284. The Pete Geek CHICAGO PIPE SHOW Meet

The Chicagoland Pipe Collectors Show reconvened last weekend for the first time since 2019.  The show has been held at the huge, majestic and nostalgia-infused Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, Illinois since 2002. It closed in early 2020, making it necessary to find a new venue, the Lincolnshire Marriott Resort, an easy 30 minute drive north of O’Hare International Airport. *

Boy Scout motto: “Be Prepared.” You never know how many pipes & tins you might bring back from a pipe show.

For US pipe smokers, Chicago is the big one. We have been extremely blessed to have several other great shows up and running for many years now: the Las Vegas West Coast show, the Kansas City Show, the Richmond CORPS show and the NASPC show in Columbus, OH. But Chicago is the one by which all the rest are measured.

It didn’t seem like there were as many folks attending or as many tables this year, which seems inevitable given COVID and the situation in Europe. Among hobbyists I didn’t see anyone wearing a mask, although one well-known collector was really worried about picking up the virus, insisting on fist bumps and distancing, which I can understand. I also didn’t see any of my wonderful Chinese, Thai and Japanese friends, who for me always give the show its global flavor.

This was the first pipe show I’ve attended where I didn’t have some kind of Pete business to transact—whether making a presentation or sitting at a table selling books. My wife thought I wouldn’t have a good time without the opportunity to get up and talk about Petes, but honestly it was more fun than any of my previous shows. As a borederline introvert, I always find it challenging to sit down in the smoking tent and talk to whoever is there, but this time I did. And it was—delightful. I struck up a number of great conversations and over the course of the show made several new pipe friends.

Chip Frederick, Chris Tarman, Unknown & Gary Hamilton

One of best things about the smoking tent is sharing the joy of pipes—seeing what another smoker has found and sharing what you’ve found. Chip Frederick—on the far left—is one of the Chicago club members responsible for seeing everything runs on the rails. He had some dating questions about a couple of his Petes and Chris Tarman CPG (next to Chip), Gary Hamilton CPG (far right) and I had a lot of fun helping him out as we got to know each other.

Gene Umberger with his Peterson 4AB POY

It’s also really good to see old friends again, like Gene Umberger, Doctor of Pipes and author of Tobacco and Its Use.

Pete Geek Fred Heim in burgundy polo shirt. Scott Thile, artisan pipe maker and
genius who runs the invaluable wiki Pipedia.org, in baseball cap at middle.

One rule of etiquette when attending a show occurs to me here from that well-known pipeman, the Apostle Paul: “rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” I sat in the smoking tent at a full table with a well-known hobbyist for awhile and admired his new $1800 artisan pipe. When I said I’d acquired a new estate beauty that morning, he looked at me and said, “Really?” I left his table pretty quickly. Later in the day I met another smoker through a mutual friend and as we talked he shared his life’s story and his journey through AA, the road to recovery and the part pipes have played in that road. It was electric and I found his testimony bracing, touching the depths. It was the most incredible conversation I had at the show. If sympathy enriches the hobby, indifference kills it.

Wayne Powers with his Peterson 11s Gold Spigot

The same borderline introvert problem plagued me at the award dinner for the Master and Doctor of Pipes the club hosts. Fortunately my wife, an unabashed introvert with no qualms about it, was there and we sat at an empty table as I wondered if anyone else would sit with us. Would you believe the famou TV actor and jazz singer Wayne Powers?  How about Jeff Weiner, renowned Miami criminal lawyer and one of the most joyous individual I’ve ever met  (who also won Doctor of Pipes this year)?  And how about my friend from earlier shows Mike Grady and his buddy, a fascinating EMT instructor and driver in Montana?  But on to more Pete spotting!

