Category Archives: Pipe and Tobacco Historical Documents

House of Robertson Pipes – Boise Pipe Carver Thayne Robertson

Blog by Bob Hartman

I have restored quite a few pipes by Thayne Robertson (, Jeff and I were drawn to them as we grew up in Idaho and spent time in Boise for school and family fun. I have been looking for information on the carver, Thayne Robertson since I started restoring his pipes and was surprised to see this article show up on a FaceBook Group on Boise History that I follow. It was written in December 29, 2019 by Bob Hartman who is an Admin for the group. Here is a link to the article and the comments on it. (

I wrote Bob a message and he responded. I have included that interchange below as it is quite interesting.

Hi Bob. I have a pipe refurbishing blog called rebornpipes. I have restored quite a few of Thayne Robertson’s pipes. I came across the article on the Boise History Page and would love to post it on the rebornpipes blog. Is that allowable?

Bob replied

Feel Free.

I wrote him and asked if he wrote it as it was very good. Here is what he sent me.

Yes, I did. I grew up always seeing Thayne’s pipe shop downtown Boise, and like many I remember the wonderful smell. A couple of years ago I aquired a photo of him and one of his large carvings, and it intrigued me enough too take a closer look at Mr. Robertson. His son Jon who also worked in the shop is still living in Boise, but I have not been able to contact him.

Without further ado I invite you to read about Thayne Robertson, a Boise, Idaho pipe maker. Thanks Bob for permission to repost this on rebornpipes. Enjoy.

The pipes Thayne Roberson started carving as a hobby in college became so popular that in 1940-41 he opened the Ye Olde Pipe Shop in the Egyptian Theater building. A year later he moved his shop to 203 N. 9th. By 1948 he needed more room and moved his shop next door to 205 N. 9th, and renamed his business House Of Robertson. In 1951 he moved the shop once again. This time to 105 S. 9th, on the other side of Main Street from his old shop. He stayed there until 1956.

In April of 1956 Thayne announced that he was closing shop and leaving Boise, but it appears that there was a change in plans. In November of the same year he reopened the business out of his home shop on Clark Street, then in 1964 Thayne announced that he was once again opening a new pipe store downtown, at 216 N. 9th. This would be his final location. The store most of us probably remember.

Robertson pipes were, in fact, world renown. Pipes being produced at the time were holdovers from the previous century. Thayne’s new free form designs turned the pipe world on its ear. Few crafts have been infuenced more by one artist than pipe making was by Thayne. Other makers scrambled to get his latest catalog to copy his work. Thayne mastered mail order sales early on, and had by 1948 mailed pipes to sixteen foreign countries and all 48 states. When Britian’s Ambassador Lord Invechapel came through Boise he stopped and picked up a couple of pipes from Thayne. One Mr. E. Housinkveld from the Netherland’s ordered a Calabash, a style unavailable in Holland. Thayne also carried a patent on a model he called the “Stoker”, which operated on the same principle as an old coal stoker, the bowl being fed through an auger system. . . . but wait a sec.

Actually Thayne’s pipes are not what I meant to talk about. We need to back up to 1934. Back when Thayne made his living as a journeyman pressman for The Capital News, and carved as a hobby. It was in 1934 that Thayne heard that a wooden Indian was needed for a Hollywood movie, and decided to give it a shot. After dragging home a tree that he had cut down in the Boise mountains, he spent around 100 hours chopping out a figure of Sacajawea, complete with papoose. Hollywood wasn’t interested, but he found a private collector who was.
Encouraged by the sale, Thayne continued carving wooden Indians, but was discouraged in the amount people were willing to pay for them. As he figured that he was pulling in about 25 cents an hour carving, he kept his day job.

Around 1944 several night clubs had opened in the area and several of them wanted a wooden Indian as advertising. They commissioned Thayne to produce the life size figures, which he sold for $400 each. It wasn’t long before Thayne could quit his day job, and moved his Indian carving into his shop on 9th street.

