by James Lawson
With renewed activity in the pipe segment, enthusiasts can easily be tempted by a range of related accessories. How does your selection of pipe paraphernalia stack up?
The pipe smoker is the most encumbered of smokers. Tampers, reamers, cleaners, lighters, stands, pouches, humidors: all are helpful — even necessary — to the pipe smoker. Smoke shops should ensure that an appropriate selection of these implements are available to their customers. A look at the assortment of pipe accessories on the market today reveals both old standbys and some innovative new trends.
The pipe cleaner is the unsung workhorse of pipe smokers everywhere. The majority of American pipe smokers burn aromatic tobacco, which is usually wetter than non-aromatic tobacco; hence, they tend to use a lot of pipe cleaners. B.J. Long is the sole American manufacturer of pipe cleaners today. "I believe we make a superior pipe cleaner in comparison to the overseas makers," says Richard Dow, president of B.J. Long in Rochester, New York. "We use a high quality yarn that is more absorbent. Also, we offer private label packaging, which can be done in a short period of time." Extra-absorbent, tapered, bristled (for better cleaning action), and longer-sized pipe cleaners are offered.
Among the many lighter companies, one brand of pipe lighters stands above the others. I.M. Corona is maker of the world's best-selling Old Boy™ lighter. This butane lighter has a built-in tamper in its base. Sturdiness, reliability, and a large-capacity reservoir are its chief attributes. This is the lighter I use on a daily basis. Corona pipe lighters are available exclusively from Savinelli Pipes, USA.
Clockwise, from left: folding pipe stands from Phillips & King; seven-pipe capacity leather case, Comoy's of London; leather and burl pipe stand and tobacco jar, Cristom Imports; glass-doored collector's pipe rack with drawers, 21 pipe capacity, Phillips & King; leather tobacco rack with three sealed acrylic tobacco jars, Music City Marketing.
The F & K Cigar Company offers the Sillems™ brand of lighters. Sillems, a German company, produces pipe lighters encased in sterling silver or unbreakable enamel, sterling ashtrays, cigarette cases, cigar tubes, cutters, flasks, and much more.
Stephen Monjure of Monjure International is the exclusive distributor of the Brebbia and Ardor lines of pipes and accessories. Brebbia has a new disposable butane pipe lighter featuring an angled flame. Monjure and Brebbia are discussing the possibility of introducing refillable butane lighters.
F.G.T. recently brought back the lighter that was known as the Nimrod. Now called the F.G.T. Sportsman, this popular pipe lighter uses standard lighter fluid. It is small — about the size and shape of a roll of Lifesavers™ — and retails for $24. This was my first pipe lighter, more than 25 years ago. Very dependable, it now comes with a compass.
I know of very few veteran pipe smokers who do not own at least one item of pipe furniture from Decatur Industries, who've manufactured wooden pipe accessories for 56 years. Kevin Fitzpatrick, director of marketing, says that the company is re-introducing old Decatur designs. It used to produce many more models of pipe stands and racks, when pipe smoking was more commonplace. Now that pipe smoking is enjoying a renaissance of sorts, Decatur is looking to meet the demand for quality, affordable pipe furniture.
Jar-rack combinations are popular sellers. Decatur makes a carved glass tobacco jar with a three, four, six, or 12-pipe rack. The company offers a line of Italian leather pipe rests that are mounted to a wooden base. Their three-tiered pipe racks, that hold 24 or 36 pipes, can be placed on a table or mounted on a wall. Decatur also offers a variety of ashtrays with attached pipe rests.
Clockwise, from left: combination three-pipe carved glass tobacco jar in smoke or clear, with pipe rack in cherry or black walnut, Decatur Industries; seamless, solid wood pipe stands from Savinelli's Galleria wood collection; natural or dark finished six-pipe racks, F.G.T. Enterprises; selections from Cristom, Import's full line of pipe accessories.
Mastro de Paja (USA) Ltd. produces a line of exquisite pipe accessories that exhibit the Italian flair for design. A handsome array of 925-silver/burl pocket lighters is available from MdP. Cabinets that hold 18 pipes come with a bottom drawer and glass door. Mastro's burl-and-leather pipe rests (wholesale from $45 to $61) would grace any desktop.
Phillips & King International offers its customers a wide selection of exclusive pipe furniture. P&K's most affordable pipe rests and racks ($10 to $30) come from India. The Lubinski line of pipe furniture comes from Italy — that's right, Italy — and "was well received at the Nashville RTDA show," according to David Tucker, P & K's national sales coordinator. For serious pipe collectors, P&K sells pipe cabinets for two, seven, or 21 pipes. The two-pipe cabinet includes a Delft tobacco jar. These cabinets would make handsome store fixtures to display high-end pipes.
One of the best values in pipe racks ($12 to $20) comes from F.G.T. Enterprises. These racks, new to F.G.T., come in a dark walnut or natural finish. Simple in design, the racks are very affordable and come in two, three, four, or six-pipe models.
