394. The 2024 Chicago Pipe Show & Pete Geek Meet & X Pipe Book Launch

Photos by Nevaditude (Mark Hunt, CPG)
additional photos by Chas. Mundungus & Chris Tarman

A long post this morning about the largest, greatest, longest-running and grandest pipe show.  I’ve been several years since 2011, and each time come away having experienced something unforgettable. In this age of social media, we are ironically still all insulated in our solitary smoker’s silos unless we take the time, energy and trouble to meet the local to global community of pipe smokers. I hope you’ve got a fresh pot of coffee and your favorite Pete fired up, because here we go—

This year was the best Chicago show since Covid hit, seeing the show return to near its former glory but in a new setting, Chicago’s Hyatt Regency O’Hare near the O’Hare airport. I have no idea who came from which parts of the world, although I spoke with folks and looked at tables by vendors from Serbia, Germany, Sweden, the UK, and China. I know there were others from many other countries as well. (You can catch up on Pete Geeks at the Chicago show at Post #342, Post #284, Post #131, Post #129, and Post #89.)

Gigi said she didn’t think people picked up as many pipes this year as in years previously, and that may be the case. Yet when I conducted my own survey, the folks I asked said they were really happy with pipe treasures they found, which seemed to number anywhere from two to as many as six, and that not counting accessories, tobacco and books.

An X 69 Shamrock with the Mark Berman Philosopher’s Cube

I was at our table for most of the show, and even I came back with a beautiful X69 Shamrock (which happened to be for sale on our table in Ken Sigel’s lot of Petes), a 4AB POY 2021 in PSB grade (which Linwood that rascal put out at the Pete Geek Meet knowing would see it) and two “Super Condensers” from Gary Hamilton, one for my 307 Rustic System Spigot and one for my 1984 MT.



This legend was posted at registration, although at least another dozen tables were
filled afterwards.

I sent the official Pete Geek Roving Cub Reporter (as in Bear Cub, since he’s way over six feet tall) out to see the show, and he brought us some fantastic glimpses of what was there:

Smoker’s Haven had some beautiful estate Petes, all looking like they just popped out of the box.

It was incredible to see so many astonishingly talented artisans, like M. Hortig, with such reasonably priced artisan pipes that we never, ever even SEE here in the US.

Larry Blackett was at the show and has now become–I hope–a fixture. His pewter tampers and handmade buttons are fantastic. Redcoat Returns, take notice!


So I’m being self-indulgent here, showing the various angles of the amazing Driver from the 1997 Peterson Golf set. At $400 it was a steal. If I played the game–and have often wished throughout my life I’d had time and money to do so–this would have been an absolute Holy Grail Pete.  It’s remarkable to me how Dublin Era Peterson continually issued such innovative but superbly “Irish” pipes.

Pete Geeks aren’t the only ones to understand the importance of good pottery with a pipe! Larry Raineri’s work is available HERE.




The smoking tent is the real heart of the Chicago show. As much fun as it is to look for white whales, holy grails and amazing finds, relaxing with other pipe smokers and enjoying the fragrance of pipe tobacco is even more fun.  The vendors are mostly too busy to come out and have a smoke, which is actually just fine since it gives everyone a chance to get their minds off what’s on offer and onto each other.

Early early morning shots don’t convey how packed the tent becomes in the evenings.

I debuted Nate Lynn CPG’s upcoming Pete Geek Event leather pipe loop on my table & got a good deal of praise. Look for it sometime in late May or early June!

Showing out your new “companion” is one of the best parts of the smoking tent. Seen above is a Silver Gray NAP stem with a horn wrap around the shoulder, created for Ken Sigel.




Last year we had about a dozen smokers at the Pete Geek Meet and had a great time with our show & tell and getting to know each other. I was expecting about the same number this year—and wow, was I wrong. I didn’t think to have a sign-in (wish I had), but there were around forty or so. Maybe more.  It was a total improv situation as we didn’t have the tables we needed to display pipes. Fortunately there were some long tables out in the lobby which we requisitioned and presto / changeo!

The “Best of Show” award (if there had been one) would have gone to Adam Floyd of GetPiped.co, who filled a table as we gathered around to see what he’d brought. He and his charming bride were as enthusiastic as only Pete Geeks can be, answering questions and chatting with all and sundry. When Adam made it back home, he sent me a few more photos of his collection to allow us to really see what he’d brought to Chicago:


Were you at the Pete Geek Meet? Send me a photo of your badge
and I’ll send your merit badge. Paul, incidentally, makes some amazing briar barrel roller ball pens and fountain pens!

