Blog by Steve Laug
Back in 2002 my wife and I celebrated our 25th Wedding Anniversary and were gifted a trip to the United Kingdom. We traveled from Gatwick to Cambridge, York, up into Edinburgh, Oxford, Bath and then London. In each spot we stopped along the way to visit tobacco shops. I was pretty sure that many would disappear over the years and I was not sure when we would get back for another visit. One of my favourite shops was the Frederick Tranter shop in Bath. It was not a big shop but it was packed with pipes and tobacco. It smelled and looked like a proper tobacco shop.
I decided that I would buy a new pipe from the shop to commemorate our anniversary and the trip. I picked out a little bulldog with a coral like rustication. It is stamped Fredk Tranter over Pipe Shop Bath over Centurion and also shape #28. I purchased some Cigarummer from the shop to smoke while I was there. It is a nice blend of Cavendish, Dark Virginia spiced with Cigar leaf and laced with Jamaica Rum. I went outdoors and sat down and smoked a bowl of the tobacco in my new pipe. That was the beginning of a new relationship with this pipe. I smoked the rest of the Cigarummer throughout the trip and when I returned home. The pipe delivered a good smoke that was made better with the memory of having picked it out personally from the shop.
The interesting thing that I found when I bought the pipe was that it came with a printed guarantee that was folded and placed in the envelope that is pictured above. I have photographed that guarantee and included it below. The front side of the sheet contains a list of the various fine Tobaccos blended and sold exclusively by Frederick Tranter shops in Bath, Oxford and Cambridge.
On the other side of the sheet are a few notes “…intended to assist you to obtain the maximum pleasure and long service from your new pipe and are drawn from the personal pipe smoking experience and accumulated trade knowledge of successive generations of Guild Tradesmen.” With those words the page goes on to describe how to Break in a new pipe, Special care for block meerschaum and meerschaum lined pipes, Common Faults in Smoking and finally the Conditions of Guarantee.
The Common Faults listed are unique to this document as I have not seen them listed in this way elsewhere. They are as follows:
I love the words of the Guarantee so I quote them here:
“Smokers must bear in mind that briar root is wood, and of its very nature combustible and cannot be absolutely guaranteed against burning. Our guarantee covers the bowl only of pipes for ninety days against faulty materials or workmanship also against cracking or burning – always provided reasonable care has been taken. This guarantee covers only one replacement and does not cover bowls burst by over carbonizing, bowls worn thin by constant scraping, or pipes which split or snap at the junction of bowl and stem. Such breakages are usually due to accidental damage.
WARNING. The most vulnerable part of a pipe is the spigot (or ‘peg’) joining bowl and stem. Always take care when separating: never attempt to separate them while the pipe is hot, and never ‘knock’ a pipe out – be patient and enjoy it, it could save you a repair!
This guarantee is offered in addition to the Consumer’s Statutory Rights, which it in no way affects.”
The words of instruction are even present in the guarantee. The almost tongue in cheek choice of words is well done and quite clear as to the limitations of the guarantee. The page ends with the name of the pipe, who sold it and the date of the sale – in this case 5 May 2002.
I continue to enjoy the pipe and it delivers a good smoke. It is well broken in and it is now dedicated to Virginia flakes. It is a good smoking flake pipe. I have not had to exercise the guarantee as the pipe is as good as new – only broken in and having a bit of tooth chatter. One day if I get back to Bath I will take the pipe with me and for old time sake pick up some more of the Cigarummer blend to run through it. If you are ever visiting in Bath why not stop by and visit the shop. Who knows, you might just find a pipe for the rack.