Across the Counter
Fortnightly Articles
"Conversations with Customers"
Back to:
Aspects of Pipe Smoking
Aspects of Cigar Smoking
Commentary Articles
Complete Archives Index

No 127 - November 3, 2005
Coincidence or What?

A customer in Insurance once told us “Coincidences happen so often that they’re more likely to happen than not”.

Take this sequence of events:
To those of you who have recently visited the Wesley’s in Rosebank will have seen that we have a new team coming together.

Jacques is our most recent member, and as part of his pipe training I spent about an hour explaining the origins of “Filter” and “System” pipes, and the differences between them – extolling the benefits of the Savinelli dry Systems in the latter group.
Jacques went off duty at 3.00pm. Before 3.30pm a customer came in and, looking at the top drawer of Savinelli Dry System pipes, asked me to explain what they were all about. He had seen them on our website and wanted to experience them in the real. 15 minutes later he was satisfied and made his purchase.
Now we have just landed another full range of Savinelli Dry System pipes, and it is nearly Christmas.
Too many coincidences in one week to be ignored.
Obviously it is time to write more about the Savinelli dry System and to offer you a special price at the same time.

First of all – what I explained to Jacques, and my customer:
Briefly –
Filter pipes. The pipe is a natural filter and moisture will condense from the smoke and deposit in the shank and mouthpiece. Many smokers, especially new smokers, secrete excessive saliva or use the very popular "Aromatic" tobaccos which, due to the flavouring oils, have more moisture in the smoke than the older natural blends. This can lead to a messy pipe and the unpleasant smoke known as a "wet smoke".
The function, therefore, of today's "filters" is similar to that of a sponge - to absorb moisture by mopping up excess juices, without spoiling the taste.
Filter pipes have thicker shanks to accommodate the 6mm or 9mm filters, but you can convert any pipe into a “filter” pipe with the use of “Bowl Filters”.

System pipes go several steps further to prevent “Wet Smoking” and to keep the smoke cool and dry: the smokehole on the top of the mouthpiece, a built-in trap outside of the bowl, and an optional “filter” to keep the trap dry. Such a system is really only practical for bent shapes.
Choice of shape is a personal preference, but I always recommend a bent as the lightest, best-balanced shape, and so a Dry System is especially suitable for new pipe smokers.

The Savinelli Dry System is the best of the modern versions:
The benefits: . . . . .


1. The large smokehole on the top of the mouthpiece allows
. . the smoke to leave in an even spread, and not directly onto
. . the tongue; its size makes it easy to clean and spreads the
. . flavour in the mouth. Its position makes it difficult for juices
. . to enter the stem from the mouth.
2. The Bent stem ensures that the pipe is very light on the teeth;
3. The use of the optional balsa insert mops up any excess
. . moisture without changing the taste;
4. The firm-fitting peg mouthpiece won't twist off in the pocket;
5. The metal band prevents the shank from swelling and
. . cracking if there is too much moisture in the trap, (for
. . example, if.the balsa is not used);
6. It has a built-in moisture trap.

The result: A cool, dry smoke, enhancing the flavour of the tobacco
- the "dry system" eliminates the problem of "wet smoking".

Click here to read about the development of System pipes.

From November 10 you will be able to enjoy smoking a Savinelli Dry System pipe bought for 25% less than the normal price. This offer lasts until November 23, 2005.
Indulge yourself!

Colin Wesley
November 3 to November 16, 2005

You can read previous articles from "Across the Counter" in The Library.

A most important word of warning about filter pipes:
Filter pipes must be smoked with either the filter or an adapter
(usually supplied with the pipe).

If this is not done, moisture will condense in the empty space
and seep into the shank causing it to swell.
This will result in a loose mouthpiece which is almost impossible to remedy.

Because of the metal band, Savinelli Dry System pipes are excluded from this warning.

Across the Counter
Fortnightly Articles
"Conversations with Customers"
Back to:
Aspects of Pipe Smoking
Aspects of Cigar Smoking
Commentary Articles
Complete Archives Index

No 128 - November 17, 2005
Summer Smoking

What a pleasure – to sit outside in the cool of the evening and enjoy a cigar or a bowlful of a favourite pipe tobacco – without being wrapped up like a mummy.
But what about that sneaky little breeze that appears to take on the magnitude of a Force 4 gale extinguishing your butane gas flame as quickly as you repeatedly strike the lighter – until your thumb is blistered and you consider packing up and going indoors – hoping that TV will substitute for the lovely view of the garden.
It won’t – but what is the answer?

