Finding Tobacco in Istanbul


I always travel with several pipes. On my journey to Istanbul I took two J.Davis’s, one Julius Vesz Zulu, a Lars Ivarsson, a Peterson Emerald rustic, and a Mastro De Paja two tone sandblast. I didn’t take any tobacco. I usually wait to see what I can find where I’m traveling. This is an adventure for sure. The other reason I don’t take any is the bizarre ever changing rules about carrying tobacco on  flights to certain places. It seems odd that one can take a baseball bat and not a 2 ounce pouch of tobacco.


Istanbul is a mesmerizing city. Bordering Asia and Europe, the only city in the world to do so, it has exotic sounds, smells, and brilliant architecture. I spent any time I had alone walking the narrow cobble stoned streets of the old city. The Bizarre, their version of a mall, is enormous! Surely I could find some pipe tobacco here. As I walked the maze of shops I stumbled upon a vast array of Hookah pipes. So beautiful in color and design. Oriental rugs covered the ground in many shops, hung from ropes, hundreds of them. Near the rugs was a coffee shop with small round wooden tables . I sat down and ordered. As I was waited I read from Leonard Cohen’s book of poetry, “Book of Longing”. I had found an English version in a book shop near the Blue Mosque the day before. Suddenly I smelled it. Latakia! I looked around and saw a tall blonde haired man smoking a Meerschaum. He was approaching my location and as he passed I asked him where he bought his tobacco. He was German, from Frankfort, and was very happy to meet another pipe smoker. He spoke very good English and I asked him to sit down. I ordered him a coffee and found out he and his family holiday often in Istanbul, as do many Germans. He reached in his jacket pocket and pulled out a very well worn leather pouch. He offered and I accepted. We smoked and drank coffee like two old friends. He directed me to a very ancient smoke shop not far from the Bizarre. Don’t you just love the pipe smoking fraternity?


I found the shop. Part cigar shop, Hookah shop, and a small but encouraging pipe tobacco selection. I was floored to see they had some old 2 ounce Balkan Sobranie!! I bought the two boxes they had and felt good about life. I walked back to the Bizarre hoping to see my new German friend to share some of my spoils. Sadly, he was gone.



I have numerous estate pipes for sale. Please email me if you are interested.




Grant and Teddy. Teddy Knudsen needs no special, brilliant, stupendous, remarkable adjectives from me to describe what he does. You all know he is one of the few Maestro’s we have. And on top of that, he is kind to other pipe makers. He and Grant started a pipe together last September. Grant finished it yesterday! He is taking this piece to Chicago. So, if you want it, you should let Grant know today.

The Merlion by Teddy Knudsen and Grant Batson

The Merlion by Grant Batson and Teddy Knudsen

Also I wanted tell everyone to go to  here in Oxford Ms. It’s a great little smoke shop with a beautiful selection of Neerup Pipes from Peder. There are also a few very very very rare Peder Jeppesen “Hand Made” pieces. If you’re not in the area and can drive there, go ahead and call them. Bennett Windham is a very knowledgable and good guy to talk to. 662-234-6680



She looks like a flower in spring

Vibrant, joyful, sturdy and fragile

all at once


Hope everyone has a great week. I’ll have another journal soon from my time in Turkey.


Estate Pipes for Sale!

I have a few estate pieces I am looking for homes for.. Image

Michael Lindner “Lindner Design” Free Hand Acorn..  $525.00

You may view more pics of these pipes in my Media Library, where you will also find specs on the pipes.



Michael Lindner Bamboo Billiard– $425.00



Jody Davis Limited “UpTop” pipe series. This is #5 of 10!—$575.00

Contact me at for any questions and to purchase.

Lamas and Latakia (Notes from Istanbul)

The lamas stand silently

looking down the hill

intently, as if danger approaches

on the fringes of the great city

I stand a few feet away in the falling light

Just before dark

I tamp the smoldering Balkan Sobranie in my Julius Vesz Zulu

The smell of latakia blends oddly with the spices of this exotic place

My first night in Istanbul to feel lonely.

The Hookah bar in town owned by two brothers is closed

We had spent the last two nights drinking Raki and very strong coffee


A few hundred feet away from the Blue Mosque

They do not speak english

I do not speak Turkish

It matters very little

The warmth of new friendship needs no languageImage.


Notes from Istanbul

Grant Batson Interview


1. Where are you from?  I’m from a small town North of Austin, called Taylor, Texas 
2. What brought you to Nashville?  I came to Nashville in 1993 to go to College.
3. When did you start making guitars? Do you play?  I started playing guitars at the age of 13.  A couple of years later, we were required to build a project in “shop” class at school.  I made an electric guitar.  That was my first.
4. Your a very serious cigar smoker, what’s your favorite right now?  Well, this changes often, but I’d have to say that my favorite Cuban, at the moment, is the Vegas Robaina.  Favorite non-Cubans, currently, are the UF-13 by Drew Estate and the Daruma by Room 101.

