The Mill
May 28, 2017;
  I recently heard that Poul Ilsted died and
while it was no surprise, it is still sad.  I can't
remember the first time I saw his pipes, but I
think I can remember when I first met him.  It
was at the Dortmund, Germany pipe show,
and at that time I was
the first, and only, U.S. retailer to go to Europe
to pick up great, rare pipes.
  That Dortmund show is typically in Sept., or
at least it was, and the line-up of pipe makers
with booths could comprise a Hall-of-Fame.  In
the evening, after the show closed, the pipe
makers, all quite collegial and not competitive
in any negative sense, decided to go out to eat
and they generously included me.  I can't
remember all the people, but definitely Ilsted
and his close friend and great pipe maker, Tao,
most definitely Barbi, and Bjarne, and quite
likely Former and the two S. Bang pipe
makers.  I might be missing one or two or
 Sure, my memory sucks but that night was
remarkable enough that I now wish
I was prone to taking photographs of  salient
events.  I do recall that we went to what billed
itself as a Czech restaurant.  I remember that
the food was of the heavy, mittel-Europa
variety and neither bad nor memorable.  It was
the company that was significant.  If you are in
the midst of a multi-national gathering and
speak English, you are in luck because far
more often than not, English is the lingua
franca of commonality (or is that redundant?).
 During that show, Ilsted & Tao tried to
interest me in a Series pipe (a pipe that
reproduces shapes and uses numbers or
names to identify the shapes) they were
having made, with the clear intent of cashing
in on their names by issuing an inexpensive
machine-made pipe.  Not a handsome result
and I explained that its release would not add
any caché to their names.  Still, they were
determined, and when I nixed their initial price
offer to carry the pipe, they kept going down in
price.  At no price would the offspring of their
collaboration have created an eager public.  
The plan was eventually dropped.
  Since then, I've seen Poul many times at the
Chicago show, and each year he looked more
debilitated.  It was drink, or mostly drink.  I
don't know if he used other drugs... it wouldn't
have mattered because he was hardly
intelligible towards the end.
 What was most sad, to me, was the talent he
wasted by drinking himself to death (although,
no, I am not sure it was booze and not
something any case, the alcohol did
not help, and it certainly impaired his ability
function at optimum level).  When I started
looking at his pipes in the 1980's it was clear
that he was masterful.  Somewhere towards
the end, when it was evident that Poul did
not have full cognitive ability, I went around to
many of the best Danish pipe makers.  “If Poul
Ilsted had not wasted his fiber in drink,” I
would ask them, “do you think he might have
garnered the crown as the best pipe maker
ever?”  Every single one of them agreed with
that contention: he would have been the best.
He could have been the best.  Even in his
chronic state, he was a contender.
He was also a very sweet and gentle man.  


Posted were a large Tao on the Danish page,
an Ascorti/Radice Caminetto on the Italian
page & a Julius Vesz on the U.S. page.
I should have put a Sam Learned on the U.S.
page, but it looks the same and costs the
same sitting on the German page, so live with
it.  Two Ingo Garbe pipes, one unsmoked, are
also newly there.  On the English page is a
Ferndown spigot, a 1926 Dunhill & an Ashton
Old Church.

Pease Southlinch from 2002 NASPC show. $90
Friedman & Pease Winter's Tale.  $100
Balkan Sobranie Virginia # 10 50 grams. 4 tins.  
$250 each.  
New Tins arrived, including
Mephisto, Blackpoint, Abingdon, and a bunch of
others from 2003 and starting @ $40 a tin.

More old, collectible tins from the 1990's:

McClelland Mixture #1 (2000?) 100 grams. $50
McClelland Virginia Woods. 1997. 100 grams. $50
Ashton 1997 Old Church 4 oz., $125
Ashton 1997 Celebrated Sovereign 4 oz., $100
Esoterica Pembroke...2 oz., 56 grams. $80
Davidoff Royalty 50 grams. $30
Davidoff Danish 50 grams. $25
Dunhill Nightcap from Lane Ltd. 50 grams. $85
Dunhill Std. Mixture Mile from Lane 50 grams. $65
Butera Matured Ribbon 1996 & '97 50 grams. $50
Benjamin Hartwell Pvt. Reserve 50 grams from
Consolidated Cigar (thus from mid '90's) $30
Quotes & anecdotes from "The Portable Curmudgeon"

The earth has a skin and that skin has diseases; one of its
diseases is called man.    Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

Man is a puny, slow, awkward, unarmed animal.
Jacob Bronowski

I love mankind.  It's people I can't stand.  Charles Schulz

To succeed in the world, it is not enough to be stupid, you
must also be well mannered.   Voltaire.

