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No.470  January 23 – February 5, 2020

Refurbished Pipes!!

“Mature pipes” we called them back in 2001 when, following the example of a pipe shop in California, we introduced in Wesley’s Rosebank a few very selected pipes which had been refurbished.

They were kept separate from our mainline pipes, shown discreetly to pipemen we felt would appreciate them as quality “antique” pieces of pipe artistry from brands such as Dunhill, Charatan, Savinelli, Peterson, Stanwell, Kriswill, W Ø Larsen.
Preferably the pipes were still fitted with their original mouthpieces, and didn’t display any real signs of being abused or badly reamed.

The pipes came to us from several sources – an estate, a pipe smoker who had given up, or a pipe which was no longer fitting in with the rotation of a private collection.
Each pipe would be sterilised, cleaned and polished, restoring it to its mature, dignified appearance, and then priced very competitively, with its current price if there was one.

Any reservations about smoking a pipe which has been smoked by somebody else was countered by this comment from the California shopkeeper “you don’t take your own knife and fork to a restaurant, do you”

Since 2002 we have regularly presented selections of refurbished pipes. We have also extended the range to widen the market.
But the hygiene and presentation standards have not been compromised.

What continues to make it interesting for us is that we have come into possession of brands of individual pipes we have never heard of. Thanks to Google and other sources of information, we have been able to find out some background to these pipes, which has been a great help in pricing them according to their past or current value.
Obviously there have been brands and pipes from independent pipe makers which have come and gone, creating a demand from “Collectors”
At times when a new looking pipe has been kept with pipes which have been smoked it is difficult to determine whether it has not been smoked, even once – in these cases we often use the words “hardly smoked”

Our latest and largest selection (66 pipes) will be presented on our website and in Wesley’s Rosebank from January 30 while stocks last.
If you are on our database you will be sent a link to a 2 day preview January 28 and 29 to make a selection.

To whet your appetite here are a few highlights to look for:
Dunhill Bruyere Spigot Gp4 (R3500) - very few of these have ever been made – hardly smoked.
Ben Wade “Bulldog” (R1250) completely hand made with a hand cut mouthpiece – hardly smoked.
Pierre Morel (R2500) a fine example of a freeform “Flower Morel “ pipe from this artistic French pipe maker. The first we’ve ever seen (or heard of) – hardly smoked
Cadogan – Loewe Pigalle (R395.00) one of the few English brand Loewe made in Saint-Claude, Jura, France.
Stanwell - Roskilde and Scandia (R495.00), both from when Stanwell pipes were made in Denmark.
W Ø Larsen - 2 pipes (R1250 & R950) from the original Larsen workshop.
Castella and Radice (R1750/R2500) Legendary Italian pipes with waiting lists from stockists.
Peterson – 4 Giant pipes (R1450/R1950). I sincerely doubt these pipes were actually bought in South Africa.
Sterncrest (R495) Made in Brooklyn N.Y!!
Mattner Two pipes from our own legendary Pipemaker. (R450)
Pietenpauw Styled and made in Pretoria. (R650) Read more

On preview days (Jan 28-29) pipes may be selected in Wesley’s Rosebank or by email to cg@wesleys.co.za

If the past is anything to go by the preview days will be hectic and we will handle emails in order of the time of arrival in the case (or cases) where a pipe is ordered by more than one person.
We look forward to the reaction to these golden oldies and are sure that we will encounter plenty of smiling faces or joyous emails.

Even if you’re not ready to expand your pipe selection to include a “pre-loved” pipe, read some of the history behind some of the relatively unknown pipes (at least in my area).

Colin Wesley

No.470  January 23 – February 5, 2020

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No.471 February 6 – 19, 2020


- the Diameter of the cigar
- how does it affect your enjoyment.

Browsing through various cigar blogs it seems to me that era of “the bigger the better” in ringsize has reached its peak.
The theory has done its job in refining some of these never-before-seen ringsizes of 60, 65, 70.
Before going any further with this blog, here is the maths behind the term Ringsize.

