Category Archives: Pipe Related Essays

Short and not so short essays on pipes and tobacciana

Realizing my dream for a rebornpipes community

Blog by Steve Laug

Over the years of my dabbling in pipe restoration and refurbishing I have experienced many helpful individuals who took time to school me in the work that I do. Both repair people and pipe makers took time to answer my questions as they arose. They would do so by email, phone or in person. I never ran into a situation where they were not willing to be interrupted to help me out with what to me was an “urgent” question. They often would follow-up on what I had asked to see if it had worked out or if I had further questions. I experienced a great sense of community with them in our common love of the pipe. When I could visit them, I did so and enjoyed a bowl together. The comradery was unequaled to other experiences I have had both in the hobby and outside the hobby in my various jobs.

When I started dreaming and working on the concept for rebornpipes it was early in 2012. I knew that I wanted to create an online community of pipe refurbishers – both amateur and those who make a living at it. I wanted that community to be like the one I continue to experience to this day. When I run into questions and want some advice from someone who has already done the repair I just reach out with an email or a phone call. I wanted to create a place where folks who refurbish pipes could share their expertise and methods with one another and continue to learn new ways of working on the briar we love. I wanted it to be a judgmental free forum of methods and ideas of restoration. I wanted it to be a place were a beginner and a veteran refurbisher would find a forum of ideas and methods. What I am speaking of is quite simply an interactive community where there are no “dumb questions”. All of us can reach forward to someone who knows more than we do and back to someone who is just beginning. I was hoping that kind of place would be possible to start.

When I began the blog in May of 2012, I had no idea whether it would fly or whether I would be closing up shop soon after opening. I knew that I was putting together a repository of the methods of restoring pipes that I had collected over years of working on my own pipes. I have always recorded the process of restoration as I often posted them on the various pipe forums that I frequented at that time. I had a backlog of files with photos and step-by-step procedures that I had taken on each pipe I worked on. I established a template for the writing style and the form of each piece I had written. At that point in time, I could find no one who was doing anything remotely like I wanted to do, so I had to invent it myself.

I researched the web to find some kind of place to build the site I had in mind. I knew that I did not want a website or a forum. I wanted something that did not limit the number of photos or the number of words I wrote in a post. I wanted something that would grow with time and be able to incorporate the work of others, not just myself. I wanted the site to have the capacity for discussion and interaction on each post. I had a lot of ideas that needed to be available for the site to work for me. My youngest daughter, Sarah had started a blog on WordPress and suggested that a blog might be the right kind of format for what I wanted to do. I went on the WordPress site and read through everything they had on setting up a blog on their site.

I worked through the site and everything I looked at seemed like it was perfect for my demands. I took the plunge and registered for a free blog on WordPress. I knew next to nothing about setting up a blog and adding text or photos. I knew next to nothing about inviting others to use the blog. I had no idea how to monitor it and screen out the incessant spam that comes with any internet adventure. I was as green as could be with regard to the world of blogging. I knew how to write and I had a large backlog of pieces that I could post. The adventure began. I don’t remember how many posts I put online before I advertised it on Smokers Forums and other Forums – maybe 25 or so. I did not know at that time how to link it to Facebook or Twitter for a larger reach. I just dived in and went from there. Not long after I began, a friend from England on Smokers Forums drew a header image for the new blog. Kirk sent me the following piece that he had put together. I grace the top of every page of the site for several years. I have included it below, because even that was a foretaste of the community I was dreaming would form around rebornpipes.I will never forget the moment that Neill Archer Roan read a couple of pieces on the blog (maybe more) and recommended my blog on his Passion for Pipes site. That is where things really took off for rebornpipes. Traffic increased over time. I asked Al Jones (upshallfan) if he would consider writing for the blog about his restoration work. I started haunting the restoration and refurbishing sections on the forums and asking people to contribute to the blog. Slowly at first, then with increasing momentum, new contributors were added and the blog began to come alive. The one piece I had yet to unravel was how to get readers to interact with the writers of each blog. I invited them and emailed others to kind of seed the idea but nothing seemed to work. I laid that aside and hoped that one day it would just happen.

The years have actually flown by and I can hardly believe that five years have already passed. Much of what I dreamed would happen has happened. New people write regularly thanking me for starting this blog. Others post on Facebook, Twitter, and the forums referencing to rebornpipes and thanking the writers and contributors of blogs to the site. The interaction between readers and  writers grows every month and new followers are added daily. A growing and vibrant community of refurbishers provides the knowledge base to folks who are just beginning to explore the world of pipe refurbishing. Questions are asked, comments are made and recommendations are given through the comment feature on the blogs. A store, selling refurbished pipes is also available and links to other refurbishers who are selling their work are regularly provided in the pieces that they  write. I am thrilled with the life that rebornpipes has now as it is daily growing into the place that I dreamed it would be.

On June 1, 2017 I wrote a blog reflecting on rebornpipes fifth year in existence. You can read the entire blog at this link: I want to quote just a part of it here as it illustrates how my original dream is being fulfilled. Today at the five-year mark, I look back and the blog has taken on a life of its own. It has grown from just my own posts to those of over 20 contributors. Al Jones (upshallfan) has been with me from the beginning and I am thankful for his support and friendship. Throughout the years, other contributors have come and gone and new ones are added regularly. Each one brings their own flavor and flair to the work of refurbishing. Their style and innovations leave me excited to read the next post… I thank each one of you who have contributed to the blog so far and remind the readers that the door is always open for you to make your own contributions to the hobby. Email me at for information on post formats and details.

What does the future hold for rebornpipes? To be honest it is just now coming to life in the way I had dreamed it would. Out of it, others have created their own blogs that contribute to the love of pipe restoration. Some of them certainly could speak for themselves how rebornpipes contributed or has not contributed to their own blog and I will leave that to them if they choose to do so. I have no idea where the blog will go or what its life expectancy will be but I am committed to continue to post and pay the bills to keep it going as long as I am able. It remains a major part of each day to read and do the housekeeping on the blog. I have the app on my iPad and my iPhone so I can do the work wherever I am at the moment. My morning begins with a cup of coffee and reading what others have posted and commented from around the world while I slept.

Once again I want to thank you all – those dreamers among you who contribute your own work, those of you who read and comment faithfully now, those of you who read and email to let me know how much you are enjoying the blog and all who are loyal readers and enjoy the blog on your own. Thank you to each of you who send questions and now contact me through the contact button on the front page for help in your own restorations. It is a pleasure to be able to help you as you work on your own restorations and repairs. It is a joy for me to see my dream coming to pass. It is a joy to be a part of the community that has formed around rebornpipes.

I raise my pipe to each of you who love the work of refurbishing, bringing old pipes back to life and passing on the trust that is symbolized in a briar that outlives each of us. It is because of that commonality that I continue to work and continue to post. Thank you all.


The Solitary Pipe Smoker Revisited

Blog by Steve Laug

This drawing came to me from Bill Cumming as a gift. He found it on his journeys. To me the illustration captures the solitary nature of the ritual of the pipe.

A few years ago, I wrote a blog called The Solitary Pipe Smoker in which I spoke of my own predilection toward being a solitary pipe smoker. I wrote it with no disrespect for the community of pipe smoking folks – male and female with whom I have had the pleasure of communing while enjoying my pipe. Rather, I wrote it because in my life I need time that is not filled with “noise” – good, bad or neutral – to recentre and refocus my life. I wrote of how the pipe is able to give me space and time to do just that. The ritual of the pipe is almost sacramental, in that it creates the space in my head and in my life to step away and regroup. The link to the original blog is ( For me, the fact that I have to pay attention to the ritual and move through the steps of loading, packing, lighting and tamping my pipe in itself pulls my thoughts into the circle of the bowl.

Like others, I thoroughly enjoy the comradery of a group of pipe folks – sharing tobaccos, while swapping stories and pipes is a pleasure I don’t take lightly. Several years have gone by since I wrote that blog and I thought it was time to revisit my thinking. I have bought, sold and traded quite a few pipes over that period. I have had great visits with pipe folk around the world over a pint or a coffee while enjoying a favourite bowl together. I wondered with the passage of time if my understanding of the solitary habit of my pipe smoking had changed at all. Had my need for space and time alone made any radical shift since I wrote that? Have I become more social in my pipe smoking and less solitary? These and other questions ran through my mind. Yes, it is time revisit my thinking on the solitary dimension of my pipe smoking.

I set aside some time over the past weeks to think about the questions that I posed above. I have reflected on my thoughts from the previous blog and have read others who have written on the communal aspect of pipe smoking. I wanted to compare my earlier thinking with what others have written about the communal nature of the pipe. Some of them have gone so far as to say that pipe smoking is best as a communal experience. For me that has not necessarily been true in the past. Therefore, to check my experience I have taken time for introspection and self-examination; I have to say that I have become even more committed to the time of solitude with my pipe since I wrote the earlier blog. The solitary nature of pipe smoking is sacred to me. It addresses a need in my life for time that is free of the interruption of speech or noise.

Why is that true for me? My every day work life is crowded with people and conversations. I spend 8-12 a day, 5-6 days a week talking with people face to face, on the internet, or the phone. By the end of my day, I am certain that I have used my quota of words. I am talked out and have nothing left to say. I long for the quiet of solitude. No sounds, no talking, no music, no need to respond or pay attention to another person – just quiet, alone time.

However, this is where the problem comes into focus for me. I am not a hermit who lives alone in his cabin in the woods. I live in community with my wife of 40+ years and 3 of our adult daughters. When we get home from work in the evenings, everyone wants to engage and be family – except me. I want to disappear and I get that haunted look in my eyes of a captive who cannot hide. What am I supposed to do? Do I just ignore the needs of the family and selfishly cling to my own needs – real or imagined? Do I stuff my need for quiet and just man up and do the work? Do I come up with an alternative that works for all of us in my family?

Together my wife, daughters and I came up with a workable solution for us – it allows me some solitude before I engage with my family. It is simple and it gives me the space I need and gives them the Husband and Dad they want. When I get home from work, I go to my workshop and fiddle with restoring pipes or have a bowl of tobacco on my front porch or maybe both. By the time dinner is ready my equilibrium has been restored and I can be present in the family. The time with the pipe – either puffing it or restoring it or both gives me the separation that I need to leave the talking of the day behind me. It gives me the solitude that is so necessary for the introverted me to be able to be ready to re-engage with my family. This solution has worked for us for many years now and I find that relieves a lot of pressure that they or I can impose on myself for not being able to listen well to my family after spending a day listening to others.

My reflections confirm that solitude is important not only for my own spiritual and emotional health but for my ability to engage fully in the events of my life and enjoy the present. However, I have also learned that no matter how important solitude is for me, it remains elusive in my life if I do not make space for it. My life filled with noise, busyness and the intrusion of the internet will always take precedence if I do not challenge it. It is hard to leave the noise behind and spend time alone. Many people do not like to spend time alone. They find it uncomfortable and hard to do. To take the time to be alone is actually countercultural and challenging. To maintain a routine of solitude is even harder.