5. When did you first become aware of pipes?  Well, it’s honestly hard to say.  I remember, as a youngster, seeing several family friends with pipes but I didn’t really engage with them until College.  I began collecting as many as I could.  They were almost exclusively, hideous, cheap estates, but once in a while I would end up with something nice.  I only have a few left from those first days of collecting.  One is a Barling Meerschaum nosewarmer that I love.


6. When you left Batson guitars were you already committed to making pipes?  It wasn’t even on my radar.  Although, you (Keith) had been telling me for years that I would be a good pipe maker, it really was never an idea that I allowed to stick.  So, I left the guitar biz with no idea as to what I would do next.  In months previous to my leaving the guitars, Todd Johnson had found me and commissioned me to build a pipe case for a 7-day set he was working on.  In the unfolding months Todd would convince me to give pipe making a shot.


7. Who has the first pipe you made?  If he still has it, a doctor in Houston named Spencer.


Grant Batson

The first pipe I made.

8. Who is your inspiration as a pipe maker?  Oh my.  This may sound contrived.  Only on rare occasion do I look around at other makers’ work.  In my mind, a pipe is a series of connected holes that allow the functional passage of nicotine-rich smoke into the pie-hole.  What one surrounds that system of holes with, in my humble opinion, is called art.  I’m probably no different than most pipe makers.  I endeavor, with each pipe, to create something that is unique, attractive and comfortable, but also “makes sense to my eyes”.  (With that in mind, I also truly believe the veracity of the words of King Solomon, “There is nothing new under the sun.”)  I’ve been told my shanks are too fat.  I’ve heard that I use too much wood embellishment.  My buttons are this, I leave too much plateau, etc, etc.  I really try to make stuff I’m happy with.  I’m pretty hard to please.  Just ask my wife.  I figure, by the time I’m done with the pipe, if I’m happy with it, there might be, at least, one other dude on earth who will be.  This is not the basis for my pricing structure, but on occasion, my prices might reflect just how happy or unhappy I am with a pipe.  If you ever see a pipe that you think is “cheaper” than you would expect, there’s a 95% chance that I just wasn’t happy with it for some reason.
While I don’t look around often,  I truly find inspiration in almost everyone’s work.  From Balkovec’s tough, rugged, manly pipes to the whacky, artful originality of Shekita (Revyagin, Yashtylov, Negoita … heck name a Russian and I’m probably inspired by his work).  I love Tokutomi, Teddy and all the Danes.  Probably, the two guys that currently inspire me the most are Peter Heding and Konstantin Shekita.  I admire their style and originality, but also I guess I identify with bits of their stories.
9. Where do you get your briar?  Mimmo, of course.
10. What are you working on right now?  Right now, I’m gearing up for Chicago, working on a stand for a set and making a box for a collaborated set of Gracik/Manz, which Jeff Gracik hired me to do.
These three pipes listed below are for sale! Contact me at for more information. Peace!
The Tormented Blow FIsh—$750.00


Lays perfectly in the hand. Incredibly light.

The Regal Egg–$825.00


Beautiful Birdseye. The weight and balance in the hand is remarkable.

The Smoking Duck–$875.00


Unique design by Grant Batson

Why Sell Pipes again?..

It seems over the past 15 years I can’t get away from pipes. Not that I ever wanted to get away, but I grew weary of selling pipes. Why? I don’t know, maybe politics, maybe expectation, or maybe my love and passion for writing and playing music would no longer allow me to share my time and efforts. I’ve sold a lot of pipes. I sold pipes other people said could not be sold, pipes that were seen as too expensive. Those sold the fastest! Chonowitsch, S. Bang, Lars Ivarsson, Bo Nordh..etc.. I brought these fine carvers to America and they have influenced an entirely new generation of carvers. One of these young carvers is why I am writing this. Grant Batson.

I met Grant in Nashville after I came back to the pipe world the first time after being away for 10 years. Grant and his brother were making guitars. He hung out at the smoke shop where he did his customer business work on his Mac. I saw him just about every day and we became good friends. The Batson guitars are legendary. Though a young company, major pickers from all over the country started buying their works of art. These are very expensive guitars, made with the most exotic woods and designs. I would often tell Grant he would love making pipes and should give it a try. He started admiring some in my collection. He saw very quickly how guitar making and pipe making were not that different. Craft meets Art…

Just when I was leaving the pipe business again, Grant left the guitar world. He decided to take a shot at making pipes. Over the past year, this artisan of fine wood has exploded onto the pipe scene! This is why I am writing this. This is why I am going to sell pipes again.

This blog will be about Grant and his work. You may ask any questions you like, and you may buy any pipe you see here on this blog. The pipes below are for sale. You may contact me at to purchase or ask any questions. The dimensions and other photos of the pipe are available upon request.

Peace, W. Keith Moore

“The Regal Egg”— $825.00Image

This is the “Tormented Blowfish”– $750.00Image

“The Smoking Duck”..$875.00 Image