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of archived articles. Look at the Subject Index – you’re sure to find an answer to some of your questions, maybe some you didn’t even know you had!
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“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”

– Albert Einstein (1879-1955
25% off the normal price of all System Pipes

Colin Wesley - always ready to chat .... across the counter!2019 Christmas and the Holiday Season

This is our last “Across the Counter” blog for 2019.
As usual it is addressed to both our Pipe Smokers and Cigar Smokers

Pipe Smokers

Question: Which is the best pipe for a new Pipesmoker?

Pipes like many other utility items, have evolved as adaptations and new ideas have come forward to overcome any negatives aspects of their use, making them easier, more enjoyable and satisfying, for those who use them.

With pipe smoking, a problem from day one has been what to do about the moisture which accumulates in the bowl as it is “filtered” out from the burning tobacco, especially with Briar pipes.
Some will be absorbed by the briar itself which is why clean dry Briar is the most chosen wood from which to make pipes.
Some moisture will settle in the tobacco at the bottom of the bowl – forming the “dottle”, which is difficult/impossible to smoke.
This “dottle” needs to be gently cleaned out between smokes to allow the bowl to dry out before it can be put to use again.
Some moisture, increased by the flavouring used in the Modern blends, will flow through the pipe up into the mouth (especially if you are smoking a straight pipe) – distasteful and unpleasant.
There is a theory that this problem motivated pipe makers to produce bent pipes, which make it more difficult to draw the excess moisture up into the mouth.
This was probably successful but it increased the mess in the bottom of the bowl, and increased the wastage of good tobacco - which was expensive.
The term “a smelly pipe” could have originated here, since absorbent pipe cleaners and aerosol sprays were still to join the pipe paraphernalia. Feathers were used to clean out what they could, which wasn’t much.

Cross section of the Marca Dry pipe showing 'sump'Then came the big Game Changer when in 1865 the Irish firm Kapp and Peterson introduced their “System” pipes. The “sump” collects any moisture condensing from the smoke in the shank. Likewise any excess moisture entering the pipe from the mouth will end up in the sump, not in the bottom of the bowl.
This is a common problem with new pipe smokers until the salivary glands become accustomed to the fact that a pipe mouthpiece is not eatable.
The ingenious system pipe minimised this problem by releasing the smoke into the mouth through the smoke hole on the top of the mouthpiece, not at the tip.
The Peterson system was patented in 1894 and went on to be a top selling pipe, worldwide.

In 1981, after 4 years of research and development Savinelli introduced the “Dry System” pipes, based on the Peterson design,
but with improvements
Savinelli Dry System pipes: autumn-gold Chiara finish

  • The small round smokehole on top of the mouthpiece was changed into a rectangle across the width of the mouthpiece. This releases the smoke in a fanlike fashion as opposed to the thin jet from the Peterson lip.
  • They changed the connection between the shank of the bowl and the end of the mouthpiece from a tapered type (prone to coming apart when twisted even a little) to a parallel peg fitting, which is firm and steady.
  • They introduced the option of fitting a 6mm balsa “filter” into the peg to mop up moisture. This made moisture trapped in the sump less likely to spill (or gurgle).

Combined with the pipemaking experience of Savinelli, and the skills of their artisans, in the Dry System pipe you have the makings of the best pipe for any Pipesmoker - new or old. Prices from R1395.00.

So there you have it, our answer to the question - choose the pipe with technically the best design.

Is the Savinelli a little beyond your budget?Marca Dry pipes Shape 120, Smooth or Sandblast, Saddle or Taper

Consider the Marca Dry pipe:
With new pipesmokers in mind, after two years of discussion and development with the manufacturers, we introduced the Marca Dry to South African pipesmokers in 2015. This excellent value pipe offers all the benefits of the Dry System pipe other than the smokehole on the top of the mouthpiece.
And the price of R695.00 should suit most budgets.

You don’t fancy a bent pipe?