Solitude – where all external communication, noise and internal noise and chaos stops is becoming a fading memory for most people I know. The idea of stopping the doing and just being is becoming harder for folks to imagine. However, I have found that it is a necessity that if neglected has consequences for me. Those consequences range from malaise and weariness that can easily progress to burn out to being so busy that I forget to care for myself with all of the accompanying issues that arise from that. So how do I ensure that I take the time to be solitary? How do I maintain this needed respite?

I have learned that this is where my pipe can facilitate the introspective, quiet time that I require. It is a pleasure that I enjoy and a past time that provides me with the quiet I long for. When I settle on the porch or shop with my pipe and a favourite tobacco the move into solitude begins. The smell of the unpacked pipe begins the process of transporting me into quiet. The feel of the pipe in my hand is inviting. I open the tin or pouch of tobacco and inhale deeply of the aroma. I love that moment when the components of the blend spin around and come together with a delightful pouch note. I slowly breathe out, exhaling the stress of my life. I put the pipe bowl in the pouch or the tin and push the tobacco into the bowl with a finger or thumb. If it is a flake tobacco, I rub it out between my fingers and thumb or on the palm of my hand until it is the right consistency for a smoke. I pack the bowl almost unthinkingly now as I have done it so long. I am often far away in my thoughts as I load the pipe. I use my thumb to test the pack of the bowl. All of these minute steps cause me to focus on a singular task and leave behind the events of my day.

When the flame is put to the smoke and the slight draw of smoke flows into my mouth it is like a sipping a good wine. I savour the flavor of the tobacco as it swirls around my mouth. I sip on the pipe, slowly setting a cadence to the smoke. A good smoke has to be unhurried and uninterrupted if it is going to be a quiet place for me. I find that when my wife or daughters talk with me in the process of the smoke, I lose the cadence and the magic is gone. That slow sipping of smoke into the mouth and letting it slowly leave through the mouth brings focus and quiet. As the smoke ascends and wreaths my head, reaching to the ceiling of my porch I sense the pipe drawing me into the circle of solitude. It is this moment where I could stay forever. Pipe smokers speak of a magic smoke, but for me each smoke that transports me to a peaceful spot is magic.

I have tried to move to that quiet place with others present on my porch. My son in law will join me for a pipe periodically and it is never quite the same. It is nothing he says or does, as often it is quiet.  It may be that my mind moves from that place of being unengaged to having to think about another person. I am not sure why but I know that doing that takes my focus off the moment and immediately makes it another social event for me. While it is often a pleasant experience for me, it still does not meet the need I feel for solitude.

I have found that it is only alone that I experience the magic of the pipe. I don’t think I have ever had the experience in the company of pipemen. No matter how convivial the gathering or how enjoyable the experience it is never the same. I think that the experience of the magic is linked to the solitude. I think that is why some have called pipe smoking sacramental. The pipe has the ability to transport the pipeman from the mundane of the day into a sacred place where the soul is at rest and prayer can happen without thinking. The wafting of smoke is not unlike the incense used in places of worship that lift the worshiper to a higher plane and out of their daily routine. The ritual of pipe smoking – the tamping, relighting and puffing slowly all work together the same way to lift me out of the day to day wrestling to a place of quietude.

As the last tamp is done and the last sip of smoke is drawn into my mouth I find myself moving back into the present. The pipe and the smoke have prepared me for re-entry into my home life. It makes the transition into the life of my family somehow more natural and less forced. I tap the bowl against the heel of my hand and tip the ashes into the flower bed below my front porch. I run a pipe cleaner through the stem and bowl and blow air through to remove any bits of tobacco in the bowl. Each step is part of the re-entry. The taste of the tobacco on the inside of my lips and the lingering smoke in my beard are reminders of the place of quiet I am leaving.

All that being said, I guess I am still a solitary pipe smoker most of the time. I am not a recluse or particularly anti-social but I long for and enjoy the quiet times alone with my pipe. The closest thing that provides me the same kind of moment is a pipe on a good walk. Each Sunday I walk to church with my wife and daughters. It is about a 30-40 minute walk and it provides a perfect opportunity to enjoy a bowl and some quiet. I dawdle along with a pipe in my mouth enjoying the day. If it is sunny so much the better and if it is raining it is not a deterrent.


I Bought a Collection of Estate Pipes

Blog by Steve Laug

One of the benefits of the blog is that I meet a lot of really nice people around the world – some of them pipe men and some of them family members. Not long ago I received an email from a fellow on the blog about some pipes that he had. His father had died in June and he was cleaning up the estate and found a box of pipes and accessories. He contacted me to see if I was interested in the lot. He did not want to piece them out; he wanted to sell them all. He sent me a small spread sheet of his Dad’s pipe collection so I could see what was included. He had a column with the stamping information on the pipes and noted any issues that he saw. We talked a few times on the phone about the condition of each pipe and I really enjoyed meeting and talking with him.We emailed back and forth and I called him several times. We chatted a bit about what he wanted to get for the collection in terms of a price and after discussing it with his wife and family we arrived at a fair price for the collection. He surprised me by adding all of the accessories along with the pipes as well as two pipe racks. I transferred the payment to him and the package was sent to my brother Jeff. It is simpler than sending it to Canada so it worked well for the seller to send it there.

