I was looking through my personal pipe collection the other day, and came across my 1987 Tinder Box Christmas Pipe. This is a beautiful pipe (most likely made by Ardor, given the time period) that has significant sentimental value to me, and is ultimately a part of how The Pipe Nook was born. Here's the story, and a bit of discussion about online pipe retailers versus local brick and mortar stores.
In the Fall of 2015, I learned that the only remaining pipe store in the Pensacola, FL area (a Tinder Box location) would be closing its doors after Christmas. I was quite deflated to hear this news, since The Tinder Box had been a fixture in the mall since I was a child. For more than 35 years, it was managed by a great guy (Bobby), who commuted from Mobile, Alabama every day. Now both Bobby and the owner were looking to retire, and there just wasn't enough local interest to pass it on to another management team. Memories of the Tinder Box down through the years poured into my thoughts. I would walk by the storefront as a boy and be amazed by the sights and smells, the giant stuffed brown bear in the front window, and the guys smoking at the counter, swapping stories, sharing laughs. There was just something magical about the place. As a young man, I would visit and pick up cigars. It was always a friendly and helpful environment. When I finally figured out the pipe smoking thing, Bobby witnessed my cigar purchases dwindle while my pipe and pipe tobacco purchases increased. But time would be short for me to benefit from the pipe knowledge to be found therein.
Pipes and pipe tobaccos were probably only 25% of the Pensacola Tinder Box's overall sales, but it was the final place in town that still carried pipes of any kind. No, they didn't carry everything I wanted, but I did my best to support them as I could, and wound up making online purchases for other items of interest not available locally. I truly wanted to do my part to keep them in business, as I'd seen two other local cigar shops in recent years completely stop carrying pipes and tobaccos, and the downtown pipe shop, The Pipe Rack, had closed its doors. By the time The Pipe Rack had closed, they had pretty much become a general store in order to stay afloat, carrying newspapers, magazines, cigars, candy, snacks, drinks, and whatever else they could to stay in business. But it wasn't to be.
Pensacola is a medium-sized city, and I was certain that if the greater Pensacola area (more than 350,000 souls) didn't have enough pipe smokers to keep even one local pipe shop in business, there must be many in the same boat as myself whose only recourse, barring extensive travel, was to purchase their pipes and tobaccos online. Then, the idea sparked. I wanted to create a web store that had the feel of a brick and mortar, not a "big box" online outlet, and thus The Pipe Nook was born.
Every brand that I carry is a personal recommendation from me as a pipe smoker. It is never my intention to grow as large as the "Big Online Shops," so I'll never have everything. But what I do carry is tried and true in my book. And while I do appreciate some of those bigger online sellers, the sad truth is that at their level of sales, they can't help but take sales away from the local brick & mortar pipe shops.
My intention is not to compete with those local shops at all. What I'm trying to provide is a smaller, more personal option for those in cities and communities like my own that don't have a local purchasing option. I can't tell you how many times I've been traveling, looked up a pipe shop or two, and walked in the door only to find they only sell glass pipes. We all know those aren't tobacco pipes, so we'll not discuss those any further! But the sad truth is that in the vast majority of small to mid-sized towns and cities in America, there are no longer any legitimate pipe shops.
So, how do I try to make an online shop have the personal feel of a local brick & mortar? Well, the personal recommendation aspect is a big one. I will never carry any product simply because it's a "hot item" or just a commodity. Pipes and fine tobacco blends mean more to me than that. In addition, I maintain a "Pipe Clubs" page where people can find like-minded individuals in their own local communities. I'm hoping that this section grows over time! Beyond that, my Blog section and my YouTube channel provide a means of direct communication between myself and my customers, many of whom I can happily say have become friends.
One special note: If you do have a local pipe shop in your town, and if they provide good customer service and decent prices, by all means do what you can to support them! They are so few in number these days that to have one in your area is a wonderful thing that should be treasured!
So that's the "rest of the story" of The Pipe Nook. I hope to grow this business in the years to come, and to be part of what I hope will become a resurgence of the pipe smoking and pipe collecting hobby!