In countries using the Imperial system of measurement (feet and inches), such as England in the past and the United States today, the diameter of the cigar is expressed in “rings”, where one ring is 1/64th of an inch.
So a cigar may be 42 x 5:
Diameter 42/64th inch and length 5 inches;
In the metric system this would translate as 16.67 x 127:
Diameter 16.67mm, length 127mm;
Frequently the systems are mixed, and the size is described as 42 x 127 (or 127 x 42).

The relevance of the ringsize to the smoker can be broken down into three distinct areas.
The draw – the larger ringsize, matched with a larger opening of the cigar head, will allow a large volume of smoke to travel through the cigar. This can become overwhelming for some smokers.
Reducing the strength of the draw may have the reverse effect by not keeping the cigar fully alight, spoiling the full taste of the blend.

If you prefer gentler puffing, smaller ringsizes of 32 to 42 may suit you better. Drawing too hard on these sizes can cause the cigar to burn too fast which increases the temperature of the burn to the stage that the cigar burns hot and harsh.
One simple answer if you are smoking a thinner cigar is to draw in a little air with each puff.

The taste - the larger ringsizes allow the blenders to add more leaves to the bunch. These can be more of the same to exaggerate or intensify the same taste, or complementary leaves to expand the complexity of the taste.
In some cases a brand may create its very own taste and then vary intensity of this taste in different Ringsizes and lengths.

The correlation with length – in a nutshell the combination of length and ringsize will determine the time it will take to smoke the cigar.
Within reason a long cigar will allow the smoke to cool down and be filtered. Towards the final third, or quarter, the taste will really build up, until the time it becomes unpleasant – time to stop.
A short thick cigar may finish quicker than a thinner slightly longer cigar. The short thick cigar will offer a short “blast” of smoke and flavour, rather than a gentle savouring of the taste over a longer period of time.
A general overall consideration to be taken into account when choosing a cigar is the time you will have to smoke the cigar.
A Churchill – trying to finish it in 30 minutes may have you finished before the cigar is.
A Petit Churchill - trying to stretch it out all afternoon, it will be finished before you are - leave you wanting more.
A Robusto – very popular because it fits in between the two.
It follows that when comparing brands it is important to use cigars of the same dimension in each brand.

To the true connoisseur, the ringsize is the most important factor in selecting the size of a cigar, though choice of ringsize may vary according to the mood of the moment.

Selections to try for comparison.
Cuban Value selection – with different lengths and ringsizes.
Robusto Varies selection
Robusto Wrapper selection
Robusto Cuban selection

Strangely, the cigar that Castro preferred was a long relatively thin cigar 152 x 38.
This became one of the first cigars under the new Cohiba brand -  the Cohiba Corona Especial.
Subsequently the brand expanded the range to the more popular sizes – in fact the name “Robusto” for the size 50 x 127 originated with Cohiba.

“Cohiba” branded ** combination travel cigar case for 3 cigars


And we’ve been offered a “Cohiba” branded ** combination travel cigar case for 3 cigars,
which includes a cutter and a lighter. This really is something special.
Normal Price: R1995.00
Even more special …


From February 13-26, 2020
We offer this “Cohiba” branded travel case for only

(You can also fit your portable cigar rest, for when there are no suitable ashtrays.)

Colin Wesley

** Original Cohiba Travel Case was made in a limited quantity only, and was not for sale in shops.
This is one of many copies.

No.471 February 6 – 19, 2020

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No.472  February 20 to March 4, 2020

Pipe Filters – improving the quality of your pipe smoking

The title is a misnomer - all briar pipes act as a filter.
As the tobacco starts burning in the bowl of the pipe, a certain amount of moisture and other juices are generated in the smoke. The pipe “filters” this moisture out from the smoke.

Unfortunately this moisture doesn’t just evaporate into thin air. It hangs around looking for somewhere to deposit itself.
Some moisture settles in the tobacco at the base of the bowl, creating the damp “dottle” of wasted tobacco which needs to be carefully removed after each smoke to allow the bowl to dry out before it may be filled again.

