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And the Winner Is…

March 27, 2014

Well, me. Much to my surprise and joy!

At the Danish National championships we usually have a bit of fun on the side and at the start of the competition we have a draw. A lottery if you like, based on the competitor number. The competitor list is clipped into strips of paper each bearing the number and name of all combatants and then the Guest of Honour gets to dip his hand into the bag and draw out a winner. The guest was a certain Mogens Anderson, who is something of a designer, and it is he that designs the ‘Hunter’ pipes for Erik Nørding. I’ll never forget him because he picked my name out of the hat and for that, Sir, I am eternally grateful. This is what was up for grabs…

 

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It is a hand made pipe from Poul Winslow. It is one of twelve that were made for the 75 year jubilee of the Davidoff shop here in Copenhagen. I own number 11 of the twelve pipes. It’s a beautiful thing. This one is flame grained and in a delightful size that fits my clutching hand.

Not a huge pipe by any means but fairly generous in proportions. 135 mm long and, measuring across the bowl to bottom, the bowl is 46 mm high. The chamber is 20 mm in diameter and 33 mm deep. The chamber is slightly conical and the airway meets the floor of the chamber right in the middle, much like a calabash meerschaum.
The Silver ring is engraved in Danish, ‘75 År’ (75 years).
The pipe is also marked, ‘My Own Blend’ – ‘Hand made in Denmark’ – 2014 – 11.
The accompanying certificate reads (allowing for my translation!):

“75 year jubilee pipe. This pipe was created to celebrate My Own Blend’s 75 year anniversary. Only 12 pipes were made for this occasion. The pipes were hand cut by Poul Winsløw. Each pipe is unique.”

No. I haven’t smoked it yet. But don’t worry. I will..!

Danish Nationals 2014

March 24, 2014

Once again, as is my tradition, I was at the Danish National Championship in slow pipe smoking and pipe show. What a fun day it is too…

I was in the company of a good friend who, strangely, isn’t a pipe smoker. In fact, he doesn’t smoke at all but he is fascinated by the culture. He usually ends up being a judge at one of the tables. This year was no different.
The pipe show was extensive, slightly larger than last year and the choices to be made are many and varied. I did not buy any pipes this year as I have other financial problems to solve but that didn’t stop me looking. One meets and greets as one goes and I certainly met a lot of old acquaintances and old friends. Being the recently elected chairman of my pipe club, I was congratulated by many of them who wished me luck in my new position. I hope I don’t disappoint any of them.

On to the madness then. The pipe smoking. As is the tradition, we smoked Sweet Dublin tobacco in a Stanwell pipe. The pipe certainly talks the talk and looks the look but I must admit to being slightly disappointed with the pipe. The last two years have brought us a fairly robust billiard but this year we were presented with a slightly lighter model. It didn’t suit me and I didn’t smoke very well this year. I only achieved a meager 54 minutes where I normally get up over the hour and fifteen. Such is life. At least I didn’t go as the first one out. My good friend Tom managed that after only 4 minutes!

IMG_5216Here is the pipe. The bowl and shank are at right angles to themselves, which make it ‘legal’ according to the well known international competition rules but the stem has a slight curve to it. The shank bears a silver plaque with DM2014 indented into it and the pipe bears all the usual Stanwell marks.

I didn’t come home with any prizes. We fared less than well in the team competition and were not placed in the top ten individual competition.
However, I did come home with a very nice limited edition pipe. It was presented as a gift from a well known tobacconist and was given away by drawing a competition number from a hat.
I couldn’t contain my joy at being selected.
More about that later.

Happy Birthday Exile

December 28, 2013

I’d been looking forward to my 60th birthday for a long time. It means early retirement and all that comes with the lazy carefree life I expected it to be. It goes without saying that one has to celebrate and I decided on a Gentlemans lunch with friends. And so it was and what a day! We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. During the proceedings I was presented with a gift voucher from my good friends and was told to get myself off to Søren Refbjerg and choose a pipe from his selection. Three days later I stood in his workshop.

IMG_5098Søren is a clever chap. Observant. The last time I visited him to collect some pipes to sell on my website, he noticed me admiring a pipe on the bench. A variation on a Bulldog, slightly and elegantly decorated with gallalite and vinyl and showing some fine grain. It was sold, however, and I had to leave it where it was but the pipe had definitely spoken to me.  Noticing this and knowing of my friends plans, he immediately got cracking on a similar pipe and this was the result.

I couldn’t be more pleased. A pipe that I wanted, perhaps even more pretty than the one I was admiring and handmade by a craftsman for whom I have a great deal of respect.
My thanks to them all. This is a beauty and smoking it is a rare treat. The bit is comfortable, slightly fishtailed and a little thicker than normal, which means it hangs well in my teeth if it needs to, although I seldom bite on a pipe, preferring to smoke it in the hand. I am not a ‘clencher’.  The bowl is nice to hold and the pipe is well balanced both in the hand and on the eye. Flawless as far as I can see and made from fine Corsican briar, this one will be a cherished pipe and I’m glad to have it in the rotation.

