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No 288 - June 28, 2012
A Standing Pipe

A pipe which stands on its own when put down on a relatively flat surface could really be termed the “Pipesmoker-friendly Pipe”; or the “Tidy Pipe”…….
No concerns about where to place it, no spilt ash, easy to pick up and continue smoking.

At times over the years we have bought such pipes from Lorenzo, Dr Plumb, Falcon and recently, well not quite that recently, in 2003 from Savinelli the “Standing” range – only a couple left.
The standing “Monica” pipes which arrived from Lorenzo in March are running low, and the Lorenzo Oom Paul pipes are always in short supply.
The Savinelli Dry System range also used to include a standing “Oom Paul” shape in 2 sizes (1604 and 2604), but because the mouthpiece is heavier than normal, the pipes fell over too easily, and the shapes were withdrawn from the range.             

In April we received an email from Philip:
He liked the look of the Savinelli Dry System 2614, but did it have a flat bottom: “I like the idea that you can put it anywhere and it stands by itself, no need to support it against anything, like my other pipes.”

As it is, a Savinelli Dry System pipe can’t stand on its own – but why not?
I had some “faulty” Dry System bowls to practise on - maybe our Pipe Restorer could do a conversion.
I wrote to Philip:
Savinelli does not make a “free standing” system pipe.
But this does not mean that we cannot convert one for you – and possibly for other people too.
I have a few “faulty” 2614 bowls and will discuss this possibility with our pipe repairer.

I gave some of the faulty pipes to our Pipe Restorer and said: “Never mind the crack, see if you can make this pipe stand alone without messing it up”.
As is often the case, when asked to do something different, she was successful.

In amongst my assortment of pipes waiting to be refurbished were some Savinelli Dry Systems with dented bands. So we tried a couple more shapes – fantastic results.
We discussed which shapes would be suitable, the wood had to be thick enough under the bowl, and found these three to be best: 2614, 2622, 1616.

Well it has taken some time (thanks for your patience Philip) but we can now include in our range of Savinelli Dry System shapes:

Savinelli Dry System modified Stand-alone shape
Savinelli Dry System modified Stand-alone shape
Savinelli Dry System modified Stand-alone shape

The prices are:
Kingsize shapes 2614St, 2622St R1050.00; Extraordinaire shape 1616St R1150.00

Introductory offer from 5 July 2012:

The first 30 orders received for these modified Stand-alone shapes
– through any Wesley’s
Franchise (or online)
will be supplied at 25% off the normal retail prices

Kingsize shapes 2614St, 2622St R787.50
Extraordinaire shape 1616St R862.50

Savinelli Dry System pipe showing modified base
What about your existing Dry System pipe**?
(**Only shapes 2614, 2622, 1616)
Have it modified, polished, reamed and cleaned for R158.50
(plus shipping if applicable).

So you decide: new or old - but get yourself a stand-alone Savinelli Dry System
– with all the Dry System benefits; and then relax ….. you can forget about ash spilling on your desk or table.

Colin Wesley

PS Actually shape 1616 is out of stock - it is coming in the current shipment from Savinelli and will be available in July. So to be in the top 30 you can still place your order now.
There is another nice surprise in the shipment – just wait and see.

No.288 June 28 – July 11, 2012

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

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No 289 - July 12, 2012
A Great Experience

Luis Lopes has been rolling La Aurora cigars for 33 years, and he certainly isn’t 50…..
They start them young in the Dominican Republic.

Setting UpLuis, as he likes to be called, arrived outside the Rosebank shop at 11.30 am, complete with his own folding table and several bags with the tools of his trade.
Not that there were many tools (handmade definitely means “made by hand”!): a wooden board to roll on, his razor-sharp “knife” (chaveta) to slice out the wrapper, a guillotine to trim the foot of the completed cigar, a press with 4 trays each holding 10 bunches (filler with binder), and a water spray to keep the wrapper leaves (covered in a folded cloth) moist and pliable. There were also the finishing touches – the vegetable gum, the band and the cellophane sleeves.

