25 September, 2018

Something About a Well-Packed Bowl

I don't know if you remember 'head' shops, those funky little places where you could buy bongs, and glass or metal pipes, roach clips, UV reactive posters, all sorts of stuff like that that was designed to enhance your 'high.'

Then, after a couple of years, and lots of busts, they pretty much disappeared from view. Not necessarily all gone, just not anywhere as plentiful as there had been. That is, until now. They're all over the intertubes. It's like the internet has become a giant head shop.

Now, before you jump to conclusions, allow me to 'splain.' Many years ago, I used to smoke a pipe. Tobacco pipes, to be exact. I had a nice collection of pipes, and all the tools and other accouterments that went along with tobacco pipe smoking. Then, I gave it up. Sold my collection and all the other stuff.

Till now. I've had a hankering to take up pipe smoking once again. I guess you could say, that monkey never left my shoulder. That may be. But, I do miss playing with pipes, and of course, I miss the taste and the smell of a fine blend of pipe tobacco.

So, I began looking on the intertubes and using Google. That's where the headshop analogy came in. Everybody is selling bongs, glass pipes, metal pipes, rolling papers, rolling machines, etc., etc., etc. You actually have to look somewhat carefully to find websites dealing exclusively with tobacco and pipes.

Back in the day, my favorite tobacconist was Tinderbox, and my favorite blend as North Seas. Well, lo and behold, they're still in business (https://www.tinderbox.com/) and, they still sell North Seas. What a find! But, there's also some other fine pipe shops online. For example, Smoking Pipes.com (https://www.smokingpipes.com/). Their motto: 'Fresh Pipes Served Daily.'

Smoking Pipes carries an amazing line of pipes and tobaccos. Their pipes are gorgeous, but range a bit too upscale for my smoke. Their tobaccos, many of which are available in traditional tins, is really a world-class selection.

So, I needed to find a more economical sourse. What better place online for used stuff than eBay? There's nothing wrong with used tobacco pipes. In the pipe world, they're referred to as 'estate' pipes. You can score significant savings on eBay by participating in auctions. It's easy and fun. Sometimes too easy and too fun.

The only downside, once you've scored an estate pipe, is the rehabilitation of the pipe you just won. But, that's part of the fun of pipes. Sooner or later, you have to overhaul or rehab pipes that you might have purchased new, so it's chance to practice new skills, and the plus side, is that you end up with a pipe, that is as good as new, but cost you significantly less.

Here's the pipes I got on eBay:

A little cleaning and some polishing and this one should be one cool smoke. I'm looking forward to this one for some reason. I just like its lines.
Butz Choquin Dauphine Rhodesian








This one, I'm really taken with the shape. It's light, a few slight dings around the bowl, and the stem needs some TLC, but when it's done, should also be a fine smoke.
Bruce Peters Bent Billiard







I had an Oom Paul (Dutch for Uncle Paul) meerschaum years ago. I loved it. This will be a close second once it's cleaned and shined up.
Wally Frank Red Root Oom Paul








I'm still waiting for this one to arrive via USPS and Belize Post. It was really cheap and even better, it's unsmoked. Right out of the box, fire that puppy up.
Bando Full Bent Apple Briar











Then, this bomber. My bid of $7.00 US was the winning bid. Wow. It looks massive but is quite light, and like the Bando above, has never been smoked. Even cooler, it came all the way from Poland!
Oom Paul Freehand Briar
By Nowakowski, Poland















Now, I'm just waiting on tools, pipe cleaners, a reamer, some stem wax, and a pot of carnauba wax. That'll get me started for sure.

As for a fire starter, there's a ton of butane or Zippo-type lighters out there, but I'm a purist, as far as pipe smoking goes. I like matches. I've got two full packs of 10 boxes of matches, ready to go. I'd like to eventually get some sulfur-free matches. They improve the taste a bit, and you don't have to wait for the sulfur to burn off.

Oh, yes. The other important part that I'm waiting for is tobacco. That's kind of necessary with this hobby. I've ordered six tins of tobacco from Smoking Pipes.

First Three Tins
Second Three Tins
All six come highly recommended. I'm looking forward to giving each of them a try or two.

A quick note about importing tobacco into Belize. It ain't easy - or cheap. The duty is 100% for starters, then there's GST (Goods and Services Tax) and probably an environmental fee. Thankfully, each is only about 1.5 ounces so the overall cost will be bearable, or smokable, as the case may be. The tobacco won't show up till next month (October) sometime.

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