The Smoker : Pipes and Tobaccos Magazine

The Smoker

by Eugene Umberger

It was not a momentous year. There were no major world conflicts. Great Britain was in the middle of a serious recession, but The Panic of 1893 in America, and subsequent worldwide economic crisis, was a year off. For pipe smokers, 1892 takes on some significance because it witnessed the appearance of Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and the birth of Basil Rathbone, the actor who famously portrayed Holmes in the movies. Also born that year was J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, who made his appearance just six days before another new arrival on Jan. 9, this one on the newsstands of Britain—The Smoker: A ’Bacca-nalian Journal for the Wise and Other-wise.

The editor of this new smoker-friendly periodical, Dr. P.H. Davis, came to the task with an impressive background:

 I trust that it will not be considered I am approaching the subject of tobacco and smoking without a tolerable knowledge of it in its entirety. I have for many years been identified with the tobacco industry for the reason that I belong to what has been pertinently described as a “tobacco trade family”; for quite a decade I have been engaged in tobacco trade journalism, and my studies have followed my pet hobby—tobacco. I have been, and still am, a very deep reader, and led to believe that my tobacco library (which I have collected in all parts of the world) is one of the best extant. My investigations of tobacco in all its forms, have extended over a rather lengthy period, and not only been analytical but pathological, with the result that I am figuratively saturated with tobacco in its various forms.

He opened the inaugural issue with a “Dedicatory / Mine be the task, the fragrant pipe to light, / And all its witching marvels to recite.” Not only the pipe, but all the other forms of tobacco consumption—cigar, cigarette, snuff, quid—attracted the attention of The Smoker, including tobacco itself. One multipart column, “Through the Microscope,” closely examined tobacco leaves and adulterants, illustrated with, yes, microscopic views. Apart from its standard columns, the journal included material ranging from tidbits of tobacco lore to multipart articles on, for example, “North American Indian Pipes.” Single articles ranged from “A Raleigh Relic: The Most Celebrated Pipe in the World” to “Do We Enjoy Smoking in the Dark?: A Philosophical Enquiry with a Scientific Answer.”

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Category: Feature Article, Summer 2014

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