State of the Estate Market

Years ago, perhaps starting in the mid-to late 1980s and certainly in the 1990s,  one of the hobby’s periodicals published an article purporting to give we pipe collectors/hobbyists insight into what was hot and selling well and what was in less demand.  Since the article was the work of one person, it could only be accurate to a point.  Barry Levin must have been the writer a bunch of years as selling used, and new, pipes was his livelihood.  Used pipes at the time were a relatively new business.  There was a guy from Texas who wrote the article a few times and Rob Cooper may have been one of the contributors.  I, too, wrote it times and no doubt my submissions were the least accurate of all.  At no time do I have my fingers on the pulse of anything and my corner of the pipe world probably reflected no more than that…a segment too small to be representative.  

This was a long time ago…Larry Roush was an attendee at pipe shows selling collections and not yet a pipe maker and Mike Butera was unknown as an individual, because he was kept under Levin’s thumb.  The used pipe market was driven by mailers…some with photos (Levin…very advanced) and some solely by descriptions created on a manual typewriter (me.)

What, according to memory was hot back then?  Hard to remember in totality, but for sure there was a time when Barling, hyped no doubt by Levin, was in great demand and commanding very high prices.  I know of one person who flew from Calif. to Barry’s home in the woods of Vermont just to be at the heart of a Barling auction that Barry was conducting.  As many of these pipes came from one man’s collection, that individual did very well as a seller.  The Barling market today is a lot less fierce.  On the other hand, I am seeing nearly no great looking old Barlings…can’t recall the last time a terrific Quaint crossed my vision.

After that era came another, prompted by the entrance of UpTown in Nashville, with Keith Peters (I hope I have the name right) at the helm.  He was astute and focused on the most skilled of the Danish makers…establishing a market for their pipes at prices never seen before, and there was a near mania for them.  People couldn’t wait to spend thousands of dollars, if they had it, for briar pipes.  Nice briar pipes to be sure, but in the end, nothing more than a briar pipe, and smoking no better than other well constructed briar pipes with quality, well aged wood.  Is UpTown still in business as an importer of pipes?  If so, they no longer seem to be a household name in the pipe world.  

Smoking pipes is now the big name in new and used pipes, but I don’t get the impression that they hype one brand, or one country, over others.  It looks like a steady plugging away is their long term game plan.  If asked (and I neither have been nor will be) that seems the most solid policy for both the business and consumer.  

But it’s still interesting to know what’s in the mind of a large segment of the pipe consuming public.  I would like to know what others are seeing and doing and I’m happy to tell you all what I’m seeing and doing in what is still, as it was from 1977 to now, my corner of the pipe market.  

It is a one-man business with a total sales of 60 pipes for the first 3 mos. of 2020.  That sounds about average and is probably more information than I should part with, but what the hell.  Over the years, the best selling segment (the pipes are partitioned by nation of production) are the English pipes.  By far.  Dunhill is still a very solid brand.  All the old English brands have a following and as long as the pipe is in good condition and properly priced, it will sell, usually sooner rather than later.  Not only do the English pipes outsell any other country’s pipes in plain numbers, they do so despite the greater proliferation of brands from other major pipe producing country, to which I count Denmark, Germany and Italy.  (France and even Holland produce a lot of pipes, but their bands don’t generate a lot of interest in the U.S.)

That English pipes outsell those of Denmark and Germany is understandable because the top rated pipes from those nations can be quite expensive, and so they are limited to a small segment of the collectors.  But Italy has an awful lot of great brands, and many of them are not too expensive, yet a used $150 Dunhill will outsell an $85 Ser Jacopo or Radice.

Castello might keep pace with Dunhill at more or less the same entry price of $150 for a solid entity but an entry level used pipe by one of the other brands will have to be priced considerably below that to draw interest, even if the new price of that pipe is about the same as a Castello or Dunhill.

What accounts for this demand is perhaps the question most interestingly asked, but if an answer is wanted, it will have to be asked from someone other than me.  In the new pipe market, my instincts tell me that the Italian pipes are the biggest sellers.  But it’s hard to sell a new pipe, so my site focuses on used pipes that have been purchased inexpensively and can thus be offered for a low and appealing price.  When all is said and done, price is what drives the used pipe market.  And that’s the state of the estate market from Northern California.  

