Fundamental divides in pipe smoking

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What are the fundamental dividing lines among pipe smokers?

Straight or bent pipe?
5
17%
English or aromatic blend?
19
63%
Poker or billiard shape?
1
3%
Mary?
5
17%
 
Total votes: 30

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Fundamental divides in pipe smoking

Post by GiantNinja » Tue Apr 30, 2013 11:32 am

Inspired by Uma Thurman's "Elvis or Beatles" quiz in Pulp Fiction, I was wondering what some of you consider to be fundamental divides among pipe smokers.

For those unfamiliar, Thurman's character of Mia Wallace posits that there are divides that cannot be bridged. Folks either like the Beatles or Elvis. Beatles people can also like Elvis, and Elvis people can also like the Beatles, but nobody can like them both equally. (She offers multiple other examples in the screenplay, but not as many in the final version of the film.)

So, what are the divides among pipe smokers?

Straight or bent.

English or aromatic.

Poker or billiard.

Others?

Where do you fall with respect to the dividing lines?

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Post by revspipes » Tue Apr 30, 2013 11:38 am

bent
english
blowfish

rev

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Post by GiantNinja » Tue Apr 30, 2013 11:42 am

Mrs. Mia Wallace wrote:My theory is that when it comes to important subjects, there are only two ways a person can answer. Which way they chose, tells you who that person is. For instance, there are only two kinds of people in the world, Beatles people and Elvis people. Now Beatles people can like Elvis and Elvis people can like the Beatles, but nobody likes them both equally. Somewhere you have to make a choice. And that choice, tells you who you are.

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Post by GiantNinja » Tue Apr 30, 2013 11:43 am

Blowfish is interesting, but it's more a dividing line in itself. You either love them or hate them. I was trying to come up with classic shapes that can be contrasted. Lots of folks like billiards. And lots like pokers. (Like Elvis and the Beatles.) But, ultimately, you have to make a choice.

I also considered billiards vs. Canadians.

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Post by revspipes » Tue Apr 30, 2013 11:51 am

I was attempting to say neither

rev

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Post by mountainman » Tue Apr 30, 2013 11:52 am

How about traditional shape vs. free hand?
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Post by coco » Tue Apr 30, 2013 11:52 am

cob vs. briar

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Post by Rusty » Tue Apr 30, 2013 11:55 am

Interesting idea. I think there are such points of division and straight vs. bent is one of them. It may not be English vs Aro but English vs. Virginia that probably predominates. I might have suggested mixture vs. Virginia but the Burley mixture fans are not necessarily the same as the English group. Also I think there are natural shifts with experience and more frequent use. For example, smokers probably tend to identify themselves as Virginia smokers with increasing use and experience. English smokers may be most common in a middle range of experience. So English vs. Aro may actually show up in the transition from novice to experience. None of these are inevitable but I think there are pronounced trends with experience and more frequent use. Experience and more freq use does trend together but there are lots of individual examples where it isn't necessarily the case. This is because it persists as a hobby for some.

I think the billiard shape has been popular forever. Nevertheless there are pronounced shifts away from it. This is a fairly conservative period so even the younger smokers today like the billiard. But if you go back to the late 60's through the late 70's the young pipes smokers would not be caught dead smoking a billiard. They were more likely to smoke something that looked like a Kidney or a piece of driftwood. It was a cultural divide. We were in opposition to the role models, life styles, leaders etc from the previous generations. With the sole exception of Pete System pipes, which we never saw the older generation smoking, I didn't even buy a billiard until the late 70's. Likewise, there were brands we wouldn't touch eg Dunhill. We did buy their Harcourt Danish pipes, and those sold better than Dunhill branded pipes in the 70's, but you had to be clever to detect that Dunhill was marketing them. It wasn't obvious at all.