Keep 'em Lit,
My primary goal for The Pipe Nook is to build the website into an informative collection of my favorite pipes and tobaccos! It's a lot of fun, and by the end of 2017, I hope to have all "the usual suspects" represented from my personal regular pipe and tobacco rotation. I'm nearly there with pipes, although I'm looking to introduce a few more brands, and to beef up the lines and shapes I carry within the brands I have. I'm hoping for 6 to 9 brands of pipe tobaccos as well. With that in mind, I rolled out two of my favorite pipe tobacco brands this past week: Peterson and Mac Baren!
Peterson pipe tobaccos are among the most well-known and well-respected in the business. Made from some of the finest leaf from around the world, many a pipe-smoker has found a go-to blend in the Peterson line, myself included! I'm getting things started with two personal favorites, Irish Flake and University Flake, and a recently discovered semi-aromatic "wild card," Nutty Cut.
Mac Baren is a distinguished Danish tobacco company with a history of more than 130 years! Many of their blends have been in production and enjoyed for decades, and newer entries have become modern classics. Many of their blends are personal favorites, and I hope you'll find your own go-to blends within the Mac Baren line. I'm starting with three blends from their much-heralded HH line: Acadian Perique, Latakia Flake, and my current personal favorite tobacco, Old Dark Fired.
The Peterson and Mac Baren brands are home to some of my very favorite tobacco blends. I'm starting with these 3 blends from each, with more to come as orders roll in. And while I may never carry every single offering from every single brand, my intention is to have the kind of stock that when a newcomer asks, "what do you recommend on the site?" I can wholeheartedly say, "Everything!"
Keep 'em Lit,
Here at The Pipe Nook, we're just getting started on our journey of offering premium pipe tobacco blends to our customers. Just as I've done in choosing pipes to carry, I'm taking great care in choosing tobaccos that I personally feel are the best in the business when it comes to quality versus value. As such, I don't ever intend to carry brands simply as commodities. What that means is that it's never my goal to carry every brand, nor even every blend within the larger brands I may carry. Everything offered here at The Pipe Nook is a personal recommendation from me as a pipe smoker!
I kicked things off a few weeks back by offering Dunhill tobaccos. I plan to eventually have about 9 to 12 brands represented, and with that in mind, I'm pleased to introduce Savinelli as the second tobacco brand here at The Pipe Nook!
While some companies attempt to create blends for every mood and palate, winding up with dozens of blends, Savinelli has gone another direction and focused on providing just a few very high-quality blends that can be appreciated and enjoyed by many. No strong, overly-aromatic, or harsh blends here! Every one of these could be all-day smokes, and certainly could be entries into more natural-tasting blends for those who wish to move away from smoking primarily aromatics. Savinelli tobaccos are smooth, balanced and refined, just like the pipes that bear that name.
Four of these five blends are available in 100 gram tins, so let's start with the only 50 gram offering in the line, Giubileo d'Oro, which means "Golden Jubilee." This is an incredibly creamy Virginia/Latakia flake, moderate in strength, and very pleasing to even a Latakia-wary person such as myself.
The second of two blends in the line to make use of Latakia is also another very balanced blend, Essenza Cipriota, meaning "Essence of Cyprus." If the name make you think "Latakia Bomb," have no fear--this is another very well-balanced blend, presented in a ribbon cut and consisting of Virginia, Burley, Latakia, and Oriental/Macedonian.
The other flake in the lineup is Brunello Flake, a non-aromatic marriage of Virginia, Burley, and Oriental/Macedonian. It's very similar to Essenza Cipriota, but without the Latakia, and presented in flake form. This is my third favorite in the group--I told you I was wary of Latakia!
The only coin or spun-cut in the line is Doblone d'Oro, or "Gold Dubloons." This is a fantastic non-aromatic blend of Virginia, Burley, Dark Fired, and Perique. The inclusion of Dark Fired and Perique places this blend squarely in my personal wheelhouse, and I love it! Some compare this favorably with the original Three Nuns blend of old.