In a previous article I made the case for “Turbo” lighters to beat the breeze, but there is another older, more traditional method of creating a flame that will hold steady in a breeze.

Liquid Fuel lighters, or “petrol” lighters as they are often called, have been around since the early 1900’s, but only two names have really stuck to this principle and survived – Imco (Austria) and Zippo (USA). The attractions of these lighters are their simplicity and reliability. If there is a spark, some fuel to burn, and a clean wick to carry this fuel, it must light. That’s a practical fact.
The number of moving parts is minimal. There are no valves to leak, no flame adjusters to jam, and maintenance is simple. Mechanically they are so straightforward; almost nothing can go wrong.
Hence the 10 year guarantee from Imco, and the famous “it works or we fix it free” lifetime guarantee from Zippo.
The downside of these lighters is that they require more frequent filling (“topping up”) than their butane gas counterparts. Our suggestion is that you place a can of fuel somewhere near where you empty your pockets (or leave your handbag) so that it reminds you to top up the lighter every 4 or 5 days. Also liquid fuel may impart a possibly unacceptable (temporary) taste to the smoke.

The emergence of butane gas lighters, both flint and electronic, in the 1950’s appeared to herald the demise of liquid fuel lighters, but history has shown that they have their place, especially for outdoors – hiking, camping, golfing, fishing.
You can depend on them in the wind and rain - for rugged reliability nothing can beat them.

But can you use them to light your pipe or cigar?
Yes you can – but it requires a slightly different ritual.

Zippo have this to say about using their lighters for fine cigars:

  1. Before striking the flint wheel to ignite the lighter, leave it open for 4 or 5 seconds. This pause will allow any fumes that were trapped by the lid to dissipate.
  2. Strike the wheel and then pause again for 4 or 5 seconds. This pause allows excess fuel to burn off and steadies the flame, which in most cases is a good wide flame.
  3. Then, as with a gas lighter, hold the cigar at a 45° angle above the flame evaporating the natural oils and moisture from the foot of the cigar.
  4. As the rim of the foot starts to show signs of lighting, raise the cigar to your lips and gently blow through the cigar. This will remove any fumes generated by the burning material.
  5. Rotate the cigar through the first few puffs to ensure an even burn covering the whole foot of the cigar.

A fuel flame burns at a lower temperature than butane gas, so the whole lighting process may take a few extra seconds – savour them.

For Pipes:
The plain insert in a standard Zippo Lighter can be exchanged for a special pipe insert (at no extra charge), which allows you to draw the flame directly into the bowl. Once the tobacco is alight, you may like to blow gently through the pipe before settling down to smoke.

With the Gifting Season coming up – the next special seems particularly appropriate:
A classic Zippo lighter in a gift box including fuel and flints – at no extra charge!
(Gift box normally R79.95)
Brushed Chrome – Standard or Pipe Insert – R244.95
Brushed Brass – Standard or Pipe Insert – R286.95

You don’t need a gift box?
Free fuel and flints (value R41.45) make a bonus gift for yourself!

Colin Wesley
November 17 - November 30, 2005

You can read previous articles from "Across the Counter" in The Library.

Across the Counter
Fortnightly Articles
"Conversations with Customers"
Back to:
Aspects of Pipe Smoking
Aspects of Cigar Smoking
Commentary Articles
Complete Archives Index

No 129 - December 1, 2005
“All I want for Christmas is ……”

If you’re familiar with this ditty, you’ll know the words that follow – but let’s pretend that nobody knows it and finish with the words that most of us would like to add: “to travel the world in style”.

For those of you who are going to be doing this (or part of it) this festive season we wish you well and trust that you will take along, or find on the way, some great cigars – and somewhere to smoke them.
Bon Voyage!

If however you, like us, are staying home, we invite you to put your feet up and travel the cigar world with our “International Selection”.
Cigars from Cuba, Dominican Republic, Honduras and Europe (courtesy Brazil and the old Dutch East Indies).
5 cigars, each presented in a glass tube, all in a wooden cabinet box which can be refilled and used on future travels – real or imaginary.