By 1954 Thayne was producing as many as 25 Indians in a good year, and a career total of about 70. He carved them for many different types of businesses, except for one. He never sold a wooden Indian to a cigar store. The only tobacco store to receive a wooden Indian was when he carved one for his own. One time a Midwestern tourist trap commissioned him to carve life size figures of Jesse James, Wild Bill Hickok, Billy the Kid, Sitting Bull, Belle Star, Johnny Ringo, Bill Dalton, and Chief Big Foot, which was over 7 feet tall. Now that is a tall order! (Sorry about that)

He appeared on two national television shows, “What’s My Line” in 1953, and “To Tell the Truth” in 1966, as a carver of wooden Indians.

Thayne’s obituary states that he “invented literally thousands of original pipe designs, and is regarded by knowledgeable pipe experts as America’s pre-eminent 20th century pipe craftsman and designer.” As a carver of pipes and Indians “He may very well have been the most prominent folk artist in the history of Idaho, and it is hoped that someday he may be accorded the recognition that he deserved.”

Thayne Robertson died January 24, 1987 at 72 years old.

Smoke King UK Tobacconist Beginner’s Guide to Pipe Smoking

Smoke King in the UK put this Beginner’s Guide to Pipe Smoking together and it has some helpful material for the pipe smoker gathered in one place. Make sure to visit their website for pipes and tobaccos (

Give the guide a read.

Personality – An Introduction to Your New Pipe

Over the years I have picked up various booklets and pamphlets on different brands of pipes. I take photos or scans of the documents and include them on rebornpipes for others to have access to them. Give the booklet a read. Thanks!


A Complimentary Alfred Dunhill of London Snuff Sampler

Blog by Steve Laug

Irene and I were visiting with my brother and his wife on the Oregon Coast this past week and we had a great time together pipe hunting, trying out restaurants and going through the goodie bags he brought for me. He had cleaned up a good batch of nice pipes for me and brought them along to look at. There are some amazing pipes in the lot – but enough of that as you will see them in the days ahead. He also brought along some other interesting things that he had picked up in some of the estates that we had purchased. One of them was this Bamboo covered box. It had a hinged lid that was stamped “With the Compliments of Alfred Dunhill of London. It was narrow and a bit heavy. I opened the lid to have a look at what it contained and saw the six small jars with black lids and labels. There was also a small booklet in the inside of the cover that read Alfred Dunhill Special Snuff. Snuff is not something I have tried or even wanted to try out as the idea of inhaling powder up my nose is not of interest to me. But this setup was quite interesting and was the first Complimentary package of tobacciana that I had seen.I took the small jars out of the box and took several pictures of them. They had an ivory colored label with black images and lettering on them. There were six different snuffs in the box. These included Menthus, Menthus Plus, Aperitif, French Carotte, Carnation and Oriental. These different varieties were described in the booklet that came with the snuffs. I have included photos of the booklet below.The pamphlet had a cover with two figures on each side of an oval sign that read Alfred Dunhill Special Snuff and was written by Richard Dunhill. The backside read Dunhill with a crest that read By Appointment to Her Majesty the Queen (over) Suppliers of Smoking Requisites (over) Alfred Dunhill London.  Inside was an interesting article written by Richard Dunhill himself. On one side it gave a series of paragraphs including Snuff Making and Grinding, Why is Snuff Taken, How to Take Snuff, Happy Snuffing. The other side had a Description of the Snuffs included in the sampler and a brief History of Snuff. I have included the pages below for your reading pleasure. Richard Dunhill had a way with words as both his book and this pamphlet show. Each of the bottles of snuff was described clearly in the pamphlet. Those descriptions are interesting so I have included them here.

Menthus – a medicated snuff. Its medications include Menthol from Brazil, Formosa and Japan, Camphor distilled from laurel leaves from Formosa, Japan and the Far East, and Eucalyptus from Australia and the neighbouring islands.

Menthus Plus – a finer-ground derivative of Dunhill’s Menthus Snuff, somewhat stronger but a truly remarkable snuff, wonderful for clearing a stuffy head.