And last but certainly not least is my personal favorite of the bunch, Savinelli's 140th Anniversary Mixture. Each 100 gram tin of this limited run is individually numbered out of only 1400 tins made in 2016 to commemorate 140 years of Savinelli! It is very surprising to me that I like this so much, since it may be considered by some to be lightly aromatic in nature, due to the infusion of light citrus and floral notes (and to my palate, a bit of clove essence). But beyond that, this is an enticing blend of Virginia, Orientals, Dark Fired. The special florets used in this blend are a staple in Italian cigar production, and are all grown and double-fermented on a singular farm in the Tuscan Tiber Valley region of Italy— a location recognized for its history and tradition of tobacco cultivation dating back to the 17th century. This in a singular experience in pipe smoking, and I'll be happy to carry these tins until I just can't obtain them any more...although at that point, I'll be hoarding them for myself! While the other 4 blends are made by Mac Baren in Denmark, the 140th Anniversary Mixture was made by Cornell & Diehl here in the USA.
Rare indeed is the tobacco brand that has what I would call no sleepers in the stable, but Savinelli has certainly accomplished that here with their lineup. I hope you enjoy them every bit as much as I do. And stay tuned for more tobacco brands to be introduced here at The Pipe Nook in the weeks and months to come!
Keep 'em Lit,
I never thought I'd make a video series like this until very recently. I simply didn't think I'd have enough to share. But when I finally decided to attempt to script out a video that covered the basics of pipe smoking, I found that one video would be too long. So the idea grew to 2 videos, then 3, then 10. Hmmm....I guess I did have a few things to share!
After careful consideration of what pieces of the pipe smoking puzzle to include without overwhelming the viewer, I'm proud to present The Pipe Nook's "How to Smoke a Pipe" video series on YouTube! I'll be releasing a video each day until the end, and I'm already a couple of days into it. If you click the image above, it will take you to the Playlist for the series, which is scheduled to wrap up on Feb 18th. But not to worry--we're getting into the meat of the pipe smoking process within a few days. There are, of course, some preliminary subjects to cover first.
So, what topics will be covered? Here's the syllabus:
Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: Choosing Your First Pipe
Part 3: Choosing Your First Tobacco
Part 4: Pipe Smoking Tools
Part 5: Preparing Your Tobacco
Part 6: How to Pack Your Pipe
Part 7: The Charring Light
Part 8: Tamping
Part 9: The True Light
Part 10: Cadence and Temperature Control
Part 11: Relights
Part 12: Fixing a Tight Draw
Part 13: Fixing Pipe Gurgle
Part 14: In the Chuff
Part 15: When Do I Stop?
Part 16: Emptying and Cleaning Your Pipe
Part 17: Breaking in Your Pipes
Part 18: Types of Tobacco Blends
Part 19: Flake Preparation
Part 20: Types of Tobacco Cuts
Part 21: Resting Your Pipes
Part 22: Deep Cleaning Your Pipes
Part 23: Anatomy of a Pipe
Part 24: Tobacco Storage
Part 25: Conclusion
I've planned this series to give you just what you need to get started smoking, then return to some less essential, but certainly important concepts and aspects of pipe smoking. I'm of course no expert at all of these subjects, but I have at least cursory knowledge enough to speak to all of them, and I do feel they are all important. There is of course more to learn that what is covered here, should you decide pipe smoking is something you wish to pursue, but I wanted to keep this series down to a manageable size.
There is a companion piece to this series: A 1-page handout that I wrote in blog form some time back. You can find the link to that in the description box of any of the videos, as well as by searching through the "Pipe Smoking Tips" section of my Blog page. I sincerely hope this "How To" video series helps many to be less frustrated as they learn the pipe smoking process, and to find as much enjoyment in pipe smoking as I do!
Keep 'em lit,
I haven't been this excited about a new production pipe shape in...well...ever! Introducing the new Savinelli 321--a smaller, lighter, and easier to clench version of the venerable 320 Author! As soon as I found out about this shape, I ordered at least one of every line available. These are currently only offered in the new Dolomiti and Impero lines, and the Tre series, in both smooth and rusticated versions. But you can be sure if the 321 is added to any other lines, I'll be carrying them too!
