My grandfather smoked a pipe all his life, and halfway through my college years I thought, “When I’m 40, I should smoke a pipe.” Impatient by nature, the next day I went out a bought a drug-store special, some kandy-koated tobacco, and promptly roasted my tongue. But I stuck with it, and after college I worked in several Bay Area tobacconists while launching my writing career. Most of my time was spent at Drucquer & Sons in Berkeley, where I helped out while the owner recovered from a heart attack brought on, at least in part, by smoking cigarettes in addition to pipes and cigars. As well as being an angry person.
But there I learned the gentle art of smoking, got my first high-end pipes, smoked some World War II-era Balkan Sobranie stored in an air-tight tin, and got sucked into the trading circle. Dunhills, a Charatan Supreme, pre-transition Barlings, straight grains by Ashton and Upshall — I had ‘em all. Where are they now? Who knows. Probably sold on eBay to buy clothes I no longer have.
My collection today is more modest, but the Dublin has remained my favorite shape since day one. Favorite blends include Presbyterian Mixture, GL Pease’s Abingdon, Ashton’s Artisan’s Blend, and Germain’s Royal Jersey.
Above is a shot from a 1959 pipesmoking contest. If you can’t guess how in the world pipesmokers compete against each other, it’s actually quite simple: Typically each contestant is given the same amount of tobacco and two matches, and the winner is whoever can keep his pipe lit the longest. The current world record is in the three-hour range.
For more vintage pipesmoking images, see this post by The Selvedge Yard. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD