Away, flowing into the mist
Of the morning air
It slipped as a castle ghost
Away from my Oom Paul

Away, into the mist
As fingers into a glassy
Pond away from sight
Away from my Oom Paul

And with it my thoughts
My thoughts of you
My hoping of June
And sultry nights again

Away with my heart
Away as a dream
Away with the smoke
As a castle ghost

Mingling with the gray
Tumbling in the light
Marrying as two
Wandering in flight

As a castle ghost
Away from my Oom Paul

AuthorOlie Sylvester

Black Friday 2015: The initial Black Friday was something to behold. If you're not acquainted with the first Black Friday story, please find it in the Musings section of One of the many stories that comes from that time is of a strong willed woman named Rose LaVie (middle name of Seigh). Rose was a rough and tumble mother of three. Her husband "caught the good boat" as they say in the old pirate town of Blagery Dak. He died young and handsome, well, as handsome as one could manage in Blagery Dak which had a handsome apex somewhere below, below average.

Her husband Braun Back Bill's passing only added to Rose's legend of being more than able to weather any and every storm. Heck, Rose confronted storms, rabid dogs, randy men, theives, drunkards, and many other regular residents of Blagery Dak head on. Rose was a full figured robust gal with a gleam in her eye and a sparkle in two of the 6 teeth she called her own. Kind of a sparkle. Maybe a matte finish sparkle. There's a german word for that I'm sure. She wasn't tall, but a smallish feisty fireball of woman with dark hair that had highlights of gray from the trials of life she had been through. Rose wore her gray hair, scars and weathered features like badges of honor.

Rose's three boys were young, rambunctious and as wiley as they come. They were also very devoted to their mother. They looked up to her, not just for winning the towns arm wrestling championship every year she entered, but also for winning the leg wrestling championship every year she entered as well. But that's not all. She was a fierce protector of her cubs, not that the sharpened tooth rascals needed it, but just the same, she was the ultimate mama bear, if said mama bear was stronger and more fierce than any bear you've ever heard of. Also, teeth sharpening was totally normal. For Rose's family anyway.

The scene was set: it was Thursday night and the next morning at the first rooster's crow the towns folk would dash to the center of Blagery Dak to grab as much as they could from the goods gathered there. Rose, like many other pipe smokers, knew the rules: no weapons. And like many other pipers, she knew that her pipe would not be considered a weapon. So, not unlike other Blagery Dak pipers, she began to scheme. How could she get an edge? She wasn't very fast, but she made up for her lack of speed with her sheer strength and stoney will.

She looked around at her progeny and came up with a plan. They would be key to her success that day. The little sharpened teeth of the brood gleamed just as brightly as they could in the moonlight. Which, wasn't very bright, truth be told, but still. In a raspy solemn voice, Rose asked her three boys to sacrifice one sharp tooth each to affix to her pipe. They giggled gleefully and got to pullin' right away. Within about an hour Rose had a fine smokin' pipe that doubled as a formidable weapon, sharp teeth and all. And as far as the rules of the run went, it was legal.

Rose and her boys actually got some good sleep that night. Rose rested comfortably knowing she had a good plan to mow down the competition. At the first crowing she darted out of their hut as her three boys cheered from their sore little mouths. Her pipe was already lit and smoking well. Clouds of pipe smoke were in her wake. Soon her wake would have many other things added. Rose knew that she'd have to be even meaner, stronger, and rougher than usual. The world had yet to see what this looked like. 

If you can, imagine a short, stout, brash gal, leathery tan, jaw set, pipe billowing smoke, running just as fast as her little legs could propel her. She was a woman on a mission and getting rations for her boys was something no man or woman would stop her from doing. Around the rim of her pipe she had three sharp teeth, straight from the mouth of her babes.

Once any other competitor was within a short stubby arm's length, Rose would draw deep from her pipe, pull it from her mouth, and inflict as much pain as possible with that toothy pipe of hers. One down, two down, three, four, five, Rose was a small deadly bundle of bad news for anyone in her way. Rose found her way over the writhing bodies of the poor souls that got in her way and made it to the rations at the middle of the town. She secured enough rations for her motley crew that day to give them a nice amount of rations till the next boat came through. It was a bloody and successful day for this proud Mom.

From that day forward, Rose was known far and wide as "Black Rose" for the dark times that followed in her wake that day. Rose Seigh LaVie, Black Rose, is a legend we should never forget. Hers is a story of sacrifice, strong will, family bonds, pipe smoking ingenuity and oddball thinking. I hope you find the Black Rose in you today and every day. 









AuthorOlie Sylvester

Many moons ago, in the small sleepy town of Dirroh on the outskirts of Volusia county, a pig farmer's son, named Adam, could often be seen at the front of the crowd during the monthly public hangings. Dirroh was plagued by crime. It was the perfect half way point between two larger communities, and it seems all the ills of both culminated in that poor small town. 

In those days, anyone of any age could view the public hangings, and in truth, the young were encouraged to do so, as a kind of teaching. When Adam would show up early without parents, the other adults that gathered there, looked upon him with admiration more than anything. He was obviously there to learn a lesson. But Adam was there for other reasons.

After one such hanging, the executioner, named Bill, caught up with Adam as he was walking home. "Say boyo, why does ya always come to these hangin's we have? Is it yer folks that make ya come?" Adam answered back, "No Sir." Bill shot back, "Then why in the world does ya come ta every one, and ya stands right up there at front?!" "You won't believe me." said Adam. "Just like Ma and Da, you won't believe me." Bill's eyes narrowed and he thought for a moment before saying, "Ya just try me son." Adam stopped walking. He looked around to see if anyone else could hear. Sensing only Bill could hear him, he said, "I can see if they're guilty or not."

The boy had such a stone cold face when he said this that Bill felt a chill. Bill paused and then said, "And how exactly does ya know that?" Adam calmly went on to explain: "The moment the noose goes around the neck, I see a color around their whole body. I've figured out after seeing so many now, that when I see a deep red color, they're guilty for sure. But when I see a bright yellow light around them, they aren't. Once they're dead, the glow fades away." Bill looked away, wondering if he should ask his next question. After all, Bill was the person who pulled the lever and had been so for many years. He had to know, and so he asked, "And how many since ya figured this out, have had that, ya know, good glow?" Adam looked up a Bill and said, "Just one. Jim Perry." Bill thinks back, "Wasn't he the one that stole all that tobacco? He was a pipe smoking' fella right? The one that asked fer one more pipe full before the hang in'?" Adam nodded his head yes and said, "Jim didn't steal the tobacco though." The sudden smell of lit pipe tobacco wafted through the air as Bill's blood ran cold. Adam broke the silence with, "Jim and I take walks together."

With that, Adam started walking again. It took Bill a few moments to decide what to do, but he soon caught back up with Adam. "Hold on." said Bill. "Ya take walks with a dead man? Ya mean his ghost?" Adam responded, "I do." and grinned a little. Bill half believed him and half thought the boy was headed for a future of being locked up in an asylum. Curiosity got the better of Bill that day. He asked young Adam, "When is the last time you took a walk with Jim Perry's ghost?" Adam stopped and slowly turned so that he was facing Bill straight on. "He's with me right now. I'm sad to say this Sir, but Jim isn't very happy with you. You're one of the five that caused him to die. Jim tells me that he had to wait until the time was right, but, well, the time is right." 







AuthorOlie Sylvester

In the old country, when briar ran scarce or when gnomes ran pesky, it was common practice to use the blocky, stew meat-like heart of the gnome in place of good briar. The gnome hearts (also called the ventriculita) were almost impossible to catch fire and allowed for a true tobacco burn that had almost no added flavor, if cured properly. There were two main methods of ventriculita curing, both extensive, both secretive. I won’t (can’t lest I invite the ire of those who still keep it’s secrets) go into gnome heart curing details here, however, I can tell you that there were two basic types of curing: oxy and deoxy.

Oxy curing demanded an extraction within moments of the gnomes death while deoxy required a waiting period. Essentially the difference in the end product came down to personal preference, however, the coloration of the hearts were noticeably different depending on curing type. Oxy curing gave a pinkish red coloration like oxygenated blood, while deoxy curing gave a deep blueish coloration. 

Tenons were often made from the gnome’s femur or a hardened bone white ligament called the springjack which was hollow and allowed them to jump great distances. Stems were often made of dried pumpery tubolees which we would know as pulmonary arteries in humans. These dried hard, were hallow and already had a kind of tapering that worked wonderfully as stems. Coloration of pumpery tubolees varied on the type of heart curing. Oxy curing yielded a dull orange coloration while deoxy curing yielded at blueish coloration.

