Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Jost's Pipe Shop - St. Louis, MO

Jost's Pipe Shop

aka H.J. Jost & Son

201 North 6th Street
St. Louis, Missouri 63101

Shop Closed in 1988 (possibly as early as 1984)

Owner:  Henry Jost / Mrs. Henry Jost
Pipe Carvers / Makers:  Bill Collins / Harvey Raspberry

Henry J Jost a.k.a "Duke"– born in 1870 - died 6/9/54

Opened shop in 1892 shortly after arriving in the country from Germany

The source of the picture of Jost fishing, is from the July 18 1937 issue of the Milwaukee Journal.  The caption is missing, but here's a transcription: 

"What the well-dressed fishermen [sic] wears, including, and one might say especially, the hat and shoes, is shown by H. J. (Duke) Jost, St. Louis pipe manufacturer, just before going out on Planting Ground lake, one of the Three Lakes waters."

Bio: (supplied by jguss - Thank you!)

 The business was founded by Henry Jacob Jost, nicknamed “Duke”. Jost was born in Hesse, Germany on Feb 7, 1870, and died in St Louis, MO on June 9, 1954. He was married c. 1893 to Julia Meinhardt (b. Hesse, Germany May 24, 1871, died in St Louis, MO on August 11, 1932), and emigrated to America about the same time, becoming naturalized in 1895. Note that there are a variety of dates given for Henry's marriage and immigration; I prefer those from the 1900 census as closest in time to the actual events.

Son Louis (from the Henry J Jost & Son)

Henry and Julia had one child, a son named Louis William Jost (b. St Louis, MO on May 23, 1901, died in St. Louis, MO on February 15, 1940). Louis married in 1926 to Adah Wittkopf (b. St Louis, MO August 31, 1903, died in St. Louis, MO on June 12, 1991). Adah was one of three daughters born to Gustav F. Wittkopf (b. in MO Nov 12, 1865, died May 19, 1961), and Lena Stahl (b. in MO September 26, 1872, died in St Louis, MO on February 13, 1943); early census records make it clear that Adah lived down the block from Louis, and I assume that’s how they met.

Henry is listed in the St Louis city directories by 1899 as a turner (and the 1900 census likewise describes him as a wood turner), but within a few years he is listed as a seller of umbrellas. The actual date he began his business is unclear; different sources give different dates, but almost all of them are from things published many years after the fact. One newspaper article from 1939 says Henry opened shop in 1892; Adah’s obituary, on the other hand, states that Henry opened his business in 1905, and that canes as well as umbrellas were sold. Certainly canes, umbrellas, and pipes all involved the turning of wood, and there is separate evidence that Henry learned these skills in Germany before coming to America.

Note:  Jost's sold walking sticks / canes through the 70s at least from accounts of shop patrons.

The precise date the shop open is probably impossible to ascertain, and in part depends on what we mean by a shop. In all likelihood Henry worked for someone else before starting his own business; moreover the business clearly evolved over the years, changing both location and merchandise. At any rate, by 1909 Henry is listed in the St Louis city directory under umbrellas (sorry for the pun) at 1424 S Broadway; it is only in 1914 that his listing is expanded to cover umbrellas and pipes, and in that year a second address is included at 110 N 6th. In 1916 the listing is still for both umbrellas and pipes, but the Broadway address is now gone, with only the 110 N 6th address remaining. By 1921 the umbrellas are dropped for good, and Jost’s listing only mentions pipes. Jost stayed at 110 N 6th through 1933, but by 1936 (there's a couple year gap in the directories in the source I consulted) the business appears at 208 N 6th; moreover it is now listed as “H J Jost & Son”, presumably not just reflecting Henry’s advanced age (63), but his son Louis’s maturity at age 35. The business stays at the 208 N 6th address for most if not all of its remaining history.

Note:  addresses on my catalogs state 201 N. 6th Street - some discrepancy  

Bill Collins:

From pipepedia:  Bill Collins was a local pipemaker in St. Louis, Missouri. His artisan's name was Jost. Jost was a pipe and tobacco store in St. Louis, Missouri. Jost employed a pipe repairer and maker named Bill Collins. 

No other information exists for Bill Collins' association with the Jost shop.

Mrs. Henry Jost 1954-1970s (although it looks like Raspberry ran the shop from 1960-)
(see Adah Jost entry below - for further clarification)

Presumably took over the shop after her late-husband's death.  Tagged as a woman pipe smoker she seems to have worked well with Harvey Raspberry for the remainder of her career at Jost.  She passed on management of the operation to Harvey Raspberry in or around 1960.

"She and Harvey Raspberry give lessons in the shop. There are two comfortable chairs in the corner of the shop where a smoker can sit and have his smoking progress checked under the watchful eyes of Mrs. Jost or pipemaker Raspberry."

Adah Jost / Wittkopf / Fantilli  (b. St Louis, MO August 31, 1903, died in St. Louis, MO on June 12, 1991)

It is my belief SHE is the Mrs. Henry Jost mentioned above based on dates and not Henry's wife, Julia.  Julia passed away in 1932 and Henry never remarried.  Adah was Louis' wife and she is confirmed to have worked at the Jost shop with Henry.

