Stan’s Smoking Gun

SSAW - tiny

STAN’S SMOKING GUN – From a shotgun to a pipe collection

When he was a boy, Stanley was given a double-barreled shotgun. He was living in the Cajon Valley, outside San Diego, California where boys had guns to shoot rattlesnakes and jack rabbits, but Stanley   didn’t like the noise it made so his Uncle Jack Doughty swopped it for a Meerschaum pipe. It was very handsome with a delicately carved horse’s head. I can’t remember whether it was in a case, but carved Meerschaum pipes often come in their own padded cases. [See: ‘Antique Collectible Tobacco Pipes’ on e-Bay]

Around age 25, Stan started smoking cigarettes. Until they became too expensive, he preferred Benson & Hedges’ Turkish cigarettes called Aristides. Not only an impressive name, but the effect on Stan was also impressive. He said: When I inhaled them, my finger tips and my toes would tingle.

When that sensation faded and smoking became “just a habit” he tried cigars and finally a pipe. The photo shows him in the 20s or early 30s with his pipe. We found this picture when I was with my brother in Ireland. I love the smile.

I remember my father smoking a pipe, and my mother Molly, did, too. Hers was a small ebony pipe with a diamond set into the side. Sadly it was stolen with her green and black bakelite cigarette holder and all her jewellery when she was on holiday after my father died.

In the early 30s on the way to visiting friends in Shropshire, the Watkinses bought a second-hand copy of Alfred Dunhill’s “The Pipe Book.” Stan was fascinated. Their friend said: “Why don’t you collect pipes?” To start them off he gave Stan two: a Chinese water pipe, and the other was a Broseley clay pipe found in the foundations of the house. Those simple moulded pipes were made as early as the 16th century and up into the 20th.

On the way back to London Molly & Stan stopped at every junk shop and “arrived home with 33 pieces as the nucleus of the collection.” So the collection began – though technically the first pipe was the Meerschaum inherited from Stan’s uncle.

Friends from abroad sent pipes to Stanley, knowing of his collection, and his company had a superior display chest of drawers made as a gift wherein the pipes were laid on padding under glass, just like in a museum. We loved to slide the shallow drawers open to show our friends the treasures.

After Stan’s death, nearly five hundred assorted pipes and smoking paraphernalia were sold at Sotheby’s Auction. Here’s a page from the catalogue showing some of the beautiful coiled glass pipes. They are truly remarkable, though one can’t really imagine them being used. Not even with pot. Although the collection had opium pipes, this was before the marijuana phase, but when I Googled ‘glass smoking pipes’ bongs were the only things I could find.

SSAW pipes

Stan stopped smoking when he had a peptic ulcer and never went back. Of his four children only two ever smoked. But we each chose a favorite pipe to keep before they were sold. I cannot find mine but I remember it well. It was a cigarette holder I think, because it was a small Y shaped tube that had a tiny hole in one side; when you peered into it, there was a photo of The Three Graces, nude of course. Now that I live in the Southwest, I almost wish I took the Indian pipestone bowl.

I hope the people who bought the pipes are enjoying the results of my father not liking the noise of a shotgun.

2 thoughts on “Stan’s Smoking Gun

  1. I think that your pipe/cigarette holder was one made by a French prisoner of war from Waterloo. Mine is a clay pipe souvenir of the 1851 Crystal Palace Exhibition.

    Liked by 1 person

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