Then came the tobaccos.
Assorted LeavesLuis explained that he was using 4 tobaccos all from different countries of origin: Peru, Brazil, Dominican Republic – and the wrapper of Nicaraguan-grown Sumatra seed. This took me by surprise – I thought that all Nicaraguan tobacco was grown from Cuban seed.
“No, no” Luis explained in his cute, Spanish-accented English, “each different seed combined with the Nicaraguan soil produces a different-tasting tobacco from each other, and from that of its country of origin.” Interesting!
Now it was time to roll.
Pressed BunchesTo save time. Luis had pre-prepared some bunched cigars (filler enclosed in binder) - cigars in progress, up to the stage where they only needed a wrapper and trimming to be ready to smoke.
Luis opened the press, removed the first tray and selected a bunch.
He lifted the damp cloth and gently withdrew the first wrapper leaf.

Then we started to see his skills in action.
Apply WrapperHe flattened the leaf, underside up, and with the first deft slash with the chaveta dispelled the myth that premium cigars are rolled on the thighs of the local virgins.
It took less than 30 seconds for him to tailor the size and exact shape of the wrapper, leaving an uncut end from which he would form the cap.
He gently removed a bunch from the mould (moldin US) placed it on the wrapper, and began to roll the bunch, picking up on the roll the wrapper, which he stretched slightly so that it would fit firmly around the bunch. When he reached the top of the bunch he cut the cap to fit perfectly.

Because the wrappers are cut from both sides of the main leaf rib, they are mirror Luis Lopesimages, so that some cigars are rolled from the left and some from the right – the roller must be not only dextrous, but ambidextrous!
Watching Luis twist and tweak the attached cap into place at the head of the cigar, and seal it with vegetable gum was fascinating. I loved the way he tapped each finished cigar on the head with the chaveta before giving it a final roll under the chaveta. He used the exceptionally sharp guillotine to trim the foot.
Bunch To Cigar
A final wipe between forefinger and thumb “to remove any small tobacco pieces that might have been picked up from the board” he said, then the band was attached and the completed cigar slipped into the cellophane sleeve – finished.

GalleryTwo photographs during the cutting are completely in focus, except for the blur of his fast-moving hands. From bunch to finished cigar took less than 3 minutes, and all in silence except for the rustle of the cellophane sleeve – artistry at its best.
The look of pride on Luis’s face told me how much he enjoyed his vocation.

By this time people were starting to gather. I noticed some early-birds responding to the email we’d sent to the Johannesburg/Pretoria section of our database. One enthusiast came all the way from Pilgrim’s Rest so as not to miss out.
As Luis built up some stock of finished cigars, the questions started to flow:
Are the cigars for sale? Are they ready to smoke now?
“Yes”, replied Luis to both questions “all these tobaccos have been cured for 4 years”.
Are the leaves Maduro, they have a dark colour and great “nose”? Luis: “No, it is the result of the careful four-year maturing process”
Which tobacco is which? Luis laid out the 4 different leaves and we all sniffed and felt them: distinctively different aromas, and the wrapper was feather-weight and translucent.

Sales were brisk – one sale was for 3 cigars “one to smoke now, one in about 3 months, and the last in about 6 months”. The buyer has kindly offered to share his notes with us in due course.
Another enthusiast bought 2 cigars, and later in the afternoon phoned to confirm that Luis was spot on – the cigar was smoking superbly.
When Luis’s stock of bunches was depleted he rolled more bunches: as he selected leaves for the filler and added the binder we saw more of his expertise in the care he took to place each filler leaf  in the appropriate position to ensure easy draw and to maintain the shape of the cigar.

A general comment was: seeing the whole operation in real life was far better than the best TV production.
The enjoyment of “feel, touch, smell, see” in the creation of a premium hand rolled cigar was overwhelmingly evident.
This, combined with witnessing the artistry of the craftsman putting it all together, made for a truly great experience.

I bought one of the cigars – and I’m really looking forward to an evening in the bush at the end of the month when I can savour it in peace.
What will I use to cut it?
Well most of you know by now that I am a fan of cigar scissors………

From July 19 – August 2, 2012
Less 25% on Cigar ScissorsDonatus and economical.
Normal prices from R250.00 to R995.00

If you weren’t there, sorry about the cigar – but maybe a good price on cigar scissors will make up for it.