When the package arrived in Idaho Jeff messaged me and said it was there. He took photos for me of the unpacking process so I could see what was there. This is the one thing I miss being far away – I don’t get the sense of surprise that comes as each pipe is unwrapped. No matter how well they have been described or how many photos have been included there is nothing quite the same as going over each piece in person.

Even though the U-Haul box says it is small it was a large box and well packed. The racks and surprises were packed in paper and protected by the crumpled packing materials. The pipes were individually wrapped in bubble wrap. Jeff unwrapped the two pipe racks and took photos of them for me (Understand – the photos were coming on messenger as soon as he unwrapped them so I was virtually experiencing the thrill of each piece he took out of the box). The first rack was a 9 pipe circular rack with room in the middle for a humidor (which was missing). It appeared to be made of walnut and was in good condition. The second rack was a 12 pipe rack and was more worn. It too was probably walnut but had a dark opaque stain on it.The next item out of the box was a mysterious cedar cigar box held closed by a rubber band. This was the surprise I had not expected in the lot. I could not wait to see the next photo and know what was in the box. I don’t know about you but when I find this kind of closed box I have all kinds of notions as to what may be inside and over the years most of those notions have been realized.Jeff removed the rubber band and opened the lid. He took a photo of the contents inside without going through them so I could see what he saw. I could see a lot of different items from pipe knives to reamers to brushes to mysterious little tubes in the top right corner. Inside the box, before he could see the contents, he had to remove some leather pipe bags. These were stamped Amphora Xtra Holland.Jeff unpacked the surprise box slowly and photographed each step of his discovery. I have already written a blog on what the box contained so I won’t repeat it here. Suffice, to say that there were some reamers and pipe parts that I have been looking for and not found for quite a few years. Here is the link to the blog. The photos that follow tell the story better that words. With the mystery box unpacked and inventoried Jeff went on to unpack the carefully wrapped pipes. He took photos of the lot once he had removed them from the box and before he unwrapped them. The suspense was building for me. I wondered how each pipe looked. Descriptions and spread sheets can only tell so much but when you have the pipe in hand you know far more.The seller had put a small paper label on each pipe describing what he found as he went over them for me. The descriptions matched the spread sheet that he had emailed. Some of the pipes had pipe cleaners in the stem and shank. The photos show each set of pipes as he unwrapped them. As I saw them I was getting more excited about them. They were dirty and had cake in the bowls and wear on the stem but I was happy to see that the work needed was less than expected. The next photo is a little blurry but I have included it because I think it adequately captures the excitement of unwrapping each successive package. There were some very nice old pipes in this lot. Some were average and some were above average. It was going to be a fun lot to work on.Jeff took a photo of the rim top and bowl to give me a better idea of the condition of the pipes. There were no surprises here – mostly what I expected tired and dirty pipes that needed TLC. Jeff took a series of photos of side view of the pipes as a group. The pipes looked like they were in good shape. He set up all of the pieces of this purchase on his table and took a series of photos of the whole together – pipes, accessories, reamers and racks. It looks very good. I am looking forward to working on this batch of pipes and restoring them to their former glory. It is a nice batch of pipes and I am excited to work on them. The mix of brands is interesting and will make it fun as well. The additional surprise of the reamers, pipe knives and parts is a great bonus. I could not be happier with this estate purchase. I send my thanks to the seller and posthumously to his father the pipe man. I will think of you both as I work on each one.

Rediscovering my old Nimrod Lighter

Blog by Steve Laug

Not too long ago I was scrolling through the Gentlemen’s Pipe Smoking Society on Facebook on a lunch break and came across a post on Nimrod Pipe Lighters. The poster included a lot of sales brochures and booklets that showed how to use and care for the lighter. The first poster caught my eye because the gold coloured Nimrod in the ad was identical to the one that I have in my pipe cabinet. The post made me want to read further and copy the link and the pictures and leaflets that were posted. Here is the ad that caught my eye.When I got home from work I took my lighter out of the pipe cabinet and took a good long look at it. It is a lighter that I had not used for a long time. It is one I have not even spent time with for quite a while. It really is a nice accessory and one that is pleasing to the eye. While I looked at it I tried to remember how it ended up in my hands. I think it may have been a gift to me from a pipe man name Daryl in Washington. Over the years we sent each other tobacco and pipes. I did a few repairs for him and visited him in his home. We shared some bowls and stories together. The more I think about it the more am certain that it came from him. One day out of the blue he sent the lighter. He said that he had several and thought of me and sent it my way. It is a nice pipe accessory and make a great addition to my pipe lighters. It is gold/polished brass in colour with a brown vinyl lizard skin covering on the bottom half of the lighter. I took some photos of the lighter from various angles and sides to capture the uniqueness of the Nimrod.  The top of the lighter has a slotted screw that when unscrewed hold the flint. On the right or left side there is a striker wheel that when spun with the thumb against the flint produced a spark that ignited the wick in the other end of the barrel. The wick sat in a reservoir of lighter fluid so it ignited when the flame caught it. On the underside of the lighter the stamping is faint but in a bright light it reads NIMROD ® PIPELITER Made in the USA.There was great photo of the lighter with the flame captured. It is the same lighter I have and the look is the same.Going through the various sales brochures and inserts I could see that the one I had was labeled as a Nimrod Executive NO. 900E. It was described as having a gold anodized finish and vinyl lizard grip. I have circled it in red below.Mine is a top of the line lighter. There was also another model that I have had and passed on to others called a Sportsman. The person who posted on Facebook also included a display of this line of Nimrod lighter. I love the advertising on the card – America’s Favorite Pipeliter. At $4.95 and an unconditional guarantee with never a charge for repairs it was a great deal.The patent on the pipe was filed on May 17, 1946 by A.F. Ward Jr. and the patent was granted on December 9, 1947. The patent number is 2,432,265.Included in the post were two instructional brochures on the Use, Care and Feeding of Your Nimrod. I expect that these were in the boxes the lighters came in originally. When I received my lighter it did not include the instructions. However, the lighter was pretty self-explanatory. Now that I have read over these pamphlets and instructions I am even more interested than ever to refill the lighter fluid and start to use the lighter again. I love reading these old pieces of tobacciana that take me back to an earlier simpler time. Enjoy reading these documents.