Manners are especially the need of the plain.  The pretty can get away
with anything.                                   Evelyn Waugh

He marries best who puts it off until it is too late.  H.L. Mencken

All tragedies are finished by death.  All comedies are ended by a
marriage.                                               Lord Byron

When two people are under the influence of the most violent, most
insane, most delusive, and most transient of passions, they are
required to swear that they will remain in that excited, abnormal and
exhausting condition until death do them part.   George Bernard Shaw

A ceremony in which rings are put on the finger of the lady and through
the nose of the gentleman.                Herbert Spencer

A friendship recognized by the police.    Robert Louis Stevenson

The dread of loneliness is greater than the fear of bondage, so we get
married.       Cyril Connolly

I got married the second time in the way that, when a murder is
committed, crackpots turn up at the police station to confess the
crime.                                 Delmore Schwartz

It is often pleasant to stone a martyr, no matter how mch we admire
him.                                     John Barth

There is a certain impertinence in allowing oneself to be burned for an
opinion.                               Anatole France

Women want mediocre men, and men are working hard to become as
mediocre as possible.                           Margaret Mead

The main difference between men and women is that men are lunatics
and women are idiots.                          Rebecca West

When an opera star sings her head off, she usually improves her
appearance.                                            Victor Borge

If you leave the smallest corner of your head vacant for a moment,
other people's opinions will rush in from all quarters.
George Bernard Shaw

The amount of noise which anyone can bear undisturbed stands in
inverse proportion to his mental capacity.
Arthur Schopenhauer

I can forgive Alfred Nobel for having invented dynamite, but only a fiend
in human form could have invented the Nobel Prize.   G.B. Shaw

Assassins!      Arturo Toscanini to his orchestra.  

Many a man in love with a dimple makes the mistake of marrying the
whole girl.                                                                       Stephen Leacock

Many a man has fallen love with a girl in a light so dim he would not
have chosen a suit by it.                                         Maurice Chevalier

Nature is a hanging judge.                            Anonymous

The murals in restaurants are on a par with the food in museums.
Peter DeVries

A mother-in-law dies only when another devil is needed in hell.
Francois Rabelais

Getting out of bed in the morning is an act of false confidence.
Jules Feiffer

On Marilyn Monroe: She was good at playing abstract confusion in the
same way a midget is good at being short.    Clive James

Morality is a disease which progresses in three stages:
virtue--boredom--syphilis.                                    Karl Kraus
This photo was taken only days before my beloved San Francisco
store, Sherlock's Haven,  was closed for good in June of '06, thereby
diminishing the quality of life on this planet no little and quite some.  
The man to my right was my trusty pipe tobacco and cigar taste-tester,
Johnson, of the sensitive palate.  He is now  plying his trade in
Phoenix.  The tall gent behind him is Jimmy Walker, hand picked to be
my successor until lease negotiations broke down.  The hoodlum
looking character to my left is my good friend and Consigliere, Steve
Brunner.  Among the regulars are a number who are still friends and
with whom I have regular intercourse.  There has never been a more
congenial spot than Sherlock's Haven, the Camelot of tobacco stores.  
As its proprietor is how I'd like to be remembered.
I wanted to caption this photo, "I knew more about pipes when I was
seven than you know now," but my P.R. firm nixed that idea.  So, let's
try, "With the pristine palate that accompanies youth, Marty smokes a
blend without a full complement of Latakia for the first time in his life."
I don't actually know what was going through my mind at the time, but
the photo was taken circa 1950, and probably in Williamsburg, Virginia.
(And no, I did not actually smoke a pipe until I was 18 years old, really.)
Shortly after my mother met my wife, she told Joy that all it took to
keep me happy in the back seat of our 1938 LaSalle during our annual
one week vacations was a pipe in my mouth and a cap on my head.  
Joy responded with the fact that nothing has changed except that now
I'm in the front seat.  
Above is my sister, with whom I contentiously shared that large back
seat, and my father.  The sweater was knitted by my Aunt Rae.  The
site was most probably Niagara Falls and the year 1949.  I'm guessing.
Welcome to Pulvers Briar
This website is devoted to pipes and my enjoyment of talking
about and showing them.  For your part, I hope you derive some
pleasure in seeing and reading about briar and meerschaum
There are plenty of pipe websites and lots of good pipes other
than mine.  What will distinguish my site from most of the others
is the willingness to voice my  opinion in the relatively rare
occurrence when a pipe is not superior, or has a noticeable flaw.
Mostly, I'm pleased with the pipes I choose to offer for sale, both
in pipe quality and price.  But please, look and decide for
You will see new and used pipes for sale, the new often having
been hand picked and the used always having been cleaned
and reconditioned and ready for you to smoke upon arrival.  
Please enjoy your time spent here today, and please come back
I'm almost always happy to hear from you and to field your
questions, concerns, ideas or other input.
Feel free to write.
Marty Pulvers
Pulvers' Prior Briar
P.O. Box 61146
Palo Alto, CA  94306

(650) 965-7403