Friday, December 25, 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Vintage Christmas Ad (1953): Kaywoodie white briar

Another ad I captured from somewhere on the internet that was cropped a little too closely, featuring Kaywoodie's white briar.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Featured Pipe Smoker: Santa Claus

click to enlarge

"Merry Christmas to All" by Thomas Nast, 1865.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Vintage Christmas Ad (1947): Kaywoodie

A fine collection of Kaywoodies, including cigar and cigarettes holders made of meerschaum.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Featured Pipe Smoker: Santa Claus

click to enlarge

"Here We Are Again!" by Thomas Nast, 1878. Apparently Santa has run into the New Year, or something. This was made to accompany a poem titled "Santa Claus Belated," but I have not been able to find a copy of it.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Vintage Christmas Ad (1952): Kaywoodie

Perhaps of special note are the two pipes at far bottom right. Uppermost is an Allbriar, which was made with a briar stem and tends to sell for high values on eBay, and below that the EZ Set Vest Pocket in white briar, with a flattened design so it would go in your vest pocket more comfortably.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Of Holmesian interest

This is not about pipe smoking, but I thought it might be of interest because it's about Sherlock Holmes.

Hidden Clues, an article written by a medical doctor, discusses how Arthur Conan Doyle used his medical expertise in many of Watson's descriptions of various characters, and further makes the case that Doyle, in his many descriptions of Holmes, may have been describing the symptoms of someone with Asperger's Syndrome, some 70 years before the syndrome was diagnosed by Hans Asperger.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Featured Pipe Smoker: Santa Claus

click to enlarge

"Caught!" by Thomas Nast, 1881.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Vintage Christmas Ad (1935): Old Chum pipe tobacco

I'll have a few vintage ads that are Christmas-themed for next four weeks leading up to the holiday. First, here's a 1935 for Old Chum, which I have never heard of outside of this ad.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Featured Pipe Smoker: Santa Claus

click to enlarge

For the next few weeks I'll be featuring graphics of a pipe-smoking Santa leading up to the holiday. These artworks will all be from the hand of Thomas Nast, who probably more than any other artist is responsible for our contemporary image of a rotund, pipe-smoking Santa Claus.

First we have "Seeing Santa Claus" from 1876.

For many more images of Santa with a pipe, just click on Santa Smokes a Pipe.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Vintage Ad (1940s): Kaywoodie Carburetor

Click to enlarge.

Here is an ad from my own personal hardcopy collection. I do not have an exact year for this one, but based on what I know about Kaywoodie ads, it's safe to say this one is from the 1940s.

The Carburetor was another of Kaywoodie's gimmicks. There is a hole in the exact center of the bottom of the bowl that is reinforced with metal of some kind--probably aluminum. The idea is that when drawing on the pipe, "cool" air is also drawn through the carburetor hole to mix with the "hot" air coming from the top of the pipe, thus providing a "cooler, drier smoke" (naturally!). I do have one Yello-Bole Carburetor (Yello-Bole was Kaywoodie's seconds line) and it is an okay pipe but I don't think the extra hole makes a whole lot of difference.

Pretty much every shape Kaywoodie made also came in a Carburetor version.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Featured Pipe Smoker (Fictional?): J.R. "Bob" Dobbs

J.R. "Bob" Dobbs (c. 1930s - 1984?)

"If you act like a dumbshit, they'll treat you like an equal."

"Just because some jackass is an atheist doesn't mean that his prophets and gods are any less false."

"You know how dumb the average person is? Well, by definition, half of 'em are even dumber than THAT."

"I don't practice what I preach because I'm not the kind of person I'm preaching to."

J.R. "Bob" Dobbs was born in Dallas possibly sometime during the 1930s or so, the son of a pharmacist. He became wealthy at an early age by playing the stock market over the telephone. In 1953 he saw an image of God (which he called JHVH-1) on a television he had built himself and it inspired him to found his own church, called The Church of the SubGenius. He married his primary wife Connie in 1955, worked as a model and a novelty gag inventor, and preached on weekends "strictly for the money." He was assassinated in San Francisco in 1984, but has allegedly returned from the dead several times since then.

According to the Church, "Bob" is the greatest salesman who ever lived. "Bob" is never seen without his pipe, and his pipe is always lit. Because of this, some have speculated that the pipe is not a conventional pipe at all, but an alien symbiont that has attached itself to his mouth.

Nevertheless, "Bob" is said to smoke an herb called habafropzipulops, or "frop," which can be grown only on the graves of Tibetan monks and must be fertilized with Yeti dung. We don't know for sure what brand of pipe he prefers, though as to shape he always uses a straight billiard, and there is strong indication that it could be a Dr. Grabow.

For much more information on "Bob" and the Church, follow the link above. But be warned, because in the end you will pay to know what you really think.

The graphic above was scanned by myself from the cover of The Book of the SubGenius, with a hand scanner many years ago. As anyone who has ever used a hand scanner can tell you, it is almost impossible to scan-and-stitch a large picture with an old hand scanner because the different scans always come out slightly different sizes. This is the only large graphic I was ever able scan and stitch that didn't come out lopsided. Coincidence? I think not. The slack was strong in me that day.

The animated gif below illustrates one of the profound mysteries of the Church of the SubGenius: is "Bob" smoking the pipe, or is the pipe smoking "Bob"?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Vintage Brochure (1950s or '60s): Dr. Grabow

Dr. Grabow brochure inside 1

All graphics click to enlarge.

Submitted for your erudition is this old Dr. Grabow brochure. Undated, but I'm guessing 1950s- or '60s-era. This brochure was mixed in with a lot of estate pipes that I once purchased via eBay. After making these scans and saving them for my own future reference, I promptly sold the brochure for a profit like any good SubGenius would. I remember it was purchased by someone in England; the postage to send it there cost more than his winning bid.

This brochure has many nuggets of trivial information that may be usefully inconsequential for the pipe smoker and/or Dr. Grabow collector (come on, I know you Grabowers are out there). For example, at this time there was at least one line of pipes that were being pre-smoked with Carter Hall. We also get a cool sketch of the smoking machine and learn that it was featured in Ripley's Believe It Or Not. We also get to see color illustrations of some of their pipes at that time (with model names and numbers), and an explanation with cut-away illustration of the Ajustomatic system.

Perhaps most importantly, we are given a strong clue as to the origin of "Bob". If you are unfamiliar with "Bob", he will be covered soon in the Featured Pipe Smoker series.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Featured Pipe Smoker: Gerald R. Ford

Gerald Rudolph Ford (1913-2006)

"I'm a Ford, not a Lincoln."

Gerald Ford was born with the name Leslie King in Omaha, Nebraska. His parents divorced after his birth and eventually his mother remarried. In 1935 he formally changed his name to that of his adopted father, legally becoming Gerald R. Ford, Jr.

During his boyhood he joined the Boy Scouts, attaining the rank of Eagle Scout--the only president ever to hold that distinction.

He was a star football player at Grand Rapids High School in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He also played football for the University of Michigan, where he was known for being an excellent defensive player (check out his football photo at Wikipedia, it's pretty cool). His number--48--has been retired by U of M.

