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No.440 October 25, 2018

Savinelli – the perfectionist pipe maker in Italy
– always consistent

Consistency seems to be a popular buzzword in many industries these days.
And I suppose this is not surprising. Since more and more industries use artificial components being put together in a prescribed way by mechanical robots, absolute consistency can be expected. There is no tolerance for any inconsistency anywhere in the components, or in the processes of manufacture.

But how much “consistency” can be expected if the basic materials are natural products of nature, and the bulk of the work done to determine the finished product is completed by human hands.
Last year in article 403 (May 4-17) we took this question and applied it to the pipes from Savinelli – the perfectionist pipe maker in Italy.

They continue to be consistent in the pipes they produce each year - pipes that not only smoke well but look and feel good as well.
And being innovative, they create new finishes and styles to delight the pipesmoker.

This year is no exception.
When we visited their offices in May we were spoilt for choice by what they offered us.
Being prudent, which is not always easy, we made our selection from the ranges they had offered at special “show” prices from February.
We’re passing on to you this saving, and more.“Il Fuoco” - painting by Giuseppe Arcimboldo

Below are two of our choices:

The painting “Il Fuoco” by Giuseppe Arcimboldo inspired a new range
The Italian painter is best known for creating imaginative portrait heads made entirely of objects related to the subject of the particular painting, in this case fire.

Savinelli Fuoco (Fire)
Savinelli has created three finishes based on “Il Fuoco”, we have selected two, with 6mm option.
They feature on the shank a polished aluminium band, in two steps, with a tapered mouthpiece.

Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna

Fuoco (Fire) Rusticated
Savinelli created for this series a new type of rustication
It is fairly shallow with smooth highlights and with beautiful colour contrasts hinting of glowing embers.
6 shapes – 4 Kingsize, 2 Regular
54-SavFireRusK         Normal Price R2300.00          Special Price R1725.00
54-SavFireRusR          Normal Price R2200.00          Special Price R1650.00

Fuoco (Fire) Deep Brown Smooth finish
The smooth deep brown finish is obtained using only natural pigment.
The grain is only partly concealed, showing through like glimpses of flames in the dark.
6 shapes – 2 Kingsize, 4 Regular
54-SavFireSmK          Normal Price R2500.00          Special Price R1875.00
54-SavFireRusR          Normal Price R2400.00          Special Price R1800.00

Another new concept that caught our eye is the extraordinary

Savinelli Mega -  in truly extraordinaire size shapes
A very large ring-carved brown pipe, with the constant colour enhanced by a silver-type ring.
The marbled brown acrylic 6mm mouthpiece suits this brown ring-carved finish perfectly.
The thick, robust mouthpieces are shorter than usual - complementing the shapes, and increasing the lightness in the mouth.
As one expects from Savinelli the pipes are consistently light for their size, showing the quality of the curing.
Available in two ‘Ex’ shapes.
54-SavMega    Normal Price R2500.00          Special Price R1875.00

The pipes we ordered have arrived.
We’re still excited about them, and we’d like to share this with you.
So, in addition to the special prices we offer for 2 weeks only …

From 1-14 November, 2018
 Extra 15% off the new Savinelli ranges:
Fuoco (Fire) and Mega
Plus free shipping to major centres - subsidised shipping to rural areas.

Experience the pleasure of choosing pipes of different colours and finishes, while being able to rely on the Savinelli commitment to consistent style and quality.

Colin Wesley

No.440 October 25 to November 7, 2018

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No.441 November 8, 2018

Year-End Cigars

We are now into the last 53 days of 2018.
If history is to repeat itself, as it so often does, we are in for the usual seasonal bag of tricks, trying to balance the workplace and business functions with the social whirl of family and friends festivities.
For the lucky ones there may even be a few days of “do what you like” holidays.

It’s time to take a serious look at your cigar selection to see you through this extra busy season.
Are you prepared Cigarwise between now and 2019 to take advantage of those expected and unexpected times to enjoy a smoke with friends or by yourself with a glass, or a coffee, or just with your thoughts?
So what are we looking for?

Variety with quality.

10 to 15 minutes – a good 100% pure tobacco cheroot from the Balmoral range, or from the revitalised, undusted, Ritmeester selection.
Something a little more spicy? Have you tried the Cuban Cohiba “Short” small cigar? Its extra thickness makes room for a little more tobacco to add taste and body to the smoke.

Sorry to say that we lost our Belgian contact who has emigrated to the Dominican Republic. But after the latest Inter Tabac trade show we do have a probable successor for 2019.

