People often fret about what to get each other as gifts as the holiday season approaches. This is often doubly so when one of the people’s hobbies include pipe smoking. Most people hear their pipe smoking enthusiast buddies mutter something about “Burley” or “Va-Per” and assume they’re talking another language. Most non enthusiasts couldn’t tell the difference between a Calabash and a Briar nor could they tell that Calabash refers to both a shape and a material that a pipe is made of.
And truth be told, like any hobby it really does have its own language and its own style. And a further truth is that those who are not into the hobby don’t care to learn the language or exact the style. So just like a golfer, or a billiard player, a sports fan or even a live action role-playing gamer buying things for the pipe smoker in your life can be a little intimidating.
Fortunately, the hobby is widespread enough that with a little research a non enthusiast can come out feeling like they have really done something special for the person they love.
Can you go wrong with buying them another pipe? The answer is, probably not. On the other hand with pipes ranging from a few dollars to a few $1000, the process can seem a little daunting. You can buy a Missouri Meerschaum Mini Corncob from smokingpipes.com for 2.99 U.S. or at the same site you can buy this Alex Florov Smooth Rhodesian for $1850 U.S. You find yourself asking what they paid for the pipe they smoke now, and if it would be insulting to buy them a pipe that was cheaper than that? In answer to that, for the most part a decent pipe runs in the 50 to 150 dollar range for a Briar, and 90% of pipes that you will see fall into this range. If you want to buy them a Briar pipe, and you pay for it in this range I guarantee you will not insult them, indeed you will delight them as for a pipe smoker each Briar comes with distinct memories.
So what if they already have a bunch of pipes? Well, would you ask your model airplane enthusiasts if they had too many model airplanes? The same can be said for pipes. As I said before, at each pipe has its own memories, I have pipes I’ve bought myself, pipes that were bought for me, pipes that came as a complete surprise, pipes I’ve traded for, etc. I would always be delighted at getting a new pipe.
So now you say to yourself, but I want to get him that really nifty Sherlock Holmes looking pipe. That’s where little Internet research comes in. Pipesmagazine.com has a wonderful newbie forum where experienced pipe smokers can answer all sorts of questions for you without making you feel like a complete idiot. The moderators are incredibly nice and incredibly helpful and the long timers really know their stuff.
Also, if you look on the left side of the screen at pipesmagazine.com you see a section called site sponsors. These are a lot of online places where pipe enthusiasts do business buying pipes and tobaccos. I have personally done business with; 4noggins.com, BriarBid.com, MeerschaumStore.com, and SmokingPipes.com
If you contact these places, they often have members areas where your enthusiast friend will have placed orders with them. They can give you an idea of what your pipe enthusiast friend has ordered in the past, and what sorts of things they have upon their wish list. Smokingpipes.com is especially good for this.
Now if you’re not prepared to spend $100 on your pipe smoking friend (you cheap SOB), the thing about smoking a pipe is the principal focus, that is to say the tobacco, is consumed in the process of enjoying the pipe. That means that a pipe smoker is always in need of tobacco.
If you find yourself asking what it is they smoke now, and you’re looking for a good gift of tobacco you might find the answer is irrelevant. Most pipe smokers are always keen to try new blends, and many tobacco blenders put out seasonal blends. These “Christmas”, “Summer”, “Harvest” blends are usually only available for the season that they are produced in and labeled things like “Christmas 2012”. When the Christmas season is over in 2012, this blend will no longer be produced. That makes them somewhat of a treat to a pipe smoker. See you really can’t go wrong in buying them a seasonal blend or two, and it is often much more in the budget than a $150 pipe.
If you do find yourself wanting to buy them an old favorite, again check with the online distributors such as 4noggins and Smoking Pipes as to what is most often ordered by your enthusiast buddy, they will be most helpful. If you find that your friend, like me, does not really have a common tobacco, then you probably can’t go wrong in ordering them something from the top 10 list. Smokingpipes.com conveniently puts a link to their top 10 sold tinned and bulk tobaccos.
Hopefully this little article will take some of the daunting presence away from ordering things for your pipe smoking friends.
Leave questions in the comments section and I’ll be sure to answer them as soon as possible.
Smoke em if you got em!