116 mm in length, the chamber is 20mm in diameter and 36mm deep. Filled with Virginia, it’s a delightful pipe to smoke.

DM 2013 – Danish Masters

March 18, 2013

The 2013 slow smoking championships were held yesterday. I didn’t get to be the Danish Champion. Again. But I did get to be no. 16 out of around 100 smokers, so I’m not entirely displeased with my performance. I think the pipe played it’s part in this, it not being entirely typical of a championship pipe. But more about that later on.

My day began with the coming together of two good friends in the middle of Copenhagen. We had decided to meet up and get a good brunch before going on to the pipe show and championships. We found a breakfast café close to the venue and sat down to coffee and breakfast, which was absolutely delicious, and then made our way slowly but surely through the windy streets of the capital. Cold but happy, we arrived at the venue.
The show was all that it could be, pipes, tobacco and all the tackle that follows one around in this world of pipe smoking; tampers, reamers, pipe cleaners, cleaning fluid and this year we could even buy tobacco at the show. Well done Poul Olsen’s “My Own Blend” for venturing forth and selling your wares. They even gave a shot of Grappa if one asked nicely and produced a glass to have it in.

On to the championship then. The pipe, as I said, was not typical of the pipes we usually get. The chamber was a little taller than usual and thus it was also a little  smaller across the diameter. Not much room for the customary tamper to be maneuvered in the usual way. Not surprising then, that the times we achieved were slightly under what we usually produce. Actually, there were quite a few surprises as those that one usually sees surviving longest began to go out quite early on in the competition.
I usually reach the one and a quarter hour area before I start to get worried but I couldn’t get that far this year and my pipe went out at one hour eleven minutes. As I said, that earned me a 16th place but I had hoped to hold on a little longer. Oh well, there’s always next year.

Off to the bar then and freshen up my palate with a good beer and listen to the stories of how people’s pipes had behaved abnormally and the tobacco was too dry and other excuses for leaving the field so early on in the proceedings. Like the one that got away from the fisherman, we have the one that went out for the pipe smoker.

The day ended with the reigning champion defending his title in style, deciding to stop after two hours thirty minutes. Well done champ. You deserved it.

IMG_4708The pipe is, as it always is, a Stanwell. A nice sandblasted billiard that I thought smoked very well. The stampings are clear and crisp, “Stanwell”, “Danish design” and “DM2013” all stamped into a polished area under the shank. The fishtail stem, of course, bears the yellow metal Stanwell “S” logo.

Dimensions:

Length: 158 mm
Height: 50 mm

Chamber: 17.5 mm diameter x 42 mm deep
Bowl outer diameter: 37 mm

If anyone is interested, I have a second (unsmoked) pipe complete with box, sleeve and stamper that will be going up for sale later on this year, unless anybody jumps on it now…!!

Update:
Somebody jumped! The pipe has been bought by a gentleman in Switzerland.

Savinelli 320KS

October 19, 2012

This is a pipe I acquired during my Ebaying days. I have since given up on Ebay as there are some amongst us who are willing to pay way over the odds for what amounts to a beaten up old briar and they tend to overbid on anything marked up as being “vintage”, “rare” and “collectible”, even though all three statements are more deceptive than descriptive.
This particular pipe is neither one of those three but I wanted an author shape in my rotation and this fat Savinelli caught my eye. I got it for the princely sum of $35.oo which I believe was a bargain. In very good condition and hardly smoked at all when I got it, I have put it to good use over the past two years. It is quite heavy as pipes go and not one I would have hanging from my teeth for any length of time but it does smoke very well even if it is bored to take a filter. I removed the filter and inserted the customary plug into the recess. (Without the plug it whistles like a football referee on steroids!)

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Not the nicest piece of briar I have ever seen with a badge from a knot (?) on the front of the bowl but, as I said, it caught my eye and the shape is very pleasant. I’ve looked for fills and can’t find one so, all in all, I’m pleased with the thing and wouldn’t part with it now. This is the fifth Savinelli I own and I may have to entertain the thought of getting more from the same factory. To give some idea of the size of this delightful instrument, the shank is 24 mm in diameter where it meets the bowl and tapers back to 22 mm at the stem The button is 17 mm broad and 7 mm thick. See further down for other dimensions.

The pipe is stamped very clearly with “Champagne”, from the line of that name, “Savinelli Product” under the shank and “320KS Italy”. All the markings are clear and crisp. The savinelli logo is imprinted on the stem but as the white has worn off, it is barely visible. The pipe is decorated with a thin yellow metal ring and a vinyl ring ends the stem.

