Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Pipe cleaners

The only Christmas presents William Faulkner would accept from his family were pipe cleaners.
Faulkner's stepson, Malcolm Franklin, wrote in his book Bitterweeds: Life with William Faulkner at Rowan Oak that his gifts "consisted of little bundles of pipe cleaners, some in assorted colors, others snow-white. There were all kinds of pipe cleaners in various bundles clinging precariously to the branches of the tree, each with its little tag. There was one package of Dill pipe cleaners, which Faulkner liked particularly... If he received any other gift he would carefully take it to his office and there it would remain unopened." Why the great writer would only accept these presents remains a mystery.

via Huffington Post

Monday, December 15, 2014

"True Temperance"

From Puck magazine, 1888.

via the Appendix

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Unpublished Raymond Chandler work discovered in Library of Congress

Unpublished Raymond Chandler work discovered in Library of Congress
An early, never-before-published work by crime novelist Raymond Chandler has been discovered in the Library of Congress in Washington.

The 48-page libretto to the comic opera The Princess and the Pedlar, with music by Julian Pascal, has hidden in plain sight at the library since its copyright was first registered on 29 August 1917.

The work, a copy of which was obtained by the Guardian, was found in March by Kim Cooper, shortly after she published her debut novel, The Kept Girl, featuring a fictionalised Chandler in 1929 Los Angeles.
Click for all the info and another great photo of Raymond Chandler with pipe.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Just a couple of comments on tobacco

A few days ago I remembered that I still had that sample of C&D's Briar Fox that I had received from a while back when I placed an order for a couple of pounds of bulk.  It had dried out a little, but it was still okay, and I went ahead and gave it a moistening treatment anyway.

Briar Fox is a Virginia/burley blend that is pressed into blocks.  I have to be careful with certain burley blends because some of them give me Half & Half flashbacks.  There are a few burley blends that I still like on occasion, such as C&D's Haunted Bookshop, which I still order by the pound now and then--although I like it better with more Perique.

I liked Briar Fox.  I don't normally do any very eloquent tobacco reviews, so I'll just say that I liked it and the burley was not overpowering.  So if you're looking for a decent smoke without any "spice" tobaccos in it (for some reason), you could try Briar Fox.

Comment number 2:  Today I went by the local cigar shop/tobacconist to get a few ounces of bulk to hold me over until I can make another big online order.  I've requested this mix before, so I knew I would like it:  2 ounces Virginia, 1.5 ounces Perique, 0.5 ounce Latakia.

The guy said, "a half ounce each of Perique and Latakia?"

"No," I repeated, "an ounce and a half of Perique."

He raised his eyebrows, and as he poured it into the bowl with the Virginia, remarked, "That's a lot of Perique!"

I only replied, "Yeah."

It still amuses me how it seems that everyone who works there has this thing about Perique.

It's a decent blend, very simple and nothing fancy, but it works and I like it a lot.  But if you have some kind of scary-thing going on about Perique, maybe you'd want to avoid it.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Reviving old tobacco

This is one of those things that your mileage is definitely going to vary on, but I thought I would pass this on.  I cleaned out the back of my Jeep today and found a small Mason jar with maybe 3 or 4 bowls worth of tobacco in it.  I couldn't remember what it was--it smelled like latakia--but it had been back there for a long time.  It was really dry.  Just crackling dry.  So I thought I'd go ahead and see if I could revive it enough to smoke.

This is what I do to moisten tobacco:  I put fairly small quantities of it in a small Mason jar in a sort of ring so I can put a small medicine cup upside down in the center.  I fold some tissue paper (take your pick, although I'd suggest not using anything that's been scented or lotioned) into a small square and wet it, then squeeze out pretty much all the excess water so that it's quite wet but not dripping.  I put that little square on top of the medicine cup and put the lid back on the jar.  Let it sit overnight or longer, depending on how much you want to moisten the tobacco.  Don't let it go too long or it will start forming mold.  Where I live, the one time this happened to me it took several days (one of my experiments).

It turns out that after a night of my moistening treatment, the tobacco is quite smokeable again and turns out to be some of C&D's Mountain Camp.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Pipe smoker: Roy Hardesty

Joe Gillan and Roy Hardesty (with pipe) of the Texas Rangers, photographed in Mexia, Texas in 1923.  Thanks to Traces of Texas (Facebook link).

Friday, November 7, 2014

Vintage ad (date unknown): Smoking jacket

click to enlarge

Buy a jacket, get a free pipe!

Thanks to Bill Crider's Pop Culture Blog.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Pipe smoker: Nick Merfelder

click to enlarge

Nick Merfelder petting his dog in Fort Davis in 1896. Mr. Merfelder was born in Bavaria, immigrated to the United States as a young man, and eventually ended up in Fort Davis, Texas. He was the post's musician, barber, photographer, and justice of the peace.

Thanks to Traces of Texas (Facebook link).

Monday, October 20, 2014

Saturday, October 11, 2014

A picturesque but unnamed pipe smoker

A man of the Svan people with traditional dagger and long pipe in the village of Mestia in the mountains of Georgia, Russian Empire, circa 1888-1900.

via My Ear-Trumpet Has Been Struck By Lightning

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Pipe, not pipe...wait a minute--pipe!

The Chokwe peoples occupy the broad expanse of open savanna in present-day Angola and Democratic Republic of Congo. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Chokwe chiefs became increasingly involved in trade with Europeans who sought rubber, wax, and ivory as well as African slaves for their colonies in the New World. Slaves were often exchanged for firearms, and these were employed in raids on neighboring peoples that produced more captives to sell to European traders. Local leaders who prospered from this exchange frequently commissioned prestige items from local artisans to indicate their wealth and power. This tobacco pipe is one such item that demonstrates the degree to which warfare, the slave trade, and elite arts were intertwined at this time. The pipe itself was the prerogative of individuals who could afford expensive imported tobacco, generally by trading slaves, while the rifle refers to the means by which such slaves were acquired.
 From the Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History.  Click to read full article.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The pretentious pipe


Many years ago I mentioned to someone that I preferred bent pipes to straight, and was told that bents are too pretentious for a young man.  "Well, I guess I'm pretentious, then" was my answer.  Now I guess I'm too old for that to be an issue, anyway.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Lost Sherlock Holmes film found

Readers of this blog know that I have previously written about both William Gillette and Sherlock Holmes on more than one occasion, so I think this news is worthy of reporting although it has nothing to do with pipes.

Long Lost William Gillette Sherlock Holmes Film Found

There is one Sherlock Holmes film that legendary in its heritage: the 1916 Sherlock Holmes starring none other than William Gillette (1853 - 1937). This film is significant because it has long been lost.

Gillette asked for and received permission from Arthur Conan Doyle to adapt material and use the character for a play in 1899. And from that time until the early 1930s, he played the role some 1,300 times. And yet the 1916 film is the only record that was made of Gillette's performance in the title role that dominated so much of his career.

Today the Cinémathèque Française announced that the original negative of the film has been located!
Click the link to read the whole story.

Friday, September 19, 2014

English and Scotch Soldiers

click to enlarge

English and Scotch Soldiers/Soldats Anglais et Escosais.
Private Men of the 95th Rifles, 71st Highlanders, and a corporal of the 42nd Highlanders, c. 1815. Artist Unknown.

via the Ear-Trumpet

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Bottled History

Bottled History from Smith Journal on Vimeo.

A short film about pipe-smoking ship-in-a-bottle artist Ray Gascoigne.

Shot pipe

click to enlarge

From The Hole Book (Peter Newell, 1908) at The Public Domain Review.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Pipe smokers not welcome

 Sign outside Zion, Illinois, ca. 1915.

via In Medias Res

Friday, August 8, 2014

Willis Carrier invented air conditioning and possibly smoked a pipe

click to enlarge

On the anniversary of air conditioning at OUPblog.

Pipe-smoking sculpture

all photos click to enlarge

Some photos of a sculpture of a pipe-smoking man playing fetch with his dogs.  At an animal hospital in Broomfield, Colorado.  Sent to me by a reader.  Thanks, Ken!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

From Russia Beyond the Headlines

Planet’s strongest shamans gather in Tuva for landmark festival.

Might not be pipe related, but it has a cool photo at the top.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Just a few tobacco comments

I haven't updated my online tobacco cellar in quite some time, but it's still there to give anyone who cares an idea of what I like to smoke.  I recently made a purchase for the first time since Cornell & Diehl was sold.  So I ordered from  Am I wrong, or is their bulk tobacco much less expensive than when C&D was selling it themselves?

