feel sometimes. I have many fictional characters in my collection of pipe-smokers, several from LotR. In this still from one of the Peter Jackson movies, John Rhys-Davies portrays the dwarf Gimli, son of Gloín. After a hard day of hewing orcs, he finds a quiet respite to smoke a pipe while seated comfortably on the corpse of a convenient orc, the orc's head having provided a handy place to rest his battle axe.

Gimli was a Dwarf of the race of Durin. His father, Gloín joined Thorin Oakenshield on the journey to Erebor. Gimli was born 2879 Third Age and spent most of his youth in the Ered Luin, till he went to Erebor with his father in 2941. From there Dáin II Ironfoot sent them both to Rivendell to take part in the Council of Elrond in 3018. Like usual for Dwarves, Gimli mistrusted Elves with the Naugrim's proverbial stubbornness, an attitude he changed soon after meeting Gladriel in Lorien. On the council Gimli was chosen to be a member of the Fellowship of the Ring and to join Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin, Aragorn, Boromir, Gandalf and Legolas on their journey to Mordor.

Gimli turned out to be a great leader and courageous fighter in the mines of Moria. Since the times of Durin, Gimli was the first Dwarf to set his foot on the ground of the realm of the Wood Elves in Lothlórien. He requested and received a strand of Galadriel's hair, as a symbol for the unbreakable friendship between the wood and the mountain. From this moment on everybody had to fear Gimli's axe, who showed even the shadow of a reservation against the Elven-Queen.

After the breaking of the Fellowship at the falls of Rauros, Gimli fought together with Aragorn and Legolas in the war in Rohan and afterwards took part in the ride on the Paths of the Dead. Defending the Hornburg, he beheaded 42 enemies with his broad-bladed battle-axe.

In the years after the end of the War of the Ring Gimli settled together with a group of Dwarves of the Erebor in Aglarond; and was called "Master of the Glittering Caves" since. The smiths and masons of Aglarond did a lot of workmanship for the Kings of Rohan and Gondor.

Gimli was said to be the only Dwarf who traveled with his friend Legolas to the Old West.
Thanks to for the biography.

He appears to be smoking a clay pipe.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Vintage Ad (date unknown): Union Leader

Based on the style of this ad, I'd say this is from the early 1900s, probably before The Great War, but I can't be much more specific than that. Union Leader used Uncle Sam as a recurring feature in their ads.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Visitor Maps

I was just checking Statcounter and thought I'd take a look at the most recent visitor maps. Here's the map for Blogonomicon. (Click to enlarge for both).

Typical, I'd say. Most hits from the United States. Understandable, since most traffic here comes from people who originally started coming here for gun-related posts.

The map for The Briar Files is interesting.

There are more hits from Europe than there are from the United States. The number two country after the U.S. is France, thanks to Pipes et tabacs and Fumers de Pipe.

Thanks for all the traffic! Or should I say--merci!

Tonka live-blogging

Not the toy cars.
The tonka bean is the seed of Dipteryx odorata, a legume tree in the neotropics, of the Fabaceae family. The seed is black and wrinkled in appearance, with a smooth brown interior. It is known mostly for its fragrance, which is reminiscent of vanilla, almonds, cinnamon, and cloves: it has sometimes been used commercially as a substitute for vanilla. It is also sometimes used in perfume and was commonly used in tobacco before being banned.
Banned? Then how does it come to still be used in pipe tobacco? Or perhaps it's only a flavoring extract that is used in the tobacco, not the bean itself? Perhaps someone can clarify this for me.

Anyway, we have a relatively rainy day here today, so I've taken the opportunity to lock myself in my Sanctum and finally crack the tin of 1792 Flake that has been lurking in my cabinet for some weeks now. Lurking, I say, leering at me mockingly, daring me to smoke. This is a tobacco that has been in my mind to try for many years. I often rely very well on for information on prospective blends; the reviews on this one, as well as remarks made some years ago on a.s.p. have always intrigued me.

I have never read a middle-of-the-road, so-so opinion on 1792. Every reviewer I've read either declared that he hated it and would never smoke it again, or that it was fantastic and would be a regular part of his cellar. Such extreme reviews, coupled with the mention of a flavor I had never heard of (tonquin, or tonka bean) and was described with widely varying characteristics by different smokers, drove me to eventually try it myself.