"Okay, so what's the big deal?" you may ask. Well, the 320 has always been one of my favorite shapes; the 320 Trevi is the pipe that gave me my first "A-Ha!" moment, the one that made me fall in love with pipe smoking after many false starts (pun very much intended) over the years. There are many who agree with me that the Author shape is simply one of the best smokers around. But I have to admit, it is a bit on the hefty side. Many a pipe smoker has opted to not purchase a 320 for the very fact of it's size and weight, which is unfortunate because they're fantastic pipes in their own right. But it's true enough that there have been times I've reached for my 320 and thought better of it, because I didn't have that kind of time to devote to smoking such a large bowl. "Wouldn't it be nice," I've thought, "if there were a similar pipe with just a smidgen of a smaller bowl?"
Enter the 321! Savinelli has become a prophet of wish-fulfillment with these little smoking machines! I literally went giddy when I opened the first 321 box of my initial order and held it in my hand. I just can't say enough good things about this kid brother of the mighty 320. This one's gonna be big, because it's so small!
But not too small--Here's a quick comparison of the dimensions:
Length: 5.5 in. (320), 5.25 in. (321)
Bowl Height: 1.7 in. (320), 1.5 in. (321)
Bowl Interior Depth: 1.3 in. (320), 1.2 in. (321)
Bowl Interior Diameter at Rim: 0.9 in. (320), 0.8 in. (321)
Approximate Weight: 3.0 oz (320), 1.8 oz. (321)
It doesn't seem like much of a difference on paper except for the weight, but it's just enough to put a BIG smile on my face! And just like the 320, it smokes like a charm. I don't have many at the moment, but not to worry--I've already tripled my second order and should have them soon!
If you've held off on a 320 because of the reasons mentioned above, do yourself a favor and pick up a 321. You'll be glad you did!
Keep 'em lit,
I recently posted a video on my YouTube channel in regards to this subject, so I figured I'd make an accompanying blog. The concept of a 7-Day Pipe Rotation is one held by more than a few pipe smokers. However, some would say it's an excuse by collectors to buy more pipes! Others may even say it was fabricated by pipe manufacturer's to sell more pipes. Is it optimal to rest a pipe for seven days to allow it to completely dry out after each smoke? Well, sure. Do I put it into practice? Well...sometimes.
My weekly pipe rotation consists of the pipes I keep on the table in front of me where I smoke the most often, here in what I lovingly refer to as the West Parlor at Gray Manor (which is really my garage & Man Cave). There are usually about a dozen pipes out here, and when I finish smoking a pipe, I run a couple of pipe cleaners through the stem, shank, and bowl to get out the "leftovers" and any excess moisture. Then I'll let it sit for at least a day. That's bare minimum in my book. Since I usually smoke 2 to 3 bowls in any given day, or about 21 smokes each week, I'm able to let each pipe rest for at least that minimum threshold fairly easily.
Do I think you need a pipe for each bowl you plan to smoke in a week? Well, perhaps I'm not the right person to ask that question. The seller part of me says, "Sure! Better safe than sorry!" And the collector in me says, "why so few??" However, my pragmatic side says it's not strictly necessary. But the 7-Day Pipe Rotation concept is a good guideline, and quite the enabler for new pipe smokers who appreciate the pipe as both an instrument of enjoyment and an interesting collectible. So with that in mind, here are a few tips to get you started with a 7-Day Pipe Rotation on a budget!
First, let's just assume that you already have at least one pipe...most likely two or three. If that's the case, feel free to adjust the following recommendations by reducing the number of pipes you need to reach seven, and possibly to include a moderately priced pipe or two from Big Ben, Savinelli, or Stanwell. Because of the constraints of this project, you'll just have to hold off on a Neerup! But for the purposes of this exercise, here are two lists for a beginning 7-Day Pipe rotation in the $100 and $200 ranges, respectively. Keep in mind that these are all personal recommendations that I carry here at The Pipe Nook, and that I personally smoke!