15 to 45 minutes – we still have some De Hertogh Petit Corona in packs of 3, or singles.
This time frame is also perfect for a classic Cuban half Corona – H.Upmann, Montecristo No 5,
Romeo y Julieta No 3 or Cohiba Siglo No 1.
Something short and thick? The original Petit Robusto from Hoyo de Monterry, Romeo y Julieta Petit Churchill, Montecristo Petit No 2 (pyramide), Partagas Serie D No 5 or No 6.
The luxurious Cohiba Medio Siglo; or the classic non-Cuban “Nub” from Oliva.

45 minutes or more (serious stuff).
Choose from the wide range of Robustos available in a variety of strengths and tastes from different countries.
Something different from your Cuban Partagas Serie D No 4, Romeo y Julieta Wide Churchill or Hoyo Epicure No 2? Try the Montecristo “Open” Master, Regata or Eagle – designed for the Golf course or any other open air opportunity.
Non Cuban – look at our wrapper selection for a start then follow the path of Connecticut for mildness, Cameroon/Sumatra for medium strength, and Maduro for boldness with a hint of natural sweetness.

I think I have made my point – you will need a variety of different cigars to survive this period with a smile.
Be adventurous, try something different.
Look at more Wesley’s “Fine Cigar Selections” for new ideas.
Many of the cigars are available in smaller “Handy Packs”.
Most of the cigars in these Selections and Handy Packs can be bought separately.

Our cigar find of 2018.
Hedon – the French Aristocrat, a Puro using seed specially adapted to the terroir. The filler, binder and wrapper are all from Pau in the South West of France, originally part of the Kingdom of Navarre.
The plants have adapted to the French soil producing great cigars, put together with typical French style and passion.
Presented appropriately in French boxes of 10, or singly in glass tubes.
Hedon - the perfect new cigar for the New year.

And for the season, both for the novice and the old hand cigar smoker, we offer:

From 15-28 November, 2018
20% off
The Ultimate Cigar Book, 4th Edition; R499.30
25% off any Cigar Ashtray
Normal prices from R175.00

Preparing the range of cigars you have available, will ensure that you have a cigar to offer to your cigar smoking friends both casual and serious; and something really special for yourself to savour on your own.You deserve it.

Colin Wesley

No.441 November 8–21, 2018

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


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No.442 December 5, 2018

Nording | Nording Pipes Denmark | Eriksen Keystone Smoking pipes | Danish Smoling pipes | Erik Nording

Pipes are extraordinary.

How does he do it?

The more I think about the Nording pipes the more I see in them that Erik is not just an artist in the normal meaning of the word.
He is a practical man with a real understanding of what pipe making is all about – producing a product that will burn tobacco and give a cool dry smoke.
As a business man it is how, and from what, do you produce this product in volumes that make it affordable to the average pipe smoker.
In other blogs we have looked at the ingenuity of Lorenzo and Savinelli to see how they manage this.

Now let’s look at the Nording pipes.
In the early days of pipesmoking the pipe might have been made entirely of Clay or a hollowed out corncob or piece of wood, fitted with a hollow reed, or straw, to draw the smoke into the mouth – crude but effective.
Over a period of time and almost by accident Briar/Bruyere was settled on as the best wood for pipe making.
But Briar is expensive, and being a natural product it is not immune to concealed faults.
This is where Erik’s engineering background benefits him.

The Nording Eriksen Keystone pipe – always in stock
The Briar bowl is medium to small in size. This is fine because there will be no wasted, soggy, tobacco in the bottom of the bowl – since there is no shank to the bowl Erik possibly uses ebauchons that have too many flaws to make a normal pipe with a shank. A definite saving.
The bowl fits snugly into the synthetic frame. The fit is made airtight by the rubber washer stretched into the groomed ring towards the bottom of the bowl.
Other models of this type screw the bowl into the cup of the metal frame. This requires turning threads onto the foot of the wooden bowl and onto the inside of the cup of the frame. These are delicate operations, and then prone to wear and tear, leading to being ineffective in keeping the fit airtight.
The rubber washer (O-ring) on the Eriksen Keystone can easily be replaced when necessary.

The cup of the frame is designed to hold several Keystone lava pellets, to “mop up” excess moisture, allowing the cool dry smoke to flow through into the mouth.
The synthetic material of the frame does not absorb moisture, so any moisture going from the mouth drains into the cup or is cleaned out of the frame with a pipe cleaner. The odd burst of Pipe Spray will help.
All-in-all a very effective, efficient, economical pipe, reflected in the retail price R680.90.
Spare bowls can be bought at R484.20.