Aperitif – a refreshing, stimulating snuff, developed from an 18th Century recipe, it is a good example of the supreme quality of British snuff.

French Carotte – a traditional 18th Century French snuff containing a mixture and fine perfumes. This snuff is a true classic

Carnation – a delicate fine-ground snuff always popular, scented exquisitely with distilled essence of carnation. Truly a classic snuff.

Oriental – a delightful Oriental blend which includes essential oils of Bergamot, Lavender, Calamus, Sandlewood and Rose.

The descriptions almost have an aroma.



John Redman Leaflet

Blog by Steve Laug

I found this John Redman leaflet saved on my iPad from from 2012-13. I think I found it in a box of papers that came with some estate pipes that Jeff and I purchased. I am not sure where it truly came from but I thought it was worth preserving here. Give it a read and enjoy! Thanks

Interesting Comoy’s Catalogue

Blog by Steve Laug

I was up early this morning and took some time over coffee to clear off the photos I have saved on my iPad. I came across these Comoy’s catalogue that I saved in 2013. I am not even sure where I picked it up to be honest. But I thought I would post it here to preserve it. There is some interesting information on the pages including some drawings of Comoy’s various innovations. Give the photos a read.

A Parker of London Pipe Catalogue

Blog by Steve Laug

In the interest of preserving historical pipe catalogues and leaflets I am always on the look out for those that I can scan and post on rebornpipes. Not to long ago I was given this colour Catalogue of Parker of London Pipes. It is a beautifully done catalogue with colour photos of the various lines of Parker pipes with a shape chart on the back cover. It is an interesting read and enjoyable to look over these beautiful pipes. Give the catalogue a read and pay particular attention to the descriptions of the various pipes. Really interesting read! Thanks.

Read a Scientific Analysis of Smoking Pipes by Francis P. Ellsworth

A few years back a faithful reader and friend in Newfoundland sent me an Ellsworth Rotobowl pipe as a gift. He had picked up several of them that were unsmoked and knew my love the old smoking oddities that are part of the perpetual hunt for the perfect smoke. He immediately packed one up and sent it my way. I wrote a blog about the pipe and today it still is unsmoked as I am having a hard time smoking this unique old pipe. Here is the link to that blog if you want to have a look a the pipe –

Then yesterday I received an mail through the blog from a reader, John S. who wrote me as follows:

Hello again, it’s been awhile. I just won an EBay auction for an Ellsworth Rotobowl with the original pamphlet. While looking for information on the pipe, your page came up 🙂

I was wondering if you would be interested in some pics of the “missing pages” of the pamphlet? If so let me know, and I will send you some pics.

I wrote John immediately and in short order he had photographed the pamphlet page by page and sent me the pics. I thought I would share them here so that any interested readers who either have a Rotobowl or are thinking about one have this information at their fingertips. Thanks for thinking of us John. Much appreciated. — Steve

Pipes by Bertram, Washington, D.C. Catalogue from 1950

Blog by Steve Laug

With the large collection of Bertram pipes that Jeff and I purchased I have been looking for a catalogue of shapes from the company. We have over 200 of them that we purchased from a fellow who bought them at an auction in the shop when they closed down. The issue for us is trying to communicate between Vancouver and Idaho Falls what shape photos I need at any given time. Chris Keene’s Pipe Pages used to be a great resource but it is gone now. I found a couple of pages that were teasers on Pipedia showing the pages 2-3 and 6-7. This made me want to find more. I finally found a good portion of the catalogue through a layered search through Pinterest and other sites. The link is to a Cyrillic site that is a pipe history blog and they had the majority of the catalogue ( I have saved the pages and added one from Pipedia… I am only missing a few pages now – pages 4-5, 18-19 and 20-21. Perhaps I will find those one day. Hope you find some use in this catalogue. Thanks.

