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No.405 June 1-14, 2017

Savinelli – a perfectionist

But let’s not let “perfect” get in the way of “good” when it comes to the finish of the pipe.

In “The Manufacture of Briar pipes” we briefly describe the processes involved.
The most important was the curing and drying – if this is not done properly and carefully, the resultant pipe is unlikely to be “good”.
With Savinelli this is a given.

Then comes the turning, sorting, boring bowl and shank, mouthpiece, and finally the finishing of the outside of the bowl: Staining and polishing - to reveal and display the intrinsic beauty of the briar.
(Approximately 70 steps to complete the perfect pipe: see the video “Factory and Production phases”)

Staining accentuates the natural grain.
Hand-polishing – as often as is needed to bring out the beauty of the briar.But staining is difficult due to the hardness of the wood and has to be done by hand.
Alcohol-based aniline dyes are normally used, followed by a drying process to give
the pipe a hard permanent finish – more handwork!    
Finally hand-polishing – as often as is needed to bring out the beauty of the briar.
A suitable grain may lead to the expensive sandblast processing – again all by hand.
These are where the extra costs are involved – the costs of labour.
Only the highest quality, flawless bowls can justify an extended finishing process – to give a perfect pipe.
And this is what Savinelli looks for.

But the majority of bowls are simply not “perfect”.
Bowls with few (or many) surface flaws or imperfections.
And the briar is still “good”, well-treated, and capable of giving an excellent smoke.
How to make the best of these in the most cost-effective way?
They can be rusticated, like the Espresso, Joker, Dolomiti, Venere, or the St Nicholas, followed by staining and polishing;
Or a slightly darker stain can be used as in the Siena or the Menta – more hand-polishing required.

Or the hand-work can be reduced by finishing with minimum staining and a light coat of neutral-tasting varnish.
And this is the method Savinelli chose to use for the finish
on the Original Satin Capitol Dry Systems you have come to know and trust.
Perhaps not Savinelli’s vision of perfection, but a very good smoke all the same.

If the pipe is smoked too hot, the varnish may bubble, but this is easy to fixIf the pipe is smoked too hot, the varnish may bubbleThe downside: 
If the pipe is smoked too hot, the varnish may bubble, spoiling the appearance of your pipe.
This is easy to fix, we simply remove the surface coat, buff the bowl, and the pipe looks better than when it was new (we think).
But it is still a disappointment when your new pipe ends up this way.

We discussed this with Savinelli during our visit in February 2017.
We pointed out that because the quality of his briar is so good – there is no need to try to hide the odd surface flaw.
And because we’d had experience with finishing the completely natural Savinelli Grezze pipes we carry, we asked would they consider simply giving the bowls minimum staining and buffing.

Savinelli Dry System “Chiara” finishAnd so the new Savinelli Dry System “Chiara” finish was born.
The pipes have arrived, and we are delighted
with the resulting “Chiara” smooth, autumn-gold finish.
The colour varies according to how well the briar absorbed the stain, yet they are all lovely.

Even better ……

From 8 – 21 June, 2017, we offer
25% off Savinelli Dry System pipes
Finishes: Black Rustic, original Satin and
the new Chiara finish.

The new finish is revealing, not concealing - you can see exactly what you are buying.
And it’s good!

Colin Wesley
No.405 June 1-14, 2017

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No.406 June 8 -28, 2017

Father’s Day Decisions: Notes for the family
(Suggestion: Print or leave the webpage open)

Whenever a man takes up the hobby of Pipes or Cigars I remind him that from that moment on he will have to buy his own ties and socks for Birthday, Christmas and Father’s Day.

It’s not just that his family will give him a pipe or cigar for each event.
It’s that the hobby opens up a whole new range of necessary paraphernalia surrounding it.
And it’s good to share his hobby with the Father in your life.

So with Father’s Day looming large on Sunday June 18 what are some of these options?
I have been offering some thoughts across the counter – here they are for you.

For the cigar smoker:

Robusto Varies Cigar SelectionWhat better way to spend the relaxing afternoon or evening than trying out and comparing different cigars: blends, sizes.
Our 3-pack selections include full description of the cigars, and what we are offering in the way of comparisons. Priced from R135.00.

Does he have a cigar cutter for out-and-about that won’t matter if it is lost?
Basic cutters prices from R49.50
But he’d really enjoy having a top quality Cutter (or Scissors, or Punch) for his special cigar-smoking place.
Does he know about the Dunhill White Spot Cutter with surgical steel blades?
Such a pleasure to use a fine instrument.

customised cigar ashtrayAnd what happens to the ash when he is at ease with his cigar?
A customised cigar ashtray keeps the cigar burning evenly when he puts it down, and prevents a mess from the ash.

