Tuesday, December 26, 2023

A HUBBUB IN THE QUAD

In the seventies a young man walked into a pipe shop in Boston and purchased a handsome piece of smoking equipment. One imagines that he was a college student, and wore a tweed coat, as was still thought of as properly academic in that day. Possibly he experimented with one or two fine tobacco mixtures from that shop before giving up on that handsome pipe, or graduated to a P.H.D. and properly intellectual French cigarettes.
The problem being, with that particular piece of smoking equipment, a stinger in it that made the draw much harder, and passing a pipe cleaner through it totally impossible. It was consequently hardly used when I found it, and didn't need much reaming at all.
But it took a bit of effort to remove that stinger from the tenon.

One-size fits-all factory stingers are a bitch.

The shape and a few other details tell me it was produced by Comoy, probably in the sixties or early seventies, though the stamping says L. J. Peretti, 'Rodney'. It also has 'made in London England' on the bottom of the shank.

L. J. Peretti was founded in Boston in 1870. It still exists, I believe.
Comoy made pipes for a large number of tobacconists.
Good pipes, though nothing special.

Comoy largely stopped doing pipestore pipes in the mid-seventies. At one point every decent shop in the United States had Comoy pipes with the shop name stamped into the wood. Recognizable shapes. You could map out pipesmoking in America by their briars.
The reason I mentioned French cigarettes is because they were overwhelmingly smoked in university towns by people in academia or the arts. And literate types. Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley reeked of them. They were harsh, full bodied, pungent, and the perfect thing to huff while writing the great American novel, your thesis, or reading Ulysses by James Joyce, which showed that you had the chops.

This pipe is a great smoke. I shall enjoy it while I'm in Chinatown today. Which I must be, because my apartment mate is at home and I cannot smoke here.
It is jaunty, and youngmannish.



NOTE: If you read Sylvia Plath you probably smoked English Ovals, if Nabokov, fine Turkish cigarettes. But Gauloises and Gitanes went perfectly with that cheap foreign liqueur you swilled with your equally high-minded young companions.
Or cappuccinos at the Med with Sartre.




APPENDIX: L. J. PERETTI

In 1870 Libero Joseph Peretti from Lugano started the Peretti Cuban Cigar Company. Within a few decades they were also selling their own pipe tobacco mixtures, which by the middle of the twentieth century were well-known and highly regarded. A retired engineer smokes their English / Balkan blends, which are excellent. Recently Nick had one of their flake tobaccos, which I very much enjoyed.

From the L. J. Peretti website:

AMPERSAND FLAKE: A semi-broken flake connecting the qualities of Bob Peretti's original artisanal Old Virginia Flake with a subtle hint of sweetness for today's pipe smoker. Medium in strength, with an excellent room note.

Other flakes which look particularly interesting are the 150th Flake, Boston Slices, London Flake, and No. 8 Slice. It is not unlikely that these will cross my horizon sometime soon.



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1 comment:

Alcyon said...

I smoked Gitanes, not from any pretense, but rather because they were a nickel cheaper than anything else. I swore that when cigarettes went past the dollar per pack point, I'd quit smoking. That didn't go well. When truly impecunious, there was always Drum. Then for the poor, or those who liked its flavour, now it's a luxury choice! Even papers, once free, are fiendishly expensive.

But that's not why I write. You wished me a full recovery (thank you), and I am doing well. But I have developed a desire for a Peterson 31, their straight system pipe, that over the last few days has become almost a mania. I'm on the verge of ordering one from a shop in Belfast, of all places, because the shape is discontinued.

I wonder if I can blame this on covid?

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