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No 278 - February 9, 2012
Time in the Shop

As you probably know from previous “Across the Counter” articles, I still enjoy spending time in my shop. I meet all sorts of people, which is great, but just helping somebody decide exactly what to buy for himself, or as a gift, is equally satisfying.

In the hustle and bustle of the days before Christmas a lady asked me for help in sorting out a present for her husband who was enjoying his first Christmas as a pipesmoker.
It went something like this. I started:

Right he obviously has a pipe
Yes, 2 pipes – a Savinelli and a Lorenzo

Does he have a pipe lighter?
Yes, one of your lighters with the sideways flame

Does he have a pipe knife?
I bought him a Rodgers pipe knife for his birthday, and when he’s away from home he uses little gadgets which he keeps losing

Does he have a tobacco pouch?
Yes, he was given a nice soft roll-up, and he also has a zip pouch

Does the zip pouch take a pipe?
I don’t think so

Does he have a pipe ashtray?
Yes, for his birthday the kid’s gave him a black one with a cork in the middle;
And hefound an old pipe stand in his father’s garage, holds twelve pipes I’m told.
(Sounds good for future pipe gifts, but no help at the moment. The field is starting to narrow, but we persist.)

A thought came to me:
You say “when he’s away from home” – does he travel much?
Not a lot, but we go away for weekends quite often.

Does he take his pipe with him, and all the bits and pieces?
Oh yes, and when the kids are asleep we sit outside and he puffs on his pipe while we talk.
Oh, and sometimes he takes the pipe to work.

That’s sounds like a good way to spend an evening, how does he pack his pipes and things?
Plastic bag.

What about a nice bag to take everything?
Do you mean a handbag? Can’t see John parading around with a handbag.

No – a properly designed pipebag, larger for up to 5 pipes, smaller for 2 pipes (maybe 3 if they’re not too big).
Well, he only has two pipes, so let’s see the smaller bag.

Here we go – in either leather or synthetic.
These are the specific places to hold his two pipes; pipe tool and cleaners go here; there’s the separate zip compartment for the lighter – and a removable tobacco pouch which will hold enoughtobacco for two tothree days, or maybe more.
All zipped up – there is little chance of the tobacco smell permeating the suitcase (or briefcase)
Oh – and one last thing, there is room for this neat portable folding pipe rest. He can put his pipe down anywhere without it falling over.
How does this all sound?
Excellent – John loves soft leather, so I’ll take that one and the folding pipe rest.

15 minutes well spent.
Now I’m off to try to assist that fellow in the humidor – he may not have noticed the Cuban Punch Petit Piramide cigar, made to be sold only in South Africa.

Now, how about you? Does this sound “excellent” to you too?
Well, if it does, you’ll be pleased to know that ….

From February 16 - 29, 2012 (while stocks last) you’ll receive 25% off the price of the smaller pipebags:
Normal Prices: Leather R445.00, Synthetic R165.00

A good opportunity to buy something in which to carry all your pipe essentials.Even if you are simply stepping out into the garden to enjoy your pipe, you don’t want to leave something behind.

Colin Wesley

No.278 February 9 – 22, 2012


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No 279 - February 23, 2012
“Across  the Counter” isn’t always just about advice and selling

A few weeks ago a customer directed me to the following article – well worth sharing with you.
(Thanks Llewellyn)

The very finest cigar I never had
Robert Fulghum, UH-OH

You might as well know now. A cigar is the centerpiece of what follows. And you might as well also know that I have been known to smoke one of those things from time to time, despite what I know about all the good reasons not to. I'm just assuming that you sometimes do something of your own that you shouldn't do, either, and will understand. Moreover, I only had one puff from this cigar. Yet it was the cigar I will never forget.

One fine fall morning in San Francisco. I had taken a cable car from Union Square to thefoot of Columbus Street, intending to walk back through the old Italian quarter of North Beach. In a great mood. A week of hard work had gone well, and now I had a couple of days off to myself. So I had gone into Dunhill's and bought the finest cigar in the shop to smoke on an equally fine walk.

If you happen to appreciate cigars, this was a Macanudo, maduro, as big around as my thumb and six-and-a-half inches long—a very serious cigar. If you do not appreciate cigars, this one is best described as one of those cigars that would make you say, "My God, you're not going to smoke that thing in here, are you?"