Note that the directories list Adah as manager by 1955 (Henry died the prior year, and Louis was long dead). Fortunately we’re not entirely dependent on an incomplete run of city directories; in fact Adah’s obituary states that upon her husband Louis’s death in 1940, she became a co-owner of the pipe shop along with her father-in-law "Duke" (i.e. Henry). After his death in 1954 she became sole owner, and continued to operate the business until 1988, just three years before her death.

Sometime after 1940, widow Adah remarried to a musician named August L. Fantilli (b. in Queens, NY on February 15, 1906, died in St Louis, MO on May 15, 1979). Whether or not this affected her involvement in the shop is unclear, but I infer not since she continues to figure prominently in newspaper articles and oral recollections for many, many years to come.

Harvey Raspberry (pipe carver / Shop Owner)  ~1960-1983 (b. 10/6/1914 - d.09/15/2007)

In the 1930 census Harvey, age 15, was still living in Arkansas; he had moved to Missouri by the early thirties, and in the 1940 census was listed as a clerk in a pipe store. According to his obituary Harvey retired in 1984, some four years before Adah closed the business. Assuming the pipe shop he was working at in 1940 was the one belonging to Henry Jost, Harvey was with the same business over 44 years.

Harvey managed the shop from roughly 1960 through its closing in 1983.  Examples of his pipes were very unique from its carvings to odd / natural characteristics in the briar (ex.  Plateau tops to knobby shanks, etc).  These pipes stand out in a crowd and are excellent pieces if you can find them.  There are no discerning marks and the pipes are quite a bit different than standard or Comoy house pipes offered throughout Jost Pipe Shop's history. 

Bio from a Raspberry / Rufus Family Reunion program:
Harvey Newell Raspberry was born in Harmony Grove Community which is near Camden, AR.  However, his family moved to Pine Bluff where he received his formal education at Catholic Elementary and the public school of Pine Bluff, AR.  He lives in St. Louis, MO with his wife, Vivian DeShield.  Harvey is a pipe smoking builder and managed Jost Pipe Shop more than 25 years.  He retired in 1984 as a Real Estate Broker.  The Harvey Rasperries’ hobbies are fishing, playing bridge and pinochle.  He is a member of the A.M.E. Church and is a member of the trustee board.  Harvey was one of the initiators of the First Raspberry and Rufus Family Reunion.

Note:  Based on discussions I've had with Jon (provider of mountains of useful info!) the term "manager" might be loosely used based on the reports from Raspberry family members.  It's perfectly conceivable Harvey ran the shop from time-to-time.  The title "Manager" will stay based on his experience and interaction with the customers.  There is no mention of Ownership in any way.

H. J. Jost & Son, Inc. is a Missouri Domestic General Business filed on April 20, 1983. The company's filing status is listed as Forfeited and its File Number is 00251383.

The Registered Agent on file for this company is Harvey Raspberry and is located at 201 North 6th Street St Louis, MO 63101.

The Shop:

From Pipepedia:  The shops last location was at 6th and Olive under the spiral ramp for the Famous and Barr parking lot. The shops wall were lined with glass display cases for pipes. There was a regulator clock on the wall that ticked with a rhythm that reminded you that pipes were to be smoked patiently and slowly. One of their best selling tobaccos was Old Virgina. A wonderful unique lacey ribbon cut virginia with latakia.

A local's recollection of the shop ~1959:

"I was raised in St. Louis, born in 1939. I moved away in 1963. It was about 1959 that I was introduced to the Jost's Pipe Shop. In conversations, Mrs. Jost referred to her deceased husband with a reverence when discussing "pipe" opinions. The shop was not large, by Iwan Ries standards, but it had a charm and old world character. Harvey Raspberry was always so cordial and assisted with sales as well as making pipe repairs. Harvey was also an avid bridge player and had attained his Master status. The team of Mrs. Jost and Harvey was low key but successful with encouraging their clients' enjoyment of pipe smoking. They had a knack for remembering their clients' preferences for pipe styles and grades, and tobacco preferrences. As I recall, they only sold their own blends of tobacco which were offered as Jost's Virginia, Jost's Deluxe and Jost's Old English. I don't recall the years nor the exact addresses, but I believe their shop that I first visited was closed and moved to a new location sometime in the 1960s. The original shop was in a building which was to be demolished and the new shop was nearby on the street perimeter (street level) of the Famous-Barr Department store (a division of Macy's). I still have and enjoy smoking perhaps twenty Jost's pipes." - pipe forum post

Another local's recollection ~1982

"I bought my first 2 pipes from Harvey in 1982, so the shop was still in business at that time. My first was a Canadian and 2nd was an Oom Paul. I still smoke them regularly. Harvey was always a most charming gentleman. As for the shop, as I remember, it wasn't huge but it was very comfortable,and welcoming. Very pleasant shop indeed." - pipe forum post

 Another local's recollection (date unknown)

"I was reading an old news article and was reminded of a pipe shop from years ago in downtown St. Louis. It was Jost's pipe shop.. It was run by Mrs. Jost in the early seventies when I was in there, and she was a pipe smoker. They made their own pipes and walking sticks on site. Their carver was a very old man at that time named Harvey Raspberry. They had signed pictures on the wall of all the celebrities they had made pipes for including Clark Gable and Bing Crosby.