He graduated in 1935 with a degree in political science and economics. He turned down offers to play pro ball from both the Detroit Lions and the Green Bay Packers so he could take a coaching position at Yale and apply to its law school.

He graduated from law school in 1941. During the 40s he also worked occasionally as a model. He received a commission as an ensign in the U.S. Naval Reserve in 1942. The details of his military service are beyond the scope of this post, but can be found easily. For his service, he earned the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with nine engagement stars for operations in the Gilbert Islands, Bismarck Archipelago, Marshall Islands, Asiatic and Pacific carrier raids, Hollandia, Marianas, Western Carolines, Western New Guinea, and the Leyte Operation. He also received the Philippine Liberation Medal with two bronze stars for Leyte and Mindoro, as well as the American Campaign and World War II Victory Medals.

Ford became a congressional representative for the Grand Rapids district in 1949 and held that post for 24 years. During that time, he was a member of the House Appropriations Committee and the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. In 1963 he was elected Minority Leader. He was also appointed to the Warren Commission.

In 1973, Spiro Agnew resigned his position as Vice President, and Ford was nominated to fill the post in accordance with the vice-presidential vacancy provision of the 25th Amendment. When Richard Nixon resigned from the presidency in 1974, Vice President Gerald Ford became president. Thus he is the only president to hold that position without being elected to it.

As far as I can tell, Gerald Ford is the only president to pose for his official presidential portrait with a pipe.

In 1974, he gave former president Richard Nixon a full pardon, which cost him a lot of support and probably even cost him his chance at being elected during the next presidential run. At present, many believe that pardoning Nixon was actually the best thing he could have done for the country, although it was probably the worst thing he could have done to himself personally at the time.

In 1974 he was also voted People magazine's "Sexiest Man Alive."

His tenure in office was an eventful and perhaps even chaotic time. Most notable was the end of the Vietnam War and the fall of Saigon in 1975. In that year he also survived two assassination attempts.

In 1976, Ford defeated Ronald Reagan for the Republican nomination for president, but then lost in the general election to history's greatest monster. He remained close friends with Carter for the rest of his life.

On November 12, 2006 he officially became the longest-lived president by surpassing Ronald Reagan. Ford had the second-longest post-presidential life, after Herbert Hoover.

In my local area, Ford is also (in)famous for what is referred to as The Great Tamale Incident.

Gerald Ford passed away at his home on December 26, 2006.

See also Gerald Ford's Official Whitehouse Biography.

Thanks to JR of A Keyboard and a .45 for emailing me the photo at the top.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Vintage Ad (1947): Hollycourt pipes

Not 75%, not 80%, but exactly 77.7% drier, PROVED BY ACTUAL SCIENTIFIC LABORATORY SMOKING TESTS. Okie-dokie.

I have never heard of Hollycourt pipes aside from this old ad which I found somewhere on the internet, but here we have another gimmick pipe with some kind of aluminum doohicky incorporated into the stem that was supposed to prevent clogging(?!) and create a 77.7% drier smoke.

Unfortunately this graphic is kind of low-res and it's hard to read all the fine print, but you may also notice that these pipes were pre-smoked, and I'm pretty sure it says "by Linkman's Executive machine." So I suspect that this pipe was an offshoot of Dr. Grabow.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sherlock Holmes illustrated by Daniel Perez

Monday is library day at my son's school. They get to check a book out of the school library and return their previous book. Today he came home with a kid's graphic novel version of my favorite Holmes tale, The Hound of the Baskervilles.

Well, I like it. One of the first things I checked was the cast of characters on the first page, and was pleased to see a lean, dark and handsome Dr. Watson instead of the bumbling oaf that popular culture has so often inflicted upon us. My only quibble was that, for some reason, his first name had been changed to Henry. [Correction: Although he is listed as Dr. Henry Watson among the cast of characters, the one time during the story that his first name is used, it is John. The other listing must have been a misprint.]

I flipped through the pages mostly to look at the illustrations and was glad to see the following panels.

The Hound of the Baskervilles (Graphic Revolve) is a new book, published 2009, (re-)written by Martin Powell and illustrated by Daniel Perez. The illustrations are dark and hauntingly fantastic. Very cool.

And Holmes still smokes his pipe.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Featured Pipe Smoker: Michael Richards

Michael Anthony Richards (b. 1949)

Born in California and raised as a Catholic, although his publicist has claimed that he is Jewish (after he was accused of making some anti-Semitic remarks). He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Evergreen State College in 1975. Drafted during the Vietnam War and stationed in Germany where he produced and directed shows (ironically) dealing with race relations and drug abuse.

His breakthrough on television arguably came with his casting as a regular on the comedy skit show Fridays in the early 80s (one of the highlights of the week when I was in college). After having several character actor roles on various sitcoms, he finally hit it big, of course, as Cosmo Kramer on Seinfeld.

The role of Adrian Monk (TV show Monk) was created for him, but he lost it due to comedic typecasting. Personally, I think he would have made a great Monk, but then, Tony Shaloub makes a great Monk, as well.

Richards holds a 33rd degree in Scottish Rite Masonry.

And then came the Laugh Factory incident, wherein he shouted racial remarks at some people who he said were heckling him. Everybody has already heard about it, so no need to detail it here. I'm sure the video is still on YouTube, if you want to look for it.

The picture above looks a little squished because I scanned it myself from the cover of a TV Guide with a hand scanner many years ago. If you've ever used a hand scanner, you know how difficult it can be to get a decent scan. This photo is from the Seinfeld years, when his character sometimes smoked a pipe. It's hard to tell from the angle in the photo, but I think his pipe might be a Kaywoodie. The logo on the stem could be a cloverleaf, and there's an obvious demarkation between the stem and the shank that could be the edge of the screw-in fitment. It could also be a Dr. Grabow, but I'd hate to think that someone with his money would stoop to using a Dr. G.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Vintage Ad (undated): Granger road sign

Here's a photo of an old Granger pipe tobacco road sign ad that someone found in a junkyard.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Bayou Night!

I have said before that Bayou Night from Cornell & Diehl is my favorite smoke. I have been without for about a month now and finally was able to order a new pound. Checked the mailbox on the way home from a Halloween festival just a little while ago to find it waiting for me. So I am now enjoying a before-bed bowl of this excellent stuff. The latakia seemed a little more pronounced than usual on first light, but maybe that's just because I haven't had it in a while. Further into the bowl the Perique has asserted itself.

I'll bother with stuffing it into Mason jars tomorrow. For now, it's just time for a bowl.

Featured Pipe Smoker: Jack Lemmon

John Uhler "Jack" Lemmon III (1925-2001)

Born in an elevator in Newton, Massachusetts. Jack Lemmon was a Harvard grad, where he was also the president of the Hasty Pudding Club, and he served in the Navy.

His big breakthrough in acting came in the movie It Should Happen To You of 1954. Perhaps his most famous role was as Felix Unger in The Odd Couple, 1968. Younger fans may be more familiar with his role in Grumpy Old Men of 1998.

Lemmon was the first actor to win Academy Awards for Best Actor (Save the Tiger, 1973) and Best Supporting Actor (Mister Roberts, 1975). In 1988, the American Film Institute gave him its Lifetime Achievement Award.

