Pulver's Pipes.... The James Norman Saga....

Help Support Brothers of Briar:


Well-known member
Dec 15, 2007
Reaction score
Below was taken directly from Marty Pulver's "Pulver's Pipes" website.It's regarding James Norman a New Jersey based pipe importer and retailer....

Tues. June 10, 2008
Immediately below this introduction is a commentary
that was written on June 5th. If you care to see more on
this issue, you can continue reading, because following
those paragraphs are others, lifted whole from the
on-line newsletter of the Sherlock Holmes Pipe Club of
Boston MA. The experience of some members of that
club help confirm some of my darker suspicions
regarding the James Norman company. Although the
segment taken from the SHPC is readily available on-line
(March, '04 issue, I believe) I hope I am not acting in
undue haste by printing their copy without asking
permission. If my use of their material is not welcome, I
apologize profusely, and will immediately take it off my

This issue is not likely to die here. Other avenues are
being pursued. Counterfeiting pipes has been done
before in this hobby, and it is not a welcome abuse of
our normal good and trusting natures.
Before we get to that dark side, I do want to say that
I've posted the last of the photographed pipes. More
will be shot later this month. Do not allow my laziness to
seduce you into thinking that I have no more pipes to
present. To view the most recently listed pipes, go to
the Italian page (Paolo Becker and DG) & the Danish
page (Kurt Balleby).

One of the attitudes that my import/distribution partner
David Field has long brought to his business is a strong
sense of responsibility to the families that make the
pipes he represents. When we started doing some work
together, about 5 or 6 years ago, I told him that I would
not be able to conduct myself in the same way. I thought
that I'd function as though buying pipes from Bruto
Sordini, maker of Don Carlos, say, was no more than a
business to me. That approach did not last long as I
quickly understood that there is a level of concern that
comes along with being the conduit through which a
family is trying to make a living. Representing craftsmen
is a much deeper job than just being a businessman.
With that in mind, allow me to tell you of an
importer/distributor who clearly does not feel the same
way as do David and I.
For a good number of years, the firm James Norman,
Ltd. of Van Brunt Street in New Jersey has been the
exclusive importer/distributor of Armellini pipes. the
founder of the firm, Mauro Armellini died about two years
ago, and the firm now resides in the hands of his
daughter, Vilma, and her son, Matteo. They both make
pipes and their small, entirely hand-made output is their
sole income.
The name of the proprietor of James Norman, Ltd. is
Cem (pronounced Kem, and I forget his last name) and it
appears as though he is intent, for a few extra bucks, on
taking advantage of this vulnerable, distant family in the
meanest, lowest way imaginable in our hobby...he is not
buying pipes from Armellini, but rather having knock-offs
made with the Armellini name stamped on them. In short,
he is cheating the Armellinis and he is cheating the pipe
buying public.
I know this because I've been corresponding with the
Armellinis, both Vilma and Matteo. James Norman, Ltd.
has not purchased a pipe since Sept., accordng to
Matteo and he has noticed pipes on the web advertised
as Armellini pipes which have 'absolutely' not been made
by Armellini.
As you can imagine, he is out of his mind with anger at
his family name being thus misused, nor can he and his
mother live on air alone as no money is coming in from
their would-be U.S. importer.
I might be a little less credulous of this account by
Matteo, if I had not seen an example of the James
Norman style of doing business on my own, and before
this claim by Matteo Armellini. During a pipe-selling trip,
David Field and I stopped into a shop, where the clerk
showed me some of the pipes they carry, one of them
being Kriswell, of Denmark. I've been around a fairly
long time, and I know a Kriswell when I see one. These
pipes were stamped Kriswell, but they were not, nor
could they have ever been, Kriswells. In fact, I think the
company has been out of business for 20 years or so.
When I asked the clerk where he got those ugly,
machine made, standard-shaped dogs, he said, "James
If Armellini were in the U.S., and had some resources,
they could get a 'cease & desist' order issued against
James Norman, and maybe more, but a small, poor firm in
Italy has little opportunity to bring such a suit, from such
a distance. I will help if I can. I don't know how, yet, but
there's often a way.
For your part, all I can say is to be careful about any
Armellini pipes you might be tempted to buy...they just
might be fakes.