I was young at the time, and could not afford their pipes, and was looking at tobacco. I made the mistake of saying I couldn't smoke a particular tobacco, because it bites. She promptly told me I could smoke anything I wanted if I did it properly. She said most men, regardless of length of time smoking, did not know how to properly smoke a pipe. She allowed as how most men had never owned a truly good pipe so they didn't know the difference, and were most likely smoking "candified" tobacco.

Another customer was there at the time picking up a new pipe. The carver took it apart, explaining the various parts, the importance of proper drilling, and the significance of using only Algerian plateau briar. They offered smoking lessons to buyers of their pipes to teach how to load and smoke a pipe properly. Those kinds of shops are long gone." - pipe forum post

MKlaw pipes recollection from his wonderful pipe site:

"Jost’s Pipe Shop was a fixture in downtown St. Louis for many years.  I was only there once, I think in 1965, but it was a memorable experience.  The man behind the counter was Harvey Raspberry, an African-American pipe maker and salesman extraordinaire.  Though I had almost no money in those days, I walked out with two Jost’s pipes, both of which turned out to be favorites.  One was lost years ago and the other I still smoke from time to time.  Mr. Raspberry told me that a pipe should be broken in “like a hound dog - hard.”

The Tobaccos:

From a catalog / pamphlet 1950s/1960s:

Duke's Blend (Likely named after Henry)
Cavendish and Virginia-Smooth and Mellow
1/2 lb - $6.00 Pound - $10.25

Lou's Blend (Likely named after Henry's Son Louis)
Black Cavendish - Cool Smoking
1/2 lb $6.00  Pound - $10.25

201 Blend
Liqueur Cased - Smooth, Tasty & Aromatic
1/2 lb. - $6.00 Pound $10.25

Satisfying Flavor added to a Masterly Blend of Virginia, Perique, Burley and Latakia
1/2 lb. $6.00  Pound $10.25

4 Virginias, fine cut, Burley & Latakia Expertly Blended
1/2 lb $5.50  Pound $9.25

recollection / inquiry via Pipe Forum:

"Through the early 70's St. Louis had a wonderful pipe shop called Josts. They sold a mix called Virginia. Aside from its wonderful aroma, it was distinctive in its texture. All the virginia was ribbon cut in single leaf thickness--not bulk cut like some cavendish. The virginia was very golden yellow in color. The mix also had a fairly good amount of latakia. On the side of the 3x3x5 tin was the marking "Manufactured Tobacco TP-16 W. VA"

Bright Virginia, Latakia & Perique - Mild and Mellow
1/2 lb - $5.50  Pound $9.25

Blend of Virginia, Havana, Perique & Latakia - Extremely Smooth - dry smoke
1/2 lb - $5.50  Pound $9.25

Mellow flue cut Blend of Virginia, Latakia, Perique and Turkish Tobaccos
1/2 lb - $5.50  Pound $9.25

Not sure of the significance but some of these tobacco names were in UPPER CASE and I feel they might have been blended either off-site OR they were original blends of Jost.

From an Earlier Catalog:

Jost's THAMES:
A rich aromatic smoke this is unequaled in smooth, cool burning qualities.  Teh flavor and aroma are unique.  A masterly blend of Burley, Perique, Virginia and Flavor.  Half Pound $5.00  Full Pound $8.25

A satisfying flavor added to a luxury mixture of Burley, Latkia, Virginia, Perique with a touch of Havana to create a smoke that tastes exceptionally smooth and rich.  Half Pound $5.00  Full Pound $8.25

Jost's DE LUXE
A rich and fragrant subtle mixture of selected burleys, mellow flue-cured tobaccos, sun bright pikckings, Perique, Latakia and Turkish.  Expertly blended with a top dressing and casing.  Half Pound $4.50  Full Pound $7.75

An extremely smooth, aromatic dry smoke combining flue-cured burleys, coarse cut Havana, coarse cut Perique, Latakia and sun bright pickings.  Epertly blended with a special top dressing and casing.  Half Pound $4.50  Full Pound $7.75

A most mild adn mellow misture of flue-cured tobaccos, bright Virginia coarse cut, Latakia and Perique.  Expertly blended with a special top dressing and casing.  Half Pound $4.50  Full Pound $7.75

A most mild yet satisfying combination of Virginia Tobaccos.  A blend of burleys, of flue-cured burleys and Latakia.  Expertly blended with a special top dressing and casing.  Half Pound $4.50  Full Pound $7.75.

The Pipes:

Jost's Pipes are closely tied to Comoy. Many of Jost's pipes have the standard Comoy shape number and the "Made in England " in a circle. If the Jost's pipe doesn't have the "Made in England " it is probably made by Harwey Raspberry.

If the pipe has a shape number that is preceded by a "J" that is a Comoy product without question.  Typically these will have the words "Made in London England" on the reverse side of the shank from where the Jost stamp is made.  There are always exceptions to the rule but 95