Marty Pulvers 

Physical, Not Social Distancing

These are interesting times we live in. Yeah, you’ve heard it 100 times. Make that 101 now. You’ve also heard of “Social Distancing,” haven’t you? What does that mean? Are we not supposed to talk to anyone? Make no phone calls? Post no updates on social media? If this novel coronavirus can’t travel a distance of 6 feet via water droplets, why are we being asked to socially distance and not physically distance ourselves? Many communities, much like our own pipe collectors’ community, thrive on meet-ups, sharing of experiences and maybe even some tobaccos and libations.

A big part of pipe shows and pipe clubs is the social aspect of the hobby. As soon as I get on Instagram, I’m flooded with beautiful artisan made pipes. I can go to eBay or other marketplaces to peruse estate pipes, but the social aspect of the hobby is what we’re really missing right now. We can’t walk up to a table and pick up a pipe or talk to the seller about its provenance or maybe negotiate a trade or sale.  In Chicago, the tent, bar, McArdle suite or even exhibitor rooms were a place of social gathering AND pipe banter. We could share a beer with our friends from abroad. Yes, pipes often exchange hands at shows, but it’s the social aspect that kept us returning to Chicago for 25 years. 

How are we maintaining that in this era of “Social Distancing?” Companies have moved to Zoom, GoTo Meetings, WebEx and Microsoft Teams. Why can’t this community do the same? My work team often video conferences throughout the day on various work-related tasks, but we also get together after work to have a drink in each other’s company, even if that means we’re not in the same physical room. Why can’t we smoke in the same way? Technology can help with distancing AND remaining social. This is just an opportunity for the club to grow in different ways. Maybe when our next CPCC meeting is virtual, we might get some attendees from across the globe. We can hear more from our brethren and what their experiences are while still breaking out our fancy pipes to smoke. What could be even better, is you can smoke what you like and no one will comment on the room note! 

Please, continue to maintain a physical distance and follow the CDC / WHO guidelines. But those guidelines don’t say anything about hanging out virtually with friends and sharing a drink & smoke. 

Be well,

Aziz Panjwani

Grief Over the 2020 Chicago Pipe Show

Saturday, I realized that this was the day that the 2020 Chicago Pipe Show was supposed to start. As I started to think about this, I became bummed out over it. Several people on various pipe forums also were remarking on this. For many years, we have gathered at Pheasant Run on the first weekend in May. We have enjoyed the company of fellow pipe smokers, from all nations and backgrounds. We bought and sold pipes, tobacco, and other things. Everyone had a blast! Even our wives were happy! (“If our husbands are buying pipes, we should buy what we want! Let’s go shopping!”)

Then Pheasant Run announced they were closing. Chuck Martin, and a few others, worked countless hours to secure a new location. During this time, the Coronavirus threat became bigger and bigger. Ultimately, the new hotel announced that they were closing due to the virus. We were left with “Wait for next year!”

As I thought about this, I realized that we have been going through the five stages of grief:

  1. Denial – Pheasant Run can have their repairs done before May! We will be back!
  2. Anger – Why didn’t they tell us earlier?
  3. Bargaining – Can we get a new venue?
  4. Depression – Everything is shut down. I will never see the Grotto again. I cried over my pipe and now it won’t relight!
  5. Acceptance – We are way ahead on our plans for the 2021 Chicago Pipe Show! It’s going to be AWESOME! More details will be coming soon.

If anyone needs me, I will be in my garage, smoking some aged tobacco in one of my pipes from the slow smoke contest. I only have 11 & 3/4 months to practice for the next contest!

John Winton

Missed You Guys

Hello fellow (and lady) pipe smokers and friends of the CPCC. This is Paul Bender, Assistant Show Director and full time Charatan collector. As I sit here typing this, I would be packing my bags on Monday after the Show to be on my way home after spending the past 5 days with friends and tobacco dealers while acquiring addition pipes and tobaccos that I really don’t need. However, “need” has nothing to do with the matter. As I’m sure most of you are aware, pipe collecting is, to a significant degree, a matter of obsession. No matter how many top quality pipes you have, there’s always that one particularly whimsical Charatan, or that one relatively rare Dunhill shape or even better, a singularly unique style or shape from a carver that you may have just met or have known for awhile. You simply can’t leave without it and that’s that.