The Compass Pipe new this year
Described by Erik as a Danish interpretation of a poker pipe, he combines quality briar with an anodised metal shank and a fishtail mouthpiece for comfort.
As with the Keystone pipes the shankless bowl probably allows Erik to use every piece of the ebauchon – no wastage.
The narrow 17mm diameter of the chimney bowl prevents the burn from becoming too fast, spoiling the quality of the smoke. Very good for outdoors.
Two or three Lava pellets will prevent any dottle forming in the bottom of the chamber.
It can be kept clean very easily with a pipe cleaner and the odd burst of the pipe spray.
The smooth bowls all show good hard wood and no apparent surface flaws.
The rustification is delicate and soft in the hand.
One look at the briar on the smooth pipe will show you the quality – you just can’t get a full briar pipe of this quality anywhere near the price.
Definitely worth the prices of R995.00 (rustic) and R1295.00 (smooth)

The Shorty Pipeback in stock
The absences of any Briar or any other “natural” element in this functionally efficient pipe except for the Lava pellets are reflected in the retail price. Erik must own, or have a very friendly, ceramic works nearby to produce this pipe so economically.
As he says it’s a nice little pipe to smoke among friends.

The Freehand Pipes – new arrivals, Harmony and Signature
Erik Nørding started making his Freehand pipes in the 1960s.

Plateau wood used for the Freehand PipesHe uses only plateau wood for the Freehand Pipes. It is the outer part of the briar block where you find the most beautiful texture and grains.
These special pipes require a lot of highly skilled handwork so the economics are not easy to find – but there are a few I can see.
Firstly the groundwork forming the outline of the overall size and shape, and the inner bowl and shank, will probably be done on templates.
Then, when carving a freehand pipe he tries as much as possible to follow the grain, making creative choices when he has to deal with natural defects within the wood.
Making the most of the briar, reducing wastage!

The mouthpieces are basically all peg fitting, with no Teflon filter options. They are also very much the same in design, with maybe a variation in the degree of the bend – economy of scale.
And if my memory from the 1970s serves me right, they are polished by tumbling them for many hours in a large horizontal drum with some abrasive element - before coming out bright and shiny.
Not tediously done one by one by hand.
The black mouthpieces on the brown Harmony pipes are an exception, offering a 9mm option.

You know, every time I think or talk about Nording I am filled with admiration – and here is your chance to admire the finished products.

From 29 November to 12 December, 2018
25% off the normal price of all
Nording Pipes

Take this opportunity to find out for yourself why our other customers are enjoying the Nording pipes.

Colin Wesley

No.442  November 22 - December 5, 2018

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No.443 December 6, 2018

Wrapping up 2018

This is our last “Across the Counter” blog for 2018.
As usual it is addressed to both our Pipe Smokers and Cigar Smokers - two pillars of strength to the overall Wesley’s business.

What did we have to say to the “pillars” during 2018 to bring more meaning and enjoyment to their hobby or pastime?

Pipe Smokers

We started the year off with a blog on “Creating a Tobacco Blend”.
This provided an insight to the background of the new Peterson, Dunhill and other big brands of pipe tobaccos.
Unfortunately the last of these available in South Africa were the Peterson tobaccos – sold to Scandinavian Tobacco Group in July 2018. The word is that they are unlikely to be available in South Africa for some time.
Fortunately we had also introduced four of these “Modern” blends into our range of Houseblends (No 43, 46, 47, 55), It is clearly the time to acquaint yourself with the results of our careful blending.  
And maybe to try one of our “Taster Packs” in the holidays – our Houseblends have definite price advantages over the equivalent imported brands. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Between February, March and April we looked at a change of taste via a Corncob, Clay or Meerschaum pipe, all still available.  And we considered the variety of pipe shapes and sizes available: the straight pipe, the Churchwarden, smaller pipes, the Vest Pocket pipe – all suitable for specific occasions and moods.

You were familiarised with the complications and problems of the big brand pipes – how to make the best use of the assorted ebauchons in a first grade bag of maybe 1000 blocks.
Savinelli, Stanwell - each has its own solutions.
Nording, Marca and Lorenzo also have solutions that result in keeping the prices relatively low while offering very good value and an enjoyable smoke.

In August we were able to put the Lorenzo “Filtro” pipes back on sale – all with new replacement mouthpieces. We offer a 15% discount to compensate for the very small misfit between the outer diameter of the shank and the replacement mouthpiece on many of the pipes.
They have been well accepted and have been trouble free.
Worth looking at as a take away holiday pipe.