Each country has its own style of cigar, and only Cuba limits the source of its cigar ingredients to its own island. The others source from wherever each individual manufacturer feels he can obtain the best leaf to make the style of cigar he wants. The permutations are limitless, and the individual blends are more closely guarded than “State Secrets”.

We are just launching our newest “International Selection” Travel Cabinet Case at only R375.00 (value of cigars and cabinet R529.00). And with each cabinet sold from December 8 to December 21 we will throw in a 2-finger cigar cutter, value R58.95.
I hope you will accept our invitation to travel the Cigar World and relax, let your mind run to sunny islands, and smoke in style.

One of the cigars in such a selection must be a Montecristo.
Montecristo is one of the top premium brands from Cuba - its biggest in terms of sales and best known;
the benchmark of Cuban cigars for size and flavour.
Theo Rudman wrote: “Brands success has a lot to do with unique tangy flavour. This partly created by storing ligero leaves for filler in special type of cedar wood boxes, partly because of unique technique of arranging filler leaf. Generally slightly milder than Cohiba with less ligero leaf in their blend.”

The selections from the October Cigar Dinner are now finished, but we thought we’d offer another opportunity to try Montecristo in different formats, so from December 8 we offer a very limited quantity of Montecristo Travel Cabinets with the following 3 cigars:
Montecristo Especial No.2 – the leading light of the original Montecristo range, and the first size to be made in the Cohiba range by the original Montecristo rollers;
Montecristo No. 4 – the standard for Petit Corona size cigars;
Montecristo CEdición Limitada 2003– a fine Corona Extra inthe new style of limited editions.

There are only 20 boxes available at this price of R395.00 (value of cigars and cabinet normally R559.00).

And when you’ve enjoyed the cigars you will still have a very useful travel cabinet.
Colin Wesley
December 1 to December 14, 2005

You can read previous articles from "Across the Counter" in The Library.

Across the Counter
Fortnightly Articles
"Conversations with Customers"
Back to:
Aspects of Pipe Smoking
Aspects of Cigar Smoking
Commentary Articles
Complete Archives Index

No 130 - December 15, 2005
Summertime, and the living is easy;
Fish are jumping, ……”

So go the opening words of the lullaby in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. It is also the ideal time of year to pick up your pipe and drift off into the garden, bushveld, beach or mountains for a relaxing, contemplative smoke. Reflect on the year gone by, think of plans or dreams for the New Year, or just absorb and enjoy the wonders of nature that abound in our beautiful country.
(The smoke will also keep the bugs away.) 

But beware – the elements can play havoc with your normal smoking pattern. A breeze across the top of the bowl will accelerate the burning rate of your tobacco, affecting the taste, and may generate so much heat that the bowl becomes too hot to handle.
An uneven burn can cause a “burnout” from the inside of the bowl.
The answer is to use a thick wooded pipe and a slow burning tobacco. Try to smoke with the breeze behind you, and smoke gently.
A pre-filled, half or one-third bowl might be most welcome for a short break.

Lighting up may also need some nimble handwork and an outdoor liquid fuel lighter with its wind-resistant flame may be a help. Any fumes will waft away on the breeze (if there is one).
(A Turbo is not suitable for a pipe, as it acts like a blow torch and can burn the inside of the bowl.)
But just a pipe on its own cannot make all this happen. You will need your tobacco, a lighter, pipe tool, pipe cleaners and possibly a pipe rest to complete the scene. These “must haves” are anticipated in the design of our most popular tobacco pouches – Model 71-Ex795 (R325.00) in fine quality Nappa leather, or Model 71-P2217 (R64.95) in soft simulated leather.
Without being too bulky, this design can accommodate the whole bag of tricks for your smoking enjoyment, including your pipe and a portable pipe rest (or a spare pipe); tool, cleaners and of course the tobacco in its foldover-seal compartment.

From to-day for 3 weeks (15 December 2005 to 4 January 2006)
we offer the complete set of accessories at less 25%.
Choose your pouch (71-Ex795 R325.00 or 71-P2217 R64.95);
Choose your tool (74-Sav421 R10.95;  74-Rog210 St.Steel or panelled R169.50);
Add the pipe rest (70-GCon R19.95);
Then we’ll deduct 25% from the total value of the three items.
You provide your own pipe, we’ll throw in a packet of 20 pipe cleaners.

