Category Archive 'Nicotiana'

15 Aug 2020

Nat Sherman Closing New York Store

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The Wall Street Journal reported the bad news.

To step into the Nat Sherman Townhouse in Midtown Manhattan is to step back in time, say fans of the 90-year-old tobacco emporium.

It is a place where smoking isn’t only allowed, but also is encouraged. The store sells all manner of high-end tobacco items, from hand-rolled cigars to premium cigarettes, including some that it produces under the Nat Sherman banner.

In days gone by, its customers included such boldface names as Humphrey Bogart, John Wayne and Henny Youngman. Even now, store employees say chief executives, prominent politicians and athletes are among the regulars.

But Nat Sherman is soon to become a piece of history itself. The store, which is owned by tobacco giant Altria Group Inc., is closing Sept. 25, company officials said.

Nat Sherman’s own brand of cigars, including its Timeless line, also is being discontinued. But Altria will continue to produce and market Nat Sherman-branded cigarettes, a company spokesman said.

Altria, which acquired Nat Sherman in 2017 from the Sherman family for an undisclosed price, put the store and the cigar line up for sale last October, saying the business wasn’t core to its tobacco portfolio. But a deal with a buyer couldn’t be completed in the months thereafter and the onset of the coronavirus pandemic served to complicate any potential transaction, store officials said.

Michael Herklots, vice president of Altria’s Nat Sherman International division, pointed to the fact that the emporium, situated near the corner of 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue, saw much of its business from Midtown office employees. Now, about 90% of that customer base is no longer there, he said.

The tragedy, he added, is that the city is losing one of its most treasured retail names.

“We are as authentic to New York as Hermès is to Paris,” he said. …

The store is a place to talk about cigar preferences—mild and creamy or full-bodied and spicy—with tobacconists who have years, if not decades, of experience. Moreover, it is a place just to kibbitz in general—about your work, your family or, better yet, about nothing in particular.

The store offered customers, from those famous names to everyday white- and blue-collar workers, plenty of places to sit back and enjoy a “stick,” to use a cigar smoker’s term, after they shopped. Those who wanted to commit to $3,000 in purchases a year could become members of a private downstairs lounge.

Celebrity chef Geoffrey Zakarian is among the regulars who frequented Nat Sherman for a leisurely smoke.

“You walked in and you felt like you were part of something,” he said.

RTWT

20 Jan 2020

Japanese Tobacco Jar

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Boxwood, 18th or 19th Century.

11 Apr 2019

Heidelburg Students, Circa 1900

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HT: Karen L. Myers.

17 Dec 2017

They Don’t Make Men Like They Used To

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NME

Gary Oldman has revealed that he gave himself “serious nicotine poisoning” after smoking nearly $20,000 (£14,800) worth of cigars during filming of his new Winston Churchill biopic film. …

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Oldman revealed that he made himself ill after smoking 400 cigars over the course of a 48-day shoot.

“I got serious nicotine poisoning,” he said. “You’d have a cigar that was three-quarters smoked and you’d light it up, and then over the course of a couple of takes, it would go down, and then the prop man would replenish me with a new cigar — we were doing that for 10 or 12 takes a scene.”

Director Wright, however, said that the price was worth paying, adding: “It’s Winston Churchill. You can’t have Winston Churchill without a cigar.”

RTWT

17 Dec 2016

Life Magazine Covered Annual Yale Pipe Smoking Competition, 1959

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Andrew Letendre, class of ’58:

Back in the 1950s, smoking a pipe was as much the fashion at Yale as button-down Gant shirts and scuffed white bucks. The pipe smoker set in New Haven was big enough to support two local purveyors: Johnny’s Pipe Shop at College and Chapel streets, and the older and more upscale Owl Shop, around the corner on College. Johnny’s is gone now, but the Owl Shop is still smoking.

Every year, Johnny sponsored a pipe-smoking contest in association with WYBC, the college radio station. The top prize, which usually was an expensive pipe, went to the smoker who could keep his pipe going the longest.”

“I set off for the WYBC studio. By the time I got there, the room was filled with hopeful contestants and a variety of smoking devices. Every imaginable size and shape of pipe was on display, from corncobs and classic clay pipes, to a variety of traditional briars, to a Sherlock Holmes–style calabash and a yellowed meerschaum pipe so delicate the smoker wore gloves so as not to stain the exterior with the oils from his fingers. There even were a few Turkish water pipes!”

“An hour into the match (no pun intended), several green-faced competitors backed out in search of fresh air and a place to chuck.

[Johnny’s] best advice had to do with avoiding nausea, which was sure to well up after an hour or so of puffing. He advised me to take a sip of Coke every now and then to settle my stomach.

So far, I was holding my own. I had used only one match. My pipe was still smoking and the Coke quieted my stomach. More competitors gave up the fight, either from nausea or because their pipes burned out. The field was shrinking.

The guy with the Turkish water pipe was still gurgling away. The last matches were being struck all around me. We were all getting to the bottom of the bowl. Could I hang on? Did I really want to hang on?”

I was getting a bit dizzy. I used my last pipe cleaner and was sickened by what it cleaned out of the stem of my pipe! I was swallowing this gook! I looked around and saw that the room was emptying fast. I was among the last five or six contestants when Johnny showed up, knowing from experience that the contest end was near.

A WYBC reporter returned prepared to interview the grand winner. I was now suffering from a severe headache and a rancid taste in my mouth. My tobacco’s glow was dimming. I tried to restore it with a few deep puffs, only to suck in a mouthful of licorice-flavored tars.

That did it. I got up from my chair and indicated to the proctors that I was finished. They took my name and noted my finishing time, which I don’t remember. All I know is that I was happy to leave the smoke-filled room and get out into the damp New Haven night. I got back to my room, drank another Coke and rushed into the bathroom to barf.

More photos here.

I preferred Johnny’s to the Owl Shop, better tobacco, better priced pipes. I bought my first pipe, a GBD, from Johnny, and my all-time favorite blend was his Aromatic Cavendish. I still have an ancient humidor smelling of the stuff.

Smoking is, of course, in today’s namy-pamby era streng verboten. In my day, we had ash trays in every classroom. I had one Nietszche professor who routinely bummed Luckies from me. I took a graduate seminar on “Structuralist Approaches to a Theory of Architectural Form” one year in which eleven of the twelve males participating had beards (only I was beardless) and everyone smoked a pipe.

05 Aug 2015

Bad News

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KeithRichardsCigarette


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