Although they are nearly all sold out, there are still a few excellent buys left in the selection of refurbished pipes, available online or through any Wesley’s Shop.
Or you can look forward to our next selection in about April 2019.

To finish the year we will offer you the opportunity to replenish, or add to, your pipe collection one of the best value pipes around.

Marca from our chosen factory which offers excellent value through economies of scale.

To summarise the factory philosophy for pipe making:
“By having cost-efficient production runs, with 2 or 3 grades of finishes included, they can produce better value for money pipes than most other pipe manufacturers.”

Working together we have developed a spread of shapes to satisfy most pipe smokers:
The Marca Drya true system pipe in 3 models and 2 finishes, all have Teflon pegs with 6mm option, at half the price of the Peterson System for example.
The Marca Duoa beautiful long Churchwarden, ideal for watching television or reading, with an extra shorter mouthpiece if you need to take it away from home.
The Marca Snuga compact pocket pipe, the only small-bowled pipe which offers a Teflon peg with 6mm option; 2 shapes, 3 finishes.
The Marca Mignonan elegant 10 minute “mini churchwarden”; perfect for a short smoke, perfect for ladies; 3 shapes, 3 finishes.

We have been working with the factory that produces our Marca pipes since 2005, and in these 13 years we haven’t had a single faulty bowl. Not many brands can boast of this.

25% off the prices of  pipes

Marca Dry A true system pipe, 3 models, 2 finishes
Normally R655.70

Marca Duo Churchwarden with 2 mouthpiece options
Normally from R801.95

Marca Snug Compact pocket pipe with 6mm option
Normally from R595.15

Marca Mignon Elegant 10 minute pipe
Normally from R393.40

From 13 December 2018 to 16 January 2019

Cigar Smokers

We started off the year on a high note.
We were able to secure 9 of the Top 25 Cigar Aficionado cigars from 2017.

These were well appreciated and we shall try to repeat the exercise for 2018 winners in 2019.
Through the Internet and Cigar Insider we were able to find more and more facts and stories about the inside world of Cuban and other premium cigars.

In March we revealed the most plausible origin of the simple cigar band.
Well done Gustave Bock

We looked in a blog at the passion for farming of the Cuban refugees and the desire for harmony in the creation of great cigars. How, because farming in the USA was too expensive, those whose plantations had been confiscated opened up to tobacco growing more and more of the Caribbean, and other countries with similar climatic and soil conditions to Cuba – Nicaragua, Honduras, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Cameroon, Ecuador.
Eventually this led to the proliferation of cigar brands and flavours available on the US market, the largest supplier being the Nicaraguan companies. In 2018 Nicaragua has shipped 148 million cigars to the US, 45 percent of the 330 million shipped this year,
In November 2018, President Trump announced sanctions against certain officials of Nicaragua prohibiting them from conducting any business with USA. At the moment this should not affect sales of Nicaraguan cigars to the US.
And now the French Puro “Hedon” has arrived in South Africa – created with passion and care.

We wrote about the current sophistication of the cigar tobacco industry in Cuba and its control by the Cuban Tobacco Institute, with a list of Did you Knows

For new cigar smokers there was advice on selecting a cigar, cutting it, lighting it up and smoking it.
We followed this with some dos and don’ts in the practice and etiquette of cigar smoking.
I passed on a variety of tips I found when browsing, tips which could increase your cigar smoking pleasure.

You might like to browse too:
Tips; More Cigar Tips.

Something more you need to think about – every time you open your storage humidor you are disturbing the climate around your cigars.
Think about this: Keep a few cigars on hand, separate from the cigars ageing undisturbed in larger humidors.

We offer three desk humidors for around 10-15 cigars.

25% off these 3 compact cigar humidors:

73-J0155 Leather covered desk Humidor, Normally R958.30
73-J0061 Burl finish desk Humidor
with scissors, Normally R2115.00

73-J9182 Burl finish desk Humidor Set with Glass panel (includes ashtray) Normally, R2995.00

From 13 December 2018 to 16 January 2019

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

No.443 December 6, 2018

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


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No.444 January 10, 2019

The English Influence

Britain has recently had more than its fair share of World News, some positive, some negative, depending on whether you want to be connected or not.

This conflict of interest regarding Britain is not new.

In February 2003 we looked at the influence of Britain on Cuba, especially the Cuban cigar industry, when Britain occupied Cuba for just one year 1762-1763.
This was the last year of the seven year war waged between England, Spain and France, ending with the 1763 Treaty of Paris.  By this Treaty England ceded Cuba back to Spain, in return for the state of Florida; and Spain gave Louisiana to France.
It seems that Colonies were traded like commodities, without any real concern for the people involved.

