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Fortnightly Articles
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No 45 - August 8, 2002
Taking . Stock

We have just completed our 2002 year-end stock take!

Our costing book dates back to the 1960's and while looking up landed costs for the pipes we import, memories flashed through our minds. Not just what it was like when we paid R1.65 for a pound sterling and 75c for a US Dollar, but what the pipe world was like in those days.

At that time it was dominated by England, France and Italy (and Austrian Meerschaums). A pipe-buying trip to England necessitated visiting 5, 6 or 7 independent factories. Later on some of these companies either disappeared or joined forces with one another until there were only a few real groups left. One of these owned a whole street block so that it had 4 different names and addresses - the same factory producing at least 4 different brands. If you didn't visit you would never know. But when the representative visited South Africa he brought 4 hats, one for each South African agent, and insisted that these were related to the streamlining of distribution, not to the manufacture.
It was all fun and intrigue.

Saint-Claude in the Jura Mountains of France was a little different. There were several independent pipe factories, but only 2 restaurants. So everybody knew who was visiting who and discussing what.
It was a bit like musical chairs.
Tables could be manufacturers alone, manufacturers / buyers, buyers alone - and spread over several industries since Saint-Claude was also a centre of the diamond polishing industry and for manufacture of certain motor parts.
And for those of us who didn't speak French it was even more interesting.

Then we saw the emergence of the Danish-style pipes. What an impact they had on the market! They took the basic technical design of the pipe and dressed it up Scandinavian style. The pipes looked different, felt different, but still gave a good smoke - well most of them did.
The whole world wanted them (and still does).
One very prestigious English pipe company, whose craftsmen weren't trained to make these shapes, bought the entire production of a Danish company and sold the pipes under their name as "Styled by ..". Quite ingenious, but it didn't work for them - the shapes were not their style.

And then the filter revolution started in Germany with pipes having 9mm disposable filters. To accommodate the 9mm filter the shank and mouthpiece needed to be appropriately thick which didn't suit all tastes, but the demand for a disposable filter had been established.
It took time and research to develop the 6mm system which fits most classic shape pipes.
Both 6mm and 9mm pipes come with adapters to convert the pipe to what was once called the normal smoking style. (There is even an adapter to convert 9mm pipes to take 6mm filters.)

To-day some of the best briar pipes, and certainly the best value, come from Italian factories - in our case Savinelli and Lorenzo.

What the next development will be I don't know.

We've had some interesting ones in the past: "The Pipe" from America with a double walled graphite bowl; "Flower Power", the South African version with a high-tech ceramic bowl; the "PipStar", a cigar-looking pipe from Switzerland.
Just look at some of these extracts from our earlier print catalogues - and the pipes smoked!

Whatever it is, we will look at it with an open mind, and if it affords value for money, and it works, we will offer it to you.

Colin Wesley
August 8 to August 21, 2002


PS: "Buried Treasure"
Well maybe not quite - but at stocktaking we did discover a limited quantity of English-made 6mm filter pipes which at to-day's costings would retail for R495.00. We will feature them from August 15 to August 28 (while stocks last) at only R275.00, including a pack of 20 x 6mm balsa filters. Don't forget to use either the balsa or the adapter.
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Across the Counter
Fortnightly Articles
"Conversations with Customers"

No 46 - August 22, 2002
BUDGET CUBANS
. . Machined for value

Often unfairly maligned as "inferior", totally machine made cigars from Cuba offer the budget-conscious cigar smoker the opportunity to taste the Island's unique flavour at a modest price.

The precise control of the machine loading and bunching processes usually ensure an even draw, important for a good smoke. The sturdy binder and wrapper (tougher than those used for handmade cigars) add flavour to the blend of filler. The machine however can't seek out and remove heavily veined or marked leaf, so some of the smoothness and subtlety of a true handmade cigar may be lost. And being short filler, there are no large ringsizes.
However all this is compensated for by the price.
Read more about them in Rudman's Complete Pocket Guide to Cigars (4th Edition).