I can’t believe it – rebornpipes is seven years old…

Blog by Steve Laug

One morning toward the end of May I was greeted by an Anniversary message from WordPress stating that rebornpipes was 7 years old. I was surprised that it was that had been that long to be honest. I have long since forgotten the exact year when the blog started and had no real idea of how long it has been going. I know that I started it in May and put up the first posts throughout the month. I had no recollection of the year I had done that. I find that the older I get the more quickly one year slides into the next and I lose track. With all that I am doing with work and home, remembering that kind of thing is not one of my priorities. I explain it to my wife and kids that it is like forgetting addresses but not forgetting locations. You ask me for an address and I typically don’t remember it but ask me how to get there and that is a different story. Ah well, it is good to have computer generated reminders of this kind of thing for folks like me.

After reading this reminder I have been thinking about the seven years that have passed. If I look at just the many pipes have re-entered the smoking rotations of people that alone is amazing. I looked at the stats on the Admin page and was a bit surprised to see that there are over 2800 individual blogs on rebornpipes. That means that we have recorded the restoration or refurbishing of over 2000 pipes from all levels of pipe craftsmanship. There are blogs on high-end pipes and on low end manufactured pipes and everywhere in between. These are solely the pipes belonging to folks who write blogs for rebornpipes or have sent us write-ups of their work. When you think about it in terms of pipes put back in use after being refurbished it is a lot of pipes.

That does not even begin to take into account those who have started their own blogs. Charles Lemon of DadsPipes and Dal Stanton of ThePipeSteward are two that come to mind. Those gentleman are doing great work and are bringing pipes back into service. (I know that Dal submits his work here and then reblogs it on his own site. However, when you consider he also lists pipes that can be commissioned for restoration it adds even more to that number.) I know that there are others who have also started their own blogs and pipe restoration businesses from our number that add to the mix. It is exciting to watch this community expand. The impact of rebornpipes continues to grow and develop and it is hard to know where it will go in the years ahead.

On top of those known individuals within our community are also the unknown ones. I cannot begin to give you numbers for the individuals – male and female who have entered the hobby after reading the blog. I know there are many because of the emails that I receive in thanks and with questions. There is rarely a day that goes by that I do not receive several emails from blog readers who have questions about restoration procedures or brands. This an exciting part of the blog for me because it is the outcome that I had hope for when I started. I remember when I started restoring pipes there was little information available online. I had to reach out to kind and helpful pipemen who answered my questions willingly. I know that rebornpipes fills a niche that has contributed to making pipe restoration and refurbishing accessible to anyone who wants to give it a try.

Another part of the over 2800 blogs is that of making information available on brands and makers. I have scanned dozens of pamphlets, catalogues and brochures that have been sent to me and added them to the information that it available. I have also received many scanned documents as gifts to be added to the blog. The beauty of this is that there is a lot of research that has been done on brands pulling together information from a variety of sources online – Pipedia, pipephil, pipemaker websites and Patent sites. This is easily accessible to anyone searching for information. There is a repository of booklets, brochures and pamphlets that have been made available on a lot of different brands. rebornpipes blogs and materials are often high on the Google searches that folks do and for that I too am thankful. It has been a process to get here but it is also something grand to celebrate as it is also an outcome I had dreamed of when I started.

Finally rebornpipes also includes other pieces of pipe information such as reviews of books, tools, supplies and pipes. These are brief and experiential reviews to enable the readers to peruse them prior to investing in them personally. I have also included some of my own contributions to pipe lore through Father Tom stories, short stories and personal reflections on the art and craft of pipe refurbishing. This was also an outcome I had dreamed of when I started the blog. rebornpipes really does have a broad range of information available to the reader who uses it. Sometimes I forget the breadth of material that is stored on the blog.

As I close these reflections I want to thank each of you readers for faithfully being part of our community and also submitting your work to be included. It is great to be a part of this community of people that really make distance quite irrelevant. I realized that seven years is a remarkable time for a blog to be active and growing. Each year is marked by growth of daily readership and also materials. It surprises me that the readership continues to grow with people following us from around the world. I had no idea when I began of the reach the blog would have nor of the community of refurbishers that would be built. For that I am truly grateful.

Here’s to the next seven years and more….