Jack Lemmon died of bladder and colon cancer in 2001.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Vintage Ad (1945): Bond Street/Revelation

A closely-cropped ad that I snagged from eBay several years ago and have had it floating around in various folders on at least three different computers ever since, and generating disturbing dream imagery every now and then. I call this "The Creepy Bond Street Guy" and this is one of my favorite vintage ads. I wish I had splurged and bought the hardcopy. Philip Morris, the epitome of evil now that Hitler is dead, once used this illustration of an evil super-villian apparently contemplating world domination to sell pipe tobacco.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Pipes in Literature: Toys of Fire and Smoke

Now because of his dislike and fear, in the later days Saruman avoided Gandalf, and they seldom met, except at the assemblies of the White Council. It was at the great Council held in 2851 that the "Halflings' leaf" was first spoken of, and the matter was noted with amusement at the time, though it was afterwards remembered in a different light. The Council met in Rivendell, and Gandalf sat apart, silent, but smoking prodigiously (a thing he had never done before on such an occasion), while Saruman spoke against him, and urged that contrary to Gandalf's advice Dol Guldur should not yet be molested. Both the silence and the smoke seemed greatly to annoy Saruman, and before the Council dispersed he said to Gandalf: "When weighty matters are in debate, Mithrandir, I wonder a little that you should play with your toys of fire and smoke, while others are in earnest speech."

But Gandalf laughed, and replied: "You would not wonder, if you used this herb yourself. You might find that smoke blown out cleared your mind of shadows within. Anyway, it gives patience, to listen to error without anger. But it is not one of my toys. It is an art of the Little People away in the West: merry and worthy folk, though not of much account, perhaps, in your high policies."

Saruman was little appeased by this answer (for he hated mockery, however gentle), and he said then coldly: "You jest, Lord Mithrandir, as is your way. I know well enough that you have become a curious explorer of the small: weeds, wild things, and childish folk. Your time is your own to spend, if you have nothing worthier to do; and your friends you may make as you please. But to me the days are too dark for wanderers' tales, and I have no time for the simples of peasants."

Gandalf did not laugh again; and he did not answer, but looking keenly at Saruman he drew on his pipe and sent out a great ring of smoke with many smaller rings that followed it. Then he put up his hand, as if to grasp them, and they vanished. With that he got up and left Saruman without another word; but Saruman stood for some time silent, and his face was dark with doubt and displeasure.

--J.R.R. Tolkien
excerpt from "The Hunt for the Ring"
from Unfinished Tales

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Featured Pipe Smoker: Arthur Conan Doyle

Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle (1859-1930)
"I should dearly love that the world should be ever so little better for my presence. Even on this small stage we have our two sides, and something might be done by throwing all one's weight on the scale of breadth, tolerance, charity, temperance, peace, and kindliness to man and beast. We can't all strike very big blows, and even the little ones count for something."
The creator of Sherlock Holmes was born in Edinburgh, Scotland to Irish Catholic parents. As a teenager, he turned away from Christianity and became an agnostic. He studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh from 1876-81, and later set up practice as an opthalmologist. His practice did not prove very lucrative, however, so he used his spare time to write.

Besides his Holmesian stories, he wrote many other books, including adventure stories, historical novels, and many short stories, some of which could even be considered to fall into my own favorite sub-genre: horror. An especially good--and interesting--short is The Horror of the Heights, written in the nascent days of flight. It's a nice piece of speculative horror about what might be encountered in the sky when man flew too high.

In the early 1900s several family members close to him died, and he began resorting to spiritualism for comfort.

He died of a heart attack in 1930.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Vintage Ad (1931): Granger Rough Cut

Granger displays a penchant for disturbing imagery in this pipe tobacco ad. Go ahead, click to enlarge and see if you can look at that face without wincing. Although I must admit, this is still a far cry from the Creepy Bond Street Guy, which I thought I had posted previously but apparently I haven't, so I'll save it for next week.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Pipes in Literature: The Death of Wouter Van Twiller

This excerpt is from the final few paragraphs of Book III, Chapter IX of A History of New York by Washington Irving
The courier chosen to bear the despatches was a fat oily little man, as being less liable to be worn out, or to lose leather on the journey; and to insure his speed, he was mounted on the fleetest wagon horse in the garrison, remarkable for length of limb, largeness of bone, and hardness of trot; and so tall, that the little messenger was obliged to climb on his back by means of his tail and crupper. Such extraordinary speed did he make, that he arrived at fort Amsterdam in a little less than a month, though the distance was full two hundred pipes, or about one hundred and twenty miles.

With an appearance of great hurry and business, and smoking a short travelling-pipe, he proceeded on a long swing trot through the muddy lanes of the metropolis, demolishing whole batches of dirt pies, which the little Dutch children were making in the road; and for which kind of pastry the children of this city have ever been famous. On arriving at the governor's house, he climbed down from his steed; roused the gray-headed door-keeper, old Skaats, who, like his lineal descendant and faithful representative, the venerable crier of our court, was nodding at his post--rattled at the door of the council chamber, and startled the members as they were dozing over a plan for establishing a public market.

At that very moment a gentle grunt, or rather a deep-drawn snore, was heard from the chair of the governor; a whiff of smoke was at the same instant observed to escape from his lips, and a light cloud to ascend from the bowl of his pipe. The council, of course, supposed him engaged in deep sleep for the good of the community, and, according to custom in all such cases established, every man bawled out silence, when, of a sudden, the door flew open, and the little courier straddled into the apartment, cased to the middle in a pair of Hessian boots, which he had got into for the sake of expedition. In his right hand he held forth the ominous despatches, and with his left he grasped firmly the waistband of his galligaskins, which had unfortunately given way, in the exertion of descending from his horse. He stumped resolutely up to the governor, and with more hurry than perspicuity, delivered his message. But fortunately his ill tidings came too late to ruffle the tranquillity of this most tranquil of rulers. His venerable excellency had just breathed and smoked his last--his lungs and his pipe having been exhausted together, and his peaceful soul having escaped in the last whiff that curled from his tobacco pipe. In a word, the renowned Walter the Doubter, who had so often slumbered with his contemporaries, now slept with his fathers, and Wilhelmus Kieft governed in his stead.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Featured Pipe Smoker: John Friedlander

John Friedlander (?-?)

At last, someone who I can't Google or Wiki any detailed information about. Not even imdb lists his date of birth. So here's what little I know.

Friedlander was a visual effects designer who worked on several different BBC productions, most notably Doctor Who (the original series). He created and designed many of the monsters and alien characters in the original series, such as the Ice Warriors, Sontarans, Zygrons, Ogrons, Draconians, Sea Devils and Wirrn. In the above photo he is shown holding the head of perhaps his most nefarious creation: Davros, creator of the Daleks. He also worked on the popular Britcom Dad's Army. His last credit listed at imdb is for his work in the series I, Claudius in 1976.

It looks like he's smoking a Peterson.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Vintage Ad: Union Leader Cut Plug Tobacco

Another one from Union Leader with Uncle Sam. He smokes Union Leader, and so should you. Who knew we had a national smoke and chew?

This hints of World War I-era to me, but I could be mistaken.

(I don't think I would want to even try a tobacco that can allegedly be used as both a smoke and a chew. It just doesn't seem right.)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Pipes in Literature: Oh, my pipe!

