Tag Archives: a treatise on the history of the pipe and the pleasurable art of enjoying them

A Book Review – Tobacco Leaves by Bewlay (Second Edition – 1892)


Review by Steve Laug

I don’t remember where I picked this book up but it is an old timer with the Second Edition coming out in 1892. It is called Tobacco Leaves by Bewlay. Under that it is stamped Entd at Stationers Hall. The title on the cover of the book is stamped in gold around a pair of tobacco leaves. The book was printed and distributed by Bewlay and Company – makers of fine tobacco pipes and accessories.

From the Preface I dray the following paragraphs:

“The universal use of Tobacco in some form or other all the world over, and the interest which devotees of the weed take in everything related to it, have suggested the literary whiffs now offered from the entertainments of our numerous supporters and the public generally.

The smoker is a contemplative man, and we venture to hope that he may find food for reflection in the Tobacco Leaves which are here unrolled for his perusal.

Among smokers, a sort of Freemasonry exists; and not only does their harmless indulgence constitute a fraternal bond between them  which levels social distinctions, but it has educed a mystic symbolism that has found expression in very many effusions of which the following is an example:-

 “Of lordly men, how humbling is the type,

A fleeting shadow, a tobacco pipe!

His mind the fire, his frame the tube of clay,

His breath the smoke so idly puffed away,

His food the herb that fills the hollow bowl,

Death is the stopper, ashes end the whole.”

While in the following pages an endeavor is made to the principal sources of supply whence the best growths of tobacco are obtained, we would specially direct attention to what is said respecting the importation by us of Indian and Burmah Cheroots and Cigars. Our agents write, that “the natives take great pains in their manufacture (especially in Burmah), to turn out a well-made Cigard and Cheroot, very different in appearance to the rough-looking Lunkah formerly sent.” The excellence of these Cigars and Cheroots has resulted in a large and growing demand since we first introduced them. – Bewlay & Co. 49. Strand.

Because of the breadth of material in the small, less than 100 page book I decided to divided it by the chapters that Bewlay divided it into and make comments in each section by Chapter division.

The book begins immediately after the Preface with a chapter on smoking and whether or not is beneficial of harmful. The chapter is entitled: Chapter 1 – Pages 7-18 Is Smoking Beneficial or Pernicious? In the chapter various historical arguments are made for both sides of the argument – yea or nay. Of course it moves forward to a strong defense of the beneficial nature of the moderate use of tobacco. It is sprinkles with quotes in defense of the use of tobacco and the serious benefits to those who use it! From there the book turns to exactly what I would expect in the second chapter.

This chapter marshals famous devotees of tobacco and what they say about their use of the “weed”. Chapter 2 – Pages 19-28  is entitled:  Eminent Devotees of the Weed. It cites various proponents from all over the continent on their use of tobacco and what they have found that it does for them. There are some poems and odes to the beauty of tobacco that are also included in this chapter. These figures include political, scientific, medical and literary figures. It is a great read and pretty normal for this kind of booklet from this time period.

From there the book turns to talk about Tobacco itself instead of defending it. Chapter 3 – Pages 29-31 Tobacco as a Prophylactic covers some interesting information. I quote the opening paragraph as it captures the focus of the chapter.

Tobacco smoking has long been regarded as a warder off or prophylactic of catching disease, and is strongly believed in both by soldiers and sailors, and many other classes. Army surgeons consider smoking gives confidence to many soldiers, and this confidence they regard as a very important factor on the outbreak of an epidemic such as cholera – pg 29.

From there the chapter turns to it use in gardening for killing blight in a greenhouse and as a germicide. Its use is also noted by doctors who have seen its value in the medical and dental professions. It is a short chapter but fascinating in its old time medical information.

Chapter 4 – Pages 32-41 Some Facts About Tobacco moves to giving a general overview of the history of tobacco and the nature and use of tobaccos of various regions and countries. It also overviews the various tobaccos from the United States which are by far the greater proportion of the unmanufactured tobaccos imported into the United Kingdom – Shag, Returns, Bird’s Eye, Maryland, Canaster or K’naster. The chapter ends with a witty poem about tobaccos.

Chapter 5 – Pages 42-47 The Adulteration of Tobacco and Cigars. This chapter is not what I expected from the title. It is actually about flavoring or topping tobacco and snuff with such things as molasses, sugar, aloes, liquorice, gum, catechu, oil and lampblack, alum, tannic acitd and iron, logwood, and such leaves as rhubarb, chicory, cabbage, burdock and coltsfoot. It is an interesting read about this in all forms of tobacco products including cigarettes and cigars. It makes me wonder what they would have written about in our day!