After a few blocks' walk, it was cigar time. With care I removed the cellophane, squeezed the cigar to check for freshness, and held it to my nose to make sure it wasn't sour. Perfect.
Leaning against a tree, I cut the end off the cigar with my pocketknife and carefully lit up. One puff, and I said aloud to myself: "Now that, THAT, is some cigar!"

It so happened that I had been standing in front of a coffeehouse. A cup of fine espresso would add the final right ingredient to a recipe for a memorable morning. Placing the lit cigar carefully on the wide brick window ledge of the coffeehouse, I went inside to order. While waiting at the counter, I glanced out the window to check on my cigar. Gone. My cigar was gone.

Abandoning my coffee, I rushed to the door. And stopped short. There on the other side of the glass was an old man examining my cigar with the skill of an aficionado. He held the cigar with respect under his nose and smelled it with eyes closed. He smiled. He squeezed the cigar to check for freshness. He smiled. Looking carefully up and down the street, he took a puff. And smiled again. With a heavenward salute with the cigar, he set off down the street. SMOKING MY CIGAR. I followed, not knowing quite what to do. I really wanted that cigar back.

The old man. Salt-and-pepper hair, with grand mustache and eyebrows to match—jaunty black longshoreman's cap, white long-sleeved shirt, black suspenders, and dark brown pants and shoes. Short, plump, wrinkled, walking with a slight limp, the old man ambled on into the morning, unaware of me lurking furtively a few yards behind.

Italian. First-generation immigrant probably. As were the friends he visited to report the good news of the cigar that fate had prepared for him that fine day. I got a tour of the old Italian quarter of North Beach I had not anticipated—the real thing. A pasta shop, a fruit stand, a hardware store, a bakery, and the local priest. At each stop, in passionate terms, he exalted the cigar, his good fortune, and this lovely day. Each friend was offered a sample puff. The fruit vendor squeezed the cigar and approved its ripeness. The baker puffed twice and pronounced the cigar "Primo, primo." The priest gave the cigar a mock blessing.

In time the old man turned toward the bocce ball courts north of Ghirardelli Square, and when he arrived, he repeated for his compatriots his ritual celebration of the cigar and his good luck. The cigar burned down to a short stub. As it came his turn to play, the old man meditated upon the end of the cigar with dear regret. He did not toss it to the ground and grind it underfoot as I might have. No. Solemnly, he walked over to a flower bed, scooped a small hole beneath a rosebush, laid the cigar butt to rest, covered it with dirt, and patted the small grave smooth with his hand. Pausing, he raised his cap in respect, smiled, and returned to play the game.

The old man may have smoked it, but I've not enjoyed a cigar more. If having a lovely memory is the best possession, then that cigar is still mine, is it not? It remains the very finest cigar I never had.

The article is printed with kind permission of the author and BrightSight Group

Robert FulghumRobert Fulghum has published eight best-selling books of non-fiction.

More than 17 million copies of his books are in print, in 31 languages,
in 103 countries.
He is an extremely interesting man, and has lived an extremely
interesting life.

Visit his website– I’m sure you’ll enjoy him and his writing as much as I am.

For our USA readers, Robert Fulghum is available for speaking on a limited basis and is represented by the BrightSight Group.

For our South African readers, each Wesley’s has some fine non-Cuban cigars but with the current laws we can’t offer you a “special” on a Macanudo!

However here is some advice from “Across the Counter”:
Robert Fulghum used his pocketknife to cut the end off his cigar – very appropriate for a cigar of that size!
However, I’m noticing more customers asking us to use a Cigar Punch to cut their cigars when they buy singles from the shop humidor.
The Punch has its place in cigar cutting:
• For thinner cigars it is easier than trying to open the head without removing the whole cap;
• Some cigars have a very flat head – again it can be difficult to cut off less than the whole cap;
• And the surgical steel on a cigar punch gives an exceptionally neat hole – no ragged edges.

From March 1-14, 2012 (while stocks last) we offer you
15% off the price of the Dunhill Bullet Cutter
25% off other Cigar Punches

If you have experienced one of these problems, then you may find that the Punch is the answer for you – at least for some of your cigars. (It is not appropriate for a torpedo – maybe not for a thick, domed-head cigar.)