Colin Wesley

No.289 July 12-25, 2012

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

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No 290 - July 26 , 2012
A (fiery) Winter’s Tale

It’s mid-morning on a Saturday (mid-winter).
I have just finished helping a customer decide on which Houseblend tobacco to try next, when I see Harald approaching.

He is a big genial fellow with a German accent; a recent convert to pipe smoking,
and I know he is enjoying it.
“How is the pipe going?” I ask.
With a big grin he opens his cell phone (mobile)
“Let me show you how the pipe is going!”

Then the story begins:
“We had spent most of the day scaling a mountain (1800m high) on the outskirts of Tulbagh. A long, hard climb! It was getting dark and cold with ice rain, when we found a good rock overhang to spend the night - just big enough for the two of us.
Dropping our back packs we scrounged around to find fuel for a fire.
It got colder and colder as we gathered some dead protea sticks from the ground to get things going.
My hands were frozen and I couldn’t really feel what I was doing as I piled on the debris.
At last the fire was burning comfortably and I reached for my pipe and pouch to settle back for a comforting smoke and my pipe to warm my hands.
But pipe and pouch were missing!
It was now pitch dark, except for the glow from the fire. I scratched around in vain until I accepted that they must be in the fire.Yes, there they were – burnt beyond use, but not beyond recognition.
In my haste to feed the fire, and with my hands so cold, I must have tossed them in with the sticks.
Disaster!!”lance and myself (Harald) overnighted under a rockledge

The picture shows Harald and his fellow climber, Lance (in the red jacket), huddled over the small fire. It was taken just before the discovery that the pipe was missing, (Note – he is still smiling.)

“Now I need a new pipe.”

On reflection, Harald must have thrown his whole travelling kit and tobacco into the fire, because that is what he replaced:
An ideal travelling Pipe
Rugged rustic finish – the dents and scratches won’t show;
Medium size – will fit easily in a pocket or travel pack;
Teflon peg – almost unbreakable;
Optional 9mm filter – or you can use the adapter when travelling.
A companion pouch – holds pipe, pipe tool, tobacco and cleaners
“Disposable” pipe toolwell not quite, but it doesn’t matter if it gets lost
Pipe cleaners – plain, but good quality (the bristle cleaning can wait till he gets home)

He said he’s an untidy smoker, so I added a complimentary Lorenzo cloth bag to put his pipe in before slipping it into the pouch – to avoid depositing bits of ash and tobacco into the pipe compartment of the pouch.
Their next climb this winter will be in the Drakensberg – bracing stuff.

When I questioned his choice of season to pursue these challenges in the mountains, he looked me in the eye and said: “I love it, it builds character.”

Who knows, Harald might be back for another pipe replacement before the end of the winter.

We’re coming to the end of our stock of the medium-size, sand-type Pavia pipes like Harald’s which met a fiery end, but we have enough left to offer to you at a special price next week.

From August 2-15, 2012 – save 25%
Lorenzo Pavia Sand finish pipe, medium size, Teflon peg, 9mm filter option. Normal price R205.00

Harald – thank you for sharing with me the story of how you came to lose your pipe, pouch, etc.I can just imagine how desolate you must have felt when you realised what you had done: no pipe to comfort you and warm your hands.
A 25% discount will apply to the next pipe you (have to) buy!

Colin Wesley

No.290 July 26-Aug.8, 2012

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

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Fortnightly Articles
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No 291 -August 9, 2012
New Humidification Technology

Keeping cigars in good condition is always a concern – so much so that we have written several “Across the Counter” articles over the years and we’re always on the lookout for any new developments in this field.

A couple of months ago, an article in a trade magazine caught my eye.  It included quotes from:
Cigar Journal magazine
“The search for the ultimate humidification system for the desktop humidor has come to its end!”
Cigar Aficionado magazine “While some humidity systems take a bit of doting, the Humidity Bead System by Cigar Sciences acts more like a workhorse.
It kept the RH right in the sweet spot with no refilling and very little fluctuation despite a lot of traffic with handfuls of new cigars coming in and out daily.”