$100 Pipe Rotation
-A Chris Morgan Bones Pipe or Rossi Vittoria (Both Briars at the $40 mark)
-A Mr. Brog Pear Wood Pipe ($25 to $30)
-Three Missouri Meershaum Corn Cob Pipes in the $4 to $7 Range ($21 at most)
-Two Missouri Meerschaum Pipes in the $8 to $10 Range ($20 at most)
$200 Pipe Rotation
-A Chris Morgan Bones Briar Pipe ($40)
-A Rossi Briar Pipe ($39 to $60)
-A Savinelli Series III Unfinished Briar Pipe ($55)
-A Mr. Brog Pear Wood Pipe ($25 to $30)
-Any 3 Missouri Meerschaum Corn Cob Pipes amounting to $25 to $40
As you can see, there are choices to be made to custom fit these lists to your particular tastes. They both include at least one of the three pipe bowl materials that I would recommend for a newer pipe smoker (Briar, Pear, and Cob). Keep in mind that these prices reflect the time of this writing, and may change over time. Also, note that starting with a variety of 7 Briar Pipes would be significantly more expensive, effectively doubling the cost. But cobs and pear wood pipes are wonderful smokers, so don't be afraid to give 'em a go--you may be pleasantly surprised!
Of course if you have never smoked a pipe before and are just looking to kick the tires a bit, I wouldn't recommend investing in a 7-Day Rotation just yet. I would suggest you start with any one of the pipes listed here, and that you not spend more than $60 on your first pipe. This allows for two things. First, if you decide it's not for you, then you're not out a bunch of money. And second, you won't feel the need to sell the pipe to get back your money, which would allow you to come back and give pipe smoking another go in the months or years to come. It took me quite some time before I "got it," but I'm so glad I stuck with it! Patience has never been one of my strongsuits, but pipe smoking has helped me greatly with that particular viture these past few years.
Well, this was a fun little exercise, and one that helped me recall the excitement and joys of working towards the very beginnings of my own pipe collection! I hope you've picked up an idea or two, and that pipe smoking can be as much a source of enjoyment for you as it is for me!
Keep 'em lit,
Just a quick note today to let you know that I've added a Gift Card feature to the site! Gift cards can be purchased in increments from $25 to $500 and work just like any other form of payment at checkout. If you're like me, you're always second-guessing gifts that you give to friends and family. Is it really something they wanted? Even if they wanted it, did you pick the right color? And on and on. But if you have a pipe smoker in your life, here's a great option to make gift-giving a piece of cake!
This Holiday Season, surprise a fellow pipe smoker (or convince your friends & family to "surprise" you) with a Gift Card from The Pipe Nook! Gift Cards are delivered to the recipient by email and include instructions on how to redeem them at checkout. Our Gift Cards have no additional processing fees and never expire!
Keep 'em lit,
I've been a member of the YTPC, or YouTube Pipe Community, longer than the Pipe Nook has been around. I discovered the YTPC while I was looking for tips on various pipe-related topics, and it can't be understated how important the YTPC has been in my pipe-smoking journey. But for whatever reason, I haven't shared my channel here on The Pipe Nook yet. Well, today seems like a good time to fix that!
As I mentioned in my long-winded introduction Blog several months ago, about 3 years ago, I was ready to "put up or shut up" when it came to pipe smoking. I had tried off again, on again to smoke a pipe for nearly 20 years, but just never got the hang of it. I can't tell you how frustrating it was for me to burn my tongue, fight keeping my pipe lit, etc. So in desperation, I did a YouTube search, and found Jayson Dagner's video on how to smoke a pipe. I was amazed at how easy it could really be if you took your time and learned how to do it! Then I noticed on the "related videos" sidebar that others were also making Pipe related videos, and many of them were commenting on each other's videos. I soon discovered this "YouTube Pipe Community," and jumped in! Since there wasn't a pipe club anywhere near me, the YTPC became my "Virtual Pipe Club."
I've made many videos, gained a good bit of subscribers, and met many friends through the YTPC. If you haven't discovered this group of pipe smoking enthusiasts, click the image above to check out my channel, and look for those who comment on my videos...many of them have pipe smoking channels of their own!
