Tag Archives: Briar Club

Mr. Mailman

I ordered a few tins of pipe tobacco from 4noggins.com on the ninth of March, my order was shipped on the tenth, and at my door on the eleventh:

My tins were very well-packed and a sample of one of the owner’s own hand-blended house-blends was thrown in as a nice little surprise:

Race horses and pipe tobaccos have the best names.

What exactly did I get?

Cornell & Diehl: Black Duck, Black Frigate, Da Vinci.

Mac Baren: HH Vintage Syrian, Plumbcake.

Solani: Gold Label English Luxury Blend.

I’ll let you guys know how they smoke once my new pipes are home and my sore throat mellows out.


P.S. 4noggins.com is run by only a man and his wife living in Vermont. All but two of their house-blends are hand-blended by Richard Gottlieb, the owner. I was impressed by the prices and service I was given. If anyone is looking to mail-order some pipe tobacco, give 4noggins a look and support a very personable New England business.

Obligatory note to the FTC: Feel free to put your regulations in your pipe and smoke them.


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On The Fourteenth Day…

Bing Crosby made a pipe into a mallet:

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Filed under Muzak

Class And Simplicity

For once in my life, I managed to get a picture to come out halfway decently:

 Three things that are at once tasteful, nice, and simple:

  • Dr. Grabow Pipe – Nothing special, inexpensive; yet it looks pretty, smokes well, and feels nice in the hand.
  • S&W Model 10 – Just a 38, MIM hammer and trigger, in an antiquated design; yet it is a gorgeous blue, has curves in all the right places, is more accurate than most shooters, and carries itself with a certain grace.
  • Samuel Gawith Black XX – Stout, comes in a rope, deep earthy non-complex flavor; yet it is smooth, a little sweet, has a hint of spice, and is a custom cut when you have to use a penknife to slice it yourself.

Three things, all humble, inexpensive, and at the same time elegant and charming.

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Filed under Briar and Flame, The Armory

Briar and Smoke

The fizz and crackle of a wooden match. A pungent aroma as the fresh, earthy tobacco sizzles and begins to smoulder. Smoke beginning to rise and obscure his face. These things are favorite memories of my grandfather’s golden years. He quit long ago, but I still miss the smell of his smoky kitchen. The sight of him lighting his pipe while never taking a pause in his work. The sight of a delicate smoke curling and drifting into the fresh New Hampshire air. I can still smell it.

I bought a pipe when I turned eighteen, just to remind myself of those days. I put it on a shelf and admired it. It was a Dr. Grabow, just like the ones that constantly adorned my grandfather’s jaw. Before long, I came home with a tin of tobacco for my briar holder of childhood memories. My grandfather was not doing well, I needed something to help me cope. I needed to once again, smell the soothing scent of leaf and wood.

It did not go well. Packing the bowl was a chore. I scorched the rim with the match as I tried to light the savory tobacco. The ember would die again and again as I tried to settle into a contented pace. After a week of failure, I gave up. I returned to my cigars, only to quit even them when I tired of paying for them.

It wasn’t long before I came home with an armful of England’s finest, and the resolve to master the briar. There would be no dishonor in quitting this time. After months of effort, I succeeded. I couldn’t pack my pipe with seemingly no hands like my grandfather, but I was doing well. It was rewarding like nothing else in this world.

Smoking a pipe is an experience. The sound as a fresh tin sucks in its first breath of air when opened. Aromas entice you as you pause to sniff the sweet, earthy contents. The feel of the smooth briar as you begin to crumble the spongy and moist ribbons into the charred bowl. Sulfur hits your nose and a match sparks to life, the delicate flame flickering in your fingers. Tobacco sizzles to life; smoke begins to billow. Memories of childhood dance in your head. Your muscles relax, anxiety is driven away, and your mind becomes free and clear. The focus on the ritual of lighting has driven anything cluttering your mind away. That accomplished, you are free to think as you puff, slowly, contentedly.

A pipe is a study in everything gentle and calm. No hurries, anger, or excess. Your life for the next hour is simple. You run your mind wherever you want it to go as the flavors and aromas swirl about you. No distractions, everything is distilled down to one thought, one focus. It is meditation in fire and smoke.

The pipe is not an addiction, it is not a hobby, it is a soul-cleansing experience. It is a study in frugality and at the same time, luxury. It is Ying and Yang. A pipe as cheap or expensive, plain, or ornate, as you please. The finest tobacco the world has to offer, less expensive than the cheapest pack of cigarettes. A little box of wooden matches, not an ornate brass fire-machine, is used to summon the fire god to you. The ember burns in your hand, yet the pipe is only warm, and soothing to feel. A pungent mass burns buttery and sweet. You must constantly attend your delicate ember, yet you are free to think and focus. A pipe has a soul; it is a companion.

Bliss is a mountain sunset with a pipe, a friend with his, and a good dog at you feet as you breathe the fresh air in this land of freedom.

Perfection is when a child joins you both and looks on in admiration and says that he wants to be just like you as he sits and watches the fire in the sky die away and give life to the stars.

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Another Blonde Moment Of The Day (BMOTD)

Let’s say you have a very nice pipe that smokes beautifully and feels perfect. It would be advisable to not smoke it and handle it while a friend helps you move antique chests from the basement to the rooms on the second floor. It would also be advisable to not then proceed to take it outside while re-lighting to go gather things from a vehicle at the top of your driveway. Getting distracted by your friend when you set it down to reach for the object you went out for is also a bad idea. If you do these things anyway, don’t forget the nice, spendy, piece of birds-eye briar you had just set on a stone bench. If you do all of these things, the pipe will sit outside for the end of a fall, duration of a winter, and most of the spring.

Life will suck as you scramble to find your beloved burner of England’s finest tobaccos for months on end. When you find it in the spring, the beautiful wood will be sun-washed, stem almost certainly ruined, and bit extruded by the pressure of the newly moistened wood. Your only hope will be that the pipe dries with no cracking and  is once again able to be packed with a smooth, buttery oriental tobacco blend. Sitting down will be out of the question for the rest of the day from the sore hindquarters caused by constantly kicking yourself in the ass.

You will find no solace in the embrace of your wife, she will laugh at you.


She is still beautiful to me; especially when grouped with a worn Chief’s Special, well used and slightly tarnished Buck 55, old pocket watch, and my Grandfather’s old well-used slim dress up Zippo. A true gentleman’s kit. I am not worthy.

P.S. No, I am not a heathen, I light my pipes with matches. I just always have a Zippo on hand. Hmm. I should start posting that collection.

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Filed under Blonde Moments