Thursday, February 20, 2014


Today is International Pipe Smoking Day. The venerable pipe has been around in one form or another for centuries. From clay to corncob, to Meerschaum and briar, the handy instrument was probably the first hand-made implement ever used to burn and smoke tobacco.

Pipe smoking can be seen in many horror films of yesteryear. It was once a very popular form of smoking until cigarettes eclipsed its use with the its seductive cylinders that promised a quick, no muss no fuss smoke.

Below we see one of the actors who is identified with pipe smoking, Basil Rathbone. In a pensive mood, his pipe offers him something comfortable to hold in his hand while he ruminates upon his reading.

Rathbone is best known for playing the iconic Sherlock Holmes. In a series of films for both Universal and 20th Century Fox, Holmes battled all sorts of mysterious monsters, from the legendary Hound of the Baskervilles, to the murderous Hoxton Creeper (played by cult favorite Rondo Hatton). With magnifying glass in one hand and his pipe in the other, Rathbone's Holmes solved many a' puzzling case.

In these days of militant health warnings about smoking, it is worth noting that pipe smoking -- while not entirely without its risks -- is a much safer alternative to cigarettes. With a wide variety of tobaccos and blends, the pipe smoker can pick from an almost endless array of flavorful and aromatic experiences.

So, I doff my deerstalker to fellow pipe smokers today. If the weather allows, I will be on my deck, puffing away with a bowlful of McClelland's Deep Hollow in my favorite briar.

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