Sometimes away from his favourite cigar nook?
He will need to carry his cigars safely – in a cigar case.  For real elegance see the Dunhill White Spot cases.
And he may not have the correct ashtray! A cigar rest turns any receptacle into a cigar ashtray.

How easy does he find it to light his cigar?
Indoors – Thicker matches offer such an intimate experience as he watches the glow gradually take hold.
Outdoors – something stronger needed here – the Turbo (jet) cigar lighters will withstand almost any weather conditions

He’s still keeping his cigars in a Tupperware???

There is such a variety of beautiful boxes – Humidors to keep his cigars safe, which will grace the room while they’re about it.

You can find something really special in the Dunhill White Spot range of Humidors.

For the pipe smoker:

Are his pipes lying around in a drawer or on a desk?
Pipe rack
Do you think he might like having them neatly arranged on a pipe stand – and airing properly at the same time?

What does he do with his pipe when he needs to put it down, in between smokes or when he has finished?

Ash on the desk or the work bench??
A customised pipe ashtrayA customised pipe ashtray will hold all
the ash, and rest his pipe safely away from a leftover piece of burning tobacco.

Pipe Ashtray and Rest
What about a combination which will cover the ash until the ashtray is cleaned?

He already has a favourite large ashtray.
Customise it for him with a pipe rest and cork knocker.

He will no doubt take his pipes away with him – business Dunhill The White Spot companion tobacco pouchtrip or the odd weekend?
For a short trip a companion tobacco pouch will carry tobacco, pipe, cleaners, tool - everything he needs. Available in soft synthetic or fine leather.
And the ultimate comes from Dunhill The White Spot.   

Carry case for 2 – 4 pipes

A longer trip may require a carry case for 2 – 4 pipes; plus of course all the other essential paraphernalia.



The Father in your life is a DIY man?
He would enjoy cleaning and polishing to restore his pipes to their original glory.
Dunhill White Spot Pipe Care KitThe Dunhill White Spot Pipe Care Kit has everything he would need – including a silicone cloth which doubles as a lubricating cloth for the peg/shank join. R210.00
Individual cleaning polishes and fluids are also available.

The Father in your life is NOT a DIY man?
You could consider having his pipes Refurbished – contributing to his renewed enjoyment of his old favourites which may have gone a bit sour.

Maybe he is just starting out?
Savinelli Dry System PipesIntroduce him to the Savinelli Dry System – 3 stunning finishes
on Special now at less 25%
Read why.
Maybe he needs a new pipe? 
Same story – he’ll appreciate it.

How easy does he find it to light his pipe?
Thicker matches offer such a peaceful experience as he watches the glow gradually develop.
A butane  lighter with directional flame might assist.

And so to a special offer in honour of Father’s Day
– something he will keep with him and use often …….. ………..

From now to 28 June, 2017, we offer
15% off Dunhill Cigar Cases
25% off all other Cigar cases
(Normal prices from R395.00)
15% off Dunhill Pouches
25% off all other Pipe Pouches and Carry Bags

(Normal prices from R135.00)

Whether his hobby is Pipes or Cigars or both, he will feel appreciated and exceptional when you show you know how much he enjoys his hobby.

Colin Wesley
No.406 June 8 -28, 2017

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


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No.407 June 29 – July 12, 2017

Marca Smoking Pipes
The Story of a Winner

The name originated in 2009 when we were about to place a large order for specific pipes in shapes and prices selected by us.
Our thoughts were, since the pipes were to be made in Italy, the name should be Italian - not Wesley’s nor any other personal name.
In an Italian dictionary we found the word “marca” which loosely translates into the English word “brand”.
Perfect – it was neutral and easy to pronounce.
That was it.

But why were we going to all the trouble looking for specific pipes at specific prices.

Most pipe manufacturers in Europe have similar cost structures which are reflected in the eventual retail prices. But there were gaps in the ranges of prices on offer.
In trade magazines, mainly from the US, we had seen pipes retailing at other very attractive prices – pipes with names not found in the general run of brands available.
Who was making them?
How could we find them?
From American trade friends back in the 1970s we had been given the name of an Italian company that made own brand name pipes, but their minimum quality was 100 dozen.
At the time we didn’t bother them, and now we couldn’t remember their name.