Anyway, they were out of my standard Bayou Night at the time, so I ordered some Byzantium.  Their description:
An intriguing interpretation of the classic Balkan.  Redolent of Latakia, Orientals and bracing Perique.
Since I so thoroughly enjoyed a tin of Samuel Gawith's Balkan Flake recently, I decided I'd try this instead of waiting until Bayou Night came back in stock.  Now almost finished with my first pipe of it, and the word is:  it's good.  I like it.  If I had some straight Perique on hand, I'd probably give it a dose to increase the Perique content, but I am enjoying it as it is.

Since I depleted my entire stash of tins that I'd had in the cabinet for a few years, I also ordered one tin each of the aforementioned Balkan Flake, 1792 Flake and Escudo.

I'm pretty sure the last time I ordered from C&D, their bulk tobacco was running around $40 per pound, but this pound of Byzantium was only $25 from  So I'll probably be ordering some additional tobacco soon:  Bayou Night for sure, and possibly a tin of Three Nuns now that it's available, and maybe a tin or two of Nightcap.

I also got a small free sample of C&D's Briar Fox, which I haven't tried yet.  I'll post some thoughts on it when I get around to trying it.

I guess I should also add that, while waiting for this shipment to come in, I finished off the last of my St. James Woods.  This is the only Perique blend I've had that I didn't really care for.  I don't think I'll ever be ordering it again.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

"Mr. West and his fine mustache"

Mr West, and his fine moustache, on a duck shooting trip in Sindh, India. From a British holiday album, 1906, with more here:

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Manly smells

15 manly smells from The Art of Manliness.

I'm not certain the person writing the article is really that familiar with pipe smoking.  I've never heard of pipe tobacco that includes cloves, and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want to smoke such a thing.  Also, the smell of "cherry wood?"  Probably just meant cherry-flavored tobacco, which I do not care for.  Still, nice article.

Personally, I think I would replace Old Spice with English Leather.  As for gun cleaning solvent, there are so many...but my favorite is Ballistol.  One whiff of that and you'll know you're cleaning a manly firearm (ha ha).  Also I think an even better smell than a hardware store is the smell of a feed store.  Also I think WD-40 would not be out of place on this list.

My dad always wore (and still wears) plain old Aqua Velva after shave.  The smell of it always reminds me of him, although I prefer the Aqua Velva "musk" scent (the brown kind) to the original (the blue kind), myself.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Latakia blends

I used to love smoking different latakia blends, but slowly turned toward more Perique-oriented tobaccos and now prefer them.  But, I've recently been going into my cellar and smoking some of the older stuff just to get it used up.

I'm sure some readers will sniff in indignation when I say that I was not impressed by Maltese Falcon.  I bought a tin because I had read so many people singing praises about it, but to me it just seemed like too much latakia and nothing to balance it.  So...sorry, but I can't recommend it.

On the other hand, I has just popped open a tin of Samuel Gawith's Balkan Flake.  Oh, man, this stuff is fantastic.  Highly recommended.

Monday, April 21, 2014

"The Zaporozhian Cossacks write a letter to the Sultan of Turkey"

"The Zaporozhian Cossacks write a letter to the Sultan of Turkey" by Ilya Repin (1844-1930).

Wikipedia link.

Click to enlarge and see how many pipes you can spot.

Thanks to Books and Art and My Ear-Trumpet.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Where there's fire, there's smoke (rings)

This has nothing to do with pipe-smoking, but I thought it was amusing and interesting.  Sometimes, when everything is just right, a conventional fire (or lightning strike) can generate a natural smoke ring.  Read all about it (with pictures and videos) at Big Black Ring Spotted Over Britain (from Who Forted).

Monday, April 14, 2014

This is old news...

But new to me, because I just found out.

Three Nuns is back in the U.S.

I've looked around, and it's available now from a wide variety of online suppliers.