Even in the old days, humans were notoriously horrible at catching, (much less offing) gnomes in order to secure sweet smoking pipe parts. Thankfully, as long as anyone can remember, pixie lasses garbed in not much more than tobacco remnants, were absolutely expert at catching, dispatching, and extracting (this may sound cruel, but if you truly knew Gnomes, you'd know differently.) Gnome hearts are strangely blocky (see illustration and pipes), but the pixie gals know just how to cut them out with their incredibly sharp swordlets.

It is my pleasure to bring to you the closest (by confounding faery law) I am allowed, to the traditional gnome heart pipe. The 6 limited edition versions are made as follows: odd numbers have the oxy cured look, even numbers have the deoxy cured look. I’ve used excellent aged and cured italian briar, bone white and charred delrin for the tenons with a massive inner diameter of 1/4”, hand cut orange German ebonite for the oxy stems, hand cut blue and black acrylic for the deoxy stems.

AuthorOlie Sylvester

The following tale is completely true. And why wouldn’t it be? Does anyone really write stories anymore? For reasons of necessary anonymity, names and places have been changed for obvious reasons. We’ll call him Chuck. Chuck is a friend of mine, and thank goodness. The government he works for employs him to extract things from people. If you’re lucky, that only means information, but whatever he needs to get out of you, he will. His nickname is “The Press” for reasons I’ll leave up to your imagination. Chuck is an expert, a gentleman and a good friend to have handy when you need unique things. His cover? He run’s a fantastic restaurant in Greenville, South Carolina called Mary Beth’s.

One of Chuck’s responsibilities is to keep tabs on creatures of interest. This might be a mob thug, or it might be a Gorgon or it might be an ancient witch. The government Chuck works for does not want it’s public to know about things like Gorgons, but at the same time, they want to keep them alive.

Chuck and I both like really peaty scotch. When I get the opportunity to hang out with Chuck, I bring Laphroaig. It makes us both happy and it tends to give me incredible insight into Chuck’s covert work. When I found out about the Gorgons, I couldn’t help myself. I had to find a way to incorporate real Gorgon’s blood into pipes. Here’s what I know: Gorgon’s blood, once cured properly, turns incredibly hard. Not quite stone, but really close. I read, that’s how I know. Not best sellers, the stuff you don’t find in common places.

Not long ago, I paid Chuck a visit at the aforementioned establishment to discuss the Gorgon’s blood idea and hopefully convince him to help me acquire a bit to use on the exterior of some pipes. We sat at the usual table on a usual day, and discussed very unusual things. Before too long, Chuck and I worked out a deal, and sooner than I could have hoped for, he was on the phone with a phlebotomist friend of his, telling a wonderful story and explaining how she’d have to wear special mirrored glasses for the job. 

Apparently the phlebotomist understood Chuck’s unique position very well, or owed him big, because I didn’t get the sense that many questions were asked. Let’s say my job was to get blood from people. If my friend called me and said, “I need you to get blood out of someone’s arm, but you can’t look them in the eyes, need to wear special glasses, oh, and you can’t tell a soul.” I’m not so sure I wouldn’t have lots of questions. But Chuck has his way. Within just a few minutes, all necessary instructions were given and Chuck was given an ETA for the Gorgon’s blood.

Chuck tells me I should share the idea with one of his dishwashers. We’ll call her Summer, and as you might have guessed, dish washing is only her cover. I agreed and Chuck called her over to the table. Summer is an old soul. A very old soul, and old body too really. About 3,000 years old, which is exactly why Summer can be found employed by Chuck.

Summer loves stories. She gets a kick out of them because she knows the truth behind most of them. Being old does that to a person. As I sat there with Chuck and Summer, at Mary Beth’s restaurant, we talked stories. Summer loved the Gorgon’s blood idea, but started asking me to make a pipe about story book witches through the ages. A sort of homage to them and their misunderstood ways. A burned, charred, ashy and rough exterior made of things only Summer could possibly own in her keepsakes over the many, many, many years of her existence.

Was I excited by the idea? Incredibly! After all, Halloween was right around the corner at this point. The veil between the worlds is the thinnest and all that. Fantastic time of year. From a small satchel she withdrew a tiny corked bottle. Inside were the incredibly small items I would use in the “brew” as she called it. The instructions were hastily written on a napkin and guarantees on it’s look and feel were given. I saw a wide grin on Chuck’s face as he said, “You see?” Indeed I did. 

Summer spoke at great length about the history of witches and she set me straight on a number of misconceptions I had. She pointed to my muddy boots and asked, “Where on earth have you been?” “Best place on earth.” was my reply. “The swamps of Florida.” In the middle of the day, in the middle of a restaurant, Summer pulled a piece of spanish moss off of my boot and said, “Here, let’s use this.” as she placed the moss onto a china saucer. Without skipping a beat, she dipped her hand in her water glass, splashed it on the moss and said something that kind of sounded like, “Ocala, Suwannee, Mud Lake.”. The moss transformed. It was now a moving substance. A swampy aroma settled in around me. “What is it?” I asked her. She replied, “It is the swamp. It is the essence, the spirit, the things you love about your swamps and it will not run out. Coat some pipes with it and see what happens. It will never die. I think you’ll like it.” 

When the server came ‘round to refill our drinks, she discretely slipped a small phial to Chuck. Without even looking, Chuck handed it to me. “This.” is all he said. Earlier that day, I walked into a restaurant looking for help in acquiring Gorgon’s blood. Amazingly, I left with it in my possession. As well as the ingredients to a witch’s brew of some sort, and supernatural swamp spirits. All this in one day. My payment for these 3 concoctions? A bottomless bottle of Single Malt Scotch that I won from a djinn in a game of djinn rummy, and a small casket of authentic moon rocks for Summer (unlike the shams used to dupe the unknowing public.)

You may find this story about the beginnings of my 3 new pipe lines (Bog Beast, Strega Fumoso and Gorgon) difficult to believe, and I don’t blame you. After all, what are the chances that there is a place, a restaurant, in Greenville South Carolina called Mary Beth’s? And if you did manage to find such a place, the owner would definitely not be someone who goes by the name Chuck “LaPress” who happens to know a magical girl named Summer. It just couldn’t happen. Right?

AuthorOlie Sylvester

The Back Story 

Rummaging around the Internet in mid-February 2014, I encountered the OomPaul Society (, surprised to realize that it’s been active for some six years now. I scrolled through the online commentaries looking for a post or two either about the person (Oom Paul Kruger) to whom (allegedly) this unique pipe shape is attributed, or for something about a rather recent development, an online discussion as to whether this pipe shape is more accurately called “Hungarian”; it’s also been known by other names: “Hungarian bent” and, just as frequently, “Bent Unter.” Some briar aficionados say that the two terms are synonymous; other pipe mavens are noncommittal or don’t care a whit. If asked, I might say mistaken identity, or questionable; if pressed to testify, I just might say specious, suspect, or speculation. Why am I of this opinion? In the Spring 2008 issue of Pipes & Tobaccos magazine appeared my “War and Peace Pipes. Commemoration and Remembrance” in which I wrote about and illustrated Boer War Oom Paul pipes, and I have published much about the history and evolution of the Austro-Hungarian pipe industry and three unique pipe formats that her artisans created (mentioned later). I never encountered the term Hungarian, per se, in my research on Oom Pauls.


I contacted the founder of the Oom Paul Society, Olie Sylvester, who responded immediately and advised that neither the mission nor the purpose of the “Oompaul Society of Non Typicals” encompasses an investigative pursuit of information about Kruger or this pipe. When I volunteered to craft a mini-monograph, he willingly accepted, and I enthusiastically complied. (As I mined deeper, however, this mini-monograph became a dissertation. Perhaps Ollie expected that I would offer the Society the time of day, but I ended up building a watch.) I offer it as background information to anyone interested in knowing something more about the Oom Paul format, and for the ultra-curious and inquisitive in this community of aficionados, reminiscent of the 1966 Burt Bachrach and Hal David song, it’s my way to answer “What’s it all About, Olie?” Truth be told, it’s a rather convoluted story. Here’s what I knew and what I have since found in various references.


As you take account of the balance of this article, consider, allegorically, Act II, Scene II of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” She asks: “What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet...” to which Romeo replies: “By a name, I know not how to tell thee who I am.” Or, for something more contemporary, consider René Magritte: “An object encounters its image, an object encounters its name. It may be that the image and the name of the object encounter each other” (Les Mots et Les Images [Words and Images], 1929). Both quotations play a significant role in what follows.