As luck would have it the company had sold in the 1960s large quantities of pipes to 2 companies in South Africa, both now extinct.
Through the grapevine they had heard of us, and we met in Dortmund in 2005.
The 100dozen minimum still applied, but as a trial order we could split it up over 3 series of pipes – which we did.

2005    Our first shipment: Mignon; Parma; Portofino (not the exact shape we had ordered).
No comebacks, only compliments.
2009    The decision to brand the new range of pipes “Marca”. We chose a 6mm bent pipe (saddle or taper,
smooth or sandblast) to fill the price gap in filter pipes between Lorenzo and Savinelli and Stanwell.
The Marca 6 arrived.
2011    Repeat 2005 order, now branded Marca: Marca Parma, Marca Mignon, Marca Sport (was Portofino).
2012    We really needed a System pipe – a pipe with a built-in sump to trap the moisture, especially good for
new pipe smokers.
Such a system was first started by Kapp & Peterson around 1905, and improved on by Savinelli in the
1980s, becoming the backbone of our pipe sales. But over the years the prices had increased both at
factory level and due to our exchange rate – making them expensive as a first pipe for a new pipe
Our confidence in the company had grown - we sat down with our Italian friends to discuss the
possibility of a Marca Dry. They didn’t have a “sump pipe” in their range, so there were technical problems as well as the difficulty of fitting the production into their normal busy programme.
It would take time.
It did!
2015    The Marca Dry pipes arrived in January. We were delighted – even better than expected. And, despite
the exchange rate, the retail price worked out to be over a third less than the other system pipes.
2016    Arrival of another “gap filler”, a medium-small pocket pipe with 6mm filter option – the Marca Snug
Plus some more Marca Mignon pipes – always in demand.

2017    The price of cigars and cigarettes rises again –pipe smoking becomes the most economical way of
enjoying tobacco. 
Pipe smokers, and aspiring pipe smokers, aim for cool, dry smoking – a system pipe is a good start.
The Marca Dry is the most economical system pipe – offering a step in the right direction.

Even more economical with our next special ………

From 6 – 19 July, 2017,
25% off Marca Dry pipes – you pay only R637.50 including Vat
6 shape options in 2 finishes

Use the opportunity to see why this tried and tested system has been so successful.

Colin Wesley
No.407 June 29 – July 12, 2017

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


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No.408 June 8 -28, 2017

How is this to make you think!

Part of the reason I like spending time in my shop is that I meet interesting people.
People who might say something interesting, or even do something interesting, right there in my shop.

On a recent Saturday, through an interpreter, a man bought two pipes, a nice Strambach Meerschaum and a Marca Snug. After testing the bowl capacity of the Snug with his thumb he took out of his pocket a tubed Romeo y Julieta No 3. The cigar had already been partly smoked as I could see when he turned it burnt end up and pushed it into the bowl of the Snug. It was obviously a good fit as he smiled, nodded, and approved the pipe.

Through the interpreter I wasn’t able to ask the question burning in my mind – why?
In a quiet moment after the party had left my shop I started to think about what he had done.

At what stage would he insert the cigar into the pipe?
After opening up the head, before lighting it up?
Surely not – he would miss the period of anticipation as the cigar is rotated above the flame, ready for the first delicate draw and the puff across the glowing foot to check that the whole surface was slight.
No, it would have to be further into the smoke.
Let’s look at the stages.

The first third should be when the cigar smokes at its mildest. The body of the cigar is still fresh and clean of the smoke that will be drawn through it – then there is the feel of the cigar as you roll it round in your fingers and the gentle pressure on the lips as you draw on the cigar.
Could this be compared with holding a pipe in your hand staring straight at the cigar burning vertically right in your face? 
I don’t think so.

Similarly through the second third of the cigar when the taste is developing nicely, filling your mouth with warm flavourful smoke to be slowly puffed out, without inhaling it.
Can a pipe match this period?

So we come to the third section of the cigar – the bitter end (pun intended).
By this stage the taste has been fully developed and your taste buds will be pretty well saturated/exhausted. 
Enjoy the last few draws, accept the bitterness as the signal to put the cigar down to rest and go out in its own sweet time, no tamping.

I think this may be where the answer to the “burning question” lies.
I think this is what my customer might do:
He would keep the “bitter” end, let it dry out and at a later stage bring the pipe into play.
Trim the burnt end off the cigar, place it neatly in the bowl, light it up and sit back with a bowl full of rich tasting cigar tobacco to smoke and enjoy.
Waste not want not!!
Might be a good idea.
What do you think?

