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
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
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
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!
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