A few of these machine made cigars have been available in South Africa for some time. They can usually be identified by the pointed head. Cigars such as Los Statos, H.Upmann Kings & Especials, La Flor de Cano Preferidos, Punch Belvederes, Quintero, Partagas Perfectos. Relatively new is the Cabanas range.

You can assess this range for yourself on August 29
The Wesley's feature is a 3-pack Cabanas selection for only R88.50;
one each of Belvedere and Superfino (Slim Coronas), and one Perfecto.

I smoked one the other night. It worried me to start with because the draw wasn't as good as I had hoped. But the taste was true, and it ended up perfectly acceptable for the price. I had no trouble finishing it.

Colin Wesley
August 22 to September 4, 2002

PS Another budget range is the machine-bunched, hand finished Jose L Piedra. They cut costs by selling the cigars in bundles instead of in cedar boxes..
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Across the Counter
Fortnightly Articles
"Conversations with Customers"

No 47 - September 5, 2002
System Pipes
.

Since the first briar pipe was developed, smokers have struggled with the moisture problem.

**Moisture condensing in the bowl of the pipe - leading to a soggy "dottle" of tobacco in the base of the bowl. The dottle won't burn and the tobacco is wasted - a problem where the price is high.
**Moisture condensing in the stem of the pipe or originating from the mouth - bitter tasting moisture which runs back to the lip, especially in straight pipes.
This moisture problem is aptly named "Wet Smoking".

Manufacturers were continually looking for a solution to this problem - how to trap the moisture while retaining the aesthetics of the classic pipe shapes.

By 1898 Kapp & Peterson, pipe makers in Dublin, succeeded in producing what was then considered to be the perfect system in pipe construction.
A built-in trap on the outside of the bowl, and the smoke hole on the top of the mouthpiece.

And they have been producing it successfully ever since, but not without competition.

Although the Peterson lip was available on straight and half bent pipes, the full system was really only effective for full bent pipes.

So the engineering boys came along and studied the problem of trapping the moisture. If this could be done in the stem of the pipe the trap would be suitable for all shapes.
The two best known results of this line of thinking are Keyser and Byford pipes with metal traps. Both a little messy, but effective.

1. No goo in the briar bowl;

2 Trap condenses goo
.. below stem level;

3. Spiral stem further
. . chills smoke.

Falcon came up with a more revolutionary concept - dividing the pipe into 2 interchangeable parts, bowl and stem, and building the moisture collection point right under the base of the bowl.

The system works very well, but to many purists the pipe became a smoking machine and lost its appeal.

Falcon was followed by the Ronson and Colibri pipes and others, but these imitators were short lived.

With the advent of disposable cartridge type filters, traps in straight pipes were no longer as important - the condensation in the stem, and moisture from the mouth, were fairly efficiently absorbed, but the filters were not as effective against moisture held by gravity in the bowl of a full bent pipe ( except for bowl filters).

By 1981 Savinelli had launched the "Dry System". It had taken several years of research into the negative points of existing system pipes, in order to improve on them. Perseverance paid off - by combining trap and filter, and enlarging the smoke hole, they achieved the "Dry System", which in our opinion is the best answer to "Wet Smoking" so far developed.

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".


From September 12 you will be able to enjoy smoking a Savinelli Dry System pipe bought for 25% less than the normal price. This offer lasts until September 25, 2002.
Indulge yourself!

Colin Wesley
September 5 to September 18, 2002

KEYSER


Medium large Bent
Medium large Billiard
54-Key R826.50

The patented features are the aluminium condensing chambers in the shank and mouthpiece, together with the protruding aluminium tubes from shank and mouthpiece. There being no connection between these tubes, moisture is trapped in the two chambers.


BYFORD

The collector assembly of the Byford pipe (magnified) consists of several concentric metal tubes. The condensed liquid together with moisture form the mouth is drawn into the annular spaces by capillary attraction. The smoke passes straight through without restriction.