Let’s stop right here and examine this problem.

Bowl Filters
The first attempts to mop up moisture at this point as I remember were “Smokers Circles”. These were round circles of absorbent paper used to wrap enough tobacco for a pipe full, and closed with a twisted pigtail. The wrapped tobacco was placed in the bowl resting on the twisted pigtail.
Effective but labour intensive, and then also became expensive although not as expensive as wasted tobacco.
Then came “Philtpads”, ribbed half spheres of clay placed in the bowl with flat side upwards. The outer ribs allowed the smoke to be drawn down through the space created between the inner wall of the bowl and the Philtpad. Again effective but often discarded before absolutely necessary and thus expensive.
Drikule plugs are mesh shaped cones that save money by holding the tobacco above the moisture. Messy but still in use

Keystone Pellets
granules of Silica Gel also do the job.
Better still are the Nording Keystone Pellets,
made from natural volcanic lava.

These “bowl filters” are very useful in pipes that are fitted with mouthpieces too narrow to hold “stem filters” -  
6 mm or 9 mm cartridge type “filters”.

Stem Filters
“Teflon” pegs can be made thin enough to hold a 6mm or 9mm cartridge, and have the advantage that they do not snap off by accident. Since their introduction, more and more modern pipes offer these filter options.
The cartridges can be filled with charcoal or meerschaum granules, or just be a hollow tube of very absorbent paper.
The most organic, natural 6mm or 9mm “filters” are made of clean Balsa wood pieces about 35mm long.

Savinelli Balsa filters 6 mm (for easy draw)
The 6mm version  is a triangular piece of clean balsa

Savinelli Balsa filters 9 mm (for easy draw)


The 9mm model is a round piece of balsa
with fluted channels to allow the smoke to pass around it,
and increase the surface area available to absorb juices.

Both sizes fit snugly into the Teflon pegs so they don’t fall out when the mouthpiece is separated from the shank.

Watchpoint. Not every pipesmoker wants to use a “filter” in the pipe, and not every blend needs one, so most filter pipes come with an “adapter”. This is either a plug with a hole through it, or a hollow tube, which when fitted into the peg reduces the smoke passage to 3mm or 4 mm. This is the standard size in non-filter pipes.
A filter pipe should never, not even once or twice, be smoked without either the adapter or the correct diameter filter.
If the pipe is smoked without a filter/adapter, moisture will condense in the space left and run into the inside of the shank. This may cause swelling, leaving the peg with a loose fit, or cracking – worse and difficult to remedy.
The diameter of the filter: A 9mm peg can be “converted” to 6mm with a hollow inner tube (outside Ø 9mm, inside Ø 6mm) slotted into the peg of the mouthpiece.
This could standardise your pipe collection to the 6mm “filters” which are less expensive than the 9mm.
We are also seeing more bulk packings being offered at more economical bulk prices than 10’s or 20’s.
Every little economy can improve the “quality” of your pipe smoking hobby, making it more enjoyable.

A new trend in the blending of pipe tobaccos, using flavoured Burley, has increased the amount of moisture in the smoke.
Capturing this excessive moisture has increased the demand for “filter” pipes, especially bent shapes.
Gravity will send the moisture down to the waiting filter.
And in extreme circumstances you can use a bowl filter AND a stem filter, together.

Try for yourself:
6mm “Filter” pipe     Marca Smoking Pipes  DRY  R695.00

9mm “Filter” pipe      STANWELL PIPES  from R995.00

“Bowl Filter” Pipe     Nording | Nording Pipes Denmark | Eriksen Keystone Smoking pipes | Danish Smoling pipes | Erik Nording  Keystone R715.00

Now is a good time because ..

From 27 February to 11 March, 2020 we offer
25% off the prices of
Marca Dry Pipes, (Normal Price R695.00)
Stanwell Pipes, (Normal Prices from R995.00)
Nording Keystone Pipes (Normal Price R715.00)

Will using a filter improve the “quality” of your pipe smoking hobby, making it more enjoyable by contributing to a cool dry smoke?