Equip yourself properly for that outdoor smoking experience and enjoy it!
Colin Wesley
December 15 to December 28, 2005

You can read previous articles from "Across the Counter" in The Library.

Across the Counter
Fortnightly Articles
"Conversations with Customers"
Back to:
Aspects of Pipe Smoking
Aspects of Cigar Smoking
Commentary Articles
Complete Archives Index

No 131 - December 29, 2005
A cigar for all Seasons

It was early in 2004 (Cuban Taste) that we first encountered Vasco da Gama Capa de Cuba. This was so well accepted that in February 2005 (The Taste) we decided to stock the full range - Capa de Cuba, Brazil and Claro Sumatra - cigars and cigarillos.

What impressed us most (other than the attractive packaging, the cedar wrap and the value for money) was the quality of the tobaccos used, especially that of the wrappers. We described these as “superfine, almost translucent, even the Maduro Brasil”.
Rick Hacker says: “In many ways the wrapper is the most important part of the cigar, not
just because it provides 30% to 60% of the flavour, but also because it is the embodiment
of the cigar’s total character”
Our first impressions have been confirmed over the last 10 months by the enthusiastic acceptance
of Vasco da Gama cigars and cigarillos.
• They have been smoked at weddings, on the slopes of Kilimanjaro (the party was too short of oxygen to smoke them at the summit as planned) and at many sponsored functions.  
• At one of our cigar dinners we offered the Capa de Cuba cigarillo with the aperitif – the guests came back for more.
• Through our website we have had orders from as far afield as New Caledonia (we had to search Google to find this island) and from the USA (we couldn’t supply Capa de Cuba).

Being both a progressive and a traditional company, Arnold André, the manufacturer of Vasco da Gama cigars has just introduced a Vanilla flavoured Sumatra in the Corona No.2 size. This should really appeal to the new and growing segment of the cigar market – people who enjoy a quality flavoured cigar, not just the stodgy mass market products.

These cigars are for you if:
You find that the heavy Cubans are just too much for you, but you love the Cuban flavour;
You need a fine quality lighter cigar to smoke earlier in the day or evening;
You are sharing the smoking experience with a mixed group of friends some of whom are casual smokers;
You are hosting a function and want to offer cigars, but not everybody is a serious smoker;
You’d like to try different flavours – comparisons are much easier in the same format;
You are a new cigar smoker – wanting to ease into the experience;

These cigars are not for you if:
You can’t visualise any form of cigar other than a Cuban Robusto.

So confident are we that these cigars warrant consideration in your smoking pleasure, that we are devoting a complete web page to them – and  for the first time we are repeating a “special”.

From January 5 to 18, 2006 - for only R120.00
we offer the following selections of Vasco da Gama in the Corona No.2 size:
Selection A            Brazil, Capa de Cuba, Claro Sumatra.
Selection B            Brazil, Capa de Cuba, Vanilla Sumatra.
(Normal price of 3 cigars in glass tubes R165.00)

If you missed the first one, take a little adventure into the New Year, and
“Discover a New World”.

Colin Wesley
December 29, 2005 to January 11, 2006

You can read previous articles from "Across the Counter" in The Library.

Across the Counter
Fortnightly Articles
"Conversations with Customers"
Back to:
Aspects of Pipe Smoking
Aspects of Cigar Smoking
Commentary Articles
Complete Archives Index

No 132 - January 12, 2005
Meerschaum – the real thing

Much has been written about Meerschaum and its contribution to the artistic aspect of Pipe Smoking. But it is for its practical properties that most Meerschaum Smokers remember it. Lightness, power of absorption, length of life, and the purity of tobacco flavours achieved by this rare mineral are a real joy to the user.

And then the feel - satin smooth or beautifully carved and usually presented in a fitted case. No wonder Meerschaum is called the "Emperor of Pipes".
In addition, Meerschaum is really quite sturdy - not like eggshells. It will normally take a fall onto a carpeted floor without any problem (although tiles may be a different matter).
If you consider all the positive aspects of a Meerschaum you will see why it justifies the investment. A good Meerschaum is no more expensive than a comparable Briar and it may have twice the life.
It's worth thinking about.