The Nording Eriksen Keystone pipe has plenty to offer including


  • its rugged construction and easy maintenance;
  • No dottle - juice won’t stay in the bowl, or reach the bowl from the mouth;
  • Lava Pellets in the “sump” chamber under the bowl will trap the moisture and clean up the smoke.

Nording Pipe cross section R715.00

Are you new to pipe smoking, or about to start?   Here is some advice to help you on your way.

And here is a good introduction to your new hobby:

From 12 December 2019 to January 15, 2020
25% off the normal price of all System Pipes:
Savinelli LogoSavinelliDry System
Marca Smoking Pipes DRY 
Nording | Nording Pipes Denmark | Eriksen Keystone Smoking pipes | Danish Smoling pipes | Erik Nording Keystone

You are an old hand on our database?
Take this opportunity to expand your pipe selection to include a System pipe, or to add another to your collection - at a great price.

Colin Wesley

No.467  December 5, 2019 to January 8, 2020

Cigar Smokers

Enjoying your cigar – the ash

Once a cigar has been carefully cut and baptised with fire, as Rick Hacker so neatly put it, the anticipation of the expected enjoyment of what is to come arises in the subconscious.

How good is this cigar going to smoke?

From an article I recently found, here are some pointers to look out for as you smoke through the cigar.

The first puffs:
any bitter taste of charred tobacco may spoil these, but this should not last long. Blow gently through the cigar and then continue puffing.
Up to first 2 cm:
if you have been puffing slowly (2 puffs per minute is good), and rotating the cigar with gentle hand movements, the ash should be firm. It is a bad sign if the ash had already started to flake and fall off. This could be from poor quality leaves being used, or poor quality rolling; even a combination of both. Close your eyes and hope things will improve. Make a mental note to avoid this cigar in the future.(Exception, short filler cigars will obviously not hold the ash as long as long filler cigars.)
The ash is firm and stable: good! After a few more puffs, if it doesn’t drop off by itself, gently tap it off.

Note the shape of the hot point of the cigar. The more
cone-shaped, covered with a thin layer of ash, the better.
Because the Ligero leaf, which contributes most of the taste to the cigar, is normally placed in the very middle of the bunch, and due to its density it burns more slowly than the other leaves in the bunch. The more Ligero in the bunch, the sharper the point of the cone, and the stronger the cigar.
A good cone-shaped ash is considered to be a tribute to the skill of the roller, and to the smoker for the care he has taken to smoke it correctly.

The ash: the colour of the ash is a signpost of the soil in which the cigar leaf was grown. It is not testing the quality of the leaves themselves; it is revealing the natural chemical and mineral combinations of the soil in which the plants were grown.
Potassium and magnesium, which on their own produce white ash, are vital components of the soil for growing tobacco plants. Other minerals in various percentages, which produce grey ash, are needed to balance the composition of the soil for tobacco growing.
Cigars rolled from tobacco grown in central Cuba
(Remedios) produce almost pure white ash.
Cigars rolled from tobacco grown next door in the Vuelta Abajo valley produce grey ash.
The soil in the Vuelta Abajo valley has multiple minerals in almost equal quantities.

Black ash is not a good sign. It may indicate that the soil was rather more suitable for other plants, probably confirmed by the poor smoking quality of the cigar in hand.

Incidentally every tobacco plantation in Cuba is registered, with the soil being regularly monitored to check the soil composition and condition before planting each year.

The ash, like the cigar band, on or off?
Up to a length of 15 to 20 mm the ash will cool the smoke down, making the smoking process pleasantly milder. When it is removed, either by gravity or a gentle tap, there is an evident increase in the taste and strength of the smoke. This subsides as the ash builds up again.
There will be a lot of ash – what to do with it?

Black Ceramic Cigar Ashtray with sliding BridgeWhat to do with the cigar if you need to stop smoking it for a short while?
Lay it down, but keep it horizontal to prevent it burning unevenly.

The bitter end - when should you stop smoking a cigar?
To paraphrase Davidoff – stop smoking it when you stop enjoying it.
At the stage when the taste goes from mellow to bitter.

