||Sir Walter didn't know about marketing, but he
didn't need to.
Navigator and English politician, but also favoured
by Elisabeth I, Walter Raleigh (1552-1618) explored the lands of northern
America, including Florida and North Carolina coming across a wide and
flourishing land which he graciously took possession of giving it the name
of Virginia. As souvenir from his trip he brought back from Europe in 1584
the tobacco. According to some he also brought back potatoes, but this
is another story.
The new product, although advertisement hadn't yet
been invented, obtained a success and diffusion incredibly above the budget
(back then it wasn't called that, but all those fields in Virginia had
to be sowed with something). In truth, the Spanish Francisco Hernandez
Boncalo had already introduced the seeds in Spain and Jean Nicot de Villemain,
ambassador of France in Portugal in 1560 sent as a gift, highlighting the
medical properties, the same seeds to Francesco II and Caterina de'Medici
just in time to be blown off by monk André Thévet who not
only reminded them that he brought it to France in 1556 but also, at least
him, made the effort to collect it on site. But the French would name even
the trash can in order to belong to history (v. Poubelle) and the botanist
J. Balechambs in the Historia Plantarum (1586) sided with the ambassador
registering Herba Nicotiana and Linneo sancì Nicotiana Tabacum.
In Italy this issue was dealt religiously; the cardinal Prospero di Santa
Croce, apostolic nuncio in Lisbon, in 1561 delivered the precious seeds
in Rome surpassing bishop Nicolò Tornabuoni ambassador of Florence
in France. You may be asking yourselves, rightly so, was Cristoforo Colombo
blind when he landed, in 1492, nearly a century before, in the Bahamas,
Cuba and Haiti? Objection taken. Indeed it is not a coincidence that etymologically
the Spanish word "tabaco", according to reports from the Indies, was the
Haitian name given to the plant, but how come the Arabs had already named
a few of their medical plants "tabbaq"?
Luckily, the story of the pipe is clearer. Our Sir
Walter, who in order to speed up delivery time (just in time) start cultivating
in Ireland, mindful of those tools deliciously stuck between the lips of
those savages still lost in the pre Columbian in 1586, ordered the production
of clay pipes in London. Or at least it seems. The usual opposition sustains
that they already existed in Brosley, Shropshire in 1575... that is ten
years before the first harvest? Either way, Sir Walter makes career, as
Governor of Jersey (1601) like an unknown socialist during a change of
the administration council. James I, who - by the way - didn't smoke, accuses
him of a plot against the sovereign and condemns him to death. Locked in
the Tower of London, Sir Walter reproposes himself ensuring that, this
time, would return from an expedition to South America (Guiana) full of
gold. The expedition is a disaster (and to imagine that if he had disembarked
on the western coast he would had found other types of leaves...) And the
King, who kept his word, left him to the guillotine.
Poor Sir Walter, had he lived a few more decades
he would have seen the birth, in 1690, of the ceramic pipe by the Austrian
doctor Johan Franz Vilarius. A few decades later (1750) and a shoe maker
from Budapest, named Kovacs, by request of the Count of Andrassy - back
from a trip to Turkey - shapes a couple of pipes from a block of meerschaum.
A century later, and there it is, finally, the briar pipe. Obviously it
was an era rich in mail and news, and therefore easier to know with certainty
the origin of things. Forget it. We are talking about legends; the French
man who in Corsica broke his meerschaum pipe and asked a craftsman to remake
it using the local wood. In Saint-Claude, French city located in Giura,
they swear they have been producing pipes since the French revolution,
and what about the family Piotti who already in 1850 was selling briar
pipes in the small market of Sacro Monte di Varese? In Corsica, France
and Italy, between the Mediterranean vegetation grows luxuriant the erica
arborea, splendid and unique raw material. Sir Walter didn't know about
marketing but the English already knew a few commercial tricks.
They remind us to have been the first to adopt the
set of rules, British Standards, for something of great importance; since
they had the largest commercial and military fleet in the world, in order
to avoid confusion they established that in the ship the only rope was
that of the bell, and all the other were given a different name and set
of rules which established diameter, composition and tolerance.
What would it take to apply the same to pipes? Who establishes
the rules of the market, who buys and who sells? Indeed we English do both
things... Said and done, they choose the best clay, ceramic, and meerschaum
shapes and reproduced them in briar with a few variations and classified
If the you thing the prologue is too long, what about
over a century of denominations by now obtained?