45 - August
We have just completed our 2002
year-end stock take!
costing book dates back to
the 1960's and while looking
up landed costs for the pipes we import, memories flashed through
our minds. Not just what it was like when we paid R1.65 for a
pound sterling and 75c for a US Dollar, but what the pipe world
was like in those days.
At that time
it was dominated by England, France and Italy (and Austrian Meerschaums).
A pipe-buying trip to England necessitated visiting 5, 6 or 7
independent factories. Later on some of these companies either
disappeared or joined forces with one another until there were
only a few real groups left. One of these owned a whole street
block so that it had 4 different names and addresses - the same
factory producing at least 4 different brands. If you didn't visit
you would never know. But when the representative visited South
Africa he brought 4 hats, one for each South African agent, and
insisted that these were related to the streamlining of distribution,
not to the manufacture.
was all fun and intrigue.
in the Jura Mountains of France was a little different. There
were several independent pipe factories, but only 2 restaurants.
So everybody knew who was visiting who and discussing what.
It was a bit like musical chairs.
Tables could be manufacturers alone, manufacturers / buyers, buyers
alone - and spread over several industries since Saint-Claude
was also a centre of the diamond polishing industry and for manufacture
of certain motor parts.
And for those of us who didn't speak French it was even more interesting.
Then we saw
the emergence of the Danish-style pipes.
What an impact they had on the market! They took the basic technical
design of the pipe and dressed it up Scandinavian style. The pipes
looked different, felt different, but still gave a good smoke
- well most of them did.
The whole world wanted them (and still does).
One very prestigious English pipe company, whose craftsmen weren't
trained to make these shapes, bought the entire production of
a Danish company and sold the pipes under their name as "Styled
by …..". Quite ingenious, but it didn't work for them - the
shapes were not their style.
the filter revolution started
in Germany with pipes having 9mm disposable filters. To accommodate
the 9mm filter the shank and mouthpiece needed to be appropriately
thick which didn't suit all tastes, but the demand for a disposable
filter had been established.
took time and research to develop the 6mm system which fits most
classic shape pipes.
Both 6mm and 9mm pipes come with adapters
to convert the pipe to what was once called the normal smoking
style. (There is even an adapter to convert 9mm pipes to take
of the best briar pipes, and certainly the best value, come from
Italian factories - in our case Savinelli
the next development will be I don't know.
some interesting ones in the past: "The Pipe" from
America with a double walled graphite bowl; "Flower Power",
the South African version with a high-tech ceramic bowl; the "PipStar",
a cigar-looking pipe from Switzerland.
Just look at some of these extracts
from our earlier print catalogues - and the pipes smoked!
it is, we will look at it with an open mind, and if it affords
value for money, and it works, we will offer it to you.
August 8 to August 21, 2002
PS: "Buried Treasure"
Well maybe not quite - but at stocktaking we did discover
a limited quantity of English-made 6mm filter pipes which
at to-day's costings would retail for R495.00. We will feature
them from August 15 to August 28 (while stocks last) at
only R275.00, including a pack of 20 x
6mm balsa filters. Don't forget
to use either the balsa or the adapter.