Moby Dick
by Herman Melville


The Pipe

When Stubb had departed, Ahab stood for a while leaning over the bulwarks; and then, as had been usual with him of late, calling a sailor of the watch, he sent him below for his ivory stool, and also his pipe. Lighting the pipe at the binnacle lamp and planting the stool on the weather side of the deck, he sat and smoked.

In old Norse times, the thrones of the sea-loving Danish kings were fabricated, saith tradition, of the tusks of the narwhale. How could one look at Ahab then, seated on that tripod of bones, without bethinking him of the royalty it symbolized? For a Khan of the plank, and a king of the sea, and a great lord of Leviathans was Ahab.

Some moments passed, during which the thick vapor came from his mouth in quick and constant puffs, which blew back again into his face. "How now," he soliloquized at last, withdrawing the tube, "this smoking no longer soothes. Oh, my pipe! hard must it go with me if thy charm be gone! Here have I been unconsciously toiling, not pleasuring,--aye, and ignorantly smoking to windward all the while; to windward, and with such nervous whiffs, as if, like the dying whale, my final jets were the strongest and the fullest of trouble. What business have I with this pipe? This thing that is meant for sereneness, to send up mild white vapors among mild white hairs, not among torn iron-grey locks like mine. I'll smoke no more--"

He tossed the still lighted pipe into the sea. The fire hissed in the waves; the same instant the ship shot by the bubble the sinking pipe made. With slouced hat, Ahab lurchingly paced the planks.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Featured Pipe Smoker (Fictional): Gandalf


"Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends."

Gandalf, a.k.a. Mithrandir, The Grey Wanderer, Olórin, Tharkûn, and many other names. Another character whom it would be pointless for me to say much about; anything I could say you probably already know.

Gandalf picked up pipe-smoking from the hobbits of the Shire, and enjoyed the past-time immensely when he had enough time to relax with a pipe. He was an expert at blowing smoke-rings, able to command them to float about the room and even change color. Whether this was due to his Wizardly powers, or perhaps a power he gained as a side-effect of wearing Narya, the Ring of Fire, is unknown.
At last Gandalf pushed away his plate and jug--he had eaten two whole loaves (with masses of butter and honey and clotted cream) and drunk at least a quart of mead--and he took out his pipe. "I will answer the second question first," he said, "--but bless me! this is a splendid place for smoke rings!" Indeed for a long time they could get nothing more out of him, he was so busy sending smoke-rings dodging round the pillars of the hall, changing them into all sorts of different shapes and colours, and setting them at last chasing one another out of the hole in the roof. They must have looked very queer from outside, popping out into the air one after another, green, blue, red, silver-grey, yellow, white; big ones, little ones; little ones dodging through big ones and joining into figure-eights, and going off like a flock of birds into the distance.

--excerpt from The Hobbit

In the illustration above we see him from a detail of An Unexpected Party by the Brothers Hildebrandt, smoking a fairly large but conventional pipe with an apple or perhaps acorn bowl and a slightly bent stem; the kind of pipe that could be stored safely and retrieved easily--ideal for a wandering Wizard who might have to pick up and leave at a moment's notice. Bilbo's pipe, on the other hand, is obviously a "house pipe," not meant to be used while traveling, which is a reasonable pipe for Bilbo since Hobbits generally didn't like to travel too much. Elegant, perhaps, at first glance, but try to imagine how it would look if he actually had the bit in his mouth. Without a bend in the end of the stem this pipe would be extremely difficult to smoke and probably impossible to light in the first place. The Hildebrandts did an excellent job with this piece of art; however, I don't think they gave much serious thought to the mechanics of pipe smoking.

Above is the full illustration (click to enlarge). This is one of my favorite scenes from any of the four books, and is filled with activity and things I enjoy: good company, a roaring fire, pipe smoking and music. Here we may also see some dwarfish pipe smoking. Thorin (if I'm not mistaken) on the left, managing to play his harp and smoke a pipe at the same time. On the right we have Balin (or possibly Dwalin), according to my sources, who is smoking his pipe while (incredibly!) simultaneously playing the cello or bass viol.

For other LotR-related pipe smokers, see Bilbo Baggins, Gimli, son of Gloín, and J.R.R. Tolkien. For more pictures of Gandalf and a discussion of them, please click on PowerOfBabel: Gandalf.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Vintage Pipe Ad (1919): WDC Bakelite stems

Bakelite was one of the first plastics made of synthetic components, developed around 1909. It didn't take long for it to be used for pipe stems. The Demuth company were not the only ones to use it for pipe stems. As far as I know, I've never personally owned a pipe with such a stem. Most stems these days are made from vulcanite (hard rubber), acrylic (very hard plastic), or on really cheap pipes, nylon. I hate nylon stems.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Pipes in Literature: The Lost Knife

The lads came gayly back and went at their sports again with a will, chattering all the time about Tom's stupendous plan and admiring the genius of it. After a dainty egg and fish dinner, Tom said he wanted to learn to smoke, now. Joe caught at the idea and said he would like to try, too. So Huck made pipes and filled them. These novices had never smoked anything before but cigars made of grape-vine, and they "bit" the tongue, and were not considered manly anyway.

Now they stretched themselves out on their elbows and began to puff, charily, and with slender confidence. The smoke had an unpleasant taste, and they gagged a little, but Tom said:

"Why, it's just as easy! If I'd a knowed this was all, I'd a learnt long ago."

"So would I," said Joe. "It's just nothing."

"Why, many a time I've looked at people smoking, and thought well I wish I could do that; but I never thought I could," said Tom.

"That's just the way with me, hain't it, Huck? You've heard me talk just that way -- haven't you, Huck? I'll leave it to Huck if I haven't."

"Yes -- heaps of times," said Huck.

"Well, I have too," said Tom; "oh, hundreds of times. Once down by the slaughter-house. Don't you remember, Huck? Bob Tanner was there, and Johnny Miller, and Jeff Thatcher, when I said it. Don't you remember, Huck, 'bout me saying that?"

"Yes, that's so," said Huck. "That was the day after I lost a white alley. No, 'twas the day before."

"There -- I told you so," said Tom. "Huck recollects it."

"I bleeve I could smoke this pipe all day," said Joe. "I don't feel sick."

"Neither do I," said Tom. "I could smoke it all day. But I bet you Jeff Thatcher couldn't."

"Jeff Thatcher! Why, he'd keel over just with two draws. Just let him try it once. He'd see!"

"I bet he would. And Johnny Miller -- I wish could see Johnny Miller tackle it once."

"Oh, don't I!" said Joe. "Why, I bet you Johnny Miller couldn't any more do this than nothing. Just one little snifter would fetch him."

"'Deed it would, Joe. Say -- I wish the boys could see us now."

"So do I."

"Say -- boys, don't say anything about it, and some time when they're around, I'll come up to you and say, 'Joe, got a pipe? I want a smoke.' And you'll say, kind of careless like, as if it warn't anything, you'll say, 'Yes, I got my old pipe, and another one, but my tobacker ain't very good.' And I'll say, 'Oh, that's all right, if it's strong enough.' And then you'll out with the pipes, and we'll light up just as ca'm, and then just see 'em look!"