This is only my first bowl, and I've loaded it up in my try-out pipe (the Kirsten). The description of flavors of the bean from Wikipedia is not inaccurate, but is inadequate. All of the characteristics are there, and more. Since this is only my first bowl, I do not feel qualified to comment on it yet, but there are shades of scents that fire inexact memories of places and people from the past, in much the way Bullseye Flake did. The aftertaste left behind puts me in mind most of lightly flavored chocolate coffee.
Samuel Gawith’s 1792 Flake is truly not for the faint-hearted. The Tonquin extract used to flavor the flake is quite heady and strong. Nonetheless, the first time with this can be an eye-opening experience as the intense flavor can easily overwhelm if smoked too quickly. Pierre’s advise is to set aside some quality time to spend with 1792, and you will come to love this unusual offering as much as he.
I believe that I have somewhat anesthetized myself against this "overwhelmingness" by smoking lots of strong Perique blends, but it may not set in until the pipe is nearly finished, or even for a few minutes after it's completely finished. For now I can only say that this tobacco warrants further experimentation.

This is definitely a tobacco that deserves attention and gradualness. To hurry would be to cheat this tobacco, and yourself.

UPDATE: Finished. Wow. It made me thirsty. Very mild head-swimmingness. I will have to decide on a regular briar pipe to dedicate only to this blend.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Featured Pipe Smoker: Aloysius Smith (a.k.a. Trader Horn)

Aloysius Smith (Trader Horn) 1861-1931

Aloysius Smith was a true character: adventurer, hero, villain, and just about everything in between. Two movies were made about him, but they were probably heavily fictionalized and inaccurate. When I included him on my old website several years ago, a cousin of his--John Robert Smith of Preston, England--discovered my entry and sent me some information about him. Here is most of what he sent me.
* * * * *
Trader was born in York Street, Preston, in 1861 and shortly after his birth the family moved to St. Ignatius' Square and it is here that Trader was brought up. Aloysius was the fourth child of Robert Smith and Sarah Broughton. He had 3 brothers (two of them, Thomas & John, became priests) and 5 sisters (one of them, Trinita becoming an abbess in the south of Ireland).

He was educated at St Edward's School, Liverpool. I presume he went here as he was probably following in his brothers' footsteps. Although his brothers joined the priesthood, the impact on Trader was not such as to follow them into the ministry, but rather his education was to stand him in good stead as to his ability to travel and stand on his own two feet.A great influence in his life were his grandfather John Smith (my great great grandfather) who hailed from Myerscough but who died at Raikes Farm, Lea--and his Uncle Edward (Miser Ned) who inherited Raikes Farm but built Raikes House nearby and died there. Ned is buried in a "common grave bought out" with no head stone in St Mary's RC churchyard at Lea, just down the road from Raikes House, as is grandfather John whose grave does have a headstone.

Young Aloysius spent time at the farm at Lea in the company of grandfather John (my grandfather Horn was always fond o' me. Aye, he always encouraged my notions about leaving school and going to sea) and an old family friend, Tommy Bamber, who was a ex-seafairer with a wooden leg. Aloysius sat many hours at the fireside listening to the old people talking of deeds past and adventures undertaken. He also spent time with uncle Ned, fishing and shooting and gaining knowledge of the countryside. It can only be surmised that young Aloysius preferred the adventure and country life to strict Catholic schooling, and for his rebellion he was expelled from St Edwards before he took his final examinations.

So he left St Edward's College, Liverpool in February 1878.

He first worked for Hatton & Cookson of 1-3 Mersey St, Liverpool and was assigned to Equatorial West Africa. So at the age of 17 years, Aloysius embarked upon his career of adventure and started his love affair with Africa. His first tour of duty was mainly undertaken in Gaboon (Gabon).

When Trader returned to England and his beloved Lea, it was with sadness that he discovered the empty chair by the fireside, for his granddad (John Smith) had died in January 1882 and he dearly wished he could have told the old man his tales of adventure and daringdo experienced in his own travels.

