A Good Pipe is Getting Hard to Buy
Smoking shops in the city are putting pipes into the mouths of New Yorkers at a record rate, but high demand and a limited supply are creating a shortage of good pipes.
The shortage of quality pipes is so acute that manufacturers and distributors have been forced to fill the shops' orders on an allocation basis.
Morris Gartenlaub, president of Kaywoodie Pipes, Inc., said his company was, allocating pipes on the basis of the average percentage of the company's product the client had bought over the last three years. Only 60 per cent of all the orders can be filled.
…A clerk at the Dunhill tobacco and pipe, shop on Fifth Avenue pointed to 22 full‐grain root briar pipes on the wall. The pipes, at $35 each, are the shop's prize product.
“That's all we have left—and a few in the drawer,” he said. “When we'll ever get more, I don't know”
The shortage is a result of the tremendous upsurge of the pipe and pipe‐tobacco industry in the last few years, especially since the Surgeon General's report on smoking came out last January.
That report, which linked cigarette smoking to lung cancer and gave a relatively clean bill of health to pipes and cigars, joined with a zealous publicity campaign of the pipe and tobacco industry to produce thousands of new pipe smokers.
In the first 10 months of the year, pipe smokers bought 67.4 million pounds of domestic tobacco, compared to 57.6 million pounds in the corresponding period last year imports were up from 1.3 million pounds to 2.2 million. (In contrast in 2014 23 million pouches & tins of pipe tobacco was sold.) Statista.
There are no exact figures on pipes because….But Jerry Nagler, executive director of the Pipe and Tobacco Council, an industry public relations organization, said the year's pipe sales were expected to reach $55 million. This, he said, would also be about a 20 per cent increase over last year.
The Clinton Square Corporation, a pipe distributor in East Orange, N.J., which handles about 25,000 orders a year, reports orders from shops are up 300 per cent over last year but limited supply has kept the company to a 50 per cent increase in sales.
“As of Christmas,” said Jerome Lang, the sales manager, “we're canceling all our back orders. We'll never be able to catch up this year.” Nor is there a much better chance of keeping up with the demand next year. The quality pipe makers are still geared to an age before pipes were sold as furnishings for the well-dressed ma1e. “A dark pipe with greys and blues, a root briar with dark suits,” says Albert R. Sylvania, shop manager at Dunhill.
A quality pipe is six months in the making. It is formed by hand, often by craftsmen who learned the trade from their fathers. Modern pipe factories turning out high‐quality pipes have five‐year apprentice programs.
Rising labor costs and the dwindling supply of 100‐yearold briar roots from which the bowls are carved are pushing pipe costs higher —33 per cent over five years ago—but the price increases don't seem to have cut the great demand….
New York Times: 1964.