"By jings, that'll be gay, Tom! I wish it was now!"

"So do I! And when we tell 'em we learned when we was off pirating, won't they wish they'd been along?"

"Oh, I reckon not! I'll just bet they will!"

So the talk ran on. But presently it began to flag a trifle, and grow disjointed. The silences widened; the expectoration marvellously increased. Every pore inside the boys' cheeks became a spouting fountain; they could scarcely bail out the cellars under their tongues fast enough to prevent an inundation; little overflowings down their throats occurred in spite of all they could do, and sudden retchings followed every time. Both boys were looking very pale and miserable, now. Joe's pipe dropped from his nerveless fingers. Tom's followed. Both fountains were going furiously and both pumps bailing with might and main. Joe said feebly:

"I've lost my knife. I reckon I better go and find it."

Tom said, with quivering lips and halting utterance:

"I'll help you. You go over that way and I'll hunt around by the spring. No, you needn't come, Huck -- we can find it."

So Huck sat down again, and waited an hour. Then he found it lonesome, and went to find his comrades. They were wide apart in the woods, both very pale, both fast asleep. But something informed him that if they had had any trouble they had got rid of it.

They were not talkative at supper that night. They had a humble look, and when Huck prepared his pipe after the meal and was going to prepare theirs, they said no, they were not feeling very well -- something they ate at dinner had disagreed with them.

About midnight Joe awoke, and called the boys. There was a brooding oppressiveness in the air that seemed to bode something. The boys huddled themselves together and sought the friendly companionship of the fire, though the dull dead heat of the breathless atmosphere was stifling. They sat still, intent and waiting. The solemn hush continued. Beyond the light of the fire everything was swallowed up in the blackness of darkness. Presently there came a quivering glow that vaguely revealed the foliage for a moment and then vanished. By and by another came, a little stronger. Then another. Then a faint moan came sighing through the branches of the forest and the boys felt a fleeting breath upon their cheeks, and shuddered with the fancy that the Spirit of the Night had gone by. There was a pause. Now a weird flash turned night into day and showed every little grass-blade, separate and distinct, that grew about their feet. And it showed three white, startled faces, too. A deep peal of thunder went rolling and tumbling down the heavens and lost itself in sullen rumblings in the distance. A sweep of chilly air passed by, rustling all the leaves and snowing the flaky ashes broadcast about the fire. Another fierce glare lit up the forest and an instant crash followed that seemed to rend the tree-tops right over the boys' heads. They clung together in terror, in the thick gloom that followed. A few big rain-drops fell pattering upon the leaves.

"Quick! boys, go for the tent!" exclaimed Tom.

They sprang away, stumbling over roots and among vines in the dark, no two plunging in the same direction. A furious blast roared through the trees, making everything sing as it went. One blinding flash after another came, and peal on peal of deafening thunder. And now a drenching rain poured down and the rising hurricane drove it in sheets along the ground. The boys cried out to each other, but the roaring wind and the booming thunder-blasts drowned their voices utterly. However, one by one they straggled in at last and took shelter under the tent, cold, scared, and streaming with water; but to have company in misery seemed something to be grateful for. They could not talk, the old sail flapped so furiously, even if the other noises would have allowed them. The tempest rose higher and higher, and presently the sail tore loose from its fastenings and went winging away on the blast. The boys seized each others' hands and fled, with many tumblings and bruises, to the shelter of a great oak that stood upon the river-bank. Now the battle was at its highest. Under the ceaseless conflagration of lightning that flamed in the skies, everything below stood out in clean-cut and shadowless distinctness: the bending trees, the billowy river, white with foam, the driving spray of spume-flakes, the dim outlines of the high bluffs on the other side, glimpsed through the drifting cloud-rack and the slanting veil of rain. Every little while some giant tree yielded the fight and fell crashing through the younger growth; and the unflagging thunder-peals came now in ear-splitting explosive bursts, keen and sharp, and unspeakably appalling. The storm culminated in one matchless effort that seemed likely to tear the island to pieces, burn it up, drown it to the tree-tops, blow it away, and deafen every creature in it, all at one and the same moment. It was a wild night for homeless young heads to be out in.

But at last the battle was done, and the forces retired with weaker and weaker threatenings and grumblings, and peace resumed her sway. The boys went back to camp, a good deal awed; but they found there was still something to be thankful for, because the great sycamore, the shelter of their beds, was a ruin, now, blasted by the lightnings, and they were not under it when the catastrophe happened.

Everything in camp was drenched, the camp-fire as well; for they were but heedless lads, like their generation, and had made no provision against rain. Here was matter for dismay, for they were soaked through and chilled. They were eloquent in their distress; but they presently discovered that the fire had eaten so far up under the great log it had been built against (where it curved upward and separated itself from the ground), that a handbreadth or so of it had escaped wetting; so they patiently wrought until, with shreds and bark gathered from the under sides of sheltered logs, they coaxed the fire to burn again. Then they piled on great dead boughs till they had a roaring furnace, and were glad-hearted once more. They dried their boiled ham and had a feast, and after that they sat by the fire and expanded and glorified their midnight adventure until morning, for there was not a dry spot to sleep on, anywhere around.

As the sun began to steal in upon the boys, drowsiness came over them, and they went out on the sandbar and lay down to sleep. They got scorched out by and by, and drearily set about getting breakfast. After the meal they felt rusty, and stiff-jointed, and a little homesick once more. Tom saw the signs, and fell to cheering up the pirates as well as he could. But they cared nothing for marbles, or circus, or swimming, or anything. He reminded them of the imposing secret, and raised a ray of cheer. While it lasted, he got them interested in a new device. This was to knock off being pirates, for a while, and be Indians for a change. They were attracted by this idea; so it was not long before they were stripped, and striped from head to heel with black mud, like so many zebras -- all of them chiefs, of course -- and then they went tearing through the woods to attack an English settlement.

By and by they separated into three hostile tribes, and darted upon each other from ambush with dreadful war-whoops, and killed and scalped each other by thousands. It was a gory day. Consequently it was an extremely satisfactory one.

They assembled in camp toward supper-time, hungry and happy; but now a difficulty arose -- hostile Indians could not break the bread of hospitality together without first making peace, and this was a simple impossibility without smoking a pipe of peace. There was no other process that ever they had heard of. Two of the savages almost wished they had remained pirates. However, there was no other way; so with such show of cheerfulness as they could muster they called for the pipe and took their whiff as it passed, in due form.

And behold, they were glad they had gone into savagery, for they had gained something; they found that they could now smoke a little without having to go and hunt for a lost knife; they did not get sick enough to be seriously uncomfortable. They were not likely to fool away this high promise for lack of effort. No, they practised cautiously, after supper, with right fair success, and so they spent a jubilant evening. They were prouder and happier in their new acquirement than they would have been in the scalping and skinning of the Six Nations. We will leave them to smoke and chatter and brag, since we have no further use for them at present.

--Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
Chapter XVI: A Midnight Surprise (excerpt)
from Tom Sawyer

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Featured Pipe Smoker (Fictional): Bruce Wayne

Bruce Wayne

"Sometimes it's only madness that makes us what we are."