Ken Mecklenburg....Revisited.
A request was made at this past meeting to reconsider
having Ken Mecklenburg of James Norman, Ltd. return
for another visit. Late last year a vote was taken to not
have Ken return because a few bad experiences
members had with both the quality of some of the pipes,
Design Berlin in particular, and also with some customer
service issues. Personally, I thought Ken brought a nice
selection of pipes that were reasonably priced but the
Design Berlin pipe I purchased took longer to break in
than any pipe I've owned. So long that I almost gave up
on it. But at long last, it has started to smoke better. (I
give myself and A+ for sticktuitiveness).
Dock Perry's Design Berlin exploded while he was
smoking it. I know that sounds crazy but it really
happened. A possible explanation may have been that a
plastic wood type filler had been used inside the bowl.
After reading the instructions on a tube of Plastic Wood
it said "may explode under high heat". Hello, we're
smoking a pipe here!!! Anyway, Steve Gutz's concoction
of honey and ash seemed to take care of the problem...
at least for now (Ebayers beware!). The fact of the matter
is, you might expect something like that to happen to a
pipe you get on Ebay or maybe at a flea market but you
don't really expect to go through that kind of aggravation
for a new pipe made by a reputable company.
Now were was I... oh yeah, taking another vote. Pros and
cons were expressed by members and the vote was
taken. The final vote, which had to be taken twice, was 7
to 6 in favor of not having Mr. Mecklenburg return. Since
that time however, there has been a new development.
Dock Perry who was originally opposed to Ken's return
has had a "change of heart" and has submitted the
following explanation for inclusion in the newsletter.

"The long drive home from Mansfield while driving a car
with a broken radio gives one ample time for reflection. I
pondered over the nights controversy surrounding the
possible visit from Ken Mecklenburg of James Norman
Pipes. True it was I that objected loudest about the
presence of the man at our club. My own dealings with
his company have been less than satisfactory as many of
you all know. My own fear was that another member
could also have a similarly bad experience, should they
have a problem with a pipe they purchase. My Italian
upbringing instilled in me the rare ability to hold a
grudge like Joseph Stalin. The thought being never give
someone a chance to screw you twice. However, as I saw
at the meeting there are a substantial group of members
who want to purchase from Mr. Mecklenburg. As
"Brother Editor" pointed out to me, "It's capitalism at it
truest." "If he's there, just don't buy his pipes." I totally
appreciate the solidarity I received from my club friends
but I wish to change my vote in favor of James Norman's
return. There's little sense in black listing them forever.
That wouldn't be in the club's best interest, in my
opinion. Perhaps we can take another vote at our March
meeting. Sincerely, Dock J. Perry



Active member
Dec 14, 2007
Reaction score
Good day Dock et all;

I read the posting on Marty's site a short time ago. My first thought was much harsher than yours. I had drawn, quarter, tar & feather etc in mind. Then I sat back.

A few issues come mind.

Who has the brand names rights for the US? IF JN does, then they can choose to use it any which way they like. If they do not, then legal action can be mounted.

How as a group of buyers do we react? We can contact the maker directly and buy goods directly. We may contact their US distributor and voice our objectios to their actions ( IF the further info gathered bares fruit ). We can contact the other brands the distributor represents and voice our concern at how their US agent operates. We can choose not to buy any products the distributor sells.

A pipe club could invite JN into a meeting and ask some very tough questions about how the distributor operates. Voice how outraged the members are IF indeed the facts show the distributor has acted in bad faith.

How will Briar Blues respond? We contacted the maker directly and found they have NO Canadian agent! We have a price list and have just placed a small order from the maker. There is no way that Briar Blues scope is large enough to be more than the head of a pimple on the ass of a knat, compared to JN. BUT we can do as much as we are able to support the carvers we choose to work with.

As buyers you to can make the choice to support companies you feel comfortable with. If you walk into your local B&M they support a company you have little respect for, voice your opinion, quietly , to the owner / management of the shop. Word travels very fast and does get back to the powers to be. Attitudes can be changed.

Michael J. Glukler


Well-known member
Dec 15, 2007
Reaction score
I can't agree more with Mike here.... I think the whole thing lies with the question of weather or not James Norman owns the rights to the name Mauro Armellini or not...

Though it seems like less than a reputable practice,If they do, they can put their stamp on anything that they see fit.

I guess the old adage "buyer beware" should be in the back of your mind when contemplating a purchase from this firm...



Well-known member
Dec 15, 2007
Reaction score
D.J., Other than perhaps a name on a tobacco tin label; how would I/we know we were buying something from this bunch?? I've never heard of James Norman!! Don't think I have ever bought anything imported by them; sure don 't want to now!! Thanx, FTRPLT


Active member
Dec 14, 2007
Reaction score
Good day all;

Before anyone goes off and decides to boycott anyone, I suggest we wait until all the information has been gathered.

If you want to make sure you are buying a true Armellini pipe, check out their site. They have their own style. Plus I beleive that every Armellini pipe comes with a string through stem and air passage that has a lead stamp at the end. This must be cut to smoke the pipe.

If you wish to know who else James Norman "works" with, check the latest isue of P&T and see the inside of the front cover and opposing page.

Michael J. Glukler


Well-known member
Dec 17, 2007
Reaction score
If James Norman was truly having knock offs made and stamping the Armellini name on them while cutting the family out of their means of making a living, then I don't care what rights to the name JN has in the US. That is unethical and someone with JN needs and old fashioned a** whupp'n!

Puff Daddy

Staff member
Council Member
Dec 9, 2007
Reaction score
Justpipes":kpzxfu99 said:
That is unethical and someone with JN needs and old fashioned a** whupp'n!
OK, let's give Leroy a call!