Something About South Africa and Kruger

South Africa, this 19th century country of diamonds (Kimberley) and gold, was also an important player in tobacco pipe manufacture in that century. The long and colorful recorded history of tobacco and smoking has always reprised the story of the Oom Paul—this famous pipe has a memorable place in South Africa's history—and Kruger, but she also made a significant contribution in a much more important event in pipe lore. This small nation was the epicenter and principal exporter of the calabash gourd and its eventual development into an appealing smoking pipe!


Stephanus Johannes Paulus Kruger (Oom Paul, Afrikaans for ‘Uncle Paul’) was a statesman, resistance leader against British rule, and the State President of the South African Republic (Transvaal), best remembered as the lion-hearted patriot for facing down the British during the Second Boer War ((1899–1902). He was never far from his pipe, and was considered a chain smoker. Oom ‘uncle’ Paul Krüger, the legendary old Boer War president, was a notorious pipe smoker. A full-bent pipe was custom designed for him (similar to the famous Sherlock Holmes pipe, but without the flare to the bowl), and this particular style continues to be manufactured in various European countries even today, still designated an ‘Oom Paul.’”[i]  “His long black [my italics] pipe is always associated with him in the minds of those who have talked to him.”[ii] Then there is this comment: “His [Kruger’s] dirty wooden pipe was visible, for it stuck out of his breast pocket;”[iii] Given the commercial relationship between Great Britain and South Africa, this “full-bent, black, wooden pipe” was undoubtedly produced in a factory in London or elsewhere in the Isles. (Note that “briar” is not mentioned in any of these quotations. Perhaps it was understood.) 


One of the many illustrations of Kruger is an 1899 Vanity Fair caricature depicting him in his customary garb, a black frock coat and a top hat, smoking a deep-bent wood pipe, and it’s certainly not an Oom Paul, but artists do have a license to take liberties with their renditions!


In The Life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1975), John Dickson Carr claims that curved pipes were unknown in England until they were imported during the Boer War. If this is true, then Kruger might have had a degree of influence on the eventual popularity of this particular shape; some historians even claim that Kruger made this pipe famous around the world.


As a gratuitous comment, the Boer War made its mark, however slight, on the tobacco industry:  Kruger had a pipe shape named after him and, for several years, cigars were produced to honor of (Field Marshal) Lord Frederick Sleigh Roberts (of Kandahar), British commander-in-chief in that war, and Robert Baden-Powell, a Boer War hero.


Much More About the Oom Paul... Historically Speaking

As the story goes, factory-finished briar pipes were sent from England to British soldiers and Colonial troops serving in that war. The supply flowed from manufacturers—GBD and BBB in particular—and from private citizens. In the Wisbech Standard, an English newspaper, in 1899, appeared the statement that each British soldier departing for Africa’s Boer War was given a pipe, a pound of tobacco, and a Bible… paid for by patriotic funds. More proof is a clipping from another English newspaper of summer 1900: “Mrs Woodhams of ‘Treelawn’, Woburn Sands, has been collecting clothing and presents to send to the troops in South Africa and has so far got 9 flannel shirts, 6 pairs of knitted socks, 13 wool mufflers, 35 cup covers, 6 knitted cholera belts, 3 helmets, 18 pipes, a pipe lighter and 4lb of tobacco to send to Mafeking.”[iv] It was also reported that school-age children asked their parents for money to purchase tobacco and pipes to give to British soldiers as keepsakes as they departed for Africa. Here’s further confirmation of this noble gesture: “The battalion met with a great reception at Maritzburg, where a halt was made for nine hours. Here each man was presented by the ladies of that place with a pipe, half a pound of tobacco, and a pockethandkerchief.”[v] And where did the tobacco come from? The largest supplier was a Dutch immigrant, Leonard Dingler, who sold it to soldiers throughout the Transvaal.


Many soldiers and prisoners in the Second Boer War often carved their pipes from scratch, rummaging around and using whatever hard wood was available; theirs were often erroneously called Trench art. The preponderance of pipes attributed to this war in private collections and museums, however, were the aforementioned, factory-finished pipes, and the vast majority are Oom Pauls. Encamped and imprisoned soldiers carved their personal messages in English or Afrikaans, and etched or incised unit designations, heraldic crests, military engagements, leaders, dates, and other information related to the many campaigns and skirmishes between the British and the South African Dutch. What is sure is that the Oom Paul pipe symbolized the Boer War, and it was into this very shape that these symbols were carved.


A historically interesting group consists of ‘Boer’-type pipes engraved by or for soldiers during the various wars in South Africa…. The troops, who used to refer to them as Kruger pipes, found their large size admirably suited to take engravings, or deeper carvings, of one or more of the following: name, rank, regiment, regimental crest, a list of battles or skirmishes participated in, dates of service in a particular theatre of war, and usually the name of the war. More rarely the head of the enemy leader Kruger also appeared.[vi]


For those interested in seeing some of these pipes online, several museums retain examples: Anglo-Boer War Museum, Bloemfontein, Ladysmith Siege Museum, both in South Africa; Australian War Museum, Campbell, Australia; Royal Welsh Fusiliers Regimental Museum, North Wales; and Canadian War Museum, Ottawa, Canada.


Today’s (British) Experts Chime In

Now, to address fact, fiction, and fantasy in the Oom Paul versus Hungarian controversy.

J. P. Cole is the son of J. W. Cole who worked for GBD. J. P. now 88, is a known quantity in the UK pipe trade, and author of The GBD St Claude Pipe Story (1976), the history of Cadogan French pipe houses. He had much to say about Oom Pauls and Hungarians. In one of his early publications, Briar Pipe Shapes and Styles (Pipe Line Guide No. 1, 1990), he stated, in part:


Very few BENT POTS really exist. The point is that the Pot bowl really emerged from the straight sided Hungarian Bents, so we must look at these first. HUNGARIAN BENTS are really those that we now call OOM PAULS....These bents will normally have the ends of the stems roughly in line with the tops of the bowls. The stems will be thick and the pipes will be on the large side.


In 1995, in “Briar Pipe Shapes and Models Until 1914” (The Pipe Year Book 1995), Cole added: “There was a wealth of existing bents, and predominantly the Hungarian bents which were technically easier to turn than bents like the Ulmers. In applying their technical skills, the turners of Saint-Claude developed the ‘Billiard bent’ and also the ‘egg Bent.’” He expounded further about Bents in a feature article in “PipeSmoke,” Fall 1998, Volume II, Issue 2, but I include only his comments about the Oom Paul and Hungarian: “A notable type of Bent which has been a favorite for over a hundred years is the Hungarian Bent, which has parallel sides (like a high pot) and is also known as the OOP [sic] Paul, named after Paul Charger, the South African leader of the Boer War, who preferred this shape.” (A bit confusing?)

When asked what he knew, John C. Adler, ex-chairman and managing director of Cadogan Investments, remarked: “I spent some time looking at old catalogues and found the shape in BBB & GBD catalogues circa 1907/8. However they are only referred to by shape number. It does not appear to have ever been made in Meerschaum.  I also found the name ‘Hungarian’ in a Loewe catalogue, but the shape is not Oom Paul. It then struck my memory that it might be a St.-Claude description of the bowl. I spoke with Jacques Cole and he confirmed that Hongroise was the shape name (spelling could be incorrect). Thus the use of Hungarian as this shape is correct, although I suspect it has nothing to do with Hungary.” (In French, Hongrois means Hungarian, and the feminine, Hongroise, was probably the adjective modifying the French word for pipe, la Pipe.)


I followed up these comments by poring through a few British pipe catalogs in hand. The 1899 catalog of Salmon & Gluckstein, London, the largest retail tobacconist chain with more than 120 branch outlets in the United Kingdom, contains a host of smoker requisites, but its briar pipe product line contains no pipe reminiscent of an Oom Paul/Hungarian. The 1912 BBB Catalogue No. XX (Adolph Frankau & Co., Inc.) includes a few approximate Oom Paul shapes, but none of these are a true Oom Paul, and none bear a model name. An early 1900s Barling catalog includes one of “Barling’s Celebrated Pipes,” the “Viking,” No. 235, but, again, close, but no cigar. Last, a search of the Loewe’s 1910 Illustrated Price List and Catalogue No. 7 offers a discovery on Page 14 in living black and white: “The Boer,” Model No. 95, an Oom Paul, without question, but by another name.


Others Chime In

Jim (Sandpiper), the Peterson Pipe Connoisseur & Collector, has this to say on his website: “Many prefer the term Hungarian over Oom Paul, since the pipe’s history is more appealing than the history of the man, with it’s [sic] connotations of racism and association with apartheid.”


