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No 74 - October 9, 2003
Handmade Pipes

In a recent office clean-up I came across a 2001 magazine devoted almost entirely to things Italian.
Italian innovations which have influenced related industries worldwide
- their pipes (Savinelli, Brebbia, Lorenzo), their coffee (Espresso), the scooter (Vespa) and their cinema (La Dolce Vita).
The pipe section covered the history and production of the main manufacturers - Savinelli, Brebbia, Castello. Also of numerous smaller artists many of whom produce their pipes in the Pesaro area on the Adriatic coast - artists such as Giancarlo Guidi, Massimo Palazzi, Bruto Sordini, Franco Rossi.
It was interesting to read that many of the artists use templates for the basic shaping of the bowls by machine. (Some have as many as several hundred templates so that they can match a shape to take best advantage of the grain of each piece of briar.) The bowl and shank holes are drilled at this stage, and then, in the Italian method, more than one person works on the pipe - each specialising in a different skill.
(The first time we ever saw a template being used for the preparation of handmade pipes was in the basement workshop of Erik Nording in Denmark. He could turn 5 bowls at a time all exactly the same shape, but the final pipes would then be individually tailored to suit the grain.)
On a more commercial basis, Stanwell pioneered this process, registering each shape.

Another interesting note was the distinguishing between Italian "handmade" pipes and Danish "freehand-made" pipes. The Danish style is for one artist to work on each pipe from start to finish. The ebauchon is fashioned into its final shape, and only then are the necessary holes drilled.
(The Savinelli Autograph pipes are made in this freehand method.)

Just a year ago in the article "The Art of the Pipe" we talked about "freehand" artists drawing their inspiration from many sources. Some are inspired by the grain and feel of the individual block, the artists from Ser Jacopo Dalla Gemma in Italy have on occasion drawn their inspiration from the pipes depicted in the paintings of great artists. Famous figures (eg President Truman, Bacchus, Sherlock Holmes) often provide the spark - meerschaum pipes offer good examples of these.

But many handmade pipes are found in classic shapes.
Often one man working alone, using tools and machinery to work the hard briar, but with a skill and dexterity of hand and an artistry all his own.
Such a man was the late Willie Mattner. Well known to South African pipe smokers of the sixties to eighties, his handmade briar pipes were sought after as excellent quality and value - the pipes were always worth more than he asked. He was a legend in his lifetime.
In South Africa to-day we have Johan Slabbert whose work in African woods can be seen on http://www.jobertpipes.co.za/, and "Ebenhart" who works in briar and African hard woods (ebenharts@absamail.co.za).
We've also come across a fine pipe maker in New Zealand at http://www.zemanpipes.com
Such sites are really interesting to visit. When you've finished, close the window to return to Wesley's.

It is not always possible to buy new "handmade" pipes, so it is worth considering previously owned refurbished pipes.

On October 16 we will be releasing our next selection of refurbished pipes.
Amongst these are several handmade by the late Mr Mattner, a few "Shalom" from Israel, and some carved pipes from Saint-Claude (the home of the French briar pipe industry).

Look at them - there are some great buys!

Colin Wesley
October 9 to October 22, 2003

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

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No 75 - October 23, 2003
Cigar Bargains

.I'm often asked why, with..the strengthening rand, the prices of cigars haven't come down.
One of the basic reasons was forcibly brought home to me last month when the fob value of a shipment of cheroots I imported had reduced by nearly 16%, but the duty had increased by 40% from the last budget. It is now over R1000 per kilo!
Other reasons are that the increased value of the rand is often eroded by increased prices from suppliers abroad, or negated by the landed cost of the stock being averaged with earlier stock landed at higher costs.

But there is always light around - our specials every 4 weeks offer you the opportunity to try different brands at prices more than 25% less than the normal price. And right now we have a bargain range of lesser known brands or sizes at over 20% below normal retail.

I thought I'd give you a run-through by sizes to introduce the bargains on offer to the end of December (or until they sell out):

Churchill (Length 178mm x Ringsize 47) & bigger
Headed by the legendary Montecristo A (Length 235mm) these three are all "Big Smokes". Both San Cristobal (El Moro with a slightly thicker Ringsize 49) and Quai D'Orsay (Imperiales) are new brands building good reputations. Don't be afraid of the size of the cigar provide you allow yourself enough time to smoke it. On a cigar weekend away the whole group, including my wife, finished and thoroughly enjoyed Montecristo A cigars while watching a Springbok / All Blacks Rugby game.

Corona Grande (Length 170mm x Ringsize 43)
The prestigious Cohiba Siglo V offers another smoke on a grand scale. So too does the La Gloria Cubana Med D'Or No.2 - lesser known possibly because it is made in very limited quantities.