One special mention: When I launched The Pipe Nook, I was given a lot of early support from members of the YTPC. The Pipe Nook would not be what it is today if not for the encouragement and support of those people. So I want to take the time here to thank each and every one of you in the YTPC who have helped me along the way. It means so much to me!
So, if you found The Pipe Nook elsewhere and would like to put a face and an actual person with this humble web store, check out my channel, and don't forget to comment. I love the interaction as much as I love the pipe smoking and pipe collecting hobby itself.
Keep 'em lit,
It's no secret that I love my cobs. I'm a proud member of the Corn Cob Nation, as well as the recently formed Cob Mob. And while only about 10% of my personal pipe collection is comprised of corn cob pipes, I find I reach for a cob about half the time I smoke. Why? There are many reasons, but they boil down to this: Cobs are easy. Easy to smoke and easy to maintain, without losing any of the taste that my briars offer. And if I lose one, well...I would be saddened, but it's just a cob. They're inexpensive and easy to replace.
It's also no secret that many pipe smokers look down on the humble corn cob pipe. Most of them aren't going to win any beauty awards or high praise for fit and finish. But what if there were slightly more pricey cob models with better appointments, yet still much cheaper than the average briar?
The Pipe Nook is pleased to introduce the Dagner Cob Poker, and the Cobbit series!
Designed by Jayson Dagner of Dagner Pipes, the Cob Poker is a beauty as well as a workhorse. Designed to be an excellent travel companion, its compact dimensions allow for stowage in a shirt pocket or saddlebag, while at the same time providing for a medium-length smoke. It's a sitter, allowing for you to set it down if necessary without the need for a pipe stand. And it has a few appointments new to the Missouri Meerschaum company, including a nickel accent band, a Custom Cob stamp on the bottom, and a comfortable, Italian-made Acrylic push bit. With the advent of the Dagner Cob Poker, anyone can afford a Dagner designed pipe!
The Cobbit series takes a different approach, and introduces cob smokers to another type of pipe for their cob collection: The Churchwarden. Themed after the greatly loved books set in Middle Earth by J.R.R. Tolkien, these are the kinds of pipes to enjoy a leisurely smoke on your favorite hilltop in the Shire, or your backyard. The Dwarf is more of a semi-churchwarden and sports the smallest bowl, while the Shire and Elf pipes are a bit longer with larger bowls. Like the Dagner cob, all three of these models feature a dark stained finish and a hardwood insert at the bottom of the bowl. What sets these apart the most, however, are the long, Italian-made Vulcanite stems.
With such exciting new models, it truly is a wonderful time to be a cob smoker! If you've never smoked a cob, check one out and see what you've been missing!
Savinelli is my favorite maker of machined briar pipes. The term "factory pipe" is used to describe pipes not made entirely by hand, typically in an assembly-line fashion. However, I'm really hesitant to use that term for a company like Savinelli, that makes such marvelous looking and smoking pipes! From their most expensive offerings, all the way down to their least expensive, Savinelli makes incredible smoking instruments. The Series III pipes are the cheapest pipes Savinelli makes that bears their stamp, and they still live up to the name.
Savinelli Series III pipes are unfinished and un-fancy. They started out as various Savinelli shapes for different lines, and were pulled from the batch for various cosmetic reasons such as a small void, or an opening in the grain. Rather than being destroyed, as is the case with other briar pieces with more functional issues, these were sanded as smooth as possible and fitted with a non-filtered vulcanite stem and are sold in an "unfinished" state. What this means is that these are still very good smoking, well-drilled and stamped Savinelli pipes, without staining or waxing...just with a little cosmetic flaw or two to give them a bit of character. This provides a wonderful smoking instrument at a very reasonable value that has the potential to smoke even cooler than your more expensive pipes, because they have no finish barriers to hold in heat. In addition, these pipes have the side-benefit of coloring to a dark brown over time as they are smoked!
If you haven't tried out a Savinelli pipe yet, a Series III pipe is the perfect introduction to this brand. If you're like me, your first Savinelli definitely won't be your last!
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