The Mill
Sept. 24,  2016;
As I often do, I'm resorting to you, my
customers, correspondents and those
that are still willing to let my call you
'friend,'  for help.  Until today, I was
feeling pretty good about myself and
especially my little business.  It's pocket
size suits my physical and mental stature
and brings in  pocket money for
someone who likes to think of himself as
  Then, I read an article about Wells
Fargo and how they grow their
business.  It made me very self-
conscious and insecure.  One could go
so far as to say I was made to feel
inferior.  What kind of lousy
businessman am I?  I need, like Wells
Fargo, to find some new, creative ways
to advance my business.  Unlike Wells
Fargo, I am not comfortable
with selling pipes to people that have not
been ordered and even less comfortable
with forging their names on the sales
slips.  I'm not sure of the reason for my
reluctance, but it could have something
to do with upbringing and an insistence,
displayed by deed, not only by word, on
ethical behavior.  Those unwavering
parental dicta could have had an impact
on how I function.  It is pretty clear that
the managers of Wells Fargo Bank did
not have the same kind of parental input
that I, and all of my close friends (and, as
far as I know, all my customers and
correspondents, based on what I see and
read) had.  My parents were fish mongers
and then combined that smoked fish with
a deli.  Working behind the counter of a
deli all day must be higher minded than
we all imagined.  Maybe the parents of
the Wells Fargo Bank managers were,
instead,  MBAs.  I didn't know any MBAs
growing up.  I didn't know what a
Masters degree was because nobody in
my family had gone past high school,
and some of them (my father...who was
16 in 1929, when the Depression
hit) decided that eating was more
important than going to school and
worked, literally, for pennies.  So my
family had no experience on how to
cleverly fleece the public.  They thought
you had to give value in what you
provided so that people would want to
come back.  That was what I must have
learned because such a huge percentage
of my pipe customers are return
  But, I ask you all again, is there a
better, smarter, more wily, or weasely,
way for me to rake in the shekels?  If so,
can you teach me because as I said, I feel
embarrassed in talking about my trivial
income in light of what the Wells Fargo
folk are doing.  In a Capitalist
society, it's pretty clear that they are in
the right and I am dispensable.
  For instance, in today's paper, it said
that the woman who headed the Wells

retail banking operations just “retired,”
which must be a coincidence since fraud
does not seem to be against banking
practices to Wells Fargo, otherwise why
would she be given a $100 million “exit
package.”  Listen, I commiserate.  $100
mil does not go as far as it used to and
this woman will probably resort to
turning out latte freddos at Starbucks to
pay the rent.  Her name, should you meet
her at your coffee locale is Carrie
Tolstedt, and I do not minding naming
names here.  Her boss, Mr. John G.
Stumpf, the Wells Fargo chief exec., was
also the recipient of a measly $100
million from $2011 to 2015 (is that only
$25 million  a year? wonder he
needed to create more accounts,
accounts that didn't exist, so he could up
his bonus and the value of his stock).  
  Some of you will want to say, “hey
Marty, this is criminal behavior you're
suggesting we recommend to you.”  
Well, it's only criminal if you get caught
and then go to jail.
Do we believe that anybody is going to
go to jail when they make $100 million a
No we don't, and because a few of you
are lawyers out there, I hope I can rely on
you to make that the backbone of my
defense, should I get caught forging
signatures.  “Your honor, my client
pleads infinite ignorance, and besides,
he hasn't had practice forging signatures
since he last signed his mother's name
to the back of his high school report
  Thus, it looks like I don't have the right
stuff and will come up short of the goal
of banking (pardon the pun) $100 million
in the near future.  However, if you get a
pipe from me in the mail that you did not
order, you'll understand.

P.S.  Just posted were an unsmoked
Poul Ilsted on the Danish page, an
Ashton LX Sovereign made by Bill Taylor
that may, or may not, have been smoked
and a Savinelli Punto Oro on the
Specials page that was definitely smoked
and appreciated.  As it is 10:30 PM on
Saturday night as I type this, I am
quitting work for the day, but I hope to
be back with more pipes for your
delectation in the near future.  But first, I
go see my oldest grandson play ice
hockey early tomorrow (Sunday)
morning, bless the little athlete's heart.

I recently read a quote that bears
"Would the boy you were be proud of the
man you are?"  

Pease Southlinch from 2002 NASPC show. $90
Friedman & Pease Winter's Tale.  $100
Three Nuns 50 g. from Germany, before the
warning labels on the front.  1 tin each.  $100
Balkan Sobranie 759 tall pop top 1 3/4 oz.,/50
gram tin, 4 available.  $400 each.
Balkan Sobranie Virginia # 10 50 grams. 4 tins.  
$290 each.  
For what it's worth to you, there are many more of
the Balkan Sobranie tins available.
New Tins arrived, including
Mephisto, Blackpoint, Abingdon, and a bunch of
others from 2003 and starting @ $40 a tin.  
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