Corona Extra (Length 143mm x Ringsize 44)
The Corona Extra is a convenient size, fitting in timewise between the very thick Robusto and the very long Churchill.
The Bolivar Corona Extra is probably the best known name in this group together with the popular Romeo y Julieta. But the tastes of Saint Luis Rey and Juan Lopez pleasantly surprised many people who tried them in our specials.
Rafael Gonzalez, manufactured from a secret blend of Vuelta Abajo tobaccos selected the Marquez Rafael Gonzalez (Grandee of Spain), is no longer being produced - so this may be your last chance to enjoy this special brand.
("High quality tobacco, with distinctive honey flavours" - Theo Rudman, 3rd Edition)

Royal Corona (Length 165mm x Ringsize 42)
Vegas Robaina
is the newest marque in this group. Launched in 1997 it was rated "superior" and it is. The Romeo y Julieta Cedros de luxe No.1 in its cedar wrapping is a very elegant and satisfying cigar as is the Rafael Gonzalez which will fast be disappearing from the market.

Corona (Length 142mm x Ringsize 42)
Neither the Bolivar Tubos No.1 nor the Romeo y Julieta No.2 deluxe should be confused with the general run of cigars in aluminium tubes. They are both fully handmade (not machine bunched) - high quality cigars, ideal for travelling.

Pyramid (Length 156mm x Ringsize 52)
is an underestimated brand, and if a pyramid is a favourite size of yours, as it is of mine, these are well worth trying.

Robusto (Length 127mm x Ringsize 48)
During the disruption in Cuban supplies to South Africa we introduced El Rey del Mundo Choix Supreme after seeing it in Gerard's shop in Geneva. It is a little known Robusto, the same size as Upmann Connoisseur No.1. It was a hit then and offers a most enjoyable smoke now.

Panatella (Lengths 152 & 192mm x Ringsize 38)
These 2 Montecristos were the models for the original Cohibas, and were very much sought after by cigar connoisseurs. They are still great cigars rolled by some of the finest torcedores - they respond best to a gentle draw so as not to overheat and destroy the fine flavour.

Petit Corona (Length 129mm x Ringsize 42)
The most popular size after Robusto, should take 30 to 40 minutes to smoke. Bolivar, Ramon Allones and Juan Lopez are all fully handmade, quality brands -really worthwhile additions to your humidor.

Half Corona (Length 102mm x Ringsize 40)
The ideal size for after lunch or before dinner. The Romeo y Julieta is a delightful little cigar, and the lesser known, slightly longer Sancho Panza is very good value.

Demitasse and Cigarillos
The Bolivar is handmade from the old school, whereas the cigarillos are thanks to the new machinery in Cuba.

Tonight we're looking forward to another bargain - our Cigar Dinner at the Grillhouse. We're expecting excellent food in an exceptional venue with 3 great cigars.
I look forward to seeing some of you there.

Colin Wesley
October 23 to November 5, 2003

PS If you can't make the dinner you can enjoy the cigars from October 30 at only R185.00 for the pack of 3. (Normal price R266.00)

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

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No 76 - November 20, 2003
Leisure Reading

The festive season is.approaching
- that time of the year when, between the hectic whirl of functions, parties and other commitments, you indulge your hobbies, luxuries and pastimes, even taking a holiday break if you can.
What better time to expand your knowledge and understanding of your pleasure of tobacco - to while away the odd hour dipping into a "tobacco book" as you enjoy your pipe or cigar.

Richard Carleton Hacker is the world's foremost writer on the pleasures of tobacco. He is the most honoured personality in the pipe fraternity, the media has christened him "the Czar of Cigars", and his books are listed as important reference works by the Encyclopaedia Americana.
But far more important, his books are very easy to read, filled with information and well illustrated. Vivid phrases flow through his writing - "the baptism of fire" relating to the lighting of a cigar, and on the end of a pipeful of tobacco "the glowing bits of tobacco will fade, the embers will die, the final curl of grey smoke will curl up and away…..".
Rick Hacker tells the stories behind the stories in a witty and entertaining manner.

And now we have 2 new books in stock - one completely new, and one updated edition

"The Ultimate Cigar Book" - 3rd Edition R399.50 - More pages and more pictures!
This is what Rick Hacker wrote to us about this latest edition:
"The first (history) chapter has been updated, as have various chapters throughout the book, including the Cuban code section. The greatest changes have occurred in Chapter 9 - The International Compendium of Cigar Brands - as, by removing all those "fly-by-night" don-nobody cigars I thought the book would actually become thinner. But because of the great proliferation of NEW brands, the book is notably thicker."

"Pipesmoking - a 21st Century Guide" R230.00
The first of his books to be published in "soft cover" format - more economical and accessible!
Richard Dunhill, Chairman Alfred Dunhill Ltd, writes:
"One cannot get any closer to the gentle art of smoking. Richard Carleton Hacker has explored every conceivable aspect of our craft and has enabled all serious pipe smokers in the world to gain knowledge of smoking history as well as current innovations. I thank him for his tremendous contribution; long may it continue."

There is also "The Rare Smoke" R415.00 (dedicated to "those pioneering pipemakers who have gone before us, and left a legacy for today's collector to follow").

From November 13 to 26 we offer 20% off these three books.
Ideal Christmas presents.

Colin Wesley
November 6 to November 19, 2003

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

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No 77 - November 20, 2003
Learning through Experience

I once read a quote by a great educationist along the lines of - whatever can be read about doesn't need to be taught.
To really learn something, you have to do something.