Aloysius headed for London and started a new career, in that he became a political correspondent, but he returned to Preston in June 1883, eloped and married his "under-age" wife, Amy Knowles, "his lass from Lancashire," at St George's RC Church, St George's Rd, London on 13th June 1883. Following their marriage, Trader for a time continued as a political correspondent and Marie their daughter was born 9 months later. He worked with George Bussy, to whom he referred often in his conversations with Etheldreda Lewis whilst writing his books in the later years of his life. Aloysius and his young wife and child then made a short trip to the USA but returned and in October 1884 when he joined the London police force, warrant number 69890 and later passed exams to become a detective.

He resigned from the police force on 16 April 1887 and set off for America for a second time and joined up with Buffalo Bill's (William Cody) Wild West Show. Trader's son William was born (circa 1886) and was in fact delivered by Mrs. Cody.

Buffalo Bill's Travelling Circus visited Preston on numerous occassions. "The last visit was in 1904 with a circus which stayed on Penwortham Holme. Cody died in 1917." (From Evening Post Supplement, October 29, 1997). One must wonder weither it was Trader's influence or involvement which led to these visits to Preston.

When Trader left the circus and went to live in Pittsburgh is not certain, but what was certain is that his still young wife had failing health. Amy came home several times to Meadow Street, Preston but eventually grieving for the loss of their 2 year old daughter, Annie, her health had the last say and she died on 28th November 1894 (aged 27) and is buried in an unmarked paupers grave in St Mary's churchyard in Pittsburgh. Just prior to her death, Robert (Trader's brother) went to the States to bring Marie and William home to Preston, no doubt due to Amy's inability to cope due to her sickness.

After Amy's death Aloysius spent sometime in Morocco and then it becomes vague as to exactly where he was and when. However he certainly visited Madagascar and spent considerable time in Africa. He certainly fought in the Boer War and he met Cecil Rhodes, the founder of Rhodesia. He met up with Mrs. Ethelreda Lewis when he was in his mid 60's. He was in an impoverished state selling gridirons door to door, and living in a doss house in Johannesburg. Aloysius was near to death from malnutrition. I think he welcomed the attention of the Lewis family as life at his lodgings were pretty awful and a friendly fire, a dram of whisky and a square meal were an incentive to write and visit her on a weekly basis.

Trader Horn was the name given to Aloysius Smith to hide his identity and "protect the innocent." Also in the books, relationships have been changed and this makes it confusing to put together the members of the Smith family. We should also remember that the stories told by Trader were no doubt added to, and some were confused by his age and the age of the stories. Trader wrote three books: The Ivory Coast in the Earlies, Harold the Webbed and Waters of Africa. Although these books were written by Trader, Mrs Lewis put them in order and unbeknown to the old man she made copious notes during his visits of everything he said. Much of this is incorporated in the novels and for the genealogist is invaluable as it also tells the life story of Aloysius Smith.

Bearing in mind that his books started to be published in 1927, his fame and acclamation were short-lived in that he died only four years later in 1931. Whether the Old Traveller recognised that his days were numbered, he did return to England to join his daughter, Marie, at Whitstable. Father and daughter knew not of each other's whereabouts and it was only by publication of his books and the publicity that Marie even became aware that he was still alive.

However his return to his family did not slow the old villain down, as with money to spend he regularly went to London and did various tours around the country. On one of these trips to Cornwall his portrait was painted in St Ives by John A. Park and although it languished in the "Golden Lion" in St Ives for some time, it was later acquired and is still owned by the Preston Museum.

He went to America again to publicise his books and there was also a film made about his exploits. He did in fact see the film. I wonder how many people get the opportunity to see the story of their life on film. Normally such credits are reserved posthumously.

The film "TRADER HORN" was made by MGM starring Harry Carey, Edwina Booth and Duncan Renaldo and was released early in 1931 and became a blockbuster of its day. Many people in America flocked to it. When the film opened in Australia police had to be called in to control the crowds and quell riots by the film-goers. In Stockholm, Prince Carl of Sweden, Prince Axel of Denmark, the Crown Prince of Norway and the Crown Princess of Belgium all made sure that they were seen at the premiere. Crown Princess Astrid of Belgium requested a private showing of the film for herself and the Royal Family in Belgium. In India there was rioting in the crowds trying to get in to see the film and two Indians died from stab wounds and the police had to fire shots over the heads of the crowds to calm them.