Gary Hamilton with his unbelievably-grained 1990 Patent Commemorative

While there weren’t as many estate dealers as I’ve seen in the past, there were enough for the Pete Geeks in attendance—Gary Hamilton, Chris Tarman, Fred Heim, Bill McCullough and myself. We all found estate and/or new Petes at one of two tables, one in the main room and one in the satellite.  Gary Hamilton found his unicorn about mid-day on Friday, a 1990 Patent Commemorative at a great price.

Like-new Petes at the Satellite Room: three vintage XL264 canadians and a great shape 69

The Pete table in the satellite room was hosted by the funniest gentleman I met while there. From Tennessee and with the country accent to prove it, he must have a long-standing contract at the Grand Old Opry as their stand-up improv guy. He couldn’t open his mouth without saying something witty. A master of the bon mot, his table was full of bargains, from Petes and Ashtons to other great lines, many of which were nearly new / old stock and all for less than anywhere you’d find them online. I came back with the 1980s XL264 Emerald Pebble Grain seen above. When I got home I noticed I could still see the chuck marks in the chamber, although it has been smoked at least once. I know Bill McCullough bought two pipes from this same table.

The main show room had a shoe box of fantastic Petes–the 307 Star in the middle, a 4s that Chris Tarman picked up, a Mark Twain that Fred Heim picked up, as well as a Dunmore Premier and a few others.

The SPC Crew manning the tables, front to back: Ted, Stephen, Truett, Shane

Smokingpipes had one side of almost an entire aisle to themselves, with two tables of new Petes. Their tables were hosted by Sykes Wilford (CEO), Ted Swearingen (COO), Stephen Mawby (Customer Service Manager), Truett Smith (Merchandizing Manager) and Shane Ireland (VP and Director).

This 9s Supreme Spigot is STILL calling my Name!

The Peterson table had two Supreme Gold Mount blasts. A 9s Supreme Natural Blast was calling my name, at least until Marie yanked out my hearing aids. They also had one of the last remaining 4AB POYs still in captivity, a perfectly stunning PSB, that Chris Tarman snatched up.

Gary Hamilton asked Sykes whether there might be anymore amber spigots. Sykes said they’d recently done a 100% stock inventory and the answer is a definitive “no.” There aren’t any remaining at the factory, although there’s still a few at SPC (as you can see) and elsewhere online.

The SH Naturals were dazzling, as were their spigot and amber spigot counterparts. The Watson gold spigot was pretty decent as well. . . !

Terry Carpenter Smoking A 1980s Emerald Rustic 106

Back out to the tent for a smoke break, Gary, Marie and I also made friends & renewed acquaintance with Terry Carpenter (who writes for The Pipe Collector) and his wife Therese, whom I’d met on the last day of the 2019 Chicago show smoking a Peterson Burren Tank. Terry and I swapped book and pipe interests, in the course of which I found out he did eight years on nuclear submarines (followed by 20 years in the army)! He told me Tom Clancy’s Hunt for Red October is the most accurate fictional account ever written of what it’s like to live on nuclear sub.

And speaking of the smoking tent, the Head Guy at CPCC (whose name I forgot to write down) had a fabulous tobacco bar–all from his own cellar–with a sign to avail ourselves of a bowl or two. He had some great virginias and va/pers I’ve been longing to try for a long time. Thank you, thank you, Head Guy! What a treat.

Also important: I met the dynamic couple operating a new site, Tinbids.com. There were far more vintage tins at the show than I’ve seen before, but there’s a problem Tinbids is seeking to solve for all of us: what to do with those tins that we’re not interested in anymore but don’t have decades of age on them? Pipestud is a great source for selling the old stuff (at least for those with deep pockets), but if you’re like me you’ve got a stack that you’d just like to make back your money. So when I got home earlier this week I put up two tins, just as a test. As of this writing, they both have bids. While the platform isn’t very robust yet, Tinbids works pretty much like eBay. Put up a few photos, a short description and a price (after registering), then wait for bids. They charge a consignment fee of 8 1/2 % (same as eBay) plus .99 for each listing. When you ship the tins, PayPal sends your money. Cool. Maybe it’s too soon for a full-fledged endorsement, but I’m really hoping this works out, for all of us.

