Sunday, February 13, 2011


Occasionally I visit my stats to see what lured readers to my blog. There are several search-criteria that come up fairly often: little virgins, bestiality, panties, big breasts.......
These are all quite baffling, as they are not the focus of this blog.

Little virgins here means matjes herring plump in their first year of life; bestiality refers back to snarky remarks I made about the Dutch and a lack of adequate legal protection for goats and horses in the Netherlands; panties is a Japanese fetish that I can sympathise with even though I myself have no fetishes whatsoever stop snickering dammit; and big breasts are far from my eye as I disapprove of mammaries of immodest dimension - they just seem so self-indulgent!

One other criterion crops up like clockwork:


Unlike the others, this is not a fetish. That is to say, I doubt very much that some distant pervert in Kuwait or Pakistan is typing that in to his browser while feeling lucky.

More likely, it is actually a female pipe-smoker, trying to find out if there are others of her kind.

Indeed there are. You are not alone, ma'am.

But you are pleasingly unusual.

When I was still working at Druquer and Sons in Berkeley (a tobacconist once famous, now long departed), there were several women pipe smokers whom I knew. My boss at that time was a woman pipesmoker, with what must have been one of the most impressive collections of briar on the planet. Her taste was exceptional. In addition to her, there was a Japanese-American woman, a Philippina, and an elderly academic, as well as a politica in Washington who every month got a shipment of pipe tobacco. And others.

There are women pipe smokers, but they are not common. They are exceptional women.
It demonstrates an independent mind and thoughtfulness when a woman smokes a pipe.

It is baffling why there are so few of them.

Certainly the ability to appreciate the finer things in life is not limited by any means to men - though one could argue that a liking for nastiness and vulgarity IS more masculine. And pipes are not a male symbol; a well-shaped piece of briar, polished and nicely grained...... probably more feminine and civilized than the mini penis represented by cigarettes, or the emphatically phallic cigar.

[I've always thought smokers of big cigars a rather doubtful lot, by the way.]

But for some reason, the gentler sex has hesitated to pick up the pipe.

So those people who are searching on the internet for female pipe smokers must, almost by definition, not be looking for strange pornographic themes.
Rather, they are either anthropologists searching for ethnographic material, or they are female pipe-smokers themselves.
That latter category respect the habit, and no doubt wish that there were more like them.

Welcome. You found this blog by virtue of your strongmindedness.

Maybe you are new to pipesmoking?

Perhaps I can guide you..... if you will forgive the presumption.


There is nothing unfeminine about your choice. Other than over-the-top freehands, which really do advertise mental problems, smoking a pipe is quite unslanted in any way. There are, however, a few things to keep in mind.
First of all, there is NO SUCH THING as a women's pipe. Those minutish thingummajigs sold as such are often not worth smoking, as taste and desirable smoking characteristics are the same irrespective of gender.
A normal size pipe made of old briar yields a good smoke, whereas a delicate little cup with froo-froo styling will be unsatisfactory even as a casual puffer.
You need a decent bore, a reasonable burning surface within the bowl, and enough wall to sustain the process. The only size-related consideration that might possibly affect your choice is that as a woman your jaws are probably smaller, but if the wood is ancient and the pipe well-made even that fades into insignificance.
A good pipe is surprisingly light weight.

Secondly, many tobacconists might steer you towards aromatics.
If it smells "nice", surely it must be 'feminine', yes?
Wrong. Is fruitcake feminine? Are charred meats necessarily male?

There are three basic blend-types, none of them is gender-specific.
1. Aged Virginias, pressed or blended, with or without Perique, which must be smoked slow to yield a sweet smoke with a bit of a nicotine wallop - good for later in the day, or at the end of two or three hours of homework.
2. Mild-medium mixtures, with just enough Oriental for complexity - satisfying and fragrant, yet not too tarry and eccentric to dominate the discourse.
3. Full English / Balkan, packing a goodly measure of Turkish leaf and Syrian, deeply satisfying and spicy. These lack the nicotine wallop of a Virginia blend.

Oh, of course there are also Burley blends, Cavendishes, and other popular types. But they aren't really honest smokes, and many of them have odd flavourings besides.