That's right, kids, in the golden days when the Bat-Man was much less politically correct, after a hard night of mercilessly eliminating criminals, Bruce Wayne relaxes with the news and his pipe.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Vintage Ad (1941): Kaywoodie Flame Grains

The Flame Grain was Kaywoodie's name for their top-quality pipes. There were occasionally a very few pipes produced that were ranked higher than the Flame Grain, but they were special limited runs. The Flame Grain was the top of Kaywoodie's mass-produced line.

Shape names from left: bulldog, Dublin, apple, a slightly bent Dublin which Kaywoodie called a "yacht," and last, the Rhodesian.

There is some dispute among pipe smokers (at least, those who care, I don't particularly) about shape names. One such question is exactly what constitutes a bulldog, and what constitutes a Rhodesian. As you can see, the bowls are similar. I'm going by the rule that a bulldog has a diamond shank, while a Rhodesian has a round shank.

I have neither shape in my collection, but the picture above makes me think it might be time to start scouring eBay for a refurbishable Rhodesian.

I might take this opportunity to mention what Kaywoodie called "export" pipes. I'm reminded of them because I do have a yacht that is an export pipe. At some point Kaywoodie decided to market their pipes in Europe, but someone high-up in the company decided that pipes with the screw-in stem that Kaywoodie relied on as one of their trademarks would not sell well in Europe. So they manufactured pipes with a traditional push-stem to sell there. They called these "export" pipes. My "export" yacht, however, is not a flame grain, and unlike the one pictured above, has the white cloverleaf on the side of the stem.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Pipes in Literature: Smoke-rings

...Then they went back and found Thorin with his feet on the fender smoking a pipe. He was blowing the most enormous smoke-rings, and wherever he told one to go, it went--up the chimney, or behind the clock on the mantelpiece, or under the table, or round and round the ceiling; but wherever it went it was not quick enough to escape Gandalf. Pop! he sent a smaller smoke-ring from his short clay-pipe straight through each one of Thorin's. Then Gandalf's smoke-ring would go green and come back to hover over the wizard's head. He had quite a cloud of them about him already, and in the dim light it made him look strange and sorcerous. Bilbo stood still and watched--he loved smoke-rings--and then he blushed to think how proud he had been yesterday morning of the smoke-rings he had sent up the wind over The Hill.

--J.R.R. Tolkien
excerpt from "An Unexpected Party"
from The Hobbit

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Featured Pipe Smoker (Fictional): Bilbo Baggins

Bilbo Baggins
The Road goes ever on and on,
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.
Bilbo is such a well-known character I'm sure anyone who sees this already knows about him. If you don't, you really shouldn't waste any more time reading this blog until you've read The Hobbit.

The pipe in the top picture appears to be a version of the Tyrolean, and is a good pipe for relaxing and perhaps visiting with friends or chatting with a passing Wizard. The one just above looks like a standard briar, probably a bent apple or pot, and is handier and more appropriate for a session of memoir-writing. Both pictures are stills from the Rankin-Bass animated movie of 1977.

Although pipeweed, or westmansweed as it was known in Gondor, grew wild throughout Middle Earth, the hobbits of the Shire were primarily responsible for cultivating it for smoking, and there were at least three distinct varieties: Longbottom Leaf, Old Toby, and Southern Star. Bilbo's favorite leaf--if he had a special preference--was never mentioned.

For many more illustrations of Bilbo and a discussion of them, please click on PowerOfBabel: Bilbo Baggins.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Vintage Ad (1970s): THE PIPE (again)

click to enlarge

There it is, in all it's terrible splendor. The "pipe" made superior by a total absence of briar and a bowl lining made of the stuff that coats the nose-cone of a Polaris missile. If you can look at these and not think of Mr. Furley's wardrobe, then I envy you your ignorance. A classic ad from the same decade that gave us the disco version of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony and the infallible pick-up line, "What's your sign?"

The Pipe: when clothing styles, modern technology and pipe smoking collided to create something with bad taste that tastes bad.

I'm sure there are still thousands of THE PIPES out there, since there's no way they could be broken or worn out--save for the stem, which was soft plastic and could be bitten through by a teething 3-year-old. In my dreams there are still an uncounted number of THE PIPES lurking, forgotten, in the pockets of abandoned leisure suits in the backs of closets and Goodwill centers all over the world.

These are the dreams that haunt me.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Gee, thanks, I never would've figured that out...

Found on the end of a box of Penley kitchen matches.

I think this rates right up there with the toothpick instructions from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Rehydration: another option

I'm sure all pipe smokers eventually run into the problem of having some tobacco that has become too dry. There are numerous methods of rehydration, some more sophisticated than others. My last batch of Gray Ghost from C&D was a little too dry already when I got it, so I have been rehydrating small quantities of it as I go along.

My usual method of rehydration is to put some tobacco in a Mason jar, then place a small medicine cup (of the kind that you get any time you buy any kind of liquid medicine these days) upside down on top of the tobacco. I moisten a little tissue paper, fold it into a square and squeeze all the excess water out, then place it on top of the inverted medicine cup and close the lid. Give it 24 hours or so before smoking any of it. Sometimes it might also help to take the cup & paper out and mix the tobacco up, because the top layer will be more moist than the bottom, then return the cup & paper to their positions and give it more time. I use the cup so that the moist paper does not come into direct contact with the tobacco.

Another method would be to take a small amount of the dry tobacco and mix it with another tobacco that is already extremely moist. You can mix it with an identical blend that is plenty moist, always making sure that the dry stuff goes in in small quantities so that you don't dry out your good tobacco too much. I have done this in the past with some Dunhill Nightcap that I had let get too dry, by simply adding it into a new tin of Nightcap.

In the last couple of weeks, a side-effect of my mixing Gray Ghost with Perique has been to rehydrate the Gray Ghost. I have purchased straight Perique from two sources: C&D and Cup O' Joes, the latter of which is McClelland's brand Perique, and is the version I am using at present. Both versions have been quite extremely moist. So moist that it has tended to balance the overall moistness between the GG and Perique quite well.

This method of rehydration may be something to keep in mind next time you have some tobacco that has gotten too dry.

Featured Pipe Smoker: J.R.R. Tolkien

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (1892-1973)

"My political opinions lean more and more to Anarchy (philosophically understood, meaning abolition of control not whiskered men with bombs) -- or to 'unconstitutional' Monarchy. I would arrest anybody who uses the word State (in any sense other than the inanimate realm of England and its inhabitants, a thing that has neither power, rights nor mind); and after a chance of recantation, execute them if they remain obstinate!...

Government is an abstract noun meaning the art and process of governing and it should be an offence to write it with a capital G or so as to refer to people...

The most improper job of any man, even saints, is bossing other men. Not one in a million is fit for it, and least of all those who seek the opportunity."

Since I'm now trying to get back into my old routine of regular posts here at The Briar Files, I will attempt to resume regular posting of a featured pipe smoker every Saturday. I can think of no better person to begin (again) with than J.R.R. Tolkien.

Tolkien is far too well-known for me to add much information about, since you probably already know as much or more than I do. What I can write about is how I came to discover Tolkien myself.

I first encountered him via the chapter of The Hobbit titled "Riddles in the Dark," which was included in my seventh grade literature textbook. But it was only one chapter lifted from the middle of the book; out of context I found it a good story but not enough to ring any bells.