In another online post: “It has always been an Oom Paul to me. Dunhill, GBD, and several others use the Hungarian designation for political reasons. Most makers stick to accepted convention on the popular shapes, but they can call them what they want. There are no ‘official’ shapes, as far as I know. The Hungarian designation is just petty silliness to me, but they made the pipe, and can stamp on there whatever they want” ( Another posts on the Brothers of Briar website: “Today while collecting information on the Hungarian pipe shape, it cane [sic] to my attention that two of the largest pipe manufactors [sic] in the world, do not use the name Oom Paul in their pipe charts, (Dunhill & Peterson).” Perhaps this is true today, but as late as 1950, one of the Dunhill ODA 800 Series was Number 818, an Oom Paul, not a Hungarian!


Monbla 256 posts on


Despite the continuing confusion between the Oom Paul and Hungarian nomenclatures, they are two very distinct shapes. The Oom Paul has a cylindrical bowl, and the Hungarian bowl is egg-shaped. At least, that’s the way I learned it. But nowadaze, it’s common to see ‘Hungarian’ and ‘Oom Paul’ used interchangeably, and both are applied to the Oom Paul shape. Meanwhile, the true Hungarian shape is apparently becoming an endangered species.


The genesis of the confusion between Oom Paul and Hungarian shapes isn’t clear, but reportedly, it was instigated by Dunhill. As the story goes, being ‘good Englishmen’, they weren’t about to concede anything to ‘Uncle’ Paul (Oom Paul) Kruger, who had been Britain’s principal antagonist in the Boer Wars, after whom the cylindrical Oom Paul shape was named. Hence, Dunhill ascribed the moniker ‘Hungarian’ to both shapes so as not to provide any politically incorrect recognition of Mr. Kruger.


Last, Jim Lilley of the International Peterson Pipe Club opines: “To explain the ‘Oom Paul’ label, it was a designation given to a 19th century South African politician named Paul Kruger, their first President. He smoked a pipe shaped similar to what’s called the Oom Paul or Hungarian today” ( In his opinion, the two terms are synonymous. And illustrates a pipe labeled “Oom Paul/Hungarian.”


Recent Internet Sales of “Hungarians” 

As a sidebar to this discussion, I want to mention a few online sales of Hungarians. Gauntleys, a Nottingham, England, shop dating back to the 1880s advertises for sale a “London Briar” No. 22-Hungarian (Brown Sandblast)” described as “Large and heavy full bent, Hungarian shaped pipe. Brown glossy sandblast finish.” There’s the “Shire Carved Hungarian Calabash Rosewood Tobacco Pipe w/Saddle Stem & Filter” offered by AFG Distribution, and the very same pipe offered on Amazon as the “Fess Hungarian Calabash Carved/Textured Rosewood Tobacco Pipe w/Filter.” However, from the posted color images, all three pretty much resemble the Calabash.


My Turn 

I am not a briar pipe authority, I am a pipe historian, and I choose to join the conversation. Many books have been published recounting the history, evolution, manufacture, and export/import of various pipes, e.g., clay, porcelain, wood (including briar), and meerschaum. The best-illustrated coverage of the Austro-Hungarian pipe industry is Ferenc Levárdy, Our Pipe-Smoking Forebears (Budapest-Pecs-Velburg, 1994). In it is a detailed account of what Hungarian historians, pipe experts and collectors claim are three distinctive pipe shapes originating in their homeland early in its industry, and these three were produced in wood, less so in meerschaum; through time, each underwent slight factory-produced variations in their configuration.


The three uniquely Hungarians deep bents are (1) Kalmasch, (2) Debrecen (after a town that established a potter’s guild in the late 17th century), and (3) Rákóczy (named after one of several generations of Rákóczy—Sigismund, George I, George II, Francis I, or Francis II [a national hero]—all of whom were, at a time, princes of Transylvania between 1544 and 1735). Of the three, the Rákóczy comes close, but not that close in design silhouette, what would be, today, considered a one-off Oom Paul, because its bowl is the shortest of the three in height, and its curved shank bends closest to and in parallel with the bowl. However, on further inspection, I would venture that the Oom Paul more closely resembles the German Thüringer Aufsatzpfeife, but introducing this German shape into the discussion makes everything yet more confusing.


The Synthesis

At this juncture, would the following syllogism seem reasonable? The three aforementioned (Austro)-Hungarian pipe configurations were Bents produced in assorted woods (not briar) long before St.-Claude became the epicenter of briar pipe manufacture, c. mid-1850s. If Carr’s claim that curved pipes were unknown in England until they were imported during the Boer War, then the chances are that those carved (i.e., Bent) pipes were probably briars exported from St.-Claude factories; those factories were in operation much before Great Britain entered the briar business. And where might those French craftsmen have received their inspiration for the curved shapes they produced? Which was the only country, until the 1850s, making and exporting all sorts of wood smoking pipes? Hungary! Most likely French craftsmen took notice of one or more of the Hungarian models. The Hongroise was just one of many Bents produced in St.-Claude long before anyone in France became familiar with the name Uncle Paul or the Second Boer War. I would also argue that the Hongroise entered the market long before any English pipe maker devised the Oom Paul shape.


What is more than plausible is that the Hongroise was an arbitrarily chosen French word coined by an artisan in one of those nondescript mid-19th century St.-Claude ateliers to describe and identify a certain Bent briar shape, just as later factories in England assigned names to their respectively unique designs: Golf, Woodstock, Melbourne, Rover, Rotunda, etc. What was the precise shape of the French-made Hongroise other than it having some type of bent or curved silhouette? I can find no catalog image, no exacting description, no information in a primary or secondary published source that makes reference to a Hungarian. And I emphasize that the Hongroise has no directly correlative antecedent—though it might have a gauzy, or gossamer-thin one—to any of the three Bents developed in late Eighteenth- early Nineteenth-century Austro-Hungary.


Was the Hongroise an Oom Paul? While I dare not challenge the two British pipe authorities that I know and respect, I find that their respective statements about the interchangeability of the terms Oom Paul and Hungarian lack conviction and suggest doubt; they offer no descriptive specificity as to what the Hungarian shape looked like. Furthermore, no one seems to know who was responsible for assigning synonymy to the two terms, or why there are two terms for the same shape. Nevertheless, I am convinced that the true Oom Paul is a distinctive British pipe design and, perhaps, the Hongroise might have been a look-alike, a fair facsimile, or a case of mistaken identity with the Oom Paul.


Finally, from my brief research, I found nothing on record indicating that, at a time, the Oom Paul was deemed politically incorrect, and Hungarian became the generally accepted term. Chronologically, if the proper pipe-smoking Englishman or the English pipe industry found everything “Boer” or Uncle Paul off-putting or offensive, that would have been the milieu during or soon after the Second Boer War. No British catalog of the period I looked through contained a shape listed as Hungarian.



What to make of this jumble? To anyone bent (no pun intended) on getting to ground truth, good luck! Whether it’s called an Oom Paul, a Hungarian, or something else again, it’s not worth any additional effort to dispute or disclaim it, or to dissect it further. It’s just a proverbial rose by another name. The Beatles said it best: “Let it be!”


I Bernard Botes Krüger, A Battlement of Spears (Xliibis Corporation, 2006), 80.

II (J. W. Buel, Conquering the Dark Continent (Official Publishing Company, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, 1899), 456.

III Stefan Kanfer, The Last Empire (HarperCollinsCanadaLtd., 1993), 119.


V M. Jackson, Colonel, The Record of a Regiment of the Line Being a Regimental History of the 1st Battalion Devonshire Regiment During the Boer War 1899–1902 (London, Hutchinson & Co., 1908), 209.

VI Roger Fresco-Corbu, “All Types of Wooden Pipes,” Art & Antiques Weekly, March 26, 1977, 27.

AuthorOlie Sylvester

In the not so quiet pirate community of Blagery Dak (see "Black Friday Pirate Plunder" entry in the Musings area of for more information), there were many, many characters of all sorts and shapes. Some with good (relatively speaking) hearts, some with cold ones. Some with hearts that may have looked like a chunk of ice if you had a peep window direct to it. This, however, is a story of a fellow with a warm heart. No Thumbs Tom.


Please don't confuse No Thumbs Tom with Tom Thumb from nursery songs or Barnum ventures. This is a very different character to be sure. No Thumbs Tom was a slender man who often wore striped socks with his knickers and went by many names. Here is a small collection of such appellations that I know of: No Thumbs Tom, Tommy no thumbs, Thumbless Walter Savage, Soots, Sooty, Sooty Tom, Tom Tom Tinker man of Narry a Thumb, Blagery Black Tom, Black hands Timmy, Black hands Tommy, Tom Soot, Sans Thumbs Tombo, Sans Tubs Toto, Jim Fish, Charred Handy, Ol'e eight fingers, Ol'e eight, Mister four and four, Timothy Charrington, Tom Char, Charred Bill, and I'm sure a few others.