 



Medium large Bent
Medium large Billiard
54-Byford R752.50
"Possibly discontinued"
November 11, 2013

Peterson Pipes (54-PSon) from R656.00
Falcon Pipes (54-Fal) from R638.00
E-mail to check availability
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Fortnightly Articles
"Conversations with Customers"

No 48 - September 19, 2002
Cutting your cigar
- Cigar Scissors
.

The objective is to open the head of the cigar to allow the free passage of delicious smoke-filled air into the mouth to be savoured and then gently released back into the outside world.

It's all so simple, yet if not done carefully the result can range from being detrimental to the enjoyment of the cigar, to downright disastrous.
** Too little cut off and the draw will be difficult.
** Too much cut off and the wrapper will unravel.

My preferred method and instrument for this opening operation is a pair of Cigar Scissors.
They are easy to control and they allow you to cut off as much or as little as you like.
The trick with them is to rotate the cigar as you apply cutting pressure. This allows the wrapper cap to lift off leaving a neat hole.
Any rough edges can be trimmed, and your cigar is ready to be lit and enjoyed - a real pleasure.

And now for another real pleasure:
From September 26 to October 9, 2002 we'll be offering a very limited number of padded grip, stainless steel scissors from Comoy's of London at only R360.00.
This is 25% off the normal retail price of R480.00 - a really good buy.

If you miss out on this special, we have our excellent range of
German-made Table and Pocket Cigar Scissors - always in stock.

Colin Wesley
September 19 to October 2, 2002

PS Cigar scissors can be sharpened just like any scissors - you'll always have a good cutting edge ready to hand.
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Across the Counter
Fortnightly Articles
"Conversations with Customers"

No 49 - October 3, 2002
"Walk well. with me" -
. . is the motto on one of our. walking sticks.

It could easily apply to all our sticks or "kerries" as they are also known.

Walking with a stick, even if it is not strictly necessary, is a pleasant experience, one of feeling secure - steady and safe.
However choosing the right stick requires a certain amount of consideration. Matters such as length, weight, rigidity, style of handle all come into play.

Length - the common length of a walking stick is 36 inches (91.4cm). Most sticks can easily be shortened by removing the rubber ferrule, sawing off the extra length and refitting the ferrule. (Longer sticks can be specially ordered.)
The suggested correct length is just above the top of the thigh bone - which allows the hips and the shoulders to be level when the stick is placed fairly close to the body and pressure is exerted. Some metal sticks are adjustable. Some are even collapsible - very useful when travelling.

The weight of an English Chestnut stick can vary between 260g and 340g. Anything much heavier will probably be more of a burden than a help. Aluminium sticks weigh approximately 240g; steel sticks 300g to 340g.

A stick with a little "give" in it (like the English Chestnut) prevents too much jarring. The adverse effect of a stick which is too rigid may only show in the long-term, and a good quality rubber ferrule will soften the jolt with each step.

The style of handle (grip) is probably the most important aspect to consider.

The knob (or fancy head) sticks look sleek and elegant. But they won't hang on your arm, and constant pressure can lead to a bruised palm.
They are ideal for just walking.

The crook has the advantage of being able to hang on your arm (back of the chair / rail / door handle) but when pressure is exerted it may concentrate on the palm, or the hand may roll over the top.
Ideal for light work.

The crutch. This design spreads the pressure over the palm and prevents the hand from slipping over the top. Those constructed with the extra curve can even hang.
Ideal for heavy work.

Y-shaped thumbstick - ideal for hiking (and resting on) - but not always available.

Medical sticks - or walk-aids.
While we don't carry these in stock, we can always quote for special orders.

With summer coming on you'll be getting out and about more.
Think about which stick would suit you.
From October 10 to October 23, 2002,
we offer 20% off English, Italian, South African walking sticks.

Colin Wesley
October 3 to October 16, 2002

PS Walking sticks are collectibles too - Tutankhamun was reputed to have had over 132 sticks.


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