Music City Marketing has recently introduced a line of oak pipe racks. These seven or eight-pipe racks have a bottom drawer, useful for storing pipe tools, cleaners, etc. Music City is also developing plans for a tabletop pipe cabinet. Call for details.
Brebbia's teak or olivewood pipe racks are available from Monjure International. These racks are of one, three, five, or seven-pipe configurations. Brebbia offers a calabash stand for this fragile type of pipe, as well as a 21-pipe wall cabinet that is ventilated and has a glass door. Also from Brebbia is a ceramic pipe tobacco humidor with a ceramic lid containing a humidification sponge.
Hollco-Rohr sells a dozen different English leather pouches — some imprinted with the Jobey or Comoy name, and a half dozen non-leather ones (e.g. vinyl or cloth). These, like most pouches, are either roll-ups or zippered. Among the zippered pouches are combination pouches that hold tobacco and one or two pipes ($8 to $30).
Savinelli offers six different pouches in either smooth Nappa or deeply textured Peccary leather and four with a "pebble grain." Four of the pouches are zippered — two of them combination types. Terry Vincent, president of T.S.V. Ltd., a manufacturer's representative, avers, "Savinelli is the best in the market for everything pipe-related. The pipe market is making a strong resurgence as a result of the maturation of cigar smokers. I see pipes over $75 doing very well." Savinelli pouches are $13 to $40.
Clockwise, from left — Sterling silver deco collection lighter with Italian hand-inlaid briar casing, I.M. Corona; leather and briar Italian pipe rests, Mastro de Paja; 100% cotton pipe cleaners, standard or custom-printed with store logo, B.J. Long; Rodgers of Sheffield smokers knife, F.G.T. Enterprises; leather tobacco, and pipe/tobacco pouches in tan (shown), brown, black, burgundy, or green, Pheasant by R.D. Gomez.
Mastro de Paja has 11 different calfskin pouches ($27 to $60) that come in black, burgundy, dark brown, or light brown. In addition, the company sells two pipe carrying cases: one of them a five-pipe case, the other a seven-pipe bag.
Phillips & King's David Tucker notes that his company does well with the tobacco pouches it offers. The pouches range in price from a few dollars to $31 for the deluxe plaid roll-up. David has seen a small, steady increase in the sale of pipes.
In September of 1998, Consolidated Cigar acquired a 50% interest in Cigar Savor Enterprises. Dennis Nicotra, president of Cigar Savor, says that within a matter of weeks (probably by the time you read this story), a new division named "Pipe Savor" will be formed. Peterson leather products will be renamed as Pipe Savor products. "We intend," says Dennis, "to be the premier distributor of cigar and pipe accessories."
Pheasant Leather Goods offers cigar and pipe accessories made of exquisite Spanish leather. The high-grade calfskin is naturally tanned and dyed. The colors available are Habana tan, cognac brown, midnight black, dark burgundy wine, and hunter green.
Monjure International has unique pipe tools that go beyond the horseshoe nail or "Czech" tool. The Ardor tampers/picks are made of briar carved in the likenesses of dogs, cats, lions, foxes, etc. Brebbia makes horn tampers that are in the shape of a pipe. Finally, Monjure sells meerschaum tampers with carved heads of sultans, lions, and cavaliers, carved by Kamuran Bilgic.
F & K Cigar Company imports its pipe tools from Solingen, Germany, a city known for its world-class cutlery. In fact, F & K offers many exclusive German-made products. Consider Ars Vitri, a series of hand-blown glass ashtrays, cigar rests, and pipe rests. The pipe rest holds the pipe so that the shank is nearly vertical (actually 80 degrees). Ars Vitri, made by W. Esser, is one of the finest and most unique lines of ashtrays on the market today. Also, F & K offers the Charlotta brand of German handmade pipe pouches and bags.
Eloi is a French firm that specializes in the manufacture of heirloom-quality cigar and pipe accessories. According to its Web site, www.eloi.com, the company has made accessories for some of the most elite names in the industry. Their tools are of heirloom quality. All come with a one-year warranty, but Eloi reconditions or repairs any of their accessories — even those from the 1930s — for a fee. No other high-end accessories firm offers such a wide selection, according to Selim Nahas of Robert & Miles, Inc., distributor of Eloi.
While there are numerous offerings in the segment, some pipe fans wish there was more innovation. Richard Carleton Hacker, author of The Ultimate Pipe Book, says that he is relatively disappointed with the pipe accessory market, because he feels that it has been ignored for too long. "There is very little that's new or innovative," he says. "For example, there is yet to be a practical and pleasing pipe rack — especially for freehand pipes. I did note that in Germany there are some companies that are addressing this concern and will probably introduce their products sometime next year. Pipe pouches and bags are too small to accommodate many modern pipe shapes. It's better to have a pouch that's too big than too small. On the positive side, there is a lot of potential for better products for the pipesmoking hobby."
SMOKESHOP - February 99