Colin Wesley

No.279 February 23 – March 7, 2012

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No 280 - March 8, 2012
Time in the Office

An ‘out-of-hours” phone call to the Wesley’s Office was answered by Gillian.
This turned out to be fortunate for both the caller and for us. The caller had all his questions answered and we had this article in the making.

Thank you DB.

DB had recently purchased a Dunhill pipe – the beautiful Bent Rhodesian in the County finish, and he didn’t want to “mess it up”.

His concerns were:
There was no aluminium tube – At the time Gillian said it wasn’t essential – Dunhill say “their pipes can stand on their own”, but we could send one if he liked. Subsequently we checked the Dunhill pipes received in January (due to be on the website soon), and only the straight pipes are fitted with the aluminium tube, obviously a bent tube is not as useful.
Of interest – the metal tube usually associated with Dunhill pipes was cleverly designed by Alfred Dunhill, who had an engineering background, to minimize the chances of moisture being absorbed in the shank, helping to keep the pipe clean and dry. The metal tube could simply be removed and washed.You need to know that when Dunhill started making pipes, there were no pipe cleaners – feathers were used, but they were not porous.
If the tobacco is particularly oily, then a bowl filter could be used.
Of interest – bowl filters were introducedto hold the tobacco above the moisture that formed at the base of the bowl.Tobacco was expensive and one would want to smoke all of it, not waste it as a soggy “dottle”. This was before the days of the Teflon peg which allowed the development of moisture-absorbing “filters”in the stem of the pipe.

Would he need to “break it in” in the same way as other pipes, use honey maybe to help the “cake” form?
Dunhill pipes say their pipes smoke “sweetly” from the very first smoke, because of the “special treatment” they give them. But the wood still needs to be protected – after all if you put the pipe in a fire, it would burn; now you’re putting a fire in the pipe, obviously some shield is necessary. In fact the shield, which is the carbon layer/ “cake”, forms naturally - you can’t stop it. The trick is to get it to form right to the bottom of the bowl. That is why you fill the pipe only a third for the first few smokes and smoke it as close to the bottom as you can. A touch of honey encourages the formation of the carbon layer, but it may burn hot (as would alcohol) – a little saliva works just as well.
Of interest –In 1982 we attended a “Principal Pipe Dealers” Conference; open to delegates from those Retail Tobacconists who showed sufficient expertise to be appointed a “PPD”. It included a “Pipe Smoking” competition. Each competitor was given a brand-new Dunhill, a measured quantity of tobacco, and two matches. The winner was the one who kept the tobacco burning the longest. He ended up holding the pipe sideways as one side of the bowl had burnt through – it had not been “broken in”. There were several other such casualties as well. As we wrote in our print newsletter at the time – “Moral: Care and gentleness is essential until the carbon layer has formed.” Nothing has changed, has it!

Ongoing care?
Since there is no filter or arrestor in the stem, there is no need to remove the mouthpiece from the shank. While the pipe is still warm, simply insert a normal pipecleaner to absorb the deposits, then rest the pipe bowl down.  Once every 10 smokes (about), use a bristle cleaner and cleaning fluid (Pipe Spray is the easiest) to scrub away any remaining deposits. Read more about ongoing care.
Of interest – that’s why we offer the “Clean 110” packet of pipe cleaners – 10 bristle to every 100 normal cleaners.

Another, slightly larger, Dunhill?
The new Dunhill pipes will be on the website as soon as we can finish the descriptions and the photography. As always we selected these personally because any particular shape number can be available with several variations, and because we like to select in any Group size the biggest of a given shape.
Alternatively DB may find a suitable Dunhill in the new batch of refurbished pipes, due (after descriptions and photography), hopefully, April.
Of interest – DB is on our database. So he will receive a link for a 2 day preview of the refurbished pipes before they are open for general viewing.  Are you?

Talking of “New Arrivals” – here is something else that took us back to the 1980s (and earlier).
The pipes we selected in Italy from Lorenzo Pipes this February have arrived, and the Monica stand-up bents are the same shapes as those the original Lorenzo Tagliabue had in his “Bents Galore” range.
Unusual (what else) bents which are not easy to make.
In the 1970s and 80s shanks were more slender, so rather than compromise the line of the shape, these pipes are fitted with a 6mm Teflon peg instead of the usual 9mm found in modern Lorenzo pipes.
Two finishes: Striking Two Tone for the better quality pieces, and the ever-popular Spot Carved. 
We liked the look of them at the factory, and they look even better now, and offer incredible value.