To digress – but even more important:
I have been reminded that, despite the odd few drops of rain we have had in Johannesburg, and because of the continuing dryness in the Cape, the condition of your stored cigars might be at risk.
One of the most reliable of the humidity control systems uses the Nano Bead technology.

How it works:
The Humidifier is filled with non-toxic humidity control beads. The beads have the property of maintaining at around 70% the ambient relative humidity (RH) in your humidor (or any re-sealable container eg plastic bag, Tupperware).  

Relative Humidity is a function of temperature – it is the amount of water vapour in the air compared with the amount required to saturate the air at that temperature.
At 70°F (21°C), 70% is considered to be the ideal relative humidity in which to store your cigars.

We stock the CIGAR brand humidifier brand.
Bead Humidifier 10-25 cigars                73-J5501 R170.00
Bead Humidifier 20 cigars                     73-J5511 R185.00
Bead Humidifier 25-50 cigars                73-J5521 R245.00
Bead Humidifier up to 100 cigars          73-J5531 R375.00

From July 20 – August 2, 2017
Less 25% on the CIGAR brand humidifier Humidifiers with “nano” bead technology

Other alternatives are the Dunhill Humidity Control System, or the Savinelli Surface Active Liquid which can be applied to any pad-type humidifier.

Back to Cigars and Pipe.
Maybe it isn’t necessary, or even the most satisfying, to save your cigar stubs for your pipe.
A really good idea is to have a pipe and tobacco handy for when you just might feel like a smoke but it doesn’t warrant the expense of a good cigar - possibly one of these “on your own” smokes.

Colin Wesley
No.408 July 13-26, 2017

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


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No.409 July 27 – August 9, 2017

Estate pipes – at last

So what’s the big deal about Estate or Refurbished pipes?

The following quote, which we have used before, sums up exactly what these pipes are:
“A Refurbished Estate Pipe is just a pre-smoked pipe.
Because they’re used, all these pipes are likely to sport a few small dings, a few teeth marks, bowl edges slightly out of round, etc. – but in most cases their condition is the same as a new pipe after a few smokes.
The beauty of these pipes is that you can buy a gorgeous, brand name pipe with history, for much less than a new pipe!”

The pipes which have been smoked have been sterilised, cleaned and polished to restore their mature, dignified, appearance; ready to give many hours of good smoking to their new owners.
Those unsmoked pipes have been lightly buffed up and given a good rub with a Dunhill silicone cloth which leaves an invisible film of protective wax over the whole pipe, bowl and mouthpiece.
Most of these fine pipes are pre-Teflon peg pipes, with no stem filters.
If this is of concern use “bowl filters”.

The collection will be on our website from August 3, 2017.
Make sure you are on our database – go now to Sweepstakes Entry to submit your details.
Because if you are, we will email you a link for a special preview from 1 August.

What will you find in this collection?
For me the real gems are the Danish Freeform pipes, all from the 1960s/70s, and mostly unsmoked.
Danish Freeform pipes took the pipe world by storm at that time, and the names Larsen, Kriswill and Preben Holm were leaders in this field. There is also an early “Son” pipe – by Erik Nording.
The French pipe maker Courrieu is new to me and I must say that I admired the handiwork and like the look of the briar. His location is near St. Tropez, not in St Claude in the Jura (heart of the French pipe making industry). This must have opened up his talent to the tourist trade through the south coast of France.

Other odd pipes are a rare Turkish Saxophone Meerschaum, a Mattner Calabash, and two old Stanwell pipes. As usual the more classic pipes are headed up by nine Dunhill “White Spot” pipes; some unsmoked and some with replacement mouthpieces.

Pipes from Charatan, Savinelli, Peterson, and Willie Mattner are all there, but won’t be there for long.

The pipes are all in Johannesburg Head Office, available through any Wesley’s shop via an email request direct to head office
Or buy online through the website.
An email, or online order, for delivery or collection may be the quickest and most certain way to receive your choice.

You are not in the market for any additional pipes!
What about having one, or two, old favourites spruced up and sweetened through your nearest Wesley’s, or sent directly to us at Box 52466, Saxonwold 2132.
You may not recognise them when you get them back, but the taste, and feel, will bring a smile to your face.

You are a DIY person here’s how: step-by-step instructions.

Colin Wesley
No.409 July 27 – August 9, 2017

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