Colin Wesley

No.472  February 20 to March 4, 2020

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No.473 March 5-18, 2020

Cigar Notes

Notes from the Habanos Festival
The origin of box pressed cigars questioned
The knock on effect on local cigar prices after the Budget.

Habanos Festival
In February each year, Habanos hosts its Cigar Festival for the horde of well-heeled Capitalists who take over the Socialist Island. Read more.

It is said that the total personal wealth of these cigar aficionados must be many times more than that of Cuba.
But Cuba holds the trump card, her cigars, and she plays her hand carefully.

Day after day special blends and selections are presented at Functions and Dinners.
This year Anniversario cigars for the brands Romeo y Julieta (145yrs), Montecristo (85yrs) and Partagas (175yrs) were showcased, with promises of stock being available during the course of 2020.

Unfortunately most of these cigars are big! With ring sizes of 52, 54, 57 and more.
This means that the supplies will be limited and sales will be confined to the La Casa del Habanos shops.
(Check which locations may have stock before you plan that next European tour later this year). 
The only Edicion Limitada announced so far was for the Partagas Legado (6¼ x 48 / 159 x ring 48).

The summit of the Festival is the Gala Dinner and Auction where funds are raised for various causes.
This year the total raised exceeded $4.7m, way up on 2019, due mainly to the $2.7m forked out by a Chinese Capitalist for the five foot high Humidor loaded with 550 Cohiba cigars, assorted over just about every size made under the Cohiba brand.
One wonders how he will explain this piece of luggage to the Customs and Excise Officers back home – and then to his wife.

Box pressed cigars – By accident or plan?
Two trails of thought go back to the origin of the practice.
A roller finds that the cigars he has so carefully rolled into round lengths won’t fit into the boxes he has been allocated.
Not wishing to raise the problem, and while the cigars are still fresh he gently prods and squeezes them into the boxes, closes the lids piles them up and places a heavy weight on the top.
Days later, on opening the boxes, lo and behold he sees that the cigars are no longer round but square. He thinks nothing of this and passes the boxes on along the production line.

The second story is quite simple as Rick Hacker, the author of The Ultimate Cigar Book, put it.
A cigar roller is commissioned to make square cigars for a customer so that they won’t roll off the table.
How simple is that!

Believe whichever version you like, but the fans of these cigars are adamant that they smoke smoother and more evenly.  This, they say is because, by squeezing them from round to square, excess air is expelled from the cigars as the square corners are made. Then the pressure exerted to hold the square shape causes a small extra fermentation which increases the smoothness of the smoke.
Try one to see, feel and taste whether they are for you or not.

The knock on effect of the excise increase on local cigar prices.
The increase is from R3901.04 per kg to R4193.02 per kg. (Approx. 7.5%)
In the year 2000 it was R569.89 per kg.
The immediate effect should be minimal, but annual prices increases from abroad, and the possible weak rate of exchange, could be more substantial over the next few months.

Right now could be a good idea to check out your selection of cigars and plug any gaps from our wide range of “Handy Packs” of 3 or 5 cigars. Many of the Handy Packs come in Zipseal bags along with a Boveda Humidipak.
Email us for a complete list of what is available.

And now for more space for your cigars, we offer 2 models at very special prices.

Less 40%
WALNUT TACTILE  73-J1273 R1910.00 R1146.00

ROOT BURL 73-J2121 R2012.50 R1207.50

ONLY 3 of each
ONLY from March 12 - 25, 2020
ONLY from Wesley’s Franchises and online store

73-J1273 R1910.00   less 40%   R1146.00
Budget Walnut Decor Humidor; 25 cigars  Budget Walnut Decor Humidor; 25 cigars  25 cigars • 220x260x105mm

73-J2121 R2012.50  less 40%   R1207.50

If you leave the Boveda Humidipak in with the cigars you won’t have to worry about the humidifier – just the temperature.
Keep it cool!