A woman who knows what she wants smokes a reputable tinned product, not a supermarket special, nor a drugstore blend, and certainly not a pineapple caramel strawberry abortion.

Real tobacco. No added flavourings and aromatics.
Fruity concoctions are, strictly speaking, pimp tobaccos that hairy men smoke around big-busted creatures in cocktail bars.

You've probably been to a tobacconist who tried to sell you a small pipe and a vanilla-peach Cavendish, who at the time was far too tickled by a sweet little girlie trying to smoke like the big boys to pay you any attention. You bought your first pipe, and he sold you something with a candy stench.
It was probably his best selling blend - but what he forgot to mention was that it was favoured by rancid old gits who imitate Hugh Hefner and Frank Sinatra. Hairy-chested sleaze-o-mats with gold chains and loud shirts.
Image over substance.

The advice you got about packing the tobacco and breaking-in the pipe was probably all wrong too.

RULE ONE: Smoke half or quarter bowls to start - you need to develop the carbon layer at the bottom of the bowl, and it will take you a while to get the hang of smoking, so in the meantime you should not over-extend yourself.
RULE TWO: Dry your tobacco out a little bit - if it's moist it will indeed keep better, but smoke worse.
RULE THREE: Pack lightly - it is easier to compact a bowlful by tamping than it is to correct a dense clump of leaf wedged in. Too tightly packed just cannot be satisfactorily undone.
RULE FOUR: Wait before smoking another bowl, both for your own sake as well as your pipe's. You want to enjoy the experience, rather than have it become a grim routine.
RULE FIVE: Keep an open mind - you will likely discover that you are not a one-mixture woman; many tobaccos can be enjoyed, there is no need to exclude some brands or obsessively favour others.

Don't be embarrassed. Many people will not take a female pipesmoker seriously, but other pipesmokers will not be thus. And given current tobacco laws, there is no need to cater to mass-tastes or common standards, nor attempt to desperately fit in.
That's what tattoos and weed are for.

Perhaps the most important advice to a beginning smoker is to start on someone else's pipe. An uncle or aunt who is willing to lend you a mellowed briar is a god-send, assuming that they had good smoking habits. Their pipe will smoke far sweeter, and more naturally, than a brand-new pipe, and will give you a much better idea about the pleasures of smoking, than the first experimental purchase that you are trying to break-in as a new pipe-smoker.

One of these days, as you read about Badger retiring to his study after feeding the field mice, you will find yourself reaching for the Comoy, and that tin of Samuel Gawith flake........


NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:

All correspondence will be kept in confidence.


Matthew said...


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Anonymous said...

Hey, thanks! New lady pipe smoker here, and it's nice to know I'm not alone.

Anonymous said...

I'm happy to have read this article. When I typed "woman pipe smoker" in Google I was afraid to hit search, lol. So pleased to know I'm not alone in the pipe world.

Elizabeth Suaso said...

Great article! My male friends in college were delighted to let me smoke from their pipes and try their variety of blends. Finally, 3 years after college, I have purchased my first pipe: a briar churchwarden (lord of the rings dork, reporting for duty).

The back of the hill said...

I should mertion, I am more Light English.

Anonymous said...

Oh thank goodness, I didn't know there were others!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. As a lady who smokes a pipe and is terribly fond of single malt whisky I can say I have always been looking for other ladies who smoke pipes or drink whisky. I can also say that I've been the target of an astounding amount of both friendliness by the community, unwanted advances because ladies who enjoy these things are rare- or the worst of all... Being patronized a great fucking deal about it. I have yet to encounter any other female pipe smokers in my area, but I still cross my fingers and hope!

The back of the hill said...

Fortunately the attitudes of the past are receding, albeit slowly.

I learned more about pipes from a woman years ago than I ever expected from anybody. Her knowledge and taste have been formative.

In the past few years, there have been woman cigar smokers who have introduced me to brands which I otherwise would not have tried; no, not going to switch, but darn fine products evenso.

And, at present, there is one woman member of the pipe club. There would be more, except hanging around and yacking about just one subject only seems more teenage boyish.....

Thank you for reading. Strength, and be well.

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