An evening with an S. Bang

In early 2006 I obtained this fine pipe carved by one of the two owners and manufacturers of the very famous Danish pipe shop S. Bang: Ulf Noltensmeier or Per Hansen. It is a lathe turned half sandblast that shows the briars wonderful straight grain beneath the rings of the sandblast which are actually growth rings formed as the briar grows beneath the Earth. The slanted rim of the pipe is smooth and sports a glorious birds eye pattern all the way around the entire top of the bowl, truly a work of art. Where the shank meets the stem is a wonderful sterling silver band and the German Vulcanite stem is perfectly cut making the bit extraordinarily comfortable to hold between the teeth.

It is no easy feat to describe this fancy and fascination that holds me transfixed as I smoke this wonderful pipe to the non pipe smoker, not even an avid cigar smoker can even understand, it is one of what I consider to be a rare and truly joyous experiences that I wish that I could share with the world. Einstein said: “I believe that pipe smoking contributes to a somewhat calm and objective judgment of all human affairs…” I don’t believe that were I to live to see one hundred years old I could in the time from now and then put it better. Pipe smoking just is.

The blend that I am smoking in this wonderful wonderful pipe is manufactured by Peter Stokkebye and is called Luxury Bulleye Flake, a mixture of Virginia, Perique, and black Cavendish- it is phenomenal- the perfect combination of pipe and tobacco this evening, though I’m sure that I would have no difficulty finding a dozen friends of mine who have heard me make that exact statement on more than as many occasions, which reminds me of somthing I said this past May at the Chicago Pipe Show in Pheasant Run. I was sitting in the bar with my good friend Aziz Panjwani, Hans Nielsen (pipe maker who I consider to be the best in the world), and Gerard (Hans’s Distributor in North America), and I made the offhand and apparently unexpected statement that I won’t be buying any more pipes this year- Hans and Aziz both were taking sips of their drinks at the time and both of them sprayed their drinks up at me, Hans had a huge grin on his face and Aziz said with a smile, “Like I haven’t heard that from you before!”

A priceless moment in time…

Ahh yes, the perfect end to a perfect evening; but Aziz was right, I bought more pipes this year.



3 comments on “An evening with an S. Bang

  1. Pokerhawk says:

    A very interesting and well put entry Ian. Cudos as I think you captured the joys of pipe smoking very well.

    I am enjoying a bowlfull of Greg Pease’s Lombard in a pipe crafted by Larry Roush.

    And life is good. 🙂

  2. glpease says:

    Great entry, Ian! It’s often difficult to explain to the non-enthusiast what we, as enthusiasts, experience in the explorations of our passions. To most non-pipesters, and arguably to most pipe smokers, for that matter, the pipe is viewed as a vessel for the combustion of tobacco, and little more. But, there are always things that transcend mere function, working their way into the realms of deeper aesthetic appreciation, and the truly great pipes are often excellent vehicles for that journey.

    Any car can take you where you want to go; some just do it with more style.

    And, Pokerhawk, as it happens, I’m smoking some of Greg Pease’s (that would be me) Samarra (six years old) in a Larry Roush pokerhawk (the very first one). Life IS good. 😉

    Smoke in peace,

  3. GrayFox says:

    OK…from the perspective of one of your more uncouth friends(hey…uncouth is a big word for me), I can empathize with your point about trying to explain your experience to a non-pipe smoker of cigar smoker, as I deal with this on a broader level on a weekly basis in my store. I can’t tell you how many times I have been caught at a loss for words when a cigar smoker asks me why I like to smoke a pipe more than a cigar, or when a new pipe smoker asks why I favor one pipe over another.

    I proceed to stumble about finally making my way to the following point: the relationship between a pipe smoker and his pipe is one that is personal, something that cigar smoker cannot experience. You light up a cigar enjoy it for 45 minutes and then you throw it away. Can you distinguish the third Fuente from 50th you ever smoked? Probably not. What makes a particular pipe so special is hard to quantify…it like trying to explain why one likes a particular piece of artwork. Is it one small brush stroke, or the work in its entirety?

    In closing I am reminded of a cheap Stanwell Vario Egg that was my best smoking pipe for years until my pitbull mangled it. To this day the pipe sits in a box at home. Even though the pipe is completely unsmokeable, I simply cannot throw my old friend away. If you ask me why I’d probably just look at you with a blank stare. It seems so obvious to me that I should keep it, but I couldn’t explain it to anyone else.

    MacBaren Mixture Scottish Blend in a late 1930’s era Kaywoodie Super Grain.

    Did you think I’d be smoking anything else???

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