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,
Just a quick blog today to announce the inclusion of Estate Pipes on The Pipe Nook web store! Some of you have been asking if I will branch into this facet of the pipe collecting hobby, and while I was hesitant to begin with, I've had estate pipes on the site for a week now, and they have already earned their permanent place here.
Estate pipes are a quick and inexpensive way to build your pipe collection! Pipes designated as "Estate Pipes" have been previously owned, and in many cases smoked, although some unsmoked pipes will find their way into this category from time to time and are noted as such. Our Estate Pipe offerings at The Pipe Nook are from my personal collection. Sometimes a pipe just doesn't "click" with its owner for whatever reason, and that's what these are--good pipes all, unless otherwise stated, but ones that I rarely reach for to smoke. Most of these pipes have been very lightly smoked and haven't even had time to build up a cake. They have been well cared for and not abused.
NOTE: I am not a pipe refurbishing expert. Buyers should satisfy themselves as to the cleanliness of each pipe upon arrival before smoking, but in most cases there won't be much to do. See individual pipe descriptions for details!
I started the category last weekend with about 21 pipes, and I've already sold about two-thirds of my stock! That's encouraging, so I'll be sure to add various estate pipes in the future. So check out the Estate Pipes section under the "Pipes" category, and I hope you find a deal on something of interest to add to your collection!
Keep 'em Lit,
Here we are once again: Happy International Pipe Smoking Day! A day to celebrate the noble art of Pipe Smoking. I would encourage you to do your very best to carve out some time today and enjoy a good pipe!
I've been so busy lately that I'm sorry to admit I let IPSD2017 sneak up on me! Good thing I already enjoyed a pipe this morning. However, to help the pipe smoking community at large celebrate, I'm running a site-wide sale! Use coupon code "IPSD2017" at checkout for 15% off your entire order! And since I wasn't able to run this sale for the entirety of the day, I'm extending it through 2/21!
Thanks so much for supporting The Pipe Nook!
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,
I had big plans back in February of 2016, when I officially launched The Pipe Nook. I was going to work hard on the site, and get as many of my "must have" pipe brands on the site as possible. It was a lot of work, and sure, I have plenty more to do in the way of expanding the brands, lines, and shapes that I currently carry, but I'm incredibly pleased to report that not only did I get most of my must have brands present and accounted for, but just under the gun with my final addition in late December, I was able to get ALL of them on!
With that, I'm very pleased to announce the newest addition to The Pipe Nook, Stanwell Pipes!
Stanwell is one of the most well-respected pipe manufacturing companies in the world. Many a pipe smoker considers his "Stannies" among his favorites, and I'm one of them! Unbelievably, Stanwell had its beginnings right in the middle of World War II. In 1942, Danish businessman Poul Nielsen saw a need for Danish-Made pipes, since popular pipes previously imported from other countries such as England were unavailable during the war years that were ravaging Europe. Poul ran a woodworking company called Kyringe, which began to make pipes initially out of Beech wood. After the war, Poul changed the name of the Company to Stanwell and began creating Danish made pipes from imported Mediterranean Briar. Before long, Stanwell was exporting pipes from Copenhagen, the most modern pipe manufacturing facility of its time. Many of Stanwell's shapes were designed by some of the great Danish Masters, including Sixten Ivarsson and Jess Chonowitsch! Today, while Stanwell is still a Danish company, its pipe production has moved to Italy, where Stanwell continues to create some of the most incredible smoking instruments, many of them at budget friendly prices.
I've gotten the ball rolling with offerings from 5 different Stanwell lines, with more to come in the days ahead. And I'm so happy with the way 2016 turned out, but I've decided to keep my eyes open for any new pipe brands that fit into what I offer: Budget-friendly, well-made pipes that smoke well. Thanks again for helping make The Pipe Nook what it is today, and stay tuned...I've got some big plans for 2017!!
Keep 'em lit,
If you're like me and many of my family and friends, 2016 has been a shaky year for you, at best. World events, celebrity deaths, and more have created a backdrop for a seemingly unprecedented amount of personal woes such as money troubles, medical issues, and more. And while 2016 might not be remembered as a banner year for many, I'm always up for kicking back with a pipe and counting my many blessings.
I have a wonderful wife and three incredible children. We have enough money to pay our monthly bills. We have a fantastic church family. And while I was recovering from a severe knee injury throughout 2016, I "redeemed the time" and was able to fulfill a lifelong dream--I started a business! I've said it before, but I'll say it again: The Pipe Nook has been a labor of love, and I'm so happy with how the first year has gone! In the very first year, I've been able to introduce ALL of my "must-have" pipe brands! Being able to introduce Big Ben, Missouri Meerschaum, Mr. Brog, Morgan Pipes, Neerup, Rossi, Savinelli, AND Stanwell, as well as a few Artisan Pipe-Makers, all within the first year has been an incredible achievement, and I'm very grateful for and excited about all the opportunities that 2017 now has to offer! In 2017, I hope to increase the amount of lines, shapes, and quantity of pipes that I have available for these brands. And you never know...there just may be an addition or two along the way!
Also, if you're like me in another way, the last week of the year finds you with a little "Christmas Money" in your pocket. Let me help you spend it with a site-wide 15% Off sale! Enter the coupon code SEEYA2016 at checkout to receive 15% off your entire order through the end of the year! In addition, you can make your money stretch even further by taking advantage of already discounted items such as the Savinelli 2000 Collection pipes (pictured), and the remaining few Savinelli Adria pipes I have left in stock! As we say goodbye to a problematic 2016, let's enjoy the simple comforts of a new pipe or two, and look forward to what I hope will be a better year in 2017 for all of us! A big THANK YOU to all who have supported The Pipe Nook, and I wish each and every one of you all the best that God has to offer in the New Year!
Keep 'em lit,
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