One of those Antique Mall finds that makes you catch your breath

Blog by Steve Laug

This past weekend my wife and I took some much needed R&R and checked into a nice hotel about an hour and a half from home. We needed a break, as both of our work schedules have been heavy and my travel schedule has been quite demanding. It was great to be together and spend the weekend without a ringing phone and the ever-present work demands. We had plans for Saturday morning until about noon. However, we were absolutely free on Saturday afternoon and Sunday. We used the afternoon to visit one of our favourite spots. It has great restaurants, brewpubs and many different kinds of shops. One shop that we always check out is an antique mall. Irene always seems to find something there and so do I. She was happy to have found an older hard cover cookbook to replace one she had given away. I could not believe what I found. It was in the last row of the stalls in the mall, in almost the last booth. I looked in a cupboard thinking I might find something. There in the middle of the cupboard there was an old style tin of Capstan Medium Strength Navy Cut tobacco.

The label covered the lower part of the tin and goes about half way up the tin. The tin itself was oxidized and discoloured but did not appear to be punctured or compromised. The label on the front side of the tin reads; Medium Strength “Capstan” Navy Cut over W.D. & H.O. Wills, Bristol & London. You can see the layout of the label in the photo to the left. I could not believe what I was seeing. This looked like an old timer. I have handle a lot of old empty tobacco tins in my hunt for that full tin hidden among the tobacciana memorabilia. Many have looked like they had something in them. Some were empty or at best half full of old dried and rattling tobacco that was beyond its life. The difference was that this tin had a hand written tag from the seller that said that it was unopened. It was hard to tell through the glass of the cupboard what the seller meant by unopened. I purchased a “sealed” tin of older Balkan Sobranie that was open under the metal top cap once I opened it at home. The tobacco had dried out. Even rehydrating it did not bring the true depth of flavour of the tobaccos. So I was dubious about this “unopened tin”. I was hopeful that it was; and if so then the price of $25 was not a lot to pay for aged Virginia tobacco.

With a bit of “optimistic pessimism” I went to find the clerk to open the cupboard for me so I could check out the tin. I am one of those “got to have it in hand and check it out” kind of guys. I wanted to give it a light shake to see if it rattles. When the clerk opened the cupboard and handed me the tin I lightly shook it. Instead of a rattle, there was a thud as the contents moved from top to bottom. I looked at the sides and bottom of the tin and it appeared undamaged. I pried of the top and underneath the top of the tin was intact! I did not let the clerk see my enthusiasm at this point I just wanted to pay for the tin and take it to the car to check it out more thoroughly. I paid the $25 plus the extraneous taxes here in British Columbia and she wrapped the tin in newspaper and handed me the bag.

When I got to the car, I took it out of the wrapping and checked it out more carefully. The tin had a slight bulge on both the top and the bottom. It was sealed tight and there appeared to be no rusted areas or punctures in the tin surface. I was excited. I took photos of the top and the bottom of the tin. The photo to the left shows the top of the cap. The second photo shows the cap removed and the sealed tin. The third photo shows the bottom of the tin.

The embossed lettering on the top of the can reads, “To open the tin remove lid and press “V-Cut” until the point is directly downwards. Replace lid, press slightly and turn.” This gives simple and clear instructions on how to open the can. In essence the can has its own built-in can opener on the cap. The lettering on the underside of the can reads, “NAAFI Stores for HM Forces” in a circle around the outside with a CM in the centre.

The last tin photo below shows the back of the tin and label. The label on the back of the tin had same light and dark blue colour scheme as on the front of the tin. It reads Grand Diploma of Honour over a series of coins/medallions that span the top of the label. In a small banner centered under the medallions, it read Antwerp 1885. Under the top banner, there was a rectangular box with a star and the word Trade Mark in a square on either side of the rest of the label. In the remainder of the rectangle, it read Cut Cake Tobacco manufactured from specially selected Leaf. Being perfectly air tight and easily opened, this tin is the best package for preserving Tobacco in fine condition in all climates. At the bottom of the label it read, Capstan (Navy Cut) is supplied in the following grades and strengths: Mild – Yellow Label, Medium Strength – Blue Label, Full Strength – Chocolate Label.

I had no idea what NAAFI Stores was when I read the bottom of the tin. I understood the CM probably stood for Capstan Medium.

I also understood the HM Forces to mean Her Majesty’s Forces. This gave me a starting point to try to date the tin. I looked first on Wikipedia to learn about the NAAFI stamp. Here it the link:,_Army_and_Air_Force_Institutes#NAAFI_is_Born  In reading that I learned quite a bit. I quote that in part below.

