Sailing With Captain Black

I am a delicate flower. I like my tobacco to be beyond aromatic. I want it to smell of vanilla, and Smurfs riding on unicorns through clouds of cotton candy.

For years I have been intrigued by Captain Black tobaccos. Having acquired a few Captain Black pipes, I decided to go sailing with Captain Black. My friends, the seas were rough.

Our first voyage was with Captain Black Original. It smelled all of what I would hope for with a smoke with hints of vanilla, but it smoked like burnt incense. It had mild tongue bite with an acrid aftertaste. It also came with a mild case of throat burn.  

Our second voyage was on the Captain Black Gold sea. Again, the aroma before smoke was of rich tobacco, and it smoked akin to a high end cigarette. The tongue bite was present, but at least there was no throat burn. The acrid aftertaste was the same as the original, but I had to sail on. If you have a friend who is trying to stop smoking cigarettes, this may be a good half step.

The third voyage was with Captain Black Royal. Same rich tobacco aroma as its predecessors, along with the same tongue bite. Like being stuck on a Royal Caribbean Cruise, Captain Black Royal had me wishing I was smoking a smaller bowl.

The last voyage was with Captain Black Copper. Of all the series, this was by far the best. Mild tongue bite, no throat burn, and a mild aromatic note. Copper lacked the aromatic punch that this delicate flower looks for in his aromatics.

In closing, I would suggest booking a cruise on some other aromatic as Captain Black is definitely lost at sea.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of a delicate flower and do not express the views of The Chicago Pipe Collectors Club.

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 

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

Show Update – 2.5.2020

At the present time, we are actively pursuing our 2 alternative locations. We are aware that Pheasant Run has been cancelling room reservations and falsely stating that the show is cancelled. This is far from the truth. THERE WILL BE A SHOW THE FIRST WEEKEND OF MAY! Please book your airfare. Venue details are forthcoming. Stay tuned for more information in the next two weeks.

Show Update 1.25.2020

At the present time, we are still contractually obligated to Pheasant Run until the new owners are established and we hear from them on their desire to host the show. Until such a time, we cannot confirm plans for an alternate venue.

In the meantime, we have bids from at least 2 other venues for the show. There will be a show the first weekend of May.

Please book your airfare. Once matters are settled with Pheasant Run, we will advise which hotel to make your reservations. We will provide details ASAP.

Show Update

You have probably heard that Pheasant Run will no longer be hosting the Chicago Pipe Show. We are currently in the process of searching for and evaluating a new venue for this year’s show and for the future. We will immediately post further information as soon as a new venue is secured. Please check back on our website periodically to keep informed. The Chicagoland Pipe Collectors Club regrets any inconvenience that any of our attendees and visitors may be experiencing during this trying time. The club was only informed of Pheasant Run’s inability to host this year’s show a few short weeks ago and we have been diligent in finding another adequate venue.

Pheasant Run

The CPCC is very aware of the situation at Pheasant Run.  We have requested information regarding the 2020 Pipe Show but currently it isn’t forth coming.  Other venues are being approached to see if they would be willing to host the show.  Be assured that the CPCC will do everything it’s power to make sure the 2020 Pipe Show happens.  We will keep you posted as further developments unfold.

Site Updates

All, the show flyer, dinner registration and table registration have been updated for 2020!

Stolen Pipes!

Hi everyone,

Please review the document linked below. One of our fellow collectors and eBay sellers had several high grade pipes stolen. We would appreciate any help you could provide in locating these pipes. If you see them for sale anywhere, please reach out to the authorities mentioned in the document.

List of pipes stolen