Normal costs of an MGM production were $350,000, "Trader Horn" cost $3 million . By the end of 1931 the film had grossed $1.7 million. In the end the film just broke even.

In 1973 a second Trader Horn was made by MGM starring Rod Taylor, Anne Heywood and Jean Soel and was directed by Reza Badiyi. Whilst he used Lorreto, Joy Lane at Whitstable (Marie's home) as his base, with not infrequent visits to the local pubs, he eventually became ill and died on 26th June 1931 at St Helier Nursing Home in Tankerton and was buried in Millstrood Lane Cemetery, Whitstable.

In the past when asked to complete a biographical questionnaire as to the jobs held in his lifetime he replied: trader, entertainer, artist, auctioneer, bricklayer, fish-monger, pedler, furniture dealer, hunter, grave digger, detective, miner, sheriff, diamond prospector, light weight boxer, cotton picker, soldier, tobacco dealer, sailor (before the mast), soap merchant, clothier, optician, horse dealer, dental surgeon, horse stealer, quack doctor, cattle ranger, author, house decorator, monumental mason, street musician, circus trainer with Bill Cody, and to this he might also have added, traveller, story teller, hero, villain and history maker.

Also when asked which countries he had lived or travelled in he replied "Never lived in China or Russia." True or false, it shows the scope of his horizons which he encompassed in a mere 70 years which would require lesser mortals several lifetimes.

At his funeral a Zulu shield rested against the coffin and his beloved rifle and stetson lay on top. There were wreaths from the Savage Club, MGM and the Gaumont-British Picture Corporation. His death was acknowledged in leading newspapers all over the world, from Canada to Australia, India to Tangayika, The Times, the Guardian, Abbeville Chronicle, Manchester Guardian, Simla Times, Devon & Exeter Gazette, London Morning Post, New York Times, Literary Digest, Daily Express, & the Catholic Times. The inscription on his grave stone is very apt. Whether it was Marie's creativity or a final wish of the old traveller, I know not.


"Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
and the hunter home from the hill."


Saturday, July 5, 2008


I didn't realize the graphic link to last week's pipe smoker was broken. It's fixed now. You can scroll down if you're on the main page, or go directly to the post here.

The Mayor's Vice

I first began reading Cameron Bailey's blog when he focused on matters relating to the loss of liberty here in the United States. He has now turned to writing about pipes and pipe smoking. As expected, his posts are eloquent and thoughtful, and he occasionally lists for sale some very beautiful pipes. I recommend it. Follow the link to The Mayor's Vice.

Vintage Ad (1944): Lord Davenport pipes

This is one of my favorite old pipe ads. The gimmick here is not how the pipe is made, but how well it goes with your face.

It didn't matter what you looked like: Clark Gable, Ward Cleaver, that big guy from "All in the Family" who turned out to be gay, the guy from the Dos Equis commercials, Uncle Ben Parker, or a vaguely evil and militant Jason Robards; Lord Davenport had a pipe for you.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Living Dead Pipe

While watching one of my favorite old badfilms (Return of the Living Dead) last night, I noticed the mortuary guy smoking this unusual pipe.

Well, not actually smoking. As Joe Bob Briggs might say, "stunt smoking." Here's another angle.

Interesting pipe, and appropriate for someone who often works with his hands (such as embalming a corpse), because unlike most sitters that would require the pipe be put down with at least a small amount of care, this one could just be slapped down on any flat surface and it probably wouldn't fall over. The bowl was carved intact with a sort of "rocking horse" bottom and front. Put it down on the bottom, it sits. Put it down on the front, it still sits after rocking back to center the mass. An interesting pipe, although it seems to me that it would be quite heavy and uncomfortable to grip with the teeth for very long because of all that extra weight. There is a white mark of some sort on the stem, but it goes by too fast for me to see any detail. I've played it in slow motion and taken numerous screen caps, but just can't make it out. Can anyone identify it? Does this particular design have a specific name?

It seems a shame that such a nice pipe was relegated to being only a b-movie prop. Leave a comment if you have any information or even an educated guess.