I tend to smoke all my Virginias in straight pipes and all my English Latakia mixes in bent pipes. And I definitely was an English Latakia smoker and preferred larger, and hence bent pipes, during that period. It was with taking up mostly Virginias that straight, and smaller, pipes began to predominate.
Last edited by Rusty on Tue Apr 30, 2013 12:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by GiantNinja » Tue Apr 30, 2013 12:13 pm

Rusty wrote:Interesting idea. I think there are such points of division and straight vs. bent is one of them. It may not be English vs Aro but English vs. Virginia that probably predominates. I might have suggested mixture vs. Virginia but the Burley mixture fans are not necessarily the same as the English group. Also I think there are natural shifts with experience and more frequent use. For example, smokers probably tend to identify themselves as Virginia smokers with increasing use and experience. English smokers may be most common in a middle range of experience. So English vs. Aro may actually show up in the transition from novice to experience. None of these are inevitable but I think there are pronounced trends with experience and more frequent use. Experience and more freq use does trend together but there are lots of individual examples where it isn't necessarily the case. This is because it persists as a hobby for some.

I think the billiard shape has been popular forever. Nevertheless there are pronounced shifts away from it. This is a fairly conservative period so even the younger smokers today like the billiard. But if you go back to the late 60's through the late 70's the young pipes smokers would not be caught dead smoking a billiard. They were more likely to smoke something that looked like a Kidney or a piece of driftwood. It was a cultural divide. We were in opposition to the role models, life styles, leaders etc from the previous generations.

I tend to smoke all my Virginias in straight pipes and all my English Latakia mixes in bent pipes. And I definitely was an English Latakia smoker and preferred larger, and hence bent pipes, during that period. It was with taking up mostly Virginias that straight, and smaller, pipes began to predominate.
Thanks for the contribution, Rusty.

I wonder whether you have any additional ideas for 'divisions'? I'd welcome them.

As for yours, I go English over VA, no question. And, as you hinted, I'm not a novice, but nor am I an experienced smoker. So maybe that's just evidence of my progression through the phases?

I much prefer bent pipes to straight ones. And it's not just how they smoke and clench (though that's part of it). I think they tend to be more beautiful. (Though straight pipes tend to be more distinguished.) There is an aesthetic to smoking a pipe that *matters* to me.

I didn't know quite how to handle the shape issue. I basically picked a 'classic' shape (and I'd suggest that the billiard is THE classic shape), and a twist on it. But I'm very open to suggestions. Of course, with so many options out there, it's tough to say that 'these two' represent the divide. But, likewise, there are tons of musical acts, but only one 'Elvis/Beatles'.

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Post by Brigid » Tue Apr 30, 2013 12:20 pm

Bent vs straight might be one, but I think english vs aromatic (or virginia vs everything else) blends may be more of a hard line.

Straight or bent.

English or aromatic.

Poker or billiard. (Though I really prefer delicate little cutty shapes, or rhodesians.)
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Post by Rusty » Tue Apr 30, 2013 12:31 pm

GiantNinja wrote:
Rusty wrote:Interesting idea. I think there are such points of division and straight vs. bent is one of them. It may not be English vs Aro but English vs. Virginia that probably predominates. I might have suggested mixture vs. Virginia but the Burley mixture fans are not necessarily the same as the English group. Also I think there are natural shifts with experience and more frequent use. For example, smokers probably tend to identify themselves as Virginia smokers with increasing use and experience. English smokers may be most common in a middle range of experience. So English vs. Aro may actually show up in the transition from novice to experience. None of these are inevitable but I think there are pronounced trends with experience and more frequent use. Experience and more freq use does trend together but there are lots of individual examples where it isn't necessarily the case. This is because it persists as a hobby for some.

I think the billiard shape has been popular forever. Nevertheless there are pronounced shifts away from it. This is a fairly conservative period so even the younger smokers today like the billiard. But if you go back to the late 60's through the late 70's the young pipes smokers would not be caught dead smoking a billiard. They were more likely to smoke something that looked like a Kidney or a piece of driftwood. It was a cultural divide. We were in opposition to the role models, life styles, leaders etc from the previous generations.