After the First World War the Expeditionary Force Canteens (EFC) and the Navy and Army Canteen Board (NACB) did not return to the gratitude of the Nation. This was because EFC had made a large amount of profit from the sales of goods to the troops and opinion was divided as to what should be done with the money.

In March 1920 Winston Churchill, then Secretary of State for War, set up a committee to advise on the kind of organisation which would be needed for the Armed Forces in the future. The findings were unanimous; there should be one organisation to serve all three Services, it should be permanent and it should be able to rapidly expand or contract at times of war or peace. The Navy, Army, Air Force Institutes was therefore established on 6 December 1920 and started trading as NAAFI in 1921

As a not for profit organisation, with no shareholders to reward, NAAFI was asked to run the catering and recreational establishments needed by the armed forces. It had to make a profit for the good of the NAAFI customers – the men and women of the British Armed Forces- and so in addition it undertook to sell goods to servicemen and their families over and above those that were initially provided by the Royal Army Service Corps (RASC). The servicemen would benefit directly by getting cash rebates and discounts on purchases and indirectly through surpluses given back as a whole from each year’s trading.

For the first time the troops overseas were able to buy the same things in the canteen abroad as they could at home. NAAFI first saw overseas service in Ireland in 1922. Six years later NAAFI would have a presence in Bermuda, Ceylon, Germany, Gibraltar, Iraq, China, Jamaica, Malta, and the Middle East.

The NAAFI’s greatest contribution was during the Second World War. The Chairman & CEO during the war years was Sir Lancelot Royle and by April 1944 the NAAFI ran 7,000 canteens and had 96,000 personnel (expanded from fewer than 600 canteens and 4,000 personnel in 1939). It also controlled ENSA, the forces entertainment organisation. In the 1940 Battle of France alone, the EFI had nearly 3,000 personnel and 230 canteens.

From this I learned that NAAFI was formed by a committee set up by Churchill post WWI. The acronym NAAFI meant Navy, Army, Air Force Institutes and was formed in December of 1920 and began trading in 1921. It operated as a catering and recreation non-profit to sell goods to servicemen and their families. It was a discount store for servicemen. Its greatest contribution was during WWII growing from a small organization to a large one by 1944. This gave me a bit of a clue regarding the age of this can. Is it possible that this tin of tobacco remained unopened that long? Could it truly be from the time period of 1921-1945 with the close of WWII? I am not sure but that would date tin to the 1940’s. Is that true? Is that the correct period for this type of tin? I don’t really know. Perhaps some of you may be able to pin down the dates on this tin.

I close with an advertisement from the time period that I found while researching dates for this tin of tobacco. I love the language and the promises that are given in advertising from this time period. Things just seemed so much simpler in many ways – notice I said simpler, not better. Thanks for reading this blog.


It captured my attention: a beautiful Rinaldo Titania Lithos YY Author

Blog by Steve Laug

I don’t know if you have had this happen to you. But you probably have if you have been a pipe man for long. Today on my lunch hour I was browsing the Gentlemen’s Pipe Smoking Society (GPSS) on Facebook. I was honestly just taking a break from a morning of phone calls and meetings. I just wanted to have a quiet time. I shut the door of my office and quietly ate lunch and browsed through the feeds on GPSS. Then it happened. I saw a pipe that Neal Yarm was selling. Now Neal is selling a bunch of unsmoked pipes – Castellos, Ardors, Rinaldos and others. But this one – a Rinaldo Tatiana Lithos YY Author grabbed my attention. I have never had a Rinaldo on my work table or in my collection. But I liked the way this one looked. I clicked on the photos and enlarged them so I could look the pipe over. I went through every photo he included – they weren’t enough for me, I wanted more. But ultimately I had to admit no amount of photos would change the reality. I wanted this pipe; it ticked off all the boxes for me. It was unsmoked and came with the original pipe sock and box. What more could I ask for. I sent Neal a private message, he sent me the invoice, I paid the bill and the deal was done. Now I await it arrival.I know next to nothing about Rinaldo Pipes so I took some time to remedy that during the rest of my lunch hour. I googled the brand to see what I could find. The first thing I read was a quote from one of my favourite author’s on pipes and pipe brands – José Manuel Lopes. In his book, Pipes, Artisans and Trademarks, he writes that Rinaldo is the Italian brand of the Sicillian artisan brothers Elio & Guido Rinaldo, who left for the continent at an early age and settled in Pesaro. At 15, Elio started working for Mastro de Paja, with Guido joining him shortly after, in 1974. Now I had some basic information. It was Italian (which I already knew) and it was made by two brothers in Pesaro.

I continued through the google listings and found a link to They sell new Rinaldo pipes and often in their introductory remarks to a pipe or a brand there is a lot of helpful information. In this case there is some repetition to the information from Lopes but also some expansion. I quote their entry from their online store in full.

Rinaldo pipes are made by two brothers, Elio and Guido Rinaldo in Pesaro, Italy. Elio began making pipes when he was only fifteen, and his younger brother, who worked with precious metals for jewelry, began making pipes when he was sixteen. There are few families of pipes being made these days, and these two gentlemen work in perfect harmony in their shop. They initially worked for a large pipemaking company, but branched off to work for themselves in 1987 when they started Rinaldo pipes. Because of his jewelry background, Guido is responsible for making all of their silver bands and accents on-site. They use acrylic stems and finish their pipes either smooth, sandblasted, or rusticated. Working together, the brothers produce around 1,500 pipes annually. read the next google entry which was Pipedia I read briefly there and saw that it cited Steve Monjure’s website – Monjure International. I followed the link to that site and read further I looked through his interesting information on the Rinaldo brand and its history. He gave more detailed information on the brand that added to my knowledge base. I quote his introductory comments first and then the section on history.