In this case, as I have written previously, a cigar smoker needs to experience cigars of different lengths, ringsizes, tastes and strengths.

So following on my suggestion in my last "Across the Counter" article, that to "expand your knowledge and understanding of your pleasure of tobacco" you read a good tobacco book over the festive season, I suggest you go even further - experiment!
To make it easy for you to start experimenting we have put together four selections in glass tubes at exceptional prices. Each selection includes a leaflet describing the cigars.
They're available now - until they are sold out.
Try the selection that appeals to you, or try them all over a period. If you miss out on one now, watch the website or visit the shops - every month there's something good to try.

The International Selection in an oak Travel Case has been compiled to enable you to experience different flavours (cigars from different countries and different sizes in the same flavour). I tend to smoke different types on different occasions.



Petit Corona 127mm x Ring 38
Corona 150mm x Ring 42
Corona 142mm x Ring 42
Petit Corona 129mm x Ring 42
Half Corona 102mm x Ring 40

Macanudo Robust
P G C Hajenius Grande Finale No.1
Juan Lopez Corona
Hoyo de Monterrey: Le Hoyo du Prince
Romeo y Julieta Petit Princess
R375.00 (Normal price for the 5 cigars R424.00)

Corona Selection -These are cigars I'd take with me on holiday - to smoke each evening under the stars. I'd save the creamy, easy burning Hajenius to complement a lighter meal.


Royal Corona 165mm x Ring 42
Royal Corona 165mm x Ring 42
Corona 150mm x Ring 42

Romeo y Julieta Cedros de luxe No.1
Rafael Gonzalez Lonsdale
P G C Hajenius Grande Finale No.2
R200.00 (Normal price R350.00)

Dinner Selection - Enjoy your own cigar dinner - wake up your taste buds with the mellow Hajenius, increase the taste with the full-bodied Punch, and round off the evening with the great Pyramid. 54 of us did at The Grillhouse in October, 2003.


Senorita 120mm x Ring 32
Petit Corona 129mm x Ring 42
Pyramid 156mm x Ring 52

P G C Hajenius Panalitos
Punch - Royal Selection No.12
H.Upmann No.2 Pyramid
R185.00 (Normal price R266.00)

Weekend Selection - I'd smoke the Churchill watching sport on Saturday or Sunday afternoon; the rich Hoyo after a good dinner, and the lighter Juan Lopez after a simple supper or lunch. You smoke them to suit your lifestyle. Enjoy them!


Petit Corona 129mm x Ring 42
Corona 142mm x Ring 42
Churchill 178mm x Ring 47

Hoyo de Monterrey - Le Hoyo du Prince
Juan Lopez Corona
Romeo y Julieta Churchill
or Quai D'Orsay Imperiales.
or San Cristobal El Morro (Ringsize 49)
R225.00 (Normal Price R364.50)

Go for it!

Colin Wesley
November 20 to December 3, 2003

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

Enter the free Sweepstake Draw right now and maybe win
the International Selection in a Travel Case

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No 78 - December 4, 2003

Pipes with character

To-day the name conjures up images of pipe shapes that are both classic and just off-classic - in fact Danish.But the name was first chosen because it sounded English, and English made pipes were in great demand in Europe in 1942.

But the name was first chosen because it sounded English, and English made pipes were in great demand in Europe in 1942.

Stanwell, as a company, has always been inventive and innovative.
They pioneered the use of a metal template from which four bowls could be turned simultaneously. The Danish carver Sixten Ivarsson (now considered the father of modern pipemaking) was commissioned to create new shapes capturing the spirit of the "Freeform" movement.
Each shape was registered.
Each shape was perfect and true to the vision of its creator.
Suddenly "Freeform" pipes were affordable to a larger pool of Pipesmokers.

Stanwell was again amongst the front runners when the new acrylic mouthpieces were introduced. These do not discolour or become bitter tasting through excessive exposure to moisture, from either the mouth or a humid atmosphere. Stanwell developed their own version - fitted with Delrin tenons which are less likely to break, especially when the pipe is dropped. The tenons accommodate optional 9mm filters - charcoal from Stanwell.
NB If you don't use the filter - use the adapter!!

Today Stanwell is the major pipe manufacturer in Denmark, producing over 100,000 pipes per year, exported to all the corners of the earth. The company still enjoys relationships with the most talented craftsmen in Denmark to produce new shapes. Over the years more than 200 shapes have been discontinued - the current range of 75 shapes (both traditional and modern) includes the best of the past and the inspiration of the present, and each shape has its own distinctive character.

Three new shapes were introduced this year, and we chose two - numbers 232 and 234 - to add to our range.
Bent shape 232 has a flattened base, and sits like a rocking chair.

This year you still have the opportunity of adding one of these fine Stanwell pipes to your collection. From December 11 to 24 all Stanwell pipes, including the Speciality Shapes will be offered at 25% off the normal retail price.

Be bold - select something different.

Colin Wesley
December 4 to December 17, 2003

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

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