I’ve had this tin of tobacco staring at me, shoved aside and reappearing for some months now. The label is a simple white background featuring an inked character, who is in the act of painting on a very large easel while smoking a pipe. I wasn’t sure what these graphics were suggesting toward the tobacco, but I am guessing it didn’t taste like paint. The namesake of this tobacco is for Norman Rockwell, and I’m not going to get too deep into the history of the man and the artist. To be completely honest, I never really felt particularly moved by his work—maybe if only for his eye for detail and lively style. His art in my mind consists of cherry-picked cozy ideals and views few truly had (or pretended they did), from gee-whiz American youth innocence, to traditional seasonal celebration, perfect family, unquestioned patriotism, pious and humble church and the pride of daily life therein. They were lifestyle snapshots intended for a time long ago, and today it seems to lean somewhat artificial and creepy. Both of my biological parents hail from this time, and they yearned to be Rockwell’s ideal subjects, and they were far from it. It reminds me that old-fashioned simplicity in rose-tinted hindsight usually means someone cut corners or paid for it in scenes better left unseen. I prefer the whole picture. Let’s hope this pipe tobacco, “Portrait,” doesn’t suffer from this.
Welcome to The Pipes Magazine Radio Show Episode 406! Our featured interview tonight is with Fred Hanna. Fred has a PhD. and teaches at the Chicago Campus at Adler University. He is also author of the book, The Perfect Smoke. This show is our seventh and final in a series of “Seven Questions for Seven Experts”. Over the course of seven weeks, we have been asking seven prominent pipe collectors the same seven pipe related questions, and see how their answers compare. At the top of the show, for our pipe parts segment, we will have Ask the Pipemaker with Jeff Gracik, specifically on horned stems. Sit back, relax with your pipe, and enjoy The Pipes Magazine Radio Show!
I had a chance to sit down with Chris Gawith and chat to him about his two brands, Samuel Gawith and Gawith and Hoggarth. It was an audio interview, so I have transcribed it as such.
No, not at all. They are all made under the same roof; when Sam Gawith came over to us we bought the men, machinery, and the brands, basically everything just sort of moved, more or less all of them stayed, maybe one or two decided to move on. It has been run up to now as just their company under our roof, which works to a point. But now we’ve discovered what the demand is, but the two brands will remain as they are.
The problem with leaving it just at that stage which we are trying to address. You can’t operate as a business with two teams of people; we need to manage the equipment and the human resources to deliver what pipe smokers want us to deliver. Gawith Hoggarth can produce tobacco a lot quicker; it’s just the nature of how the tobacco is made at Samuel Gawith.
“. . . . I have nature and art and poetry, and if that is not enough, what is enough?”
― Vincent Willem van Gogh
I’ve long admired Van Gogh’s paintings and sketches of pipe smokers, but especially his self-portraits with his pipe and golden straw hat. And if you too are an admirer of Van Gogh and a pipe smoker, you will understand the critical reflective role a beloved pipe plays in the artistic process, something not always recognized by the non-pipe smokers.
I am also a huge fan of the Ser Jacopo Picta series of pipes, especially the Van Gogh pipes.
That history is beautifully captured in Smokingpipes.com web site reviews of the Picta series under the artistic guidance of the late Giancarlo Guidi, who died in 2012 at the age of 69. Guidi was the founder of Ser Jacopo and was a leading force in the Italian art of pipe making.
Last May I attended the Chicago Pipe Show, and the first person I saw was an Englishman named Reggie Stevens. Reg lives in Birmingham, England and speaks with the accent of someone who has lived in the north of England his whole life. He sounds a little like Ringo Starr.
“Reg!” I said, “It’s so good to see you!” as I gave him a big bear hug.
“Well, I’ll tell you, mate,” he said, “I’m feeling a little better now. My wife of 54 years died in January, and this is the first time I can feel the cloud lifting a little – because of all the love and friendship there is at this pipe show.”