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Wilhelm Bendz: A Smoking Party

Here we get a glimpse into a home of the Copenhagen Golden Age, where the son of the house (the future Professor Christian Jürgensen) has invited his friends to an evening with tobacco pipes and conversation. Bendz was one of the Golden Age’s most ambitious painters, which is also apparent in this work’s complicated shadow effects. Unfortunately his career was cut short when Bendz died, only 28 years old, on the obligatory cultural tour to Italy.
Wilhelm Bendz: A Smoking Party

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Einstein's pipe

Albert Einstein's desk at Princeton University.  Photo taken a few hours after his death. From The Day Albert Einstein Died:  A Photographer's Story at Life Magazine.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

It's a very good pipe!

From Fingerpori (Facebook link).

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Vintage Ad (1947): Westinghouse radios

Vintage Ad (1950s): Three Nuns

Received via email from a reader, who says that he believes this is from a 1950s-era Reader's Digest.

Oh, how I miss Three Nuns!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Monday, February 24, 2014

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Undated photo, Medico pipes

An undated but obviously "vintage" photo of a liquor store, with a sales display of Medico pipes at the upper left.  From Roger Wilkerson.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Pipe smoker quick fix: Gimli

Or at least a character who certainly appears to be Gimli, by artist Adrian Smith.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Anti-suffragette poster, 1908

click to enlarge

From The Appendix:
This 1908 image of women smoking and drinking was intended to be a horrifying glimpse of a post-suffrage future.
I spotted two pipe smokers.  Orignally in Puck Magazine, March 18, 1908.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Pipe Smoker: Joe Williams

Joe Williams (1918 - 1999)

Born Joseph Goreed in Cordele, Georia, his father abandoned his family when Joe was young so his mother moved them both in with her parents, then moved to Chicago alone and worked until she had saved enough money to bring Joe with her.  It was there that he was exposed to Chicago's thriving jazz scene and fell in love with the music.

As a teen he taught himself to play piano and formed a gospel quartet that sang at local church functions.  He later began singing solo with various local bands and began earning a little money.  At 16 he dropped out of school to pursue a career in music, at which time he adopted the last name of Williams as a stage name.

In 1938 he got his first break when jazz musician Jimmie Noone hired him to sing with his band.  He became more and more well-known, eventually being hired as a replacement singer for Lionel Hampton's band in 1942, but then lost that job when the regular singer returned.  But during his time with Hampton, his fame grew in leaps and bounds.

In 1954, he was hired as the male vocalist for the Count Basie Orchestra.  He stayed with Count Basie until 1961.

Williams continued to sing for numerous big names in jazz, and in the 1980s was cast in a recurring role as Grandpa Al Hanks (Heathcliff Huxtable's father-in-law) on The Cosby Show.

He was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1983, next to Count Basie's star.


Pipe Smoker quick fix: Samuel Clemens (again!)

Mark Twain and his dog.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Arab man smoking pipe

Photograph by Félix Bonfils, late 1800s.

Félix Bonfils links:
Museum Syndicate

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Pipe Smoker: H. Beam Piper

Henry Beam Piper (1904 - 1964)

Apparently, on New Texas, killing a politician was not malum in se, and was mallum prohibitorum only to the extent that what happened to the politician was in excess of what he deserved.
--from Lone Star Planet (1958)
I don't know where to start.  H. Beam Piper was a mostly self-educated writer of science fiction short stories and novels.  His first publication was the short story "Time and Time Again" in 1947.  Common themes in his stories are that history always repeats itself; and the idea of the self-reliant man who does what needs to be done without first consulting with his "betters."

Piper committed suicide in 1964.  Although he left a note behind, he didn't make it clear as to why he killed himself.  Various theories have been postulated, of course.  At the time of his death, his writing career was blossoming greatly and in hindsight it seems that he would have eventually joined the ranks of other extremely famous and influential sci-fi writers such as Arthur C. Clarke and Robert Heinlein.

Many of his stories have become public domain and are available for reading at Project Gutenberg.

The H. Beam Piper Memorial Website
Books by Piper, H. Beam at Project Gutenberg
"Time and Time Again" (mp3 file) from X Minus One (Old Time Radio Researchers Group at

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

What Mark Twain may have sounded like

I have sometimes wondered how our perception of history would be different if the technology to record sounds had come about before the technology to record images. Because if that had happened, we would likely know how people from history sounded.

