A Pipe Miscellany

I’d been planning a post on pipes for some time when I realized I’d already written one.

So I scrapped the idea, but when the Yale Co-op piece went up this week, mentioning The Owl Shop, the tobacconist serving the Yale community, I decided to revisit the idea. Looks like we have enough for another puff piece after all.

Coincidentally I’d recently picked up an Owl Shop “estate” pipe after learning that some of them were made by Dunhill. Great value if you can find one on eBay stamped “Made in London.” Below is the one I grabbed. It’s too short (I like pipes long and lean, like me). Smokes great; email me if you’re interested in it.

Frequent comment-leaver and one-time contributor Old School soon dug up a 1962 Owl Shop catalog:

Keeping with the pipes-and-college them, the brand Kaywoodie used to sell an entry-level pipe aimed at students called the Campus. Here’s a store display whose selling point is that the pipe “accents the male look”:

Next up, new photos of the 1959 pipe contest have been added to the LIFE archives:

Apparel Arts campus image from the ’30s or ’40s:

Pipesmoking was once so popular that virtually any major men’s retailer offered them. I’ve had pipes by Brooks Brothers and Abercrombie & Fitch. They were good wood, but had annoying gimmicks like metal screw-in stems. Not pleasant to draw smoke over hot metal.

Here’s a pipe by LL Bean:

Our parting shot is a work of art by Denmark’s Peter Stokebbye:

16 Comments on "A Pipe Miscellany"

  1. Bill Stephenson | March 13, 2011 at 2:05 pm |

    Good article. When these ads were published, pipes on campus were like white bucks.

    Simply had to have one.

  2. just passing by | March 13, 2011 at 8:10 pm |

    wonderful – just sat down to a bowl of ennerdale in my savinelli “bing’s favorite”and saw this post. amazed at the parallel price inflation on tobacco v. pipes: 50 grams of presbyterian goes for about 12.00 pre taxes now vs. 70 cents then (17x); a dunhill shell goes for $355 vs. 19.50 then (18x).

  3. Visiting pipe shops like these was comparable to visiting the Brooks Brother flagship store:



    and going through catalogs like this one from the Harvard equivalent of Yale’s Owl Shop was like leafing through the pages of a Brooks Brothers catalog.


  4. Love the piece. Many thanks for reminding us of the wonder of pipes. Many hopes that folks will rekindle the magic of the pipe as I and my brothers in leaf do.

  5. unclelooney | March 14, 2011 at 5:36 am |

    That Apparel Arts photo is from the 50’s

  6. unclelooney | March 14, 2011 at 5:38 am |

    Whoops wrong caption. I was referring to the pipe boys

  7. My brother came home in 1983 after his freshman year at UVM smoking a pipe. Shows the extent of my regard for him that I took it up briefly too — about 6 months. What I loved was the ritual around it. Unfortunately, in today’s world, few have patience for life’s little rituals. That and coating your lungs with black goo.

  8. stupid cancer getting in the way of looking cool. i don’t care what my D.A.R.E course said, smoking in nearly all of its incarnations looks awesome.


  9. I took up pipe smoking at 18, following in my brother’s footsteps. I was one of very few people on campus bothering with a pipe. As Sartre pointed out, I love the ritual. By my senior year, we had a small group that we (tongue-in-cheek) called The Lebanon Valley College Pretentious Society for the Propagation of Pipes and we’d meet every few weeks to smoke and chat on the porch of someone’s house or in one of the quads. It was a great time and we’d occasionally sneak a flask of some good bourbon or other to compliment the smoke. Fond memories.

    One of my best friends commissioned someone to carve a pipe for me for Christmas. It’s a fantastic gift and unique. Best of all, while not exactly inexpensive, it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. The guy who made it was a local customer where my friend works and it was actually the guy’s third pipe he’d ever made. I’m lucky there are some people picking up the craft in my area.

  10. It’s 2011 — only assholes smoke pipes.

  11. I think you mean cigars.

  12. This certainly brings back some memories. I accompanied my father to the Owl Shop on College Street countless times. He would go there for his special blend of tobacco as well as some of his Dunhill pipes. I loved the smell upon entering.

  13. Bill Stephenson | March 15, 2011 at 3:57 am |

    Good article, and good comments, although not all agree. Few people agree on everything, even something as noncontroversial as pipe smoking.

    However, it is jarring to see a comment that is totally out of line in an otherwise civilized discussion.

  14. I’ve smoked a pipe for over 40 years. The problem faced by pipe smokers (all smokers?) is no place to smoke. Years ago, I never used to go anywhere without a pipe, lighter, and a filled tobacco pouch. A nice pipe was part of my daily attire. Now, the porch or garage is the only place one can smoke. (Most non smoking wives will not tolerate tobacco smoke.) It’s always seems pathetic to see people shivering outside in the cold just for a smoke. Even on the golf course, smokers are frowned upon. With the all the government tax on tobacco, making 20 cent tobacco cost $5, I’m ready to throw in the towel.

    Bring back the good old days.

  15. Michael Mattis | March 18, 2011 at 11:31 am |

    Occidental Cigar Club, San Francisco: http://www.occidentalcigarclub.com/home.html. Pipe smokers more than welcome.

  16. Great Post. The hobby of pipe smoking is as classic and Americana as you can get. It is meditative, ritualistic and pure tradition. Only one of fine intellect will understand it’s principles. That’s why it was so popular with the ivy leagues.

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