I tend to smoke all my Virginias in straight pipes and all my English Latakia mixes in bent pipes. And I definitely was an English Latakia smoker and preferred larger, and hence bent pipes, during that period. It was with taking up mostly Virginias that straight, and smaller, pipes began to predominate.
Thanks for the contribution, Rusty.

I wonder whether you have any additional ideas for 'divisions'? I'd welcome them.

As for yours, I go English over VA, no question. And, as you hinted, I'm not a novice, but nor am I an experienced smoker. So maybe that's just evidence of my progression through the phases?

I much prefer bent pipes to straight ones. And it's not just how they smoke and clench (though that's part of it). I think they tend to be more beautiful. (Though straight pipes tend to be more distinguished.) There is an aesthetic to smoking a pipe that *matters* to me.

I didn't know quite how to handle the shape issue. I basically picked a 'classic' shape (and I'd suggest that the billiard is THE classic shape), and a twist on it. But I'm very open to suggestions. Of course, with so many options out there, it's tough to say that 'these two' represent the divide. But, likewise, there are tons of musical acts, but only one 'Elvis/Beatles'.
Yes, I think you're quite right that the billiard is *the* classic conservative shape. But it's presence in everyone's pipe collection is likely a given. For quite a while manufacturers and retailers had charts of sales vs. shapes. And there was a core collection of shapes that had significant sales. These were stocked. Companies, who made standard classic shapes, used to offer many other shapes that were variations on classic shapes too. But they were usually not stocked but could be ordered. Danish freehands in the 70's were a significant exception to this and they definitely occupied significant display real estate in retailers. Usually about a third of it! But the popular shapes, with significant sales, are the exact standard shapes that Dunhill makes today. If we actually posted those shapes in a poll counting the incidence of the shape we would probably get that same sales volume vs. shape chart even today.

The poker is an American preference. So you'd likely find it associated and popular with Americans much more than other nationals. I have no idea why this is. But Canadians, Brits, French, etc do not seem to gravitate to the poker shape. I first noticed this about a decade ago on ASP.

In the past we would likely see a pronounced Burley smoker category. It's questionable whether we'd see it online today. But it accounts for the market presence of PA, Granger etc. Only the top sellers remain. This is true in the UK too though the market there declined further than the US. But it's not Burley's like PA but Condor and St. Bruno that are the perennial top sellers that survive.
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Post by UncleBob » Tue Apr 30, 2013 2:03 pm

Collector vs. Smoker
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Post by Rusty » Tue Apr 30, 2013 4:58 pm

>HERE< is an interesting tobacco interest survey of CPS folks from 2010 that considered variety too. And you can see where the main groups are. I was a little surprised by the results. There is/was a pronounced interest in more natural vs. aro or flavoured tobaccos. It's tough to call it a divide because of the size of the natural group. And some representation from the traditional American Burley blend lovers never showed up. That surprised me too.

But I wish more survey choices were allowed. If there were more aro-natural combos maybe we would see a shift of some.
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Post by CaptainMathias » Tue Apr 30, 2013 5:39 pm

I says its straight versus bent everybody has a preference you can have both but everyone knows that one is superior. The English vs aro thing is a farce everyone likes to pretend that aros are a blight on the smoking world but burn a bowl if they got the chance .
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Post by Thunktank » Tue Apr 30, 2013 8:09 pm

Rusty wrote:Interesting idea. I think there are such points of division and straight vs. bent is one of them. It may not be English vs Aro but English vs. Virginia that probably predominates. I might have suggested mixture vs. Virginia but the Burley mixture fans are not necessarily the same as the English group. Also I think there are natural shifts with experience and more frequent use. For example, smokers probably tend to identify themselves as Virginia smokers with increasing use and experience. English smokers may be most common in a middle range of experience.
I would agree that frequent smokers are predominately Virginia smokers between the English/VA crowds. But I do not believe that equates necessarily with more experience. I'm not sure why, but from experience, when I smoked multiple times daily, I smoked mostly straight Virginias and some Va/Burly mixtures. English blends were simply too harsh (for lack of a better word) to enjoy. But as my smoking frequency slowed down, my enjoyment of Englishes increased again, English blends were my previous favorites. Today, I can honestly enjoy English, Burly, Virginia and mixtures with near equal enthusiasm. But if I started back to smoking a few bowls a day, I'm certain that within a couple of weeks I'd be a Va/Burly smoker and avoid Englishes most of the time. But this is the thing, I think a good English is the very best smoke by a small margin. That's part of the reason why I don't think I will ever choose to be a multiple x per day every day smoker again.