The Rinaldo brand began in 1987. It produces 1500 pipes a year — mainly classic shapes, but with a more rustic design than the majority of similar Italian brands — and has its main markets in Italy, Germany, and the US. It uses briar from Liguria, and Lucite stems. The pipes are stamped: RINALDO. Grading: from one to four Y and Fiammata. Symbol: stylized Greek letters ρ and ι

From the history of the brand section I quote:

Elio and Guido Rinaldo began their work with briar in 1974 at the very young ages of 16 and 14 respectively. At this time they were employed by a well known pipe factory. In the beginning they were involved with the design, modeling and finishing. After years of study, hard work, and hands on experience, Elio and Guido mastered their art. This knowledge combined with their sensitivity allowed them to answer the burning desire they had to express themselves in their own way. Their dream to create a pipe with their own mark became a reality.

In 1987, the two brothers founded “Rinaldo Pipes” with the intention of creating fine handmade (fatta a mano) pipes with highly personalized lines fitted with silver and gold treatments that distinguish their exquisite pipes from the vast panorama of pipes. Their production is very limited since Elio and Guido are the sole ones to make the Rinaldo pipe. This has been their wish from the very first day the factory was started. Because of this loyalty to solely crafting their pipes, the smoker is guaranteed that each phase of the work is being maintained by skilled and expert hands. Each Rinaldo pipe is made from the very best Mediterranean briar and Elio and Guido select each briar block for its compact texture and regular veining. The acrylic mouthpieces are perfectly balanced and studied for optimal dental grip. This attention to detail results in a mouthpiece that has a pleasant and “easy hold” and is truly a “work of art”.

The Rinaldo pipe is currently offered in the following finishes: Lithos(Rustic) – Sahara(Sandblast) – Triade(Smooth). The Rinaldo pipes are divided into three lines: Briar Line(All Briar) – Silver Line(Silver Ornaments) – Gold Line(Gold Ornaments). There are five grade levels: Y, YY, YYY, YYYY, and Fiammata(Straight Grain). All Shapes are available in the regular size bowl and the “Titania” which is a bowl of greater dimensions.

The pipe I had purchased is stamped on the underside of the shank Titania over Lithos YY, Hand Made in Italy, Rinaldo. From the above information I learned that the pipe was Rusticated (which I could see from the photos), it was graded YY (which is the second grade), and it was a Titania (which is a larger bowl). I also learned that the LITHOS hand made pipes came in three inishes – Rustic Tan, Brown or Black.The article went on to describe the detail and care that goes into each pipe that the brothers craft. Here is how the website describes it:

Each Rinaldo pipe is offered for the pleasure of beholding its classical and liberal forms. Elio and Guido Rinaldo’s passion for crafting the finest pipes available is evident in each piece. Elio and Guido Rinaldo are currently producing approximately 1,500 pipes per year. When it comes to hand-made (fatta a mano) Italian pipes, two brothers in Italy, Elio and Guido Rinaldo are raising eyebrows around the world and are proving that high quality doesn’t always come at a high cost. In 1987 they started the business that bears their name although they actually started making pipes back in 1974 when they were only in their teens. They use the finest Mediterranean briar and their pieces not only are expertly designed and easy to hold, but they use fine balanced acrylic mouthpieces to insure a pleasant grip and ease on the teeth. Although some pipe manufacturers employ a body of carvers to create their designs, the two Rinaldo brothers are the sole carvers of their company. They create pipes in three different finishes (smooth, sandblast, and rusticated), several different sizes, and line their pipes with briar, silver, and gold ornaments.

The Monjure International Website includes an article on Rinaldo pipes in Pipes & Tobacco Magazine. Here is a link to that article; it is well worth a read if you are interested in reading about the brothers and their pipes.

Now that I had educated myself regarding the brand I was even more excited for the arrival of my new pipe. I could not wait to have it in hand and examine it up close. I wanted to look over all the hand made details and care that had gone into its design. I don’t often buy a new pipe; my tendency is to buy estates (as those of you who read rebornpipes have already figured out). They are already broken in and after a bit of cleaning can pick up where the last pipe man laid them down. But in this case I have to tell you, I am looking forward to giving this one a go and breaking it in myself. Once more thanks for sharing my excitement on this one. It is good to know that others are inflicted with the same “disease” and enjoy pipes along with me… I know that my wife and daughters only word for this is, “Another pipe? Do you really need that?” And to those comments I nod a yes, make no excuses and share my excitement with each of you. Cheers!


A VIRTUAL PIPE HUNT – A new way to experience the joy of a pipe hunt

Blog by Steve Laug

To me there is nothing quite like the thrill of a pipe hunt to get my blood running. The anticipation of finding something that I had not found or seen before is always a prologue to the actual hunt itself. When I walk through the door of the “hunting ground” there is a new anticipation – what lies in store for me in the aisles and booths of the shop. I have found that some shops/malls are organized and have all of the tobacciana in one spot in the shop but the majority are not that systematized. Something about walking through a large or small shop with a focused objective makes the pleasure even more intense. When I find pipes – be it just a few or a box full – I get a solid rush as I work my way through the box and see if anything special is hidden in the lot. I have found Dunhill’s hidden in cans of junk pipes so I always work through the lot individually. I have to tell you that there are very few times that I come home from a hunt empty handed.