These quotes inspired further research:

In 2005 Cigarmony LLC was formed in the United States – an innovator in humidification products. 7 years later, 24 February 2012, because it is completely different from all other humidification systems, Cigarmony’s Humidity Beads System® was granted US patents for this high technology humidifying product.
“….. while there are many other applications for its use, cigar smokers are the immediate beneficiaries of this leading edge technology.”Mark Neff,  President and CEO

Humidity Beads System® Features:
Precisely maintains your relative humidity
• Simple to use; 100% effective
• No messy solutions                                                   
• Advanced micropore technology
• Includes magnetic fasteners
• American invented, owned and assembled, US Patented

These beads have been developed as an application of “Nanotechnology”
Nanotechnology ???????
“Sometimes shortened to "nanotech", it is the manipulation of matter on an atomic and molecular scale – a key technology for the future”.
Wikipedia goes on to write that it “….entails the application of fields of science as diverse as surface science, organic chemistry, molecular biology, semiconductor physics, microfabrication, etc.”
For us, the relevant application is in the humidification of cigars.

How it works:
The Humidifier contains small transparent non-toxic humidity control beads. They 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).

(At 70°F (21°C), 70% is considered to be the ideal relative humidity in which to store your cigars.)
Remember that 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.

The important attribute of the beads is that when wet, they will release moisture when the RH falls below 70%, and absorb moisture if the RH goes above 70%, thus maintaining a constant relative humidity no matter how often the humidor is opened, or what the external conditions.
When dry they will absorb some moisture if the RH goes above 70%.
This can prevent, to a certain extent, cigars from becoming too damp; damp cigars are difficult to draw, and don’t burn properly.
Simple to use:
1. Immerse the humidifier in water (preferably distilled, but not essential); do not use or add any other liquid;
2. Soak for up to 30 minutes; (The beads will swell and become opaque – but don’t leave them too long, they will overfill and burst.)
3. Remove and wipe dry;
4. Now the humidifier is ready to fit into your humidor (but see Watchpoints below);

The humidifier is re-usable, will last for many years under correct conditions and will not form mould.
The beads are clear when dry and white when activated – you can easily see when the humidifier needs to be refilled. Refill when necessary, anything from several weeks to several months depending on how often the humidor is opened, the condition of cigars going into the humidor and of the air outside the humidor:
• Very dry conditions require more frequent filling (Cape in summer, Highveld in winter, Air-conditioned rooms)
• Very humid conditions? You may need to experiment. Check the relative humidity inside and outside the humidor. Maybe you won’t want to damp the humidifier at all – put it into the humidor and then after a while check the relative humidity inside the humidor.

• The amount of water absorbed by the humidifier (any humidifier) CANNOT completely moisturise a dry humidor. Prepare the humidor before installing the humidifier by spraying repeatedly with a fine sprayof water, until the relative humidity inside the humidor is 70%
• Remember to keep the humidor in a cool place (but normally not in the refrigerator)

The beads are available in humidifiers in the USA from: Cigar Sciences, Cigar Mechanic, Cigarmony LLC ….

and now in South Africa from Wesley’s and other fine tobacconists,
under the Cigar brand.

Cigar Bead Humidifier 25-50 cigars               73-J5521 R155.00
Cigar Bead Humidifier up to 100 cigars         73-J5531 R245.00

Introductory offer:

From August 16 - 29, 2012
Less 25% on the  Cigar Humidifiers with bead technology

In January 2011 we had a request from a customer for a humidity system for cigars stored in Durban where the problem was quite often too much moisture in the air. He had heard of “humidity beads” – would these work?
The humidity beads available at that time were not “bi-directional” – they would not stabilise the relative humidity, ie supply or remove moisture as necessary.

Mr AP – Better late than never! I trust this article and this product will sort out your problems.

Colin Wesley

No.291 August 9 - 22, 2012

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

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