I have covered both William Gillette and Samuel Clemens as pipe smokers on this blog before. Here is a very interesting link between them.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Pipe Smoker (fictional): Professor Utonium

"Once again, I have no idea what I did!"

Professor Utonium is a fictional character from the Cartoon Network animated series The Powerpuff Girls.  He is a brilliant scientist and inventor who was attempting to create his own perfect daughters by combining sugar, spice and everything nice, but accidentally spilled a mystery ingredient known only as Chemical X into the mix and created three little girls with incredible super powers.

He is always working on new inventions, but most of them are either complete failures or have some great flaw.  The only inventions he has made that worked were created by accident.

He is a very affectionate and supportive father to his three girls.  He also is an excellent golfer.  He likes science, inventing things (or attempting to) and watching silent movies.  He dislikes liver and onions, profanity and spiders.  He also has a bad habit of lying but his lies always backfire on him, and he seems to be quite unlucky in romantic matters.

The Powerpuff Girls ran on Cartoon Network from 1998 through 2005.  The first season is currently available for streaming on Netflix.

Powerpuff Girls Wiki

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Pipe Smoker: Frank "Rocky" Fiegel

Frank "Rocky" Fiegel (1868 - 1947)

Frank Fiegel was a man from Chester, Illinois who was known for his great physical strength, his handiness in a fight, and his pipe smoking.

Chester, Illinois was also the hometown of Elzie Crisler Segar, the creator of Popeye.

Popeye Wiki
Popeye Picnic

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Pipe Smoker: Andrew Jacobs Sr.

Andrew Jacobs (1906 - 1992)

Andrew Jacobs was a lawyer and judge from Indiana, who also served one term in the United States House of Representatives, being elected to the position in 1948.  This photo is from that year.

Getty Images 1
Getty Images 2

The accidental invention of matches

At Brain Candy.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

When men smoked pipes and wore hats: Pat Garrett and friends

Pat Garrett (the tall one standing) and friends pause for a photo on their way to George Curry’s inauguration as governor of New Mexico in 1907.  The man kneeling, second from right, has a pipe.  I haven't been able to identify him.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Vintage button card, date unknown

I remember my grandmother having some button cards similar to this when I was a kid.  I guess no one makes them anymore.

Pipe Smoker (fictional): Reed Richards

Reed Richards is a fictional character from the Marvel Comics universe, created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, and first appeared in The Fantastic Four #1 in 1961.

Richards was the only son of physicist Nathaniel Richards and his wife, Evelyn.  Reed was a child prodigy, excelling in mathmatics, physics and mechanics, taking college-level courses when he was only 14.  While attending State University at Hegeman, NY, he became the room-mate of football star Benjamin Grimm.  Richards' dream was to someday build an interstellar spaceship, and Grimm joked that if Richards ever did, he would pilot it.  Later he and Grimm served in the military together.

While attending Columbia University, he rented a room in a boardinghouse owned by the aunt of Susan Storm, then only 12 years old.

Nathaniel Richards eventually mysteriously disappeared (but that's another story), but had made arrangements to bequeath Reed with two billion dollars, which Reed used to fund his spaceship project, in addition to getting funding from the government.  By the time he had finished it, Grimm had become an astronaut and test pilot, so Richards did indeed recruit him to pilot his new spaceship.  Richards decided to launch the ship on a test flight before government funding was withdrawn.  Susan Storm, now an adult, had joined him and was dating him at the time.  She insisted that she and her younger brother Johnny accompany them as passengers.  Benjamin Grimm was against the test flight, because he believed the the ship had inadequate shielding to protect them from cosmic radiation.

After the launch, an unexpected solar flare caused the Van Allen radiation belt to fill with intensely high levels of radiation, so they returned to Earth, but not before they had been exposed to the radiation.

And of course, that meant that they soon discovered they had super-powers.

Ben Grimm was the worst off, being essentially turned into a human rock and called himself the Thing.  Susan Storm gained the ability to become invisible and manipulate force fields and became the Invisible Woman.  Her brother Johnny was able to turn himself into a human torch and called himself the Human Torch.

Reed Richards became Mister Fantastic, with a body that now had super-stretch powers.  He called his new team of superheroes the Fantastic Four.  So there you go.

See also:  Professor Richard Impossible

Marvel Wiki