Ted Swearingen and Sykes Wilford of Laudisi Enterprises

Late Friday afternoon, after replenishing my “little gray cells” with pipe smoke, I again wandered back to the Smokingpipes tables.  Ted and Sykes were still manning the Pete table, although the espresso machine must’ve broken down by that point from the look on Ted’s face.  SPC had its own machine on their table, by the way, and the crew had been alternating shots with cups of ice water all day.

One advantage of going to the show: SPC culls special pipes just for the show.

It was fairly quiet by that point in the afternoon, so I was able to chat a bit with Sykes as as no one was in the near vicinity.  Before I knew it we’d begun talking about the Peterson Pipe Notes Commemorative Pipe (I’m sure I brought it up, but I don’t remember doing so).  One thing led to another and before I knew it Sykes had opened his lap top and guided me through all the design steps for our CPG pipe!

With Gary Hamilton standing by as chorus and Ted to give insight on how the pipes ought to be stamped, it wasn’t long before the design was done and Sykes had the order in.  His enthusiasm for the project was enormous and working with him the high point of the show for me.

It was fascinating to listen to Sykes explain what can and can’t be done with this kind of project, which I’ll discuss later on when details are finalized. If you want to get in the queue for a pipe, let me know—there are still some slots remaining!  There will be 80 numbered pipes. Sandblast, Deluxe Systems. When the design is confirmed, I’ll post on it and those who’ve applied can make their final decisions. For friends in Europe, your pipes will be mailed out from SPEu in Dublin. SPC will handle US orders.

Lookit! On bottom, the B61 (POY for 2012) as a rare Supreme and at top the D20 (POY for 2016). The B61 was one of my Dad’s favorite Pete shapes.


You never know what you’ll see at a pipe show.


This is the first Roundstone Spigot I’ve seen in person. The color on this acrylic stem is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen from K&P.

Pipe shows are a huge affirmation of the pipe smoker in you, just meeting and talking with other pipe smokers—especially if they’re Pete Geeks—not to mention the incredible pipes and tobaccos to look. Meeting some of the great names and personalities on the trade side is also really fun.  If you’ve got even a few dollars in your pocket, you won’t come away without souvenirs, I guarantee.

If you ever get a chance to go to the Chicago show, don’t hesitate. These are my own “Rules of Thumb”:
1. Be in line when the Swap & Sell opens on Thursday and the main show on Friday & visit/revisit all the tables as many times as it takes (I got home wishing I’d picked up one more pipe & now I’m scrambling to rectify that mistake).
2. Take time for frequent pipe & fellowship breaks in the smoking tent.
3. Don’t forget there’s always a Portillo’s Hot Dogs nearby. We ate lunch there every day. They’re that good.

Thanks to Doctor of Pipe Paul Bender and “Mrs. Doctor of Pipes” Ann Bender for making sure we got to the awards dinner and to the rest of the CPCC members for another fantastic show.
And thanks as always to everyone at Laudisi for their hospitality & enthusiasm.




Who knew that Ireland grew tobacco? Take a look at Ireland’s Tobacco, a fabulous short documentary produced by Dolmen Films in 2020 and visit Ireland’s oldest tobacco shop, M. Cahill in Limerick.


Check out Clayton’s Pipe Shop on eBay!

The Cara System is rarely seen. Clayton has a 305 Cara this week on eBay. I’ve bought two great Petes from Clayton here in Texas, one of them a fabulous rusticated 307. Check out all his new Petes this week on Ebay at his eBay shop. Great prices, great to deal with.


…and finally, a few more Catch & Release Petes now on eBay
with Global Shipping, as usual: an unusually nice 02 IFS, a 1984 Donegal Rocky w/sterling and a 1988 Millennium Dublin

*A history of the show can be found at the club’s website.

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