Colin Wesley

No.473 March 5-18, 2020

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

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No.474 March 19 – April 1, 2020

Savinelli – the perfectionist pipe maker in Italy

Imagination knows no bounds
Quality knows no bounds.

There are 21 steps, in one flight, up to the showroom in the Savinelli building outside Milan.
I counted them.
That’s what one does when one has a troublesome back and you are challenged by a steep staircase: you count off the steps one by one until you reach the top with a “got you” feeling inside.
And it’s worth it!

The Savinelli team were waiting for us, and after greetings, an Espresso and a glass of water, we sat down to talk “pipe” with our friends, face to face, a good feeling.

Over the years we look forward to these meetings – what will Savinelli have in store this year?
We have come to accept, and trust, that whatever innovations Savinelli introduces will not compromise the fundamentals for producing pipes that will offer a cool, dry, smoke.
The ultimate objective for all pipe makers!

This doesn’t mean that we see the same things year after year.
On the contrary we have been impressed by the innovations introduced in the finishing of the outside of the bowls, the colours and embellishments with the mouthpieces and in some cases the “flavouring” of the bowl; Miele for example (continually popular).

This time it was the “Gaius”

“Gaius” (guy-us) is a Latin praenomen, or personal name, and was one of the most common names throughout Roman history. The feminine form is Gaia.[1] The praenomen was used by both patrician and plebeian families, and gave rise to the patronymic gens Gavia.
Gaius Marius (born 157 BC) was a Roman general and statesman who held the office of consul an unprecedented seven times during his career. He was also noted for his important reforms of Roman armies. Wikipedia
One of Paul’s traveling companions during his third missionary journey was named Gaius. Luke identifies him as a Macedonian.
Gaius was a Jurist who died 180AD (Books: Institute)

Gaius could be considered a fundamental Roman.

A Gaius pipe is a pipe, as a man was a man in Roman times: the essence. 

The Gaius pipes are offered in bold Kingsize shapes, all finished in the same pebble rusticated black with burgundy glint highlights, and polished rim.
The striking feature is the military style mount fitted over the shank, which to me emphasizes the manly element in the overall impression created by each pipe.

Just to hold one inspires in you the feel of the underlying strength of the Roman Empire at its height.

And if that was not enough, we were offered the pipes at a 19% discount off the Euro price.
These pipes which should retail for R1995.00 landed to sell for R1650.00.

The shapes:

Savinelli Smoking Pipe – Gaius Range

Shape 101 is a "Chubby" version of the classic Billiard shape. Both the bowl and the shank have big dimensions giving the pipe a great solidity.



Savinelli Smoking Pipe – Gaius Range320, also known as “Author” shape, has an unmistakable style.
This half-bent model boasts one of the biggest bowls.
Its rounded shape and the absence of edges make the hold extremely pleasant.


Savinelli Smoking Pipe – Gaius Range


Shape 345 belongs to the brandy style, which takes its name from the likeness between the conical bowl and the classic brandy glass.


Savinelli Smoking Pipe – Gaius Range


The cylindrical, slightly conical bowl of Shape 628 rises elegantly.
The black tapered stem bend is less pronounced compared
to the standard bends.


Savinelli Smoking Pipe – Gaius Range


For a real handful look at Shape 641. The bowl shape is ideally suited to the full bent design for perfect balance. 


Savinelli Smoking Pipe – Gaius Range


Shape 645 has a spacious burning chamber.
The rounded slightly cone shape gives the pipe a very masculine aspect.


They are stunning pipes!
Don’t you agree?

If so, now is the time to take advantage:

On offer from March 26 until 2 weeks after the lockdown is lifted
Savinelli “Gaius” pipe

(R1650.00 less 25%)

Another advantage:
The strength of the Military Mount will prevent swelling or cracking if the pipe is smoked without the 6mm balsa filter or the 6mm adapter, supplied with each pipe. (You’ll find the adapter in with the balsa pieces.)

Whenever you choose a Savinelli, you are getting a quality pipe, tailored for your smoking pleasure.
You are sure to enjoy it.

Colin Wesley

No.474 March 19 – April 1, 2020

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