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The West Coast Pipe Show Report

Another stellar show in Las Vegas has come and gone.  Marty and Steve and their helpers did an excellent job, as usual.   This year there were far more carvers than ever before.   All the usual culprits were there with the exception of JT Cooke, Joe Skoda, and Ian Walker.   That being the case no one was disappointed as Tom Eltang and a few newer carvers had tables. 

I do not know the numbers as far as attendees through the door, but Saturday sure felt like there were far more people.  Quite often the isles were crowded and movement through was “delicate”. 

The Smoking Pipes team had 2 tables full of high end pipes.  Sally ( the Pipe Tart ) had 3 or 4 tables showing a number of great Italian pipes.   What I find really interesting is that Sally tends to bring in some of the smaller pipes by the carvers she works with.   Yes also some large pipes as well.  I constantly get asked for smaller pipes from Italy, which many think are not common.   They are and all one needs to is go to The Pipe Tart site to find some. 

For estate pipes, Lowell ( whose last name escapes me ) and Chance of Great Estate Pipes, had tables full of pipes offering global coverage as far as makers.    Steve Fallon ( Pipe Stud ) was there with a small, yet affordable selection of pipes.   Castello Great Lines in a variety of finishes, at $350.00 and under. 

 For those looking for high end Castello’s you were in for a real treat.  Collector Bruce Kaiser was there with at least 30 Collection grades and above for sale.  All un smoked!  2 or 3 Preziosa’s, a few with the 18k gold band and lacquer inlays etc.  3 bamboo’s, a G or GG sized hawk bill with gold band and a 1947 anniversary straight billiard set in special case.  If that happens to be your interest range, email me and I’ll put you in touch with Bruce.  

If you came to the show for tobacco to increase your cellar or see what’s new there were more than a few tables to visit.  Russ Oulette, The Seattle Pipe Club, plus some newly re introduced blends were there to sample / purchase.  Tom P from the Bay area had a fine selection of vintage tins at superb prices.   I picked up 2 tins with more than 8 years of age for $20.00 a tin.   These would certainly sell for higher on E-Bay.

The WCPS does an hourly raffle, beginning at 11 am.   The number of donated items stacked a table.  I never win ( or rarely win ) anything, but still bought $50.00 worth of tickets.   I won 6 times!!!  2 times I won a t-shirt, 1 won a J&J pipes cap, 3 tins of tobacco in one draw, a Max Capp pipe, and …….. a sand blast pipe that will be made for me by non other than Tonni Nielsen!  

Side bar – I have known Tonni for 2 decades.  We cross paths at shows and have chatted on numerous occasions, but the first time we talked was on the phone.   In the mid 90’s I tried my hand at pipe carving.  As I am not carving pipes now, you know that I learned very quickly I had very limited skill.

 At some point I was given a full uncut briar burl.  I had no idea how to cut it or how to even think to read the exterior.  Who could I ask for help?  In a little yellow book that the pipe magazine Pipe Friendly put out years ago, was a listing of pipe carvers and contact information.  Within was Tonni’s KY phone number.  I called and spoke with Tonni.  We had never met at that time and I am sure he does not remember my call.   I explained my dilemma.  Tonni took the time to explain how to cut the burl and what to expect.  He went so far to offer to cut the burl for me, if I was really not comfortable doing the cutting.   This he offered just some poor slob he had never met!   Since that day I have always wanted one of Tonni’s pipes.   The ones I have really liked have been beyond my threshold for pain ( price wise ) and the estate ones that come in sell within a heart beat, so never one for me.   Now I will have one that will be extra special.  

A few things have changed at The Palace Station Hotel.  The very nice Italian restaurant has been converted to a pizza / pasta establishment.  Home made ( daily in house ) pasta and hand made pizza crusts.   I was a little leery, but my friend Rene and I had lunch there one day.  The pizza was brilliant!  It was so good that we went  the next day again for lunch.    The Mexican restaurant has also changed.  The menu has been trimmed back quite a bit and has been converted to a “cantina” style eatery / bar.   The food is still very good though.  I strongly suggest you get in before 6 pm and enjoy their happy hour all you can eat tacos!  

Saturday nights dinner speaker / entertainer was Brian Levine.   If you’ve never met Brian it’s more than worth it to track him down.   Brian has a great deal of knowledge gained through his years in the industry, but above that has a very quick wit.   Some might suggest he’s a smart ass, which is also one of the reason’s he such a treat to listen to.   If you look up quick in the dictionary, you will see Brian’s picture.   The talk offered was more than interesting and though provoking. 

Sunday was typical.  Traffic was down, but still some decent sales were going on as well some trading, which has been becoming les and less frequent at shows.   I see the trading coming back as a good thing.

In new carvers pipes there were too many to name.   Some I can see have a way to go, yet others just floored me with their skill levels.  No I’m not going to say who was great and who was not.  Everyone has an opinion on what they like / dislike.   I do regret not getting to Ryan Alden’s table until Sunday.  The 5 pipes that were still there would have been very happy coming home with me, but I showed great restraint and only bought one.  A very nice sand blast Dublin ( a shape which until now never smoked well for me ) with a round shank. 

 I also spent some time at Rolando Negoita's table.  Below you can see what I bought.  For the longest time I have been searching for a high quality pipe knife.  Rolando showed 2.  The other with a Damascus blade, which was stunning.  However far too nice for the amount of time I'd be using the knife. 

 The above is just a small snippet of the show.  I met loads of new pipe collectors that are members of a variety of pipe forums.  There was much more going on than what I have written about.  As I write more memories come back.  

 IF you are thinking of attending your first show this is the one that should be it.  Small enough that you’ll not be overwhelmed and still large enough that you’ll feel you missed something.   Plus the costs are minimal!!!!  For me traveling from WA with flight, hotel ( 4 nights ) and food,  was around $800.00.   It can be done for much less as included in the $800.00 was a meal for 3 in the steak eatery in the hotel.   If you get a decent priced flight, a basic room, and eat dinner during happy hour, you get in and out for under $600.00.   Not bad for a weekend away.


Michael J. Glukler