I was a voracious reader when growing up, but I largely avoided fantasy literature in favor of science fiction. I view this as a rather silly delineation today; still, that's how I was as a kid. My first real encounter with Tolkien was via the Rankin-Bass made-for-TV animated movie of The Hobbit.

That book was in our high school library, so I checked it out and my viewpoint of fantasy changed. I became a fan. It wasn't long before I had also checked out and read all three books of LotR. That year I asked for and received all four of these volumes as a birthday gift. Later on I also read The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales. I have never really delved any more deeply into his works than that. These days, when I get into the mood to read him again, I always start with The Silmarillion and work my way forward.

When I first began this collection of famous pipe smokers many years ago, there wasn't much to be found in the way of this kind of graphical information on the WWW. The picture at the top of this post was scanned (with a hand scanner!) from one of my own books. I don't remember where I got the second picture--either downloaded or possibly received by email, but I'm sure such photos are now easy to find and plentiful.

I would now like to take this opportunity to link to my friend Brer's series of posts on books by and about Tolkien. Just click on PowerOfBabel: J.R.R. Tolkien. I give these posts my stamp of Official Recommended Reading.

UPDATE: Here is one more photo that I had forgotten I had, and in which he appears to be much younger than the first two pictures. I don't remember where this came from.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Vintage Ad (1945): Kaywoodie Pups

Before I decided to take a break from this blog several months ago, it was my habit to post a vintage pipe-related ad every Wednesday. Well, I think I'm ready to begin again, and this being Wednesday, here is a vintage ad.

As I have said before, Kaywoodie "never let a hunk of wood go to waste." So in this case, what I think happened is that they had a lot of small burls that weren't big enough to make real pipes. Solution: make small pipes. The Pup line were made to look exactly like the same model/shape of regular-sized Kaywoodies, except in miniature. They were technically able to be smoked, although I don't know if such a smoke would be very enjoyable. I have managed to get my hands on only one Pup, a straight bulldog with a diamond shank, but it is no longer smokeable because a previous owner burned through the bowl. This doesn't surprise me much, because these small pipes had consequently thinner bowl walls.

So if you manage to get your hands on a Pup that is still in a smokeable condition, be careful with it.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Making do

In case I haven't declared it recently enough, my favorite pipe tobacco is Bayou Night by Cornell & Diehl.  I ran out a few days ago, and I need to wait for the next paycheck before I order more.

I have plenty of other perfectly good--some excellent--tobaccos in my "cellar" (which is actually a cabinet), but none of them are Bayou Night.

And then I remembered:  I still have some C&D Gray Ghost, and I still have some straight Perique ordered from Cup O' Joes.  It's been a while since I mixed up any Don't Tread On Me.

DTOM is my own personal concoction, made by mixing Gray Ghost with Perique.  Gray Ghost is a blend of maduro and Virginia.  The "don't offend innocent bystanders any more than really necessary" mix is 3/16 Perique to 13/16 Gray Ghost.  A more robust mixture, which tends to drive away anyone downwind, repels mosquitoes and doesn't have so much a "room note" as it does a blast radius, is 3/8 Perique to 5/8 Gray Ghost.

I didn't really feel like digging out the digital scale and weighing out such specific amounts, so I just mixed it about half and half, along with about a quarter-pipeful of leftover Bayou Night.

A little rough.  Should be much better in a few days, when the flavors have had time to meld a little.  But it will do.  It will do.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Pipes in Literature: The Legend of the Pipe

The Legend of the Pipe

About 40 years ago, on one of those wet and dry evenings in the month of April, which are so common in some parts of Pennsylvania, and which may be called nondescript; for instead of being a regular and decent kind of weather, it continually flits about, and has more variations than a prismatic glass, or weathercock; for one moment, you will have a sousing rain that will soak you to the very skin, and then perhaps a sunny hour; but about the time you begin to enjoy its enlivening effect, and feel its cheering influence, you are saluted with a sharp skin-cutting north wind, accompanied by a mixture of rain and sleet, which comes as it were to destroy the equilibrium of the pericranium, and irritate us to the utmost, by playing with impunity, an unwelcome and discordant tune in our teeth:--Well, it was on one of these evenings that Hans Bradin was returning home from a trip to what was then Port Pitt, rather melancholy and depressed in spirits, on account of his bad luck that day in the sale of his produce, and was rendered pettish and irritable by the fluctuations of the weather. As night was a sneezing distance off, Hans was conscious that, in his present state of mind and body, it would be impossible for him to pass the Wizard's Cave which lay immediately in his way home, and which he would have to pass after nightfall; so to raise his spirits, he took a potation from an oddly constructed bottle, which he drew from a pocket made in his packsaddle expressly for its accommodation. By the bye, in those days, they made every thing to some purpose.--Having fortified himself he spurred forward his horse with increased courage, and spirits buoyed up by the "needful," till he came within an Irishman's mile of the cave, where, finding his spirits and courage flagging, he halted; and having refortified himself with many large potations, he again set forward. But the bottle is not always the true supporter of courage; so it was with Hans; for the nearer he approached the cave, the more his courage failed him. He tried to sing his song, and actually waded through the first verse without any very culpable aberration from the original, but the second was completely out of tune; from a proper pitch, it sunk down to a sort of quivering melody which perfectly coincided with the agitation of his body. "How cold it is," muttered Hans, his teeth making doleful music by chattering rather unneighbor-like against one another; "How cold it is," again muttered Hans. "A companion, even though an indifferent one, would be acceptable at such a time as this, for in an ill hour, bad company is better than none: if I could but whistle a tune now, I don't doubt but it would raise my spirits a little; but I'm so abominably chilled, that it's rather doubtful--I'll try however--it won't do; it's like smoking a pipe without fire or tobacco. Ugh! how cold it is! I shiver all over like an aspen leaf, and my teeth make as much noise as a wind-broken horse at a full gallop! I was never so cold in my life! my nose feels like a piece of ice--How unlucky I was to lose my pipe in town! If I had it now, I should be quite merry. Yes, it would make me as joyful as--as--a king. I wish I had one now; I'd give a dollar for one."

"What's that you say, Hans Bradin" said a strange, harsh voice. Hans knew it was the wizard that spoke, for he was directly opposite the cave; so he pretended he did'nt hear him, and looked or tried to look in another direction: but Venificus (that was the wizard's name,) was not accustomed to be slighted or put off; so he cried out again. Hans knew the penalty of making him angry, and turned round, and threw his eye-sight in the direction from whence the voice proceeded. He nearly fell from his horse; he was astounded at the sight of the wizard, ('twas the first time he ever saw him,) who withal was not a very disagreeably looking personage.--"When I looked round," in Hans' own words, "I saw a short, portly looking little man, with a very large abdomen, which was held up by a stout girdle of leather, ornamented with magic signs. His legs were short, and of such an immense thickness, that it was matter of surprise to me that he could walk. He had the smallest head I ever saw, set in, or rather buried between a pair of expansive shoulders; large grey eyes which shone like two balls of fire; a mouth every disproportionate to the size of his head, reaching from ear to ear, and a nose which was a very prominent one, and turned up in the form of a pot hook, and all these were nothing to his pipe. Heavens! what a pipe! It was the largest one in the world! it actually frightened me."