The chamber diameter invites mixtures. Although this pipe does smoke well on Virginias, it really shows its value with a good English mixture such as Dunhill 965 or even Petersons Old Dublin.

Dimensions:

Bowl:  50 mm at he broadest point.
Chamber: Ø22 mm x 32 mm deep.
Height: 42 mm.
Length: 142 mm.

Stanwell 84 Sandblast

June 24, 2012

Here’s a pipe that I actually forgot was in the rotation. I had mislaid it at some point and found it today hiding away on the shelf above my whisky collection. Dusty and in need of a polish, I gave it a little tender loving care and decided the time was in to fill it up and smoke it again. It must be well dried by now. Reaching for the Dark Kentucky flake, I packed it and fired up. Heaven.

It’s not like me to simply forget my pipes, so I have to wonder as to how that happened. This may not be one of my favourites for some reason, otherwise I would definitely have missed it and gone looking for it but, nonetheless, it delivers a great smoke and I don’t really understand how it got left on the shelf for so long. It is now going to get a more prominent place in the rack and I will spend a bit more time getting to know it again. I believe I bought it about two or three years ago at one of the pipe shows but the details escape me.

IMG_4585A thoroughly Danish Stanwell, from the “Relief” series, it was probably made for the German market as it is a filter pipe. Regulars here will know that I dislike filters and don’t use them. I usually have the stems fitted with a plug and discard filters. For some reason, I haven’t done that with this one. Which gives me another little job to get done. As you can see, this one is sandblasted and not very deeply at that. The blast is actually quite subtle but it is well done. Looking at the starboard side of the bowl I can see why it was chosen to be blasted but the offending pit has been virtually removed and unless one gets up close and personal with a magnifier it is pretty much unnoticeable. The rim is polished and gives a nice contrast to the blast, which is probably what attracted me to this pipe in the first place. The thin silver ring makes a pleasant decoration. I like a bit of bling!
Other than the obvious æsthestics, the pipe is comfortable to hold, perhaps a little heavy in the teeth and generally smokes like a trouper. After the Dark Kentucky, I’m smoking rubbed Virginia in it now and it’s doing very well with that particular tobacco. Maybe this is one due for dedication to Va’s? We’ll see.

Markings: Stanwell over Made in Denmark. Relief. (Model number) 84

Dimensions:

Length: 145 mm
Bowl height:50 mm
Bowl dia.: 45 mm
Chamber: Ø21 x 40 mm deep

My Second Ser Jacopo

May 5, 2012

I was in Milan some years ago and while there, I visited Al Pascia, the pipe shop, in the heart of the city. After an hour or so talking with Leonardo and Cosimo, who own and run the place, I selected a Ser Jacopo bent pipe and have loved the thing ever since. Not surprising then, that my second Ser Jacopo should also come from them. The difference being, that I found this one on their website and bought it online. It arrived today. Delivery time from Italy was a week.

Ser JacopoI’m sure the two of them will forgive me if I reproduce one of their pictures here. Why should I strive to take a picture that will probably not be better than this..?! So here it is.

It’s plain to see, we’re talking cross grain here and the birdseye on this pipe is lovely. In fact, that’s the main reason for my buying it. My first Ser Jacopo is more or less straight grained. Variety, they say, is the spice of life. The first also has a saddle stem, this one has a lovely chubby taper stem and frankly, I like it a lot. It has the appearance of the tenon stems for which Peterson is famous but once again, that’s all camouflage and the stem actually ends in the more conventional mortise and tenon that we all know but staggered in two different dimensions. Which must have made the boring of this pipe quite difficult. The fit is nevertheless perfect.

Having the pipe isn’t enough. You have to smoke it to appreciate it, so I filled it with Robert McConnell’s “Pure Virginia” and fired her up. The pipe was “presmoked” as makers like to call it, meaning that the chamber is coated with some mixture of carbon and waterglass. I could taste it at first but finally the tobacco took over and I puffed away at it for forty minutes or so. The pipe returned a fine grey ash and burned to the bottom. Perfect. The pipe felt a little heavy in the teeth but not being a clencher anyway, I don’t see this as being a problem. I tend to smoke my pipes in the hand, not hanging from my oral equipment. Apart from that, the pipe was a pleasure to smoke. Easy draw, nicely balanced and comfortable in the hand and pleasing to the eye. This one does not disappoint me in any way and I am very pleased with my latest acquisition.

Dimensions are as follows:

Length: 128 mm

Height: 48 mm

Bowl: Ø 46 mm

Chamber: Ø 20 mm x 38 mm deep.

Markings:

“Ser Jacopo” over “Fatta a mano in Italia”.  “Per aspera ad astra” and, finally “L1” in a circle.

There is a link to Al Pascia further down on the right hand side of this page for those who are interested in visiting the website. My only warning would be, that if you look hard enough, you will find something delightful and desirable.

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