You’ll probably like them too – especially with the special offer:

From March 15 - 28, 2012 (while stocks last)
Monica Two Tone   R315.00 Normal Price R420.00
Monica Spot Carved R240.00  Normal Price R320.00

Take a step back in history (shape-wise) and add to your collection one of these unusual and elegant bents – brought up to date with a Teflon peg. Lorenzo pipes are the best “value for money” on the market!

Colin Wesley

No.280 March 8 – 21, 2012

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

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No 281 - March 22, 2012
In cigars -“One size does not fit all”

Over the last few years I have noticed a significant change in our cigar sales.
We are selling fewer Churchills and even fewer Double Coronas.
Today, when people do buy these large cigars, they often choose to buy packs of 3 cigars from different brands, adding to their humidors more variety than plain volume.

I think that there are two reasons for this:
One is the cost factor – and the recent budget has increased the duty – no surprises.
The other, which I think is the more important, is that cigar smokers are not offered the convenience, or have the time, to enjoy these great cigars.

I fondly remember a weekend away with some fellow cigar lovers, where we sat down after lunch on Saturday with a great Montecristo A** to watch a Rugby Test. Despite the excitement of the game, that Montecristo A lasted well over 2 hours. It left us all satisfied and looking for something a lot smaller for after dinner that night.
(** 235mm x Ring 47)

Today’s lifestyle for most people does not often offer the time, the occasion and the convenience to indulge in such luxuries.

The time available to enjoy your cigar is vital.
A rushed Churchill, or any size cigar for that matter, will burn hot and turn bitter.
Rather not smoke at all if you haven’t the time.

Fortunately, for the one-hour smoke, we have been well supplied with some excellent Robustos, Petit Robustos (most recent being the Partagas Serie D No.5), Limited Edition Punch Petit Piramides.
The new Romeo y Julieta Wide Churchill is a misnomer – much shorter than a Churchill at 130mm (Ring 55).
For around 30/40 minutes the Half Corona or Petit Corona is a good choice. Choose from the new H.Upmann Half Corona, Trinidad Reyes and other classics.
Many of these aren’t even on our website yet, and many of the website prices are out of date thanks to the February budget!
So there is no reason to compromise on quality when buying smaller Cuban cigars.
And what about the well-priced cigars from Nicaragua. Good sizes too, and excellent quality. Quorum, with its Ecuadorian wrapper, has become the number one selling bundled cigar in the USA.

How about smaller cigars for 15-30 minutes?
New to South Africa - Caliqueños, the secret cigar from Spain, is small but deceptively so – it will give you a good 25 minutes of enjoyable smoking.
In January we introduced this unique, hand-rolled puro (made completely from Burley tobacco) and the response has been more than gratifying. A dry cigar (no need to humidify) it is smooth (though not in appearance) and flavourful. A very different experience – and it smokes right to your fingertips.

However, when you get to the smaller size cigarillos, making them totally by hand can be inconsistent.
This is where the premium short filler cigar has its place.

“Young Selection” range of smaller cigars from BelgiumAlso new to South Africa is the “Young Selection” range of smaller cigars from Belgium – all with slightly larger ringsizes than comparative cigarillos and mini cigarillos. This ensures a much easier draw and a more satisfying smoke.
Premium quality, 100% natural tobacco, rich and mellow blends – the best cigars in their size ranges. Limited production has ensured that these are a cut above the big brands.
As the inner leaflet says (in Dutch):  
Taste the surprising combination of the finest tobaccos.
Experience the creativity and craftsmanship.
Enjoy a unique taste sensation.
Appreciate the tins for protection and condition.

Visit a Wesley’s shop to see the “Young Selection” cigars for yourself.
While you’re there look at the crystal cigar ashtrays – because they are what we are offering at a special price from next week (also available online):

From March 29 – April 11, 2012 (while stocks last) we offer you
25% off  Crystal Cigar Ashtrays

Back to the cigars – make sure you have in your collection a variety of flavours and sizes, so that you will always be able to select the most appropriate cigar for the time and occasion.
Still one of the world’s most affordable luxuries!