Chapter 6 – Pages 48-57 On Pipes gives a short overview of the history and types of pipes that have been and are available. It covers clay, meerschaum and briar pipes quite well and has some great quotable lines such as: “The best kind of pipe to use is a perfectly clean pipe, composed of an absorbing material, like briar, clay or meerschaum, with a long stem, which can suck up the oily matter before it reaches the mouth….”  The chapter ends with some great older poems about the pipe.

Chapter 7 – Pages 58-66 Remarks on Havannah, Indian, Burmah, Flor de Dindigul and Flor de Java Cigars and Cheroots covers by region cigars and cheroots that are sold by Bewlay and Company. Great historical read by region.

Chapter 8 – Pages 67-77 Cigarettes, like the previous chapter covers this method of using tobacco. There is a great quote that heads the chapter that I cite below:

“The man who smokes thinks like a sage and acts like a Samaritan.” – Bulwer Lytton

Chapter 9 – Pages 78-93 a Catalogue of Bewlay & Co. Limited. As the title suggests these large section of the book is a catalogue of products. Each product has a description and there are often etchings of the product itself – such as pipes.

This is a great little book well worth the read. It is a journey into the past with a great sense of what the world was like at this time in the history of England. If like me you enjoy Bewlay pipes in your collection it is all the more reason to keep an eye for this book.

 

Spiffing up a KBB Blue Line Bakelite Poker 1908-1914


Blog by Troy Wilburn

Here is my old KBB I got from EBay after some light cleaning and buffing. I had found out these were quite rare and was lucky to win the bid on it.

I was thinking after some initial research that these pipes were from around 1910 – early 1920s. Seems it’s a little older than I thought. I got this info from a Kaywoodie and early KBB collector who has had several Blue Lines.

“Your pipe is made by Kaufman Brothers and Bondy, or KB&B, which later (1915) created the Kaywoodie line we all know. But this pipe is Pre-Kaywoodie, as they were making pipes under the KB&B branding from about 1900 to 1914. Bakelite was invented in 1907, so this pipe was likely made from 1908 to 1914, as the Bakelite was quite the technological wonder of the time, and was used in many products (still in use today). These “Blue Line Bakelite” pipes are rare pieces, seldom seen.”

All Blue Lines came with a case but sadly the one for this one is missing. Most pics I’ve seen so far of the Blue Lines, the metal banding has stampings of Sterling Silver and KBB. Mine has none and I don’t believe it’s silver (I think nickel as I could not get all the discoloration from it). Mine may be a lower priced model.

The pipe as it arrived.Blue1 The pipe was in remarkable shape for its age. It was not caked up and the pipe was nice and clean, ready to smoke. All I did was go over it very lightly with some 2500 grit and 000 steel wool over the banding lightly. Then I applied some light buffing and a new coat of wax. The pipe was too original to mess with much .The stem has a gorgeous red color that was bought out with a little brown and then white Tripoli before waxing.Blue2

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Blue7 The stampings are very nice for a 100 year old pipe. As you can see it looks like it was repaired once. The repair looks quite old in person and don’t think it was done anytime recently.Blue8

Blue9 It’s a smaller poker. It is in between the size of a Medico Poker and a Dr.Grabow 85 Poker. It’s around 4 11/16 inch long with a 1 1/2 tall bowl. I will probably dedicate it to my new favorite flake tobacco.Blue10

A Book Review – The Pipe by Georges Herment


Blog by Steve Laug

1433852Beyond its simple cover, this book has a subtitle that is very 19th century— “a serious yet diverting treatise on the history of the pipe and all its appurtenances, as well as a factual withal philosophical discussion of the pleasure art of selecting pipes, smoking, and caring for them.”

I picked this older copy of Herment’s book up in a thrift shop in the US on a trip to visit family and friends in the late 1990’s. It was one of the first pipe books that I found and started me on the hunt for other books to add to my tobacciana collection of books. This one was printed by Simon and Schuster in 1972. It was a reprint of the original print in 1954, 1955. It was originally sold for $2.95 and when I bought it used it cost me $4.95

Herment’s Introduction, originally written in 1954 gives a sense of what he wished to achieve in his writing of this book. It also gives a sense of the spirit in which it is to be read. I quote his Introduction in full:

“At the risk of disappointing the reader on the very threshold of this book, we feel it our duty to warn him that it has been written in the manner of a poem, by a flash of happy inspiration.” p.xi.

“As may well be the case with a poem, twenty years of meditation and brooding have scarcely been sufficient incubation to produce these few pages. In the light of these observations it will be easier to grasp what follows:” p.xi.

“Treated in a purely technical style, a subject such as ours could not have failed to rebuff the simple amateur. On the other hand the veteran or professional smoker would have considered it too superficial to satisfy his requirements, not full enough to fulfill his desires.” p.xi.TOC1

“Thanks to a complete and exhaustive knowledge of the subject, after year of experience and research, we have been able to conceive this work in its fullest scope and present it to the reader just as the spirit came to us – current calamo. Such has been our aim. Have we attained it? The reader, be he veteran or amateur, must be the judge. – G.H.” p.xi.