On Friday evening my brother Jeff called me from Montana. He and his wife had driven there to visit her parents. Along the way they had of course stopped at several antique shops and looked for pipes. In one of the shops he struck “gold”, the shop had a motherlode of pipes. He had talked with the owner and she told him she bought a box of pipes. He bought a few of them from her and then went back to the hotel and gave me a call. He showed me the pipes he had picked up and they were old ones. He had some nice pipes. He then told me the story and an idea he had.

His idea was brilliant really and quite simple. We both have iPads and use FaceTime to chat back and forth about pipes that he is looking at. He thought, why not bring the iPad to the antique shop and take me on the pipe hunt with him. That way we could look through the many pipes that were available in the shop and it would be like I was present experiencing the discovery of each one. We made a plan and set the time for the hunt. I was looking forward to checking out the place.

The next day after lunch my iPad showed that Jeff was calling on Facetime. I answered and in a moment I was inside the antique shop with him. We walked over to the corner of the shop where the display case was. The owner opened the case and Jeff brought out a rack of pipes at a time. He brought them to the counter where the iPad was sitting. He took each pipe out of the rack and we looked at the stamping on the shank and the condition of the mouthpiece and bowl. We looked at the stem material and determined what it was made of. We guessed the age as best as we could, given the brand and the style of the bowl and stem. We went through over forty pipes that way and spent the better part of an hour and a half.

He captured two photos of the iniside of the shop that showed what we saw when we were on FaceTime. They show a display case and the area where the pipes were in the store from two different angles. He gathered the pipes together and took them to his hotel room. He spread out the pipes on the bed and took some photos of the lot. There really are some unique pipes in the lot. I can’t wait to get them in Vancouver and work them over. There were many CPF pipes in the bunch that are different from others I have worked. The first is a photo that gives a big picture of the pipes we picked out from the shop.He also took some close up photos of sections of the lot. Here are those photos. They give you an idea of some of the unique pieces we found at the shop.The next two photos is a close up of the pipes on the left toward the top of the first photo.The next two photos show closer looks at the pipes in the middle and on the right side of the first photo. You can see from the photos that there are some interesting pieces that we found. I could not believe that we picked up 30 pipes and one case. There were 11 unique CPF brand pipes, 1 Manhattan, 1 Twisted shank horn stem, 1 Borlum, 1 Superior, 1 Hilson, 2 WDC, 1 Kaywoodie All Briar, 1 Imperial, 2 Italian Briar, 1 Hooker, 1 Stanwell Majestic,  1 London Thorn Drucquer pipe, 2 Meerschaums, 1 carved bulldog, 1 Seville, 1 Frank Bakelite and a RBC empty pipe case. He sent me a list of the brands on the pipes. I have grouped together to give a sense of what was present in the lot.

  1. CPF military mount Oom Paul
  2. CPF The Remington, French Briar, (Miliatary mount)
  3. CPF French Briar with Hallmarked band and horn stem. Filigree carving around bowl
  4. CPF Pullman with Horn Stem
  5. CPF Siamese with twin horizontal stems
  6. CPF Cromwell with twin vertical stems
  7. CPF Briar Bowl Sitting on Petals- Horn Stem
  8. CPF French Briar Bulldog with Horn Stem
  9. CPF French Briar with tarnished metal band and a Horn Stem (looks like mini-Wellington)
  10. CPF French Briar Horn Shaped Pipe with metal band and Horn Stem
  11. CPF Colon French Briar with Black Meer Bowl and Amber stem
  12. Briar pipe with twisted shank going into a twisted horn stem
  13. Borlum Italian Briar (Unbreakable Bit)
  14. Hilson Bolero, Made in Belgium, #8
  15. Superior with filigree metal band around shank and bowl- red bakelite stem
  16. Manhattan with Horn Stem
  17. WDC Monitor
  18. WDC Campaign with Briar unscrewable bowl
  19. Kaywoodie AllBriar 50B (All-imported Briar)- chewed off wood stem
  20. Imperial De Luxe, Made in London England (Mini-churchwarden)
  21. Italian Briar bulldog with red dot on stem
  22. The Hooker- with screw cap next to bowl on top of shank- Patented May 17,1910- Horn Stem
  23. Stanwell Majestic 64, Made in Denmark
  24. London Thorn, Drucquer & Sons, Berkeley
  25. Carved bulldog with yellow Bakelite stem
  26. Seville Filter, Imported Briar Italy
  27. Heavily Rusticated Italian Briar with wrong stem
  28. No-name Meerschaum Bowl and shank without stem- with spikes on bowl and shank, brown to black
  29. Large Meerschaum Capped Pipe with horn stem and cherry wood shank
  30. Frank Bakelite (EP Silver)
  31. RBC Genuine French Briar , Red-lined small Black Case

When Jeff returned home, he removed the stickers and tags from the pipe and laid them out on his kitchen table. The photos below give another look at the pipes – sans price stickers and tags. I would say we had a good day pipe hunting. I have never seen that many CPF pipes in one spot and the number of pipes of that age is unique as well. I think we will have to do some more of these virtual pipe hunts because it transcends borders and space and gives the experience in real time. The only thing missing to me was the actual handling of the pipes in person. The experience was really good and I was able to feel like I was in the shop itself as we looked at each pipe and discussed the pros and cons before buying them. You might consider this kind of pipe hunt if you have a good friend who enjoys the hunt as much as you do and has an iPhone or iPad. If you happen to try it out or have already done so in the past post a comment below. Thanks for looking.