The Mill
Feb. 21, 2017
  I recently read that comedian Professor
Irwin Corey died.  He was over 100 and I
was surprised to see that he had lived
this long.  I thought he was long gone,
not having heard of him for decades.  In
fact, the last mention of his name in print
that I am aware of came from me, and
that was about 1995.
Let me tell you the story.  It was during
the cigar boom of that time, when it was
near impossible to get enough decent
(forget about 'good') cigars with which to
stock a retail humidor.  We got
allocations from the companies with
whom we had been doing business, but
it wasn't nearly enough to satisfy
demand, so we, and everybody else, had
to take what was available.  Cigars, don't
forget, can easily take 4 to 5 years from
seedling to shelf, and during this
extremely manic period, the avid smokers
were buying anything that even said
“cigar” on it.  Part of this was due to the
number of women drawn to being trendy
and thus smoking cigars, too...the
customer base was thereby  potentially
A would-be actor named Robert Kemp, I
believe, was publishing a newsletter
called something like “California Cigar
Monthly,” and I wrote a regular column.  
I have no recollection how I got
connected with Kemp or the rag, but he
was a pleasant, likable guy and maybe I
got a little, very little, publicity for the
store.  It's all hazy now.
One subject for a column that dawned
on me was how, all of a sudden,  many
people in the state, and country, of
course,  thought that because they read a
little about cigars and tobacco they were
now experts.  In that article I explained
that we were none of us experts and the
experts were all in the fields of the
Dominican Republic, Honduras and
Nicaragua.  But, I went on to say, some
of us here in Calif., were indeed
authorities.  I, for instance, was an
authority because I was asked questions
about cigars every day and was always
able to provide an answer.  No
guarantees were attached regarding the
accuracy of my answers, but I was only
an authority,  not an expert.  I then went
on to say that one authority was a certain
cigar maker, who was, for a livelihood, a
real estate salesman (as well as a PhD in
something), an even greater authority
was a fellow who had written popular
books on pipes and now one on cigars,
but, I continued, the world's foremost
authority was still Professor Irwin Corey.  
That connection just came to me as I
was typing and it sounded so good in
my head that even the possibility of
antagonizing an old acquaintance (not to
mention the egotistic cigar maker who
had been supplying me with fine cigars
for years) couldn't stop me from using it.
That, by the way, is how Corey billed his
incomprehensible, double-talking act,
and how he was always introduced: (on
places like the Ed Sullivan show, if
memory serves) as “The World's
Foremost Authority.”  The book writer
actually read that narrowly distributed
magazine (so did Cigar Aficionado
Marvin Shanken, regarding another of
those columns, and he had his lawyer
threaten me with “serious penalties and
damages” for the imagined libel.) & took
umbrage at he being spoken of in
immediate proximity to Corey the clown.
He thought I was insulting him, and he
called to complain.  Surely, the
implication that he was, like Corey, a
phony was an insult, but it struck me as
a good, original line, and I would insult
my mother if I thought I could get a good
line out of it.  What's the point of writing,
otherwise?  To tell the truth?  Anyone
can do that.  Hence, the last known
mention of Irwin Corey to my
knowledge.  But the story doesn't
entirely end there.  Thanks for staying
the course and I hope this isn't too
Another reader of this same article was
Jorge Padron of the justly admired cigar
making family.  He called to say that he
liked the  calling of attention to the fact
that the real experts were those in the
fields, growing and intimately
understanding tobacco and he read the
story to his father, who liked it, too.  
“Great,” I said; “in that case, is there any
possibility of getting your prized, mostly
unavailable cigars for my store?”  He
said, “no.  At least not now.  We don't
have enough to go around for our old
customers.  But, when we next open a
new account we will open one for you.”  
Clearly a man of great integrity.  And he
followed through and we were honored
to be a Padron dealer from then until I
had to close due to rent issues.
Thus, the withering condemnation I
deserved to suffer from one party turned
out to be worth it thanks to the praise
from another.  It just goes to show you,
as Roseanne Rosannadanna's father kept
telling his cute little daughter: it's always
something. If it isn't one thing, it's


Posted most recently are 2 remarkably grained, new
Kurt Balleby pipes, a uniquely carved Søren Eric
Andersen, & a beautifully shaped S. Bang on the
Danish page.  On the U.S. page is a Doodler, A large
Dr. Bob and an Elliott Nachwalter, along with a new
Paul Perri and new Don Warren sandblast freehand.  
On the English page a 1980 unsmoked Dunhill
Bruyere, a clean, crisp Barling Bulldog, & an
unsmoked GBD Rhodesian.  Also a 1956 ODA Bruyere
837 & 1985 Dunhill Collector, and on the Specials page
is now a Comoy's Tradition and GBD Garland.  Two
large gourd calabashes and an amber-stemmed
meerschaum were put on the Misc. page along with a
signed Ismet Bekler bent billiard meerschaum.  An
Autograph 8 was put on the Italian page.
N.B.  As per a consignor's request, a number of pipes
have had their prices lowered, including some top end
Castellos and a Sasieni 8 dot.  check 'em out.

Pease Southlinch from 2002 NASPC show. $90
Friedman & Pease Winter's Tale.  $100
Balkan Sobranie Virginia # 10 50 grams. 4 tins.  
$290 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 Bombay Court 100 grams. 1993...$50
McClelland Mixture #1 (2000?) 100 grams. $50
McClelland Virginia Woods. 1997. 100 grams. $50
McClelland Frog Morton 1997. 50 grams. $25
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