The little man was sitting on the top of his cave about thirty feet above where Hans was standing, and his pipe reached to the very road.The bowl was about the size of a hogshead, and would have contained with ease a barrel and a half of tobacco. The stem or tube was made of blue glass, which plainly told 'twas not fabricated on earth, and at the base or at the place it joined with the bowl, it was as thick as a man's body, and tapered off to a point of about two inches in diameter. I now no longer wondered at the reason of the wizard's mouth being so large. Venificus gave a sagacious gurgling at my astonishment; and repeated his former question. I scarcely knew what to answer, but knowing he would be displeased if I did'nt reply, I plumply told him what I wanted. "Oh! is that all, Hans Bradin, is tht all, that's not much; we shall contrive to furnish you with a pipe but hark'e, Hans, have you ever a pipe of tobacco about you, my pipe's almost out, and I'd like to have a small smoke before I go into my cave."--Hans was thunderstruck--a pipe full of tobacco--a small smoke--muttered he to himself. Hans had that day laid out all his money in tobacco for the old folk, and although he knew there was no tobacco at home, he did not hesitate, but liberally pitched up his whole stock to Venificus who received it with a frown as black as midnight, and exclaimed in a voice of thunder, "What, is it you, Hans Bradin, is it you! you! that offers me this little bit of tobacco! bad luck to you, do you think this will fill my pipe? here give me some, you son of the world, for this is not hear enough!" Hans trembling and affrighted, told him it was all he had, and related to him his ill luck that day at market, &c. Venificus had only pretended anger, to try Hans, and with one of his own laughs, he cast part of the tobacco into the pipe bowl; when lo! the little bit of tobacco, the mite, swelled up, up, up, and increased, and grew larger and larger, till the pipe was completely filled: it took fire of itself, and he began smoking. After he had done, he jumped up, said a few words which Hans could not understand, and the pipe disappeared. Venificus then came down, notwithstanding his corpulency, with as much agility as Hans could have done it himself. When he had come close up to Hans, he told him to follow, but not to speak a word till he was spoken to. He then led Hans into a long winding passage for a great distance, till he came to what seemed the end; here he stopped, lit a fire, and said a few words over it. The fire then died away, and a passage opened just where the fire was; down went the little man, down went Hans, and the passage closed behind them. They were now at the end of their journey. Hans looked round, and found himself in a large chamber. It seemed almost a mile square, and was completely filled with pipes of all sizes and descriptions, and according to the fashion, from every quarter of the globe. "Hans," said the wizard after Hans' astonishment had subsided, "you have acted like a wise and liberal man tonight, and I'm about to reward you. You see all these pipes? Well, now you may take your choice of them, and learn always to oblige every body; for if you had not acted as you have, I would have put you in my pipe, and smoked you up." Hans then made choice of the smallest pipe he could see; it was a glass one; and as soon as he had taken it, he stood looking on it abstractedly. "Hans," said Venificus, "you are afraid you will not have enough tobacco to fill the pipe, (it was as big as a bushel,) but don't be alarmed; here is a bit of what you gave me; when you go home, throw it in, you will soon see the effect, and never more want for tobacco." He then led Hans to the outside of the cave to his horse. Hans got on, and arrived safe at home that night.

The fame of the wonderful pipe spread through the country, all flocked to see it, but Hans would gratify the curiosity of none by telling the Legend of the pipe, till pressed by my solicitations and unwilling to disoblige an old friend, he confided to me the above, and his posterity to this day possess the wonderful pipe.

--from The Hesperus, and Western Miscellany, 1828
reprinted in Witches, Wraiths & Warlocks: Supernatural Tales of the American Renaissance

Thanks to friend Brer via email.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Featured Pipe Smoker: Stevie Ray Vaughan

Stephen Ray Vaughan (1954-1990)

Stevie Ray Vaughan was born in Dallas, Texas, and dropped out of high school to pursue a music career, moving to Austin. He became very well known--even famous--regionally and finally achieved national and international acclaim with the release of his debut album Texas Flood in 1983.

Vaughan fused the styles of a wide variety of guitartists--Albert King once called Stevie Ray his "godchild." He was influenced by other blues guitarists such as Muddy Waters and Otis Rush, by rock guitarists like Jimi Hendrix, and even some jazz influence via Kenny Burrell. The style Vaughan created was all his own. He also achieved his distinctive sound by using heavier than normal guitar strings and tuning them down a half step.

During the mid-80s, after serious health problems brought on by drug and alcohol addiction, he entered rehabilitation and afterwards remained clean for the rest of his life. Whether this meant he also gave up pipe smoking, I do not know. The above picture is from the Pori International Jazz Festival in Pori, Finland in 1985, probably during the same tour that his drug problems finally caught up with him. He's smoking a Peterson.

Stevie Ray Vaughan died when the helicopter he was riding in crashed in Wisconsin, killing him and four others (the pilot and some members of Eric Clapton's crew).

In 1991 Texas Governor Ann Richards declared his birthday, October 3, as "Stevie Ray Vaughan Day." There is an annual motorcycle ride and concert in central Texas that benefits the Stevie Ray Vaughan Memorial Scholarship Fund.

There is a memorial statue to Vaughan on Town Lake in Austin, Texas.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Vintage Ad (1962): Kirsten pipes

Here's a page from a 1962 Popular Mechanics showing a small ad for a $3.59 Kirsten among several other ads. I also like the angelic Linus Van Pelt in the United Way ad.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Featured Pipe Smoker: Douglas Bader

Douglas Bader (1910-1982)

Sir Douglas Robert Steuart Bader was born in London. He was a pilot and a very good rugby player. In 1928 he joined the Royal Air Force. While attempting some stunt flying in 1931, he crashed his plane during some low-altitude aerobatics. As a result, both his legs were amputated, one just above and one just below the knees. He was still able to fly with artificial legs, but he was invalided out of the RAF anyway.

When war broke out in 1939, he used his connections within the RAF to be reinstated as a pilot. He became Flight Commander of a Spitfire squadron. By August 1941, he claimed 22 German planes shot down, which was the fifth highest score in the RAF. In that same month, he was shot down and taken prisoner. Although he insisted that his crash was due to a mid-air collision with a ME-109, later evidence indicated that he had indeed been shot down, perhaps to a German plane, or perhaps even to friendly fire. He was almost not able to bail out because one of his artificial legs became trapped, and he was able to escape only when its straps broke.

Although a prisoner of war, he was treated with respect because of his piloting skills. Britain was notified regarding his damaged leg, and a British bomber was allowed safe passage over the area so it could parachute-drop a new leg.

He attempted to escape many times, and proved so troublesome for the Germans that they threatened to take away his legs. Eventually he was moved to the inescapable Colditz Prison, where he remained until the end of the war.

After the war he became an avid and skilled golfer, and also became involved in politics. He supported apartheid, and his associations with some on the extreme right of British politics led many to believe he was a closet extremist and racist himself.

He was knighted in 1976 for his services to amputees and his advocacy for the disabled. He died of a heart attack in 1982 after a golf tournament.

His prosthetic legs are on display at the RAF Museum at Stafford.