Chicago 2016 Show Report

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the “pipe show scene”, the Chicago one (actually in St. Charles, IL) is the largest of them all, and is the only one that has a significant international presence. If you want to the see some of the “Great Danes” such as Nanna and Lars Ivarsson, this is the one to go to. (And if you want to buy one of their pipes, you should have several thousands of dollars handy.) The flip side of that coin is that it is also the busiest and “business-iest” of all the shows. As a case in point: even though the show is Saturday and Sunday, when we arrived on Thursday afternoon, Ernie Markle had already sold half of his pipes. If you’re a collector or have a serious case of PAD, you need to get there early because many of the vendors and pipemakers have been selling pipes out of their rooms and smoking tent since Tuesday and at the Friday “pre-show”; wait until Saturday morning when the show formally begins and you’ll see tables already with “Sold Out” signs and empty tables. But that’s Chicago.

Michael Parks, Jack and I traveled down by car together and met 6 other DTPC members of past and present. For a pipe-maker like Parks, this show is about work and connections. He brought down about 15 pipes, but 12 of those were commissions that he was bringing down to give to his customers. He’ll end up spending much of the show meeting with them and building on those connections. That invariably brings more work. And since this is a big industry event, it’s also an opportunity to pick up additional briar blocks and acrylic rods – and possibly even look at what the competition is up to.

For me, the show is definitely about the people. As much as I love pipes, the reason I started a pipe club is to meet and hear from other pipe smokers. So even though I spent hours walking the show floor, I felt happiest when having a chance to hang out with old friends and make new ones. (Listening to veterans Fred Hanna and Tad Gage swap stories and razz each other was a particular highlight.) The more shows I go to, the more I’m also drawn to the pipe carvers that I’ve begun to develop personal connections with and my collection has begun to reflect that.

To cap off my show report, I’ve included a few pictures. (Our DTPC logo was so popular we probably could have sold t-shirts at the show!)

DTPC Does Vegas

A contingent from the DTPC are fresh (minus the sleep) from the West Coast Pipe Show! What the fledgling show lacks in size and international standing compared to Chicago it makes up for in intimacy and smoker-friendliness: You can puff your pipe just about anywhere in Vegas!

Another benefit is that there is no “pre-show” tacked on, which means that when the doors open you don’t have to worry that ~30% of the pipes will have already been sold within the three days leading up to it. (Sorry, Chicago Show — that’s still a sore point with us.)

The weather was lovely, the skies were blue, and we had our fair share of smoking and enjoying the other delights that Vegas has to offer. Here are a few, mostly blurry, iPhone-photo highlights for your viewing pleasure!

Paul’s Pipe Shop

On our way back from the 2012 Chicago Pipe Show we made an unintentional stop at the one of most eclectic pipes shops on the planet, Paul’s Pipe Shop in downtown Flint, Michigan. If you ever go, be sure to make time to go through the pipe museum on the top floor.

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Chicago Pipe Show 2012

A few of us made the trip down to the 2012 Chicago Pipe Show–a mandatory trip for any Pipesman.  While there is an abundance of new and estate pipes, the amount of tobacco is also a strong reason to attend.  Most of the major carvers from around the world make an appearance which allows commoners the rare opportunity to handle their wares.  Most of the artisan pipes were sold pre-show hence the abundance of pictures one of my personal favorites, Castello.  Enjoy!

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Castello Bulldog
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