In January 2005 we featured the Lorenzo meerschaum-lined pipes. The response was good – the pipes sold steadily throughout the year.
This January we offer “the real thing” – genuine block meerschaum pipes direct from Turkey.

Our friend in Istanbul (who selects the pipes for us) has done us proud with a range of stunning, featherweight pipes – classic shapes and carved heads in a variety of sizes and prices.

The pride of the selection is a magnificent Sir Walter – an extra, extra large piece yet weighing only 75g – that tells you something about the quality of the meerschaum. And it is only R1495.00
(but see below).

The extra large classic bent weighs in at a mere 50g – a comparable size briar weighs 50% more (we weighed them).The pipe can be yours for R1350.00 (less the special discount from next week for a fortnight).
Then we have medium and large bowls in fitted cases - 11 styles from R695.00 to R995.00.
Finally a gallery of small heads in boxes at only R395.00.
(Note – there is no carbon build-up in meerschaum pipes and you can smoke a size smaller than in briar.)
All the pipes are fitted with Teflon tenons, and all these prices (except the small heads) are down – thanks to the stronger Rand cancelling out increases.

You can now enjoy not only the smoking quality of pure block meerschaum, but also the feel and beauty of these mystical pipes.
“You’ve never seen anything like them!”

Larger size meerschaums are rare – so those on our website are one of a kind and are photographed in detail – “what you see is what you get”.
The pictured medium heads (in fitted cases) and small heads (boxed) are a sample selection of what is available. What you receive when you order through Safeshop may differ from the actual pipes on the website.

For the period 19 January to 1 February 2006,
you can buy pipes from this latest selection of pure block meerschaums at less 25%.

Don’t miss this opportunity to select and enjoy “The Emperor of Pipes”.

Colin Wesley
January 12 to January 25, 2006

You can read previous articles from "Across the Counter" in The Library.

Across the Counter
Fortnightly Articles
"Conversations with Customers"
Back to:
Aspects of Pipe Smoking
Aspects of Cigar Smoking
Commentary Articles
Complete Archives Index

No 133 - January 26, 2006
Checklist for 2006

Well, that was January for you, and I hope you enjoyed it.

The beginning of a new year is always a little traumatic for me - after the buzz of December I find it difficult to settle down and prepare for the first 6 months (5 now) of the new year.
I’m not one for resolutions, but decisions need to be made quickly or the months will go by without achieving anything new, or improving my lifestyle.

May I make a suggestion for a decision that might bring more enjoyment into your life this year:
“I will really take care of my cigars”.
Here is a little check list and programme that could be of help to you in this endeavour.

1. Where do I keep my cigars?            
    a. In a humidor?                               
     Is it the right one for my needs?     Answer
     Was it properly prepared before I filled it?        Answer
     How will I maintain and check it regularly?        Answer

    b. In a cupboard?    
     Are the conditions favourable, can I generate enough humidity, and maintain it? Is it a cool
     cupboard – what is cool enough?            Answer

2. January is halfway through summer, maybe I’d better check for the dreaded tobacco beetle? (I could have a problem if my humidor is too warm) What do I look for? Can I fix it?         Answer
(When I take my cigars in the car, I’d better be careful of leaving the cigars in the cubby hole. It can become a real hot box.)

3. Winter will be here before I know it – will I be in a dry or a wet climate?
     What extra precautions will I take to look after my cigars?         Answer

4. Those white specks on my cigars – are they dust, bloom or mould? (The last could be serious.)
     How can I tell? Answer

5. When I go away over Easter weekend -
     a. which cigars will I take?        Answer
     b. how will I carry them?           Answer

6. Next summer – what will I do when I again go away for the holidays?            Answer

A little “T L C” will go a long way towards ensuring long life for your cigars – and improving your smoking enjoyment.

Now if you didn’t receive that new humidor you hoped for, or you need an extra one for all the cigars you did receive, we have a special offer for you – from 2 February to 15 February while stocks last:
12 only humidors at the giveaway price of R675.00
(Normal price R895.00)

73-MCHU75B 335 x 220 x 135mm (70 cigar size)

Colin Wesley
January 26 to February 8, 2006

You can read previous articles from "Across the Counter" in The Library.

  . . . . .