This week I’ll be trying to catch up on all the merit badges I need to send out from the past few weeks of posts, and as I was caught unprepared for the big turnout at the PG Meet, if you went to the show and don’t receive a merit badge, please do send me a photo of your badge so I can remedy this oversight.



L to R: Valerie Florov, Queen of the Chicago Show, with her back to us (her husband, incidentally, is world-famous artisan Alex Florov); Tim Garrity, CPCC President, showing his Irish colors; Cassie Davison behind the table; and Sykes Wilford.

I always make a number of passes around the SPC tables at the Chicago show. This year their presence was not just doubled, but trebled, with an incredible array of pipes from all makers. Their Petes went, as the saying goes, like hotcakes. By Sunday morning, that part of their display was almost empty. While I almost never get to talk to any of them, I intruded enough to meet one of my favorites, Cassie Davison (Merchandizing Manager), who’s always so incredibly helpful in email.

Erin Patrick (how Irish can you get), now Director’s Assistant, wore the Pete Geek 2024 button for us. Shane Ireland, Master of Pipes was there, as was SPC’s artisan Adam Davidson and Truitt Smith, that intrepid wordsmith who is now SPC’s Pipe Manager.

Master of Pipes Shane Ireland, Doctor of Pipes Sykes Wilford and Cassie behind the table.


A really nice spread of Petes at the SPC table, thinned out by Saturday afternoon, but still showing some beauties.

I was hoping to interview Stephen Mawby, Customer Service Manager, but having my own table and a presentation as well as a the Pete Geek Meet proved too much for me. So—look for that interview in the next few weeks!

Here’s a current rarity from the catalog, the mammoth-bowled 605 pot. I almost almost almost came away with it, but with a 24mm wide chamber, didn’t think I could pull it off. Josh Burgess told me these are a one-time thing, so if you’re interested, you’d better hurry over to SPC and elsewhere. I know they have a few PSB DeLuxe and some in the Harp. Oh, and if you’re a P.G. Wodehouse fan? THIS is what the Master would’ve adored. He’s always photographed clenching a Monster Pot.

Oh, and did I mention talking with Sykes Wilford? We chatted for a few minutes about the 10th Anniversary PPN Commemorative pipe, as I wanted to see about a small but important change. He said, as he almost always does, “no problem!” That pretty much made the show for me right there. I was ready to pack up and go home.  Almost.  So, members of Captain Pete’s Secret Squadron, look for that coming down the pike in September or October.



MT Standard Edition HM 1984 (which originally had no condenser) and 307 System Spigot HM 2022 (which never had a condenser)

Gary Hamilton made me not one, but two of his new “Super Condensers,” one for a MT 1984 standard version (which never had a condenser) and one for a recent 307 Hinch Mount XL Chubby Spigot System. The OEM Spigot Systems have no OEM condenser–but this one does now and wow does it make a difference. Almost like it’s a . . . SYSTEM.  As I’m going to post on these in the next few weeks, I’ll only say that Charles Peterson is currently beaming down on Gary from Pete Heaven with a “Well done, thou good and faithful Pete Geek.”  (I can’t help adding that with a Hamilton Super Condenser, who needs an artisan-grade pipe?)



So Gigi and I worked nonstop from January until a few minutes before our departure to get everything ready for the book launch and my presentation. She baked five of Emily Dickinson’s black molasses cakes (these are featured in the final chapter of the book) in addition to designing the book and banners, working with the printers, doing the financial arrangements and half the driving.

It was about a 1/4 mile walk to our table!

We only decided after we were at the show to have a table at the exhibition, as we’d previously thought of just offering the books at the Swap & Sell. Talk about grace & serendipity! The S&S was a complete washout Sunday afternoon—for me it was the only real disappointment of the show, and had we offered the books only there, there wouldn’t even have been  a launch. Instead, we sent off enough copies to get near to breaking even on our printing costs.

The book portion of our table, ready to go.

Smokingpipes.com will be carrying the book, which should be available through them in about four to five weeks.  I did bring half a box of books home from the Chicago show and next week I’ll provide information for ordering an autographed copy as well (I hope) as putting up some information about the novel on the BOOKS tab at the top of the blog.

Like Zadok the Priest, Roland Doll CPG arrived before the show opened, bearing the X Pipe box,
containing the X Pipe, which he displayed on our table for the book launch.

Gigi and Ken, Saturday afternoon.