Colin Wesley

No.281 March 22 – April 4, 2012

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

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No 282 - April 5, 2012
You can throw away the pencil

Whenever we return from visiting our pipe suppliers people ask “Did you find anything new?
“We can usually answer positively:  “Yes, some new models from Savinelli, some superb bargains from Lorenzo and something good from Marca.”
But a recent visit provided something unexpected. Something we have always accepted and expressed, but never quantified: “Why pipe smoking is the most economical way of enjoying tobacco.”
For interest, we were sent the following statistics from the USA – no doubt somewhat out of date:

The cost of Smoking a Pipe
With new Federal taxes on ALL tobacco products and especially the taxes on RYO/MYO tobacco products it’s time to look at smoking a pipe! There are many reasons to smoke a pipe: personal enjoyment, relaxing, wonderful taste, pleasing aroma and now the cost of smoking a pipe just became a value.
-Cost of Cigarettes Smoking - $3,50 to $8,00 per pack
Monthly cost $105 to $240
Average of 1 pack per day
-Cost of Cigar Smoking - $6,00 to $8,00 per cigar
Monthly cost $108 to $240
Average of 1 cigar per day
-Cost of RYO/MYO Tobacco $44,00 per pound – 16 ounces
Makes 2 cartons of Cigarettes
Monthly cost $88,00
Average of 1,5 packs per day
-Cost of Moist Snuff Tobacco $4,09 per roll
Monthly cost $122,00
Average use of 1 roll per day
-Cost of Pipe Tobacco $40,00 per pound – 16 ounces
Monthly cost $40,00
Average number of Pipe Fills per Day – 5
Average of 1 pound of tobacco per Month
Average cost per Bowl of Tobacco $0.27
Es. 0,27 cents per bowl of Pipe Tobacco

These stats leave out the initial investment in the pipe, pipe tool, pipe cleaners and maybe a tobacco pouch. Our suggested “Starter Pack” is Lorenzo Filtro pipe or Marca 6 pipe (R205-R450); a basic pipe tool or pipe knife (R18.95 – R99.50); pipe cleaners (R7.95 – R21.50); possibly a combination tobacco pouch (R67.50).
Add it up - not too bad!
Plus tobacco, (Nos.1 and 43) and complimentary copies of “The Complete Pipe Smoker” and “The Perfect Blend” – and you are well on your way to discovering the pleasures of pipe smoking.

You’re looking for a higher quality pipe – at the same sort of price?

Our latest collection of Refurbished Pipes is in the final stages of preparation (photography): Dunhill, Charatan, GBD Unique, Sasieni, Byford – and some amazing Meerschaums. They will be going public later this month. If you are on our database, we will send you a link for a preview 2 days in advance of “going public”.
Quickest way to join the database? Complete a Sweepstake Form– and you will also be entered in the draw for a free pipe. Do it now – it takes a day or two to capture the details because of all the entries.

Preparing refurbished pipes for presentation is always interesting as we examine each pipe very carefully to make as accurate as possible our assessment of the grain, presence / lack of flaws, overall condition. These are key factors for the photographer to highlight – to give you as much information as possible in text and pictures.
One of the polishing tools we use extensively on each pipe is the Dunhill Silicone Pipe Care Cloth. This protects the surface of the wood and imparts a glossy finish to both bowl and mouthpiece.
And, almost by accident, we found that it very successfully lubricates the tenon (peg) so that it moves easily in and out of the shank.
You can forget about looking for a pencil to lubricate the peg.

• This Dunhill Silicone Pipe Care Cloth is so effective that we’d like you to have one for your own use.
• While we’re about it, let’s encourage a bit of DIY, pipewise: maybe your pipes need a little bit more attention than just a rub and protection – you’ll need other pipe cleaning equipment too, and the cloth makes a perfect finishing tool. So………

We’ll offer 15% off all Dunhill Pipe Care Products; 25% off all other Pipe Care Products.
Look for the special discount sign - from April 12 – 25

Refurbished Pipes: For convenience these are currently all in Johannesburg.
Your nearest Wesley’s will be happy to access one or two for you to examine and feel.

Colin Wesley

No.282 April 5-18, 2012

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