During its strategic one-year occupation, Britain’s influence on the cigar industry was significant, and continued intermittently for the following few centuries.
Not only did this influence introduce the Havana taste to Britain and other parts of Europe, it was the start of the long road to respectability for the cigar.
This was finally achieved in England in the 19th Century – from 1823 to 1840 the importation of Cuban cigars rose from 15 000 per annum to 13 million per annum. Because they were expensive they were seen as a symbol of success. If you smoked a cigar you had either made it, or were confident you were on your way, and in the right way.
In 20th Century in America, the cry of “Give that man a Cigar” was an acclamation of success.

Back to 1762-1763 and thereafter.

  • The demand was for a rich reddish–brown Colorado wrapper. This colour became known as “English Market Selection” or EMS, a colour which normally indicates a well matured cigar, now popular worldwide.
  • Etiquette: The English etiquette was to remove the band from the cigar, before lighting up. “It was not done” to advertise the brand of cigar you were smoking. Today special bands are used to identify Limited Edition and other “special” cigars, usually combined with the brand name.
  • Shape/size origination: In the 1880s Leopold Rothschild, a London Banker requested the Hoyo de Monterrey factory in Cuba to produce a short, thick cigar (4½ inches x 52 ringsize). This size was so popular that it has been repeated by most brands; available as the generic name of Rothschild (or Robusto) for this size.
  • In 1936 the brand Rafael Gonzales was commissioned by the Earl of Lonsdale to make for him a long, slim “Lonsdale” cigar (6½ inches x 42 ringsize).

Today this Vitola is also known as a Royal Corona (or Corona grande or Cervantes), and is made by several brands in and out of Cuba. The Rafael Gonzales brand is now often used for new Edicion Limitada as in 2013/2016/2017.

  • Brand establishment: In 1935 the London firm of Cuban cigar importers, Hunters, was asked to import H.Upmann cigars. They agreed to take on only the newly created Montecristo marque. The livery for the brand was designed by Hunters, based on the story of “The Count of Monte Cristo”. Innovative in its day, the plain crossed swords in a red triangle on a bright yellow background is easily recognised today as a top brand from Cuba. Montecristo No.4 is still the largest selling single cigar from Cuba.
  • Restricted Brands. In 1940 from the BM factory a special brand "”Saint Luis Rey” was produced solely for the UK market. Not to be confused with “San Luis Rey”
  • Revival of the original Cuban shape “Perfectos”. In 1966 the Cuaba brand, consisting of only perfectos shapes was launched in London. I remember the scramble to get these unique cigars when they were opened to the rest of the world. The shape was so difficult to make that an 80 year old, retired roller had to train specially chosen, gifted young rollers to make them. They are still in short supply.
  • Cigar vocabulary. Some great names in the cigar vocabulary originated in England: Churchill, Rothschild, Lonsdale, Romeo y Julieta, Prince of Wales (a 1998 Romeo y Julieta Churchill).  Outside of Cuba the American brand King Edward V is probably the best known “Royal” cigar in the world.

During the one year that Britain began its influence in the Cuban cigar industry, the overall economic situation in Cuba benefited from the resultant exposure to the whole vast British Empire.
This advantage was lost when Cuba was ceded back to Spain, much to the disappointment of Spain.

Cigars were not the only items influenced by the English, naturally cigar accessories followed.
Alfred Dunhill Ltd, with the trademark “The White Spot”, set a high standard and created a range of top quality Cigar Accessories. The standard is summarised as:
It must be useful.
It must work dependably.
It must be beautiful.
It must last.
It must be the best of its kind.”

In recognition of the English influence in the world of cigar smoking, we offer:

25% off most Dunhill Cigar Accessories

Cigar Humidors: durable solid cedar wood with beautiful veneers – from R4900.00
Cigar Cases: close-fitting telescopic cases of exquisite leather – from R1895.00
Cigar Cutters **: Guillotine or Bullet design punch, razor sharp, smooth actionR2400.00
Humidification Systems: stabilising Relative Humidity – from R650.00
Multi Cases: for cheroots,(or credit cards, business cards) –R4690.00

From 17 January - 6 February, 2019

The “White Spot” is universally recognised as a symbol of perfection.
Start off the 2019 calendar year with a step up in the right direction for your cigar enjoyment.
Choose from the finest range of cigar accessories available, and at bargain prices.
Savour your choice in the years to come.

Colin Wesley

No.444 January 10-30, 2019

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