What to do with the cigar when you’ve finished with it?
What not to do: unlike a cigarette it does not need to be stubbed out.
Lay it down and it will extinguish itself after a short while, without any unpleasant smell.

To hold all the ash, and the remnants of the finished cigar, a special receptacle is required:
The receptacle should have a big enough bowl to hold all the ash.
The design should include a support so that the cigar will rest horizontally.

In fact a specialised Cigar Ashtray!
It can be of any material, any price, open or with a lid.
We offer a wide range of Cigar Ashtrays in a wide range of finishes at a wide range of prices.

And right now:

25%  off all Cigar Ashtrays (and rests)
From December 12, 2019 to January 8, 2020
Normal prices from R175.00 to R1175.00
Cigar Rests from R65.55

Turns any ashtray (or saucer) into a cigar ashtrayThought:
You already have a favourite ordinary ashtray?
No suitable ashtray for your cigar?
Convert it to a cigar ashtray with a Cigar Rest – also less 25% for the period.

Out and about? You can carry a Cigar Rest with you!

Colin Wesley

No.468 December 12, 2019 to January 8, 2020

All the articles we have discussed, and more from previous years, are archived in the Library, by date and by subject.
A visit will allow you to choose from any of the more than 400 blogs to read or re-read at your leisure.
During the holidays - relax with your favourite pipe or cigar and enjoy life.

You deserve it.

Colin Wesley
December 2019

Zippo Woodchuck Flame Brushed.Brass Reverse MahoganyReverse MahoganyReverse Mahogany



PS Have you seen the new Zippo Woodchuck lighters?
Zippo, in partnership with WOODCHUCK USA, and their Buy One. Plant One.® program, will plant one tree for every lighter sold. Consumers can use the special code in each box to learn where their trees are planted.



By law, no South African citizen, living in South Africa can buy a tobacco product via the internet or postal system.  In fact, you may not receive a tobacco product through the post.
In addition we may not receive payment through the internet for tobacco products.
We may only supply tobacco products within the trade – not to private individuals. The fine is substantial
Contact us for help in getting tobacco to your area.

You can read previous articles from “Across the Counter” in The Archives Library.

Many places where normal smoking is not allowed also restrict the use of e-cigs.

“Snus” is the answer

The question is - What is Snus?

Use SnusJakobssons Snus

By law, no South African citizen, living in South Africa can buy a tobacco product via the internet or postal system.  In fact, you may not receive a tobacco product through the post.
In addition we may not receive payment through the internet for tobacco products.
We may only supply tobacco products within the trade – not to private individuals. The fine is substantial
Contact us for help in getting tobacco to your area.

Subscribe to keep up to date with our fortnightly articles and specials.
These alternate between pipe and cigar smokers' interests. You can choose your preferences.
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PS If you can’t visit a Wesley’s Bricks and Mortar, remember that
if you’re not completely happy with your mailsale choice, you can always return it for a full refund.

Refund Policy (Website customers - you’ll like this!)
Because we always guarantee our products – anything that isn’t completely to your satisfaction can be returned (in original condition and packaging) for a full refund.

NB. All prices on this site are in South African Rand (ZAR)
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Buying from outside South Africa

New Tobacco Control Legislation

        Prohibitions in respect of tobacco products

(5) (a)  No person shall sell, offer to sell, supply, distribute or buy any tobacco product through the postal services, the internet or any other electronic media.
      (b) The prohibition contained in paragraph (a) does not apply to any commercial communication between a tobacco manufacturer or importer and its trade partners, business partners, employees and shareholders.

Until we have obtained clarity on these points we have removed the “BUY NOW” option from all pure tobacco products on the website.
If this affects you, please contact us regarding a stockist of these tobacco products in your area.


ALL IMAGES AND CONTENT © Colin Wesley 2019

Cuff Links Cross Pens Nording Eriksen Keystone pipes Marca Dry pipes Savinelli Dry System pipes