As I have done in previous reviews I have included a copy of the Table of Contents to the left. I always read that when I am beginning a book to understand the logic of the book. In this case Herment has given us a good view of the way he treats the topic of the pipe. He divides his book into 5 parts with each pipe covering a different aspect of the pipe. The book is also illustrated with line drawings throughout.

PART 1 starts where most of the pipe books that I have read start – with the history and manufacture of the pipe. The difference is that it does not begin with the discovery and bringing of tobacco back to Europe. It does not go into the growing or manufacture of pipe tobacco. It merely looks at the pipe itself. He includes 8 short chapters that cover the topic at hand.

Herment begins with a chapter on definitions and diagrams and explanations before going into the rest of the section. The diagrams and definitions set the playing field for a common discussion of the author with the readers. He points out key points that he will unpack in the rest of the book.

From there he works through the various materials used in making pipes. He discusses clay, porcelain, meerschaum, wood (rosewood, cherrywood), other materials such as bone and Moorish copper tubing with wooden bowls before finally discussing briar. He singles out briar for special attention because of it being the focus of the book he is writing. The author’s style of writing is refreshingly crisp and quick. He moves rapidly, yet thoroughly through the topics he has chosen to discuss.

Each short chapter in PART 1 gives not only a description of the pipe but details on how the materials are fashioned and worked to become the object that we now call a pipe. It is a concise description that gives details of construction, shaping and manufacture of pipes.

PART 2 is dedicated to the pipe and all of the necessary and tangential accessories that have been manufactured for the pipe smoker. He presents the material in seven chapters that detail the topic at hand. He looks at the briar itself and describes the different pipe shapes that have been manufactured. He includes a shape chart and names for each shape. He also looks at the drilling and shape of the bowls, the materials used for the stems and how those stems were inserted in the shank of the pipe. He gives a really well written description on the parts and function of the pipe.

The second chapter in this part is dedicated to anti-nicotine contraptions. This chapter is by far one of the most interesting as it spells out some of the creative means that were developed to minimize the nicotine from the tobacco.

The remainder of the chapters, other than the one on snuffboxes, explores the various accoutrements of pipesmoking beginning with the tobacco that is smoked in the pipe and ending with the rack to hold the pipe.

PART 3 is all about smoking and caring for a pipe. This part is composed of nine chapters that take the reader from the proper packing of a pipe, lighting it, smoking it, emptying it out, cleaning the bowl and stem (each smoke, thorough cleaning and disassembling the pipe and cleaning), seasoning the pipe and finally reaming it. Herment has some really interesting concepts in each of these sections. Some of them have long since ceased to be used but are fascinating to read about. For instance in the chapter on lighting the pipe he uses a method that I had not seen until I read it here. A piece of paper is put on top of the bowl and filled with tobacco and pressed into the bowl. The paper is twisted at the top forming a fuse and that is lit. As the paper burns the tobacco is evenly lit – or at least it is according to Herment.

Part 4 covers the issues of the Pipe and Health. In this chapter the author shows that the opinions on tobacco are evenly divided between those who see it as a health risk and those who see moderate use as inconsequential or giving stress relief. It is an interesting read to see how far our culture has departed from this kind of even presentation of the facts. He also gives anecdotal accounts of how tobacco was used for relieving constipation (enema) and to act as a vermifuge. It is a fascinating read.

Part 5 is the final part and includes some final questions and a conclusion. The final questions were not what I expected when I turned to this chapter. What the chapter covers is the longevity of the pipe – will it be with us forever. Herment says that yes. Here is the direct quote at the conclusion of his discussion:

“We have said that the pipe is eternal. Its outward shape may change, may evolve, may possibly modernize, but the principle of the bowl-mouthpiece remains forever immutable.” p.162

And another quote

“But while virgin, the pipe remains a Sleeping Beauty. It is not until the first whiff of smoke has risen from the bowl that its true life begins. So let us awaken it – and when awake may it prove to be the true Pipe of Peace, reminding us that we are all brothers.” p.162.

To me that would have been a great end to the book but the author adds a Conclusion. To me the final sentences are typical of the style that is found throughout the book. I quote it here to close this review.

“One would think less of drowning a dog than of throwing a pipe in the dustbin – but then a dead dog cannot be awakened, but there will always be found men everywhere who will awaken the pipe.” p.164.

I heartily recommend this book. I have read it many times over the years since I bought. It is amusing, entertaining and thoroughly enjoyable. I learn, laugh and reflect on the turns of phrase that Herment seems to have captured. He knows the pipe and when I have read his book I feel like I know him.

Amazon.com lists copies of the book for sale as does Google books. Purchase one and I don’t think you will be disappointed.