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Post by Onyx » Tue Apr 30, 2013 8:44 pm

English.
Billiard.
Beatles.
Briar.
Smoker (not collector).

Not so sure that bent vs straight is a dividing line. My two favourite pipes are one of each. But the billiard vs poker divide... yep. That's an instance of classic vs. rustic.
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Post by Nathaniel_Firethorn » Tue Apr 30, 2013 8:54 pm

Clencher vs. Holder

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Post by UncleBob » Tue Apr 30, 2013 8:56 pm

Thunktank wrote:
Rusty wrote:Interesting idea. I think there are such points of division and straight vs. bent is one of them. It may not be English vs Aro but English vs. Virginia that probably predominates. I might have suggested mixture vs. Virginia but the Burley mixture fans are not necessarily the same as the English group. Also I think there are natural shifts with experience and more frequent use. For example, smokers probably tend to identify themselves as Virginia smokers with increasing use and experience. English smokers may be most common in a middle range of experience.
I would agree that frequent smokers are predominately Virginia smokers between the English/VA crowds. But I do not believe that equates necessarily with more experience. I'm not sure why, but from experience, when I smoked multiple times daily, I smoked mostly straight Virginias and some Va/Burly mixtures. English blends were simply too harsh (for lack of a better word) to enjoy. But as my smoking frequency slowed down, my enjoyment of Englishes increased again, English blends were my previous favorites. Today, I can honestly enjoy English, Burly, Virginia and mixtures with near equal enthusiasm. But if I started back to smoking a few bowls a day, I'm certain that within a couple of weeks I'd be a Va/Burly smoker and avoid Englishes most of the time. But this is the thing, I think a good English is the very best smoke by a small margin. That's part of the reason why I don't think I will ever choose to be a multiple x per day every day smoker again.
I think this is Internet bias. When I was a JFH, we sold a lot of pipe tobacco both in store and online. The online smokers predominately bought Virginias and English blends while the in-store smokers purchased aromatics. If you go by what you read online, everyone smokes some Latakia or Virginia blend. However, the vast majority (and I am talkin' 70-80%) were pound-a-month, Lane bulk smokers that did not use the Internet.

Granted, this is dated. When I left JFH in 2006, we were selling 200-300 lbs of bulk per week with the majority being the Lane big four. I talked to the folks that own JFH now and they don't sell near that amount anymore. I don't know why (and they didn't either) but JFH tapered way down before they bought it. They did tell me that they ship about 70 lbs of STM each month to Russia alone.

Still, back then, most all tobacco purchases online averaged about $25. Most Va/English smokers would buy 2-3 tins per month while the aromatic smokers that did buy online would buy a pound (also about $25 back then). The in-store purchases averaged less because many people would buy a few oz of bulk or 1 tin and this was averaged with the pound-a-month smokers. But of the 200-300 lbs of bulk per week sold, about 70% was sold by the pound.

I am primarily an aromatic smoker that buys online. I have two trunks full of tins (most purchased before 2006) but I still prefer aromatics overall. When I order online, I usually get 4 pounds for around $100. If I ordered tins, that would be somewhere around 8-9 tins depending.
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Post by SlowToke » Tue Apr 30, 2013 9:06 pm

Since I'm not much of an English smoker that division doesn't work well for me. I primarily smoke Va's and less frequently aromatics.
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Post by JimVH » Tue Apr 30, 2013 9:33 pm

PA v. DL
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