In front of the books, you can make out the cabinet housing the X Pipe.  To the right of the books, notice some of Gary Hamilton’s new Pete Geek tampers. I was one of the fortunate few to take one away with me, but we’ll get him out in the shop again before long, I promise.

Gary Hamilton, who shared a table with us, brought this 7 day Comoy’s Christmas set. Wow! Unsmoked. He totally forgot he had it until half way through Sunday morning so it didn’t find a new home.  Seven day sets are such a thing of the past, and this one was put together by Comoy’s over a seven year consecutive stretch 50 years ago, in the 1970s.  If you’re interested, drop him a line at gary.hamilton@hctc.net.

Doctor of Pipes Eugene Umberger–who edited The X Pipe and is my oldest pipe friend (1982 can you believe) stopped by
the table with his new Watson PSB.

I wish this stand up cut-out display of Charles Dickens had been on MY table (Dickens is featured in my novel).



It’s always exciting to do a presentation. I’ve loved lecturing and teaching since I stood in front of my first class of freshmen at Baylor in 1984. When Craig Hairrell of the CPCC reached out to ask if I was interested, of course I had to jump at the chance. The plan is to make this one available on YouTube in the next month or so, as I did the one on Charles Peterson from my presentation at the Vegas show a few years back.

Afterwards, Nevaditude and Gigi served out pieces of pipe-smoking poet Emily Dickinson’s black molasses cake (both poet and her cake are in The X Pipe), preventing them from getting pix of Silver Gray–our surprise guest star!–who autographed book covers just below the pipe she created especially for the novel:



Ken Sigel, CPG: B42 NAP (Silver Gray).

It’s only appropriate that I share Ken’s amazing B42 NAP this week, as Silver Gray brought it to him at the show. I want you to see two things in particular: first, note the advances in Charles Peterson’s NAP lip design Silver continues to make—look at the side vent work. Wow. Then take a look at the understated elegance of the horn insert in the vulcanite shoulder. Kind of like those $200,000 sports cars you see in graphite or black, where you have to do a double and then triple-take before you understand what you’re looking at.


Kildare 337 Sub-System (Late Republic).

I was so distracted at the show with the X Pipe table that even though I looked at Mike Beara’s pipes in his room and at his table (twice), this beautiful 337 Sub-System didn’t register on the Irwin gray cells until I got home.  As you can see here, Mike and his dad have the ability to make a pipe look like it’s just popped out of the box new.  It took seeing the pipe put up on eBay to make me realize it needed a home—with me! BTW, if you haven’t visited Mike’s Pipes Pens and Much More eBay store or added him to your Favorite Sellers list, you’re missing out. He regularly brings a superlative range of difficult-to-find Petes to his shop. There’s one of, if not the, finest smooth 1990 P-Lip Commemorative oom paul on offer, as well as several other fantastic Petes.


The HAND-MADE House Pipes.

My photos of these two unsmoked pipes do absolutely NO justice to either–the top being an incredible Natural orange and the bottom being the Natural stain (a light brown) of the 1980s. Talk about straight grain and birdseye.

Ken Sigel, CPG and Mark Berman, CPG, showed two extraordinary House Pipes, the straight billiard from the first year of production (Ken) and a natural bent with a 2024 HM (Mark). In talking to Linwood Hines, CPG and Founder of the CORPS show, I learned that these pipes date a bit earlier than I’d thought. I’ll devote some time to them in a future post, but suffice to say here that it was Linwood and his friend Rob Meinhard doing business as the Arcadia Company in the early 1980s who imported these pipes, working with K&P’s own “Jolly D” Tony Dempsey! While their business wasn’t financially successful, we all owe them thanks for getting these two pipes established in the catalog, as they’ve never been out of production since.


Thanks to my intrepid crew:
Mark Hunt, Ken Sigel, Doofus, and Gigi—
powered by Portillo’s hot dogs (Chicago’s Finest) and Peterson pipes.

Thanks also to Chris Tarman CPG
for some of these photos—I just can’t remember which!!

Special thanks to Mark Berman CPG for the Philosopher’s Cube

thanks to Vera Florov, the “Queen” of the Chicago Show, for all her help; to Tim Garrity, President of CPCC; to Craig Hairrell, our Pete Geek Chicago Club Insider: they were everywhere all at once and each helped us enormously in making the presentation and launch of the X Pipe a success: Namaste.


If you’ve read this far and feel like your inner Pete Geek is crying out for haberdasherial (?) affirmation, there remain one L and one 2XL Pete Geek flat caps. Drop me a line.


Continue Reading394. The 2024 Chicago Pipe Show & Pete Geek Meet & X Pipe Book Launch