I find it somewhat ironic the way things have turned out this year. After loosing our venue for the past 19 years at Pheasant Run, our Associate Director, literally singlehandedly, found us an alternate venue that would have welcomed us and provided us with all of the essentials needed for the Show. Unfortunately, fate, misfortune, whatever you want to call it intervened and a world wide pandemic forced cancellation of this year’s event. Depressing……………I know. However, other shows are scheduled for this year, circumstances willing, and with the continuing support of our friends, dealers, carvers and pipe smokers worldwide we will be able to re-establish ourselves next year. That rare Dunhill or exquisitely carved piece from a contemporary carver will somehow make it’s presence known and we will all go home happy. Not to mention that rare tin of Latakia laced tobacco that we may pay a small fortune for but get every penny back in enjoyment.

What is every bit as important as the new pipe (well………..at least almost as important) is the people that we have missed seeing this year but will certainly reconnect with at subsequent events and at next year’s Chicago Show. While the success of the Chicago Show has been attributed to the Club members who have selflessly given of their time and talents, it is the people who come to the Show year after year as well as the new pipe smokers getting into the hobby and looking for a couple of good, not overly expensive pieces of briar for their inevitably growing collection that make the event the success that it has become and will hopefully continue to be for years to come. Stay connected with your friends in the hobby wherever they may be, even Texas.
Sincerely,

Paul Bender
Member/Chicagoland Pipe Collectors Club

2020 Chicago Pipe Show Cancellation

The Chicagoland Pipe Collectors Club is sad to announce that we cancelled our contract with the Westin hotel today because of the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic. The safety of our community is our primary concern and we have been monitoring the situation carefully hoping that countermeasures would reduce the rate at which the disease is spreading. However, the increased infections throughout the world, and here in the Chicago metro area, appear to be on the rise. The airline restrictions, combined with state and local restrictions on meetings, will make it impossible to hold our international show in 2020. Our Show dates in 2021 will be May 1st and 2nd. All exhibitor deposits and payments are credits toward the 2021 show tables. If an exhibitor wants a refund, please contact me and a refund will be made. 

The Chicago Pipe Show thanks all of the exhibitors, sponsors and supporters who registered for tables and hotel rooms. The Show also thanks Chuck Martin, Allan Boyd, and Paul Bender for the many hours spent in finding and working with the Westin.

Craig Cobine, Show Director

Show Update 3.15.2020 (COVID-19)

The Chicago Pipe Collectors Club is committed to hold the Chicago Pipe Show on May 1 – 3, 2020. All of the current travel restrictions on flights run to mid-April. We are hopeful that these restrictions will slow the Covid-19 pandemic and will not be extended to include our Show dates. We are concerned with the health of all who plan to attend the Show, but we are not willing to cancel the Show in mid-March.

February 22, 2020 Meeting Minutes

Meeting called to order at 8:05 pm at 8 to 8 Cigar in Villa Park, IL.

Birthday cigars were distributed.

Old business – the April 18th meeting will be held at Arlington Smoke Shop on Northwest Highway in Arlington Heights, IL. The March 21st and May 23rd meetings will be at 8 to 8.

New business –  Chuck Martin gave a tentative report on a new venue for the upcoming Chicago Show. The Club is currently negotiating with two possible venues, a Holiday Inn in Carol Stream and a Westin in Itasca [Westin Chicago Northwest decided!] . We hope to have a contract with one of the sites soon. Keep watching our club website, Chicagopipeshow.com for further details when available.

Future Meeting Dates:

March 21st at 8 to 8 Cigar

April 18th at Arlington Pipe and Cigar

May 23rd at 8 to 8 Cigar

June 13th at Arlington Pipe and Cigar

July 18th at Arlington Pipe and Cigar

August 15th at Arlington Pipe and Cigar

Social Smoke: March 14th at Arlington Pipe and Cigar at 2 P.M. till ??

Westin Reservation Update

People who have run into problems with Westin Reservations should find the process easier.  They have increase the block of rooms to accommodate the influx of reservations including Thursday and Sunday.

2020 Show is a GO!!

All,
Here is the latest news on the show. There is a link for room registration at the end.
The show is a go!

This year’s show is May 1-3, at the Westin in Itasca, IL. Same weekend, different location! The Westin is located at the junction of three expressways and is close to O’Hare Airport.

We have a minimum number of room rentals, so we need attendees to stay at the Westin. This is about the survival of the show. Please make reservations ASAP.

We need donations for the silent auction, again, this is about the survival of the show.

Please attend the FREE Friday night banquet for future show announcements.

We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused. We have had less than three months to put the show together under the most pressing of circumstances.

Link to room reservations:
https://www.marriott.com/event-reservations/reservation-link.mi?id=1583187400452&key=GRP&app=resvlink