AFRIKANER SMOKE CLOUDS
Naturally I immediately remembered a pipe tobacco that was probably never even sold there: VOORTREKKER, manufactured by Theodorus Niemeijer in Groningen. It was a medium ribbon-cut Maryland, with a fairly mild taste. The label had a picture of a Boer wagon train on the veld. Hence the flash of memory.
It was what the Dutch call Baai Tabak: plain ribbon-cut air-cured tobacco, primarily Maryland, with some other leaves added to balance the taste.
South African tobaccos tend to be mostly flue-cured with air-cured leaf added to temper, with some pressure to meld the components before slicing or shredding. So it is doubtful that the elderly gentleman had smoked anything like a Dutch Baai Tabak.
What he probably smoked was BOXER, a bright ribbon-cut product made by Leonard Dingler LTD.
Leonard Dingler (pipe tobacco and snuff) goes back to the early part of the twentieth century or before, and was family-owned till purchased a few years ago by Swedish Match - which today announced intent to sell the company to Phillip Morris.
The Boxer line includes Piet Retief, Best Blend, and Mild Gold.
Swedish Match also makes Black & White, Giraffe, and Nineteen O'Four.
Other South African pipe-tobaccos are Assegai, Fox, Horseshoe, and Jock.
Unfortunately, I can only guess what Boxer tasted like - though, as it is the most popular of South African pipe tobaccos by far, the other pipe tobaccos probably offer alternatives that relate to it - circling around the standard, as it were.
Based on descriptions I have heard it could be a mostly flue-cured ribbon-cut cake with a mild top-dressing. A substitute here in the US would probably be a mixture of forty to eighty percent shredded medium Virginia flake, with the rest fire-cured, Burley or Maryland, Cavendish, and Black Virginia. Again, just guessing.
The South African gentleman might also like an English flake from Samuel Gawith, or even a plain Dutch Cavendish - one without the whorehouse reek so typical of many popular pressed 'Ollanders.
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