Well folks, the first fun filled NY pipe show of 2009 has come and gone but for me personally, it was one of the best in recent memory. I left out of Western Mass and was in Newark early on Friday afternnoon. Upon pulling into the hotel I discovered that they FINALLY did something right and put in a security guard's booth in the driveway. Over the years many show attendees and vendors cars were broken into. Mel Feldman of "The Smoker" in Albany had his car stolen from the parking lot two years in a row! After checking in and seeing my room I headed down to the lobby where I almost immdiately met up with friends and show promoters Sam Barnett and Rich Esserman along with Don Seatter of The James Island Piper, Ardor Distributor Steve Monhure and Washinton DC Estate pipes dealer and collector Ron Colter. As has been the tradition lately, we along with SHPC member and friend Andy Camire all went to lunch. A great discussion was had about pipe buying now as compared to 25 years ago. Things were so much different before the intenet. It may take you weeks and months to find a certain pipe that you were after by calling various folks looking for leads as to that pipes whereabouts. Many friendships were built up in the process though something that isn't quite as prevelent in today's pipe buying world. It seemed to be a much more organic/grass roots approach. I personally came to this hobby only a decade ago and missed out on all of it's early history. Hearing how it was then gives me a glimpse into the past that I'd never otherwise get. This for me is the true benefit of attending these shows. Midway through our meal my mouth dropped when I spotted our old friend Mel Feldman coming in. We caught up briefly and he promised me a little pre show preview of what he had to sell later that afternoon. After lunch I headed back to my room and passed Jeff & Fletch of Fader's Pipe Shop on my way. We made plans to meet up in Rich's room for our usual "show and tell" later that evening. After resting a bit I went over to Mel's and started looking through the 2,0000.00 plus pipes he had schleped down from Albrany. Mel is getteing ready to leave the estate pipe biz for good and was offering a discount of 50% on all of the pipes he brought. Two in particular caught my eye. One, a Peter Heeshen Straight Grain A grade "P" was just too gorgeous to leave. I also grabbed a large Tom Eltang deeply dark blasted bulldog in the Saturn grade. Both of these pipes were bargins and both were very lightly smoked. From Mel I also grabbed up a few Stanwells including an Eltang design and a pair of beautifuly blasted bents they were $15.00 to $25.00 each nearly all I bought were unsmoked! While in Mel's Max Engle of pipes2smoke poked his head in the door. It was great to see him and we made plans to have dinner later that night. From Mel's I headed just down to hall to Don Seatter's room. Don had recently bought the entire pipe colletion of a gentleman he knew. He had these and these only out for display. I "ear marked" a few Stanwells which I employ them as efficient yard pipes when I don't want to use my good stuff. At $30.00 each they were bargins! After leaving Don's I stopped over to see Steve Monjure who's room was bussling with activity! I looked at many Ardors there. I was most impressed with many of the shapes on the newest production models. After being pa'se for a few years, I think it's safe to say that Ardor is back to making the most innovative designs on the market. The grain wasn't too shabby on most of them either! Very nice stuff! Steve also had some wonderful though highly priced Joao Reis which were simply par excellence. One in particular was a perfect blasted/smooth cobra! After leaving Steve's I went back to my own room for some much needed down time. From there it was on to dinner and on to Rich's room shortly after. I spent the better part of two hours with Rich, the guys from Faders and Andy Camire. Fletch (the owner of Faders) has a world class collection of JT Cooke pipes and had several fine examples to share with us. His buddy Jeff who also works there with him collects large pipes in general and had many 1970's GBD uniques which were nothing short of jaw dropping. It was a pleasure to see and hold these great pipes. As for Rich, he had a pair of featherweight Mike Parks, a Few amazingly HUUUUGE Ser Jacopos and was smoking an enormous Jody Davis blasted billiard. Seeing Rich's stuff is always a big treat for me. He's a fine ambasador for our hobby and a great guy!
It was getting late and morning comes early in Newark so I bade farewell to my friends and went to bed. By 6:00 am on Saturday I was up and breakfasting with Meld Feldman. The restaurant was quiet and it was still dark outside. An obsene hour to be up and talking about pipes and tobaccos but we did anyway! By 8:00 am Mel and I were in the hall and setting up his three tables of pipes. I love being in there first and watching the vendors arrive. After helping Mel I caught up with dear friends Jay & Louise Jones, as well as our resident SHPC pipe carver Tim Hynick and Rick Fredericks who had driven down with him. On the way back to my room to get something I heard someone yell "Hey Dock" looking up I spotted two brothers from my BoB's board Mark and EJ who made the drive all the way up to the show from the land of Dixie! It was a true pleasure to see and meet them both. Great guys!
The doors opened proptly at 10:00 am and a decent amount of traffic flooded the room. Every table was filled with the exception of one. One of the vendors had had car isssues and was unable to make it. Noticeably absent this year was Smoker's Haven and BAC Art Pipes both have been staples in NY for as long as I've been attending. There was a ton of socializing and pipe buying all day. It was great finally meeting some of the folks from my Brothers of Briar pipe board Justpipes, EjInVA as well as Doc Manhattan. All are great guys and it's a damn shame we live so far away from each other. This is the curse of the computer age I suppose.
Most of the vendors that I talked to had a reasonably good show. From friend Sam Barnett I picked up an awesome lightly smoked smooth Kurt Balleby, an incredible Brad Pohlmann blasted bowfish that appears to have been smoked once or twice as well as a gorgeous J.Alan blasted blowfish with a bakelite stem. From Jay Jones I picked up something that's been on my wishlist for years, a 1980 Dunhill World Conference pipe in the shape of a Dunnie retail tobacco jar. I also bought an unusual Dunhill tobacco display book and 10 tins of their Hermit "Vintage XVV" blend". From old friend and NY pipe club prez Vernon Vig I bought 5 tins of eight year old McClellands "Navy Cavendish" as well as a couple of well aged tins of Macbaren's "Golden Extra". From Don Seatter I grabbed a few vintage Corps club tins as well as last year's Middle Earth "Blend of The White Hand" made for the NASPC by Greg Pease.
It had been a looooong day and by 2:00 I was already in my car and headed north to home. In my opinion this show was one of if not THE greatest I've ever attended in NY. It was very reminicent of the old days and those folks who live locally but just didn't go really missed out on something special....