Tom loved fishing and he loved his pipe. Many say they remember him as minuscule as 2 stone, perched on the beaches of Blagery Dak with pipe and pole. Garment stone likely more so than meat, but even so, just a bit of a lad, and already he was off to cast and puff. Many a sun blossomed out yon with Tom already fishing from the beach. Many a sun did sink in the drink the same way. After all, there was fishing to be done and tobacco to be made lit so there he would go each day to do his duty of each godly task.


So it's said that some strange looking fish began darting around the coasts of Blagery Dak one season when Tom was near 10 or 12 years on and still had his thumbs. A violet colored fish with a smear of rouge just under the lower lip. Tom, being more than a seasoned fisherman by this point, landed the very first two of these odd creatures and was excited to show them off to his family and as many other folks in Blagery Dak as did want to take a peek.


As is normal, once the fish were beached, Tom commenced to inserting his thumbs into the mouths of the manna, grasping the lower jaws with the remainder of his paws. And why not? It's the most natural thing in the green green world to do next to wetting the lower ends of standing timber when nature gives whisper. No sooner did young Tom begin running village way with the mauve and red wriggling scoundrels than they administered something akin to small fires in his thumbs by way of sharp plated rows of bottom teeth. What came next was a bit of howling followed by the strangest dance you might ever see with fish fastened to the dancer's bloody mitts, which then flowed easily into something like a sermon, as it lasted some time and was difficult to follow. Also if a sermon was chock full of very loud words (as I've heard they do in the confines of some of the smaller hovels of worship.)


Eventually poor Tom managed to loose the demons onto the sand as they flipped and flopped, looking as if they were self flouring on the Blagery Dak shore in preparation for some fish fry yet to be announced. His thumbs went from a fiery pain to something so horrible that only mothers and men with belly tattoos could ever truly comprehend.


Kneeling in the sand, Tom watched as his thumbs became detached from his body, quickly and simply as though magic were afoot. His pain was, at that moment, marvelously and completely gone. Gone as if it were never there. Gone like any decent person's earnings should they have a taxing government nearby. What's more, he stopped bleeding and felt quite well. By this time, a growing swell of onlookers had gathered to see what all the dancing and preaching was about. Moments after Tom's thumbs came in contact with the warm sands of Blagery Dak, the two vile pets of the devil himself managed to flop into the scene, locate and each consume one of poor Tom's thumbs as if they were nothing more than the smallest of hors d'oeuvres before a great meal at palace. Shrieks peppered the air along with an "Ewwwwwww" which was so spectacularly harmonious and in unison that it would give the most strict choral conductor one, two, possibly three tears due to it's perfection. 


As even pirate villages have men of the cloth, a clergy person nearby announced that these flopping purple people eaters were from this moment on and forever to be known as, "bad" and moreover to be, "avoided." With that bit of hard work out of the way, a rough and tumble gal by the name of Thalassa (Tally for short) snatched up the demon fish and casually walked them back from whence they came. Some heard tell that she whispered to each of them before tossing them back in, though I can't imagine why she would do such a thing.


Newly no thumbed Tom did not let this little, nay bizarre, incident stop him in this grand life. Even without thumbs, Tom kept fishing and went on to be the most favored chimney sweep in all of Blagery Dak. His thin stature certainly helped in this respect, but much more than that, the inhabitants of that small pirate community saw Tom as something like a partial martyr. Were it not for his accident, who's to say what horrible things might have happened if those violet and violent beasts  of Lucifer's fish bowl entered into the food stuffs, be they dried or fresh, or possibly trades, too, of the folk of Blagery Dak? Many a whispers have been volleyed about Tom being a bit of a saving grace standing up straight in flesh and bone. To say ol'e Tom was admired from that day on is an understatement to be sure.


So now you can see why I've made tampers in a sort of memoriam for good ol'e No Thumbs Tom. You'll notice the charred bamboo being the same likeness as would have been used for Tom's fishing pole. You'll also notice a fine brass tamp on one end and a blackened and thumbless porcelain arm on the other, just right for scooping snuff or clearing away the dregs of your pipe, should your pipe's bowl diameter be at least three quarters of an inch straight down. I leave you now with a little song that was made about our warm hearted, pipe smoking, chimney sweeping lad. No doubt you've heard it before though.


A piper from the first, a fisher from the start

No man had less thumbs, or bigger a heart.

Tom caught up the fish, that'd do us much harm,

Those demons were perse, and big as yer arm.


(chorus) He's why that I sings, he's why that I hums,

He's why that I puffs, though he's gots no more thumbs.

He saved ol'e Blag Dak, even saved all our mums,

He's Timmy Tim Tom black hands no thumbs!


T'was on the bare beach where Tom was attacked,

Two fish from the devil and that is a fact.

They bore down on Tommy and right towards the end

He screamed and he danced while they grinned.


(chorus) He's why that I sings, he's why that I hums,

He's why that I puffs, though he's gots no more thumbs.

He saved ol'e Blag Dak, even saved all our mums,

He's Timmy Tim Tom black hands no thumbs!


I wouldn't believe if I hadn't been there,

Those fish ate his thumbs without caution or care.

He stood straight up then without fuss or a gripe,

And started to puff on his pipe!


(chorus) He's why that I sings, he's why that I hums,

He's why that I puffs, though he's gots no more thumbs.

He saved ol'e Blag Dak, even saved all our mums,

He's Timmy Tim Tom black hands no thumbs!



AuthorOlie Sylvester

Many years ago on a bleak Thor's day evening, the small port side town of Blagery Dak had a problem. Most of the inhabitants there made a modest living by combing the coasts as pirates, skimming off the heavy purses of neighboring well to do districts like Pumphreysberg or Hoitystadt. These were cities that were still loyal to the not too distant corrupt monarchy of King Pauntevaust.

Some merchant ships did have the privilege of regular port to Blagery Dak without fear of trouble, but they were very few. Only the staples were allowed in and even then, you'd better know the folk or else. One such vendor vessel brought about the same type of goods each week on Thor's day, wine, a half dozen or so different spices, rags, and tobacco. As you might guess, every Thor's day was an important delivery day.

A community can get by without a good many things from one week to the next, but let a group of folk run low on wine and tobacco for a week and see what happens! Just such a horrible thing came to pass in this little town. When word got out that the red waters and 'baccy were delayed till only John knew when, a meeting quickly ensued. The leaders of Blagery Dak had to think quick lest their little town dissolve into the worst kind of mayhem, the kind they normally inflict on passing kingly vessels. Either this pirate town would come up with a plan to ration out the tobacco and wine they already had, or it would be a free for all and nothing would ever be the same for this tighter than tight, thick as thieves community. 

After a good hour of consideration by the 5 leaders of Blagery Dak, they forged a plan. All the wine and tobacco from each household would be gathered up by the leaders and put in the center of the town on top of a barrel. At the first rooster's call, the remaining tobacco and wine would be freely given on a first come first serve basis. No weapons were to be allowed in this race at all. All night folks tried in earnest to get their roosters to sound, but a rooster is like a courtly noble, or a southland donkey, it does what it does in it's own time, damn be all else. 

Eventually, Jameson Erdleberg's rooster sounded off first (which is where we get the phrase, "The Erdleberg get's the Vurm. Vurm was a favored brand of wine in that region." So the townsfolk flew to the barrel as quickly as they could. Since none could carry weapons, a few cunning pipers outfitted their pipes with the most sinister additions one could imagine. A knife blade mounted under a shank on one, razor sharp spikes around a bowl on another, it was uncanny what these desperate pipers came up with during the night waiting on someone's rooster to finally crow. The consensus was, an edge or a point on a pipe was simply part of the pipe and a pipe isn't a weapon but only a device for sipping tobacco leaf. 

I don't have to tell you that that piper's with the mindset to poke and slash found their way to the booty quick as Jack Nimble's brother Francis who was too fast to even be written about in the children's rhyme. Despite the loss of blood and the addition of bruises, bumps and lacerations, the little pirate town of Blagery Dak had such a great time that Frigg's Day, they decided to have a similar race that same time every year and don't you know to this day that Blagery Dak Frigg's Day, what we call Black Friday, is still going on?

So join me in celebrating in the original pirate plundering way this Blagery Dak Frigg's Day with's Black Friday Pirate Plunder. Beginning on Friday morning 11/29, sometime between 7am and 9am (EST) you will notice a transformation on the site under the "Available Pipes" portal. You will see a number of items for sale there. First come, first serve with some bits and pieces of old Blagery Dak in the mix. Sale ends at sundown 11/29 or once sold out. Mark your calendars.

AuthorOlie Sylvester

I root for the underdog. If I'm going to get a dog, I'm going to find a needy one more than not. The Zombie series takes pipes that were at one time, good pipes that went horribly wrong. You name it, from cracked shanks to bad drillings to various pits and blemishes, these pieces became cast outs that no one wanted to touch. These untouchables found their way to me. Lucky them.

I have reworked each of them to be solid smokers with typical Monstrosity looks. They carry the same lifetime guarantee as all other Monstrosity pipes. This covers any kinds of breaks, cracks, burnout, etc. I have taken these sad pieces destined for the trash heap and reworked them, reanimated them! They now (not unlike a Zombie) live again. Each is stamped with the Monstrosity "M" and numbered (unless clay.)

Purchase a Zombie and love every undead moment.

AuthorOlie Sylvester

This series stands as a place marker and celebration of my 40th birthday which happened on December 18, 2012. There are only 4 pipes in the series, one for each decade.

The style of the series harkens back to the early 1700s when pirates who smoked pipes found themselves adorning their favorite pipe with a bit of their loot. Many folks already know I come from a long line of Florida coast pirates, and the styles of pipes and how they changed during this period is fairly well recorded. Numerous documents, (mostly from pirate trials from this period) describe or show the Florida Coast Pirate style pipe and even hint at it's important role as pirate's friend, and Captain's scepter. Most all documents referencing the Florida Coast Pirate style pipe are under lock and key far below the OomPalace, where traps involving venomous creatures, curses and tainted rum keep them very, very safe.

A bit more about this style of pirate pipes…A pirate with a small pipe would soon find the weight of the treasure around the small pipe to be problematic, which called for a design change. Soon, pirates were having pipes custom made in a sitter fashion with an elongated mast like shank and curved stem. The large mass of the sitter body was not unlike their ship's body, the mast like shank could now support many more items of booty and the curved stem was reminiscent of the billowing black flag. 

The M40 series allows us to enjoy our tobacco in a very similar fashion to our pirate brothers and sisters of days gone. I hope you enjoy this bit of rebellion forged in liberty as much as I have creating the line. The names given to these brutes are the same as some of the most infamous pirate ships that ever sailed:

1. Queen Anne's Revenge

2. Adventure Galley

3. Whydah

4. Fancy

AuthorOlie Sylvester
Deep from within the Oom Palace comes a bit of pipe finish history...
Some time back, a very eccentric pipe carver used to deliver his pipes by putting them into an envelope, sealing it, then pushing them from the floor of his workshop (using a broom) to the home of the patron. Depending on the length of the trip and condition of the mostly dirt roads, the pipe would end up with a different relief than when it began it's journey due to rocks, roots and other debris it would encounter.
Patrons began to request delivery only during dry days as this afforded a more noticeable change to the exterior of the pipe. This pipe carver, Mr. Shun, was known to do rather unique works and became known for his envelope roughing technique. When others in the community wanted another artisan to do something unique with their commissioned work, the were asked to "push the envelope" which meant, do something unique and out of the ordinary or beyond the norm like Mr. Shun. Russ Kaleb Shun became so well known for his unique pipe finishes, that his name lives on in pipes that have a Rusty K. Shun finish or rustication. 


AuthorOlie Sylvester

Dear reader, it is of no surprise to you, of course, that yet another snippet of pipe history comes to you now, dusted off and pulled from the underground vaults deep beneath the OomPalace. Years ago, the Witch's Foot was an incredibly popular shape that has today, all but died out. While many dispute it's origin, the Witch's Foot shape, we believe originated with a British carver trained by a Danish carver who was trained by an American carver, who was trained by an alligator in the swamps of Louisiana. While I personally find it hard to believe that an alligator would carve pipes from briar and not something more readily available, like human bone, I can only tell you the facts as they are recorded in the documents we have here.
It is entirely possible too, that this American carver did not wish to divulge his source as he never gave the name of the alligator in question. But I digress.  The Witch's Foot pipe did not become popular until the young British carver Taylor A. Bilton made it so. Bilton was a marketing master in his own way and used the old myth, which was quite popular in his area, that if one smoked a pipe, the smoke kept away illness and disease (this belief is still held in some areas of Georgia (US.) Bilton took it a step further, roughed out pipes that were flat and smooth on one side and roughly billiard shaped on the other and called the shape a "Witch's Foot" which he said had special abilities which far surpassed "regular" pipe smoke.
Sales were slow until a baby in a nearby town made a miraculous recovery from "flop bot" (a terrible illness, very tricky to cure years ago.) Soon, word got around that it was all due to the baby smoking a Witch's Foot pipe made by Bilton. Whether the baby actually smoked a Witch's Foot pipe or just a cavalier shape (which was very popular for babies then,) we can't be sure. However, what we can be sure of is this: the sales of Witch's Foot pipes shot up astronomically and became a necessary item in many homes far and near.


AuthorOlie Sylvester

The single event that would set into motion a course of decisions and actions that would ultimately bring about the destruction of the house of MacClellen occurred on 17 November 1869.

I, William MacClellen, had just completed my studies as a fourth year medical student. I had  passed my boards and exams and some of my cohort and I had our mind set on revelry. We found ourselves at a small tavern just off university grounds in Staffordshire.

After more than a few pints and songs of loves lost we retired to a long common table. I was seated at the end of the table across from a man of the mines. So stained was his skin with the grit and grime from the mines, his original complexion could not be discerned.  His 3 fingered left hand deftly handled his mug while he incessantly tapped out the rhythm to an old sea shanty.  Paying him little mind we took to the leaf. 

My mates and I were faithful brothers of the briar, our pipes well broken by late nights of nose warming in cold libraries.  My pipe of choice was a conglomeration of a short stemmed churchwarden and a Haiti, a French shape closely resembling a Bulldog.  Grabbing my pouch from my vest pocket, I noticed the miner across from me pull a pipe from his right inside pocket.  Through the gap created by his absent middle digits I spied the most monstrous smoking instrument.  I hesitate to call it a pipe, although I suppose that is what it most resembled.  Deep, dark burgundy in color, a shape so strange I would call it shapeless.  If pressed I would have to say it looked a bit like a lobe from a child’s liver, though diseased and hardened.  A stem jutted out of the only place a stem could have jutted out.  

The pipe looked entirely repulsive, yet I could not look away.  I was drawn, like flies to honey, to this…this monstrosity.  After a bit of hesitation the miner allowed me to look more closely at his pipe, but closer inspection yielded little more than the glimpse I had stolen from across the table.  Surprisingly, however, the pipe seemed to sit in my hand as if carved specifically for me. 

Under a spell not of this world I packed the pipe with my latakia heavy blend.  The miner smiled a stained, knowing smile as I brought fire to bear. I charred my plug and tamped, then lit again.  The sweet spirits that escaped the foul vessel were unparalleled in my experience.  This was my leaf.  I expected the familiarity of the old blend that had seen me through many autumns, but I was met with something altogether alien.  The smallest sip would yield such overwhelmingly pleasant exhilaration I wished not to let it escape my mouth.  

Once I came to my senses I demanded to know the origin of this otherworldly pipe.  He claimed that there were none like it.  I pressed to find that it was the liver of a Norwegian Gnome that had been brined then cured and preserved.  I offered him large sums of money and trade for transfer of ownership but he would not yield.  “You can hunt one yourself, but you will pay dearly for it” he croaked as he snatched the still burning pipe from my hands.  With that he took his leave, and the rest of mine with him.

My being was consumed with curiosity.  Every mortal fiber longed for another sweet draw on that monstrous pipe. My dreams were filled with images of gnomes and wild fantasies of fire and earth.

The next morning I woke to rain and the single thought of the pipe. Being a man of science I had never entertained such fantastic whimsy. Liver of gnome?  Gnome?  I made my way briskly to the library where research on the chthonic beings consumed 3 days and nights of my life. I discovered their reticence in all endeavors human. I learned that they move through dirt as man through air. Famed metallurgists they were regarded by one author as the most technologically gifted of the elves. Finally I learned that they were known to be avid pipe smokers all.  Their pipe smoking actually being one of the few times they could be seen or even captured above ground.  

My studies turned to pinpointing their locations.  The European continent was dotted with tales throughout. From Greece and Troy to Scandinavia and the British Isles, the legends spread, even sightings in the new world. 

I am fortunate enough to be a man of vast resources.  My grandfather was lord of all of the land from Dunnottar Castle west to Loch Lochy and south along the Firth of Tay.  These are rich lands and the house of MacClellend has been prosperous for ages. My wife, Magdelena hails from Cornwall with nobility in her blood for centuries. 

I assumed the fortunes and responsibilities of my birthright in 1867 at age 33.  While I completed my studies, I employed a dear boyhood friend and accountant called Wallace. He was honest and well paid so I worried not about my family fortune under his careful stewardship.  He took residence in the west apartments of the castle, and never wanted for anything.

These fortunes afforded me the opportunity to travel comfortably throughout the European continent in search of the gnomes. I logically thought that where there were gnomes (assuming they did indeed exist) these magical pipes would certainly be easily found; for although gnomes lived for hundreds of years, and were incredibly difficult to capture or kill, according to legends they did turn up dead or gravely injured from time to time. 

I began my journey in Turkey and moved through the gypsy heavy Balkans north to Scandinavia.  Wallace, having never left Scotland was taken ill several times by exotic foods, but his spirit never faltered.  Magdelena pined for the hills and lochs of Scotland.  Truly one of the nation’s adopted daughters.

My questions of gnomes were met by laughter in the cities and nothing but hearsay in the country. All the while I was depleting my family fortune on my quest. Wallace and Magdelena grew tired of my feverish disposition, and I felt the distance between myself and Magdelana as surely as I felt the closeness between her and Wallace. I cared not. I would find that gnome. I would have my pipe. 

Alas, I returned to Scotland empty handed and depressed. I had exhausted all of my leads and was no closer to my goal. 

As I took to dine, the cook, Luc had noticed my sour demeanor.  We had employed the same French family as cooks for 3 generations and they were all masters of their craft.  Luc came to my side and said quietly "I know of gnomes in America."  He knew of my quest and told me stories of Arcadians living in New Orleans. A city steeped in mystery and tales of Voo-doo religions. 

My vigor renewed, I called the bastard Wallace in from his new residence in the servants’ quarters to aid me in planning this final escapade. I required Luc's company on this trip as well. He claimed to know many people stateside that could aide us.  Wallace protested like a dog no longer suitable for breeding, arguing that I had squandered the larger part of my estate on this foolish goose chase. I dismissed him and told him to make arrangements with haste; I planned to depart by weeks end. Magdelena would remain at the estate. 

Not having Magdelena in tow, we were able to travel light.  We traveled by steam ship across the Atlantic, and made our way through America to New Orleans.  We did no searching en route.  So convinced was Luc at our success, we were anxious and felt no need to waste time.  The entire journey was uneventful, and rather than bore you with the menu or the appointments, I shall move to the chase.  

We finally arrived by nightfall.  Luc made arrangements for our accommodations and we bedded down till morning.

After breakfast we met with a group of gentlemen….grave diggers.  I had thought all in New Orleans were laid to rest above ground upon their death, but I had been misinformed.  The motley crew told us stories of small men popping from the earth and smoking their pipes.  They often saw the gnomes as they each had tangible subterranean interests.    

They assured us that unlike European gnomes, these beasts were considerably slower due to smoking the local perique leaves at full strength.  The largest of the crew even claimed to see one of them fall asleep mid-bowl.  

After much discussion, we decided tonight would be the night.  We had a location with confirmed visual identification, and we knew they had weaknesses.  

We spent the afternoon fashioning a trap of silk rope.  Anything made from or grown in the earth was useless at trapping the gnome, as they could simply move right through it.  As dusk fell, Luc, the impotent bastard Wallace and the rest of the crew moved into position near a graveyard just outside of town.  Sure enough minutes before sunset no fewer than a dozen gnomes came to the surface and lit up.  In my research I learned the older and more haggard the gnome, the harder the liver, the sweeter the smoke rendered from the pipe.  

I spotted my prey.  They smoked mainly out of pipes fashioned from something one of the grave diggers called Missouri Meerschaum.  All that is, except my prey.  He was smoking a great Danish horn shaped pipe of exquisite briar.  Is it possible this gnome emigrated from the old world?  Could I have a Danish or Scandinavian gnome in my midst.  I reveled in the thought!

We waited until they were deep into their perique fueled stupor before we sprang into action.  We were able to close the distance between us and our target to just a few meters.  I believe Wallace soiled himself in fear.  I carried with me a vial of ether, and my medical kit.  If possible I wished to extract a small lobe of the liver while leaving the gnome alive to live out the rest of his days.   

Luc threw a stick away from us to distract the Halfling.  Spooked, the gnome dropped his pipe assumed a defensive posture.  His back to us, we cast the silk net true and landed him.  The gnome reeled and produced a small gleaming knife from his belt hurling it at Wallace.  The blade connected true with his sternum and carved straight through to his aorta.  Wallace was dead before he hit the ground.  The Frenchmen barked orders to each other and I moved in with the ether soaked kerchief.  

I wrapped my hand around his neck and applied the kerchief to his face and mouth.  In that moment I felt an incredible searing pain as the gnome bit down with the force of a bear trap.  I felt skin, sinew and finally bone give way.  I recoiled, grasping my hand instinctively.  The gnome wriggled to face me and spat two objects out at me.  I didn’t have to look to realize that they were the 2 middle digits on my left hand.

Enraged I took a hammer and scalpel from my kit.  The gnome was in a haze from the ether and the perique.  I was able to land a blow squarely between the eyes rendering the foul beast unconscious and the conflict over. 

In seconds I had the gnomes gut opened up and his liver in my hand.  I had initially planned to take only enough for a billiard shaped pipe or perhaps a lovat, but in bitter retribution I took more than I had planned.  Now my pipe will have a liver shank as well.  The Gnome should survive the encounter, but life will be a bit more difficult for him.

In the end I lost a life long friend, 2 fingers on my left hand, and what remained of the house of MacClellend to my former wife, the hag Magdelena.  But the pipe smokes magnificently.    

copyright 2010 Robert Beck 


AuthorOlie Sylvester
It has come to my attention that at least one Monstrosity owner has been attacked by his pipe. The more than shaken chap called for help amidst the tangle and explained that his Monstrosity was angry with him for not smoking it as often as it likes and began a campaign of rage and possibly terror as well upon his body. The fellow went on to describe his bruising and lacerations with some detail. I coached the Monstrosity owner to calm the beast with fine tobacco and wooden matches. In a situation like this, smoking the beast as soon
as possible is key. Luckily I was able to help quell the beast before the scene turned into something even more ugly. Please be warned. A Monstrosity pipe is to be smoked regularly lest you, as the beast's owner, risk life and limb. I will gladly send bandages to any Monstrosity owner on a "as needed" basis, but can not answer to any medical bills that may arise from cuts, scrapes, blunt trauma and the like.
AuthorOlie Sylvester
Many of you know the old story of the five brothers Grim so I will only summarize prior to moving on. There were five, they were hideous and lived in the South Eastern United States many years ago. Two of them were twins, all were born amidst terrible difficulty (floods, tornadoes, cross fire hurricanes and what not.)
Each of the brothers were more than difficult to look at and each lived under various small bridges near DeLeon Springs Florida. They ate alligator, possum and mullet. But that was for dessert. They truly loved chewing on the bones of folks who hated tobacco.
Upon the death of each brother, many area churches sainted them, which is very strange as most of these churches were Baptist. These brothers have been memorialized in pipes with the latest group of Monstrosity pipes. A little about the pipes now...
There were five in all, each one a beast. Grudge and Grim, some would say, were twins of a sort. Both squat and difficult to look at. Grotesque reminded one of a knobby beef heart with seemingly out of place straight grain. Ghast was the lightest of the brothers with a strange paleness that was at once, inexplainable and disturbing. Gruesome, the tallest of all the brothers, was certainly the eldest if there were an eldest. Something dark and sinister about this leader was evident from the start.
AuthorOlie Sylvester
Many of you know all about Reindeer Gall Bladder pipes, however, it has come to my attention that there are a few out there who have not heard of them. Many years ago, the Great North American Reindeer (Rangifer tarandus mysticalius pfeifus) was spread across North America much like a blanket. A furry blanket made of really large deer. Their numbers were so many, that we began using them for all sorts of interesting things. One of the most inventive ideas was the Reindeer Gall Bladder pipe.
Because the Great North American Reindeer ate a unique variety of plants and animals (pine straw, alligator, fescue, acorns, buzzards and Florida lemur) their internal organs, over time, became very different from other deer. Possibly the most unique internal organ we've ever seen is this deer's gall bladder. Once harvested, it looked and felt much like the underground bulbous portion of the Heath tree that we (in the pipe world) call briar. As a matter of fact, it looked and felt so much like a chunk of briar, that only expert pipe makers could tell the difference between them.
The question was obvious, how does it smoke? The answer soon came. Very well. Some of the best carvers of the day would put on gall bladder demonstrations wherein they would remove the gall bladder from a live deer, patch it back up, and make a pipe in under ten minutes. Since the deer didn't need the gall bladder, it often stared at the pipe maker with a glassy eyed stunned look during the demo, and then would amble away hungry, often running in search of it's favored snack: alligator. Note: See Reindeer Gall Bladder pipe in Monstrosity line up.
AuthorOlie Sylvester

Jacob Midas was a crotchety old goat of a man who was was sure there was nothing good about life. One of the few things that brought Jacob pleasure, was his pipe and tobaccos.

One day, while walking in his garden, he saw a really old man asleep in the flowers. Jacob Midas crept up beside him, and very loudly exclaimed, "What the heck do you think you're doing on my property?" The old man abruptly came to, and began to apologized profusely. He then went on to explain that he was no ordinary man at all, but instead, he was the god Dionysus.

"That's fine" said Jacob, "but that doesn't explain why you're sleeping in my yard!" The ancient looking old man stood up and brushed the leaves from his incredibly long gray beard and said, "Well I was doing a bit of recreational toasting somewhere around here with some very raucous and wild persons, but I don't see them at the moment. Tell you what, I'll grant you one wish for your trouble.

Jacob Midas thought for only a second and then said, "I wish for everything I touch to turn to my favorite tobacco." And so it was.

Instantly, the old god vanished and Jacob wondered if he had just had some sort of vision or daydream. But when Jacob Midas bend down and touched a pansy that was near his feet, it turned into his favorite tobacco, aged and ready to smoke.

Jacob soon grew hungry and thin, for each time he tried to eat, he found that his meal had turned to tobacco. Luckily, after trying many different kinds of foods, he discovered that turkey sandwiches with mayonnaise and mustard on honey wheat bread were immune to his touch. Figuring there must be a magic drink that accompanied this life saving meal, he tried many different kinds of beverages until he found two that would magically serve his purposes, Coca Cola in little glass bottles, or Scotch. Thankfully, Jacob's touch did not affect his clothes, his pipe or bed, but nearly everything else turned to tobacco at his lightest touch.

Not much later, a census worker visited Jacob Midas. To the census worker's surprise, Mr. Midas invited him in. Jacob explained to the fellow that he was fresh out of nice chairs to sit in, but if he wouldn't mind, he could sit on the edge of that large glass jar over there in the corner.

The census fellow obliged and sooner rather than later, he was transformed into Jacob's favorite tobacco, safely stored in a large airtight glass jar.

Jacob Midas lived long enough to see the god Dionysus again. This time the god asked Jacob if he'd like for him to reverse his wish, as he knew it may be very troublesome for him.

A long stream of cursing, unsuitable for anyone to hear, erupted from Jacob Midas. Dionysus replied, "Okie dokie." With that, the god disappeared and Jacob went back inside to fetch a cold little bottle of Coca Cola and a fresh bowl of his favorite tobacco.


AuthorOlie Sylvester

Deep beneath Auburn Georgia, in the heavily guarded vaults of the Oom Palace there are many hidden treasures in the form of letters, historical documents, poems, songs and coded communications all regarding the ever important pipe. Every so often we find some interesting piece of pipe history to share and the following story is one such gem.

Passed down from generation to generation for many years, the time honored skill of the Georgian Snake-skinned pipe is now almost completely forgotten. The documents we have uncovered on this topic are quite interesting and nearly unbelievable. I will go over the basics with you now.

The pipe should be complete, preferably smooth, and ready to be smoked prior to the addition of the snake skin. The stem of the pipe is removed prior to scenting the pipe with a live mouse or rat. The term scenting, in this case, entails rubbing the mouse or rat onto the outer wood of the bowl and shank. Once this is done, the pipe is left out of doors until the bait is taken. This will only work in the Spring or Summer, and has a heightened degree of success during waning moons.

Leave the scented stem-less pipe out of doors until the snake attempts to eat it, thinking it is a strange pipe shaped mouse or rat. Once the snake has eaten the stem-less pipe, pick up the now lazy and resting snake (completely harmless during it's attempt to digest the pipe) and place in a container. Wait until the pipe shape can be seen in the middle of the snake, then part said snake with this world in a humane and quick way until the pipe segment is left.

Leave snake covered pipe segment on a high pedestal in the outdoors for 3 weeks. Keep covered with wire to keep scavengers away. Once completely dry, remove excess bits as desired, replace stem and smoke.

Dear reader, you will be very happy to know that this process is not completely dead, but is seeing use again through the Monstrosity pipe line. Authentic Georgia Snake-skinned pipes are now available, made in this time honored tradition. See the Monstrosity line of pipes for more information.

AuthorOlie Sylvester
Quite recently, I had a run in with a Macrochelys Temmincki, also known as the Alligator Snapping Turtle. I was in the lovely swamps of central Florida viewing the local fowl and fauna as I tend to do from time to time, when, without notice, an enormous Alligator Snapper attempted to remove my left leg from my body. If you don't know this animal, they grow very slowly and can live a very long time. They love to eat meat and don't really care what kind. Their jaws have amazing power and if it weren't for my kevlar coated wellies, I'm quite sure the ol' left stander would be in the hardback's belly this moment.

The reason I bring this yarn up is this...I was in the middle of lighting my J.Rinaldi pipe with green cumberland stem, chock full of my favorite english blend (Pease's Blackpoint if you haven't been paying attention) when this fellow grabbed my attention, and left leg. What does one do? Thankfully I was using Swan brand wooden matches and was well into my second light, after the faux or Fawkes light (see Musing for Fawkes light,) when the stir arose.

Knowing a thing or two about many various types of fauna of the area (after all I spent a great deal of time in the DeLand Florida area) I simply finished my light as casually as I could, bent low, and then blew a bit of smoke from the extinguished match directly into the the snout of the ol' scoundrel. Sooner rather than later, the scaled beast released his formidable grip and returned back into the Florida bog. Some of you may think, "Ha! Life and limb comes before lighting my pipe!" Friend, obviously you were not lighting a J.Rinaldi pipe with Blackpoint!

I offer this tale to you as an additional reason to use wooden matches to light your wonderful tobaccos in those glorious pipes of yours, but more importantly, to demonstrate what my J.Rinaldi pipe means to me.

—Olie Sylvester
Baron, International Oom Paul Society of Non-Typicals


AuthorOlie Sylvester

The following was transcribed from Esperanto, which is my favored language when journaling aboard seafaring vessels. This record dates from 2007, but is important and as relevant today as it was then:

Currently, I am in a smallish clipper ship, sailing the world for more interviews with pipe makers, collectors and smokers. Having recently stopped at a Portuguese port, it may not surprise you any at all to know that upon departure we found ourselves with more cork than we knew what to do with and possibly, even probably, more cork than sense. Portugal holds about a third of the worlds cork tree forests, so you can imagine the redundancy of the trade offers we received while at port.

We set out from Portugal to venture around the bottom of Aphrike (commonly known now as Africa for some ridiculous reason or other) in search of some Aphrikean pipe carver who did not use ironwood, you're thinking "Good luck to you Sir!" and you would be right.

Once we reached the Indian Ocean and nearly to the beaches of Madagascar, Timlinningost (rhymes with "grim-grinning-ghost",) our ship's cook informed us that we were running dangerously scarce on preserved meats. Immediately, I asked him, "Think back, sixth grade, traditional mathematics or new math?" My suspicions were proven wildly correct when Timlinningost answered my query of this way, "Boss Baron Sir, you know I was born and raised on a starboard bow Sir. New math of course." New math indeed!

I ordered Timlinningost to save the rest of the meat until further notice and to find other ways to feed the crew, self included. A sparkle came into the bony man's eye (a hot broccoli spear claimed his left peeper some 20 years back when we were near Tonkin) and when you see a sparkle in a cook's last eye, you know you're about to get the best meal of your life, or the last one. A shiver climbed my back like a spooked caffeinated lemur.

No less than three sailor's hours later, the dinner bell rang. The crew and I sat down to a warm and tender entrée that had a light crispy outer texture and nicely chewable inside. The spice seemed partly Thai, partly Inuit, but completely fresh and new. This entrée was chicken fried cork, or as Timlinningost named it, "Shubu."

We have now landed on a Madagascan beach and I am looking forward to having one of my favorite Madagascan meals (which can also be found in South Carolina, especially in the town called Irmo) Malagasy rice.

Signing off and wishing you a good evening,

The Baron

—Olie Sylvester
Baron, International Oom Paul Society of Non-Typicals

AuthorOlie Sylvester