Our June Tobacco Pipe Collector Spotlight takes us back to the Eastern United States where we sit down with Brandon Quick, a 30-year-old father, pipe smoker and musician. Each month we share the insights and stories of one collector, at a different stage in the hobby. If you would like to be featured in this ongoing series, contact us and let us know.
Thirty years old this year, Brandon is one of the Millennial-age tobacco pipe collectors transforming the hobby. His approach to pipe smoking, fueled by a healthy dose of individualism and an Instagram habit, reflects a mind-set that is unique to Millennials and yet as old as smoking itself.
I sat down for a Skype-chat with Brandon to ask him a few questions about his favorite hobby. With a bowl of Virginia Flake in hand, he shared his story…
A conversation with Brandon Quick
Brandon, you’re a newer pipe smoker. Do you have any favorite pipes yet?
Not really. Whatever I’m smoking today. I haven’t smoked for that long, but I have somewhere around 47 tobacco pipes so far. Plenty to choose from.
I am a big fan of my Kaywoodie pipe though. It’s simple and no fuss. My wife gave me the Kaywoodie as a Father’s Day gift while she was still pregnant with our daughter. I go to that pipe often because it not only smokes great, it holds a special place in my memory of my family too.
Wow! That’s a pretty big collection, even some of the 50-year collectors I’ve talked with don’t have that many. What made you decide to start collecting and smoking pipes?
Actually, I bought my first two briar pipes from your site, but I didn’t start with briar. It started with a trip to buy a nice
cigar for my Dad a few years back. My grandfather was a life-long cigar smoker, who always had a King Edwards Cigar in his mouth. I wanted to give my Dad a fine cigar that would remind him of his Dad and while I was there I came across some corn cob pipes.
I kept thinking about those corn cob pipes and went back to buy myself one. I started with cobs and still love them, I’m smoking one now actually.
When I started I didn’t know any other pipe smokers and the closest store to me is a decent drive. For the first few months I watched a lot of YouTube videos and did plenty of experimenting for myself.
It seems like many of the younger collectors I know are self-taught, primarily the way you did. What do you think it is that draws them, and drew you, into this hobby?
Well, I can’t speak for others, but for me it was an old-school sort of thing. I am a self-taught guitar player and I think some of the same things that drew me to that when I was younger caused me to pick up a pipe later in life.
When I was about 12 or 13 a Fender Acoustic showed up in my Mom’s bedroom over the summer. I think it was a gift from a friend. Touching it was forbidden, so of course I wanted to play it! After she left for work, I would sneak into her room and play it. This went on for a month or two, until one day I came home and that guitar was in my room with a note attached to it. I’ve been plucking away at a stringed instrument ever since. The same sense of promised new discovery fills me with satisfaction when I’m working on my pipe collection or adding a new blend to my cellar.
I do have memories of my Grandmother’s second husband smoking a pipe while watching a Braves game. He was a truck drive. He always seemed so calm and relaxed, watching baseball with a pipe after a week out on the road. I wouldn’t say I picked up my cobs because of him, but the nostalgia for those summer memories is certainly there.
Thankfully, tobacco pipes are cheaper to collect and easier to store than guitars.
True, I think nostalgia plays an important role in why so many of us have picked up this “old school” hobby over the last 10 years or so. Do you have other hobbies besides pipes and music?
Yeah, I’m a big gamer. I built myself a computer for it. I’m also an amateur marksman. Lucky for me, my wife lets me keep all my “toys” in my man cave.
With so many different interests, how do you choose where to spend your time and money, when it comes to collecting pipes?
I try to dedicate my pipes to specific types of blends, so I often acquire a new pipe specifically for that. I only have two pipes that are down to one blend -- one for Frog Morton and one for Hearth and Home Anniversary Blend. I have a young family and that comes with a budget, so I can’t buy super-expensive pipes for every new type of pipe tobacco I want to try. Most of my collection cost $35 or less and that makes the choosing a little easier. I don’t know what I’d do with an unlimited budget.
That seems sensible. What about tobacco, do you have a favorite?
My cellar is currently holding about 80 blends, so that’s a tough call. I do have three or four go-tos though. Lane BCA is always consistent and enjoyable. Of course, Frog Morton and the Hearth and Home Anniversary blend are pretty high enough on my list.
Those are all good choices, do you have a favorite place to smoke your pipe?
Usually in my “Man Cave”. I’m lucky that my wife lets me have that room full of my favorite stuff. I like to be in my space and have my own things around me.
That’s understandable. I know you do a fair bit of interacting with other smokers on Instagram, that’s how we first connected.
Yes I do. I like to take and edit pictures, so Instagram was a good place for me. I really enjoy talking with pipe makers and other collectors on there.
If you were connecting with a new pipe smoker, what would you tell him?
Since I’m completely self-taught and on a budget, I’d probably remind him not to get too caught up in the stuff he reads online. If I can do it, anyone can. It doesn’t require a ton of money to pick up a corn cob and a tin of tobacco. Then, absorb what you like and forget all the “advice” that doesn’t apply to you. Most importantly, buy what you like, not what you think you should like.
Oh, and don’t take any crap about smoking your Dr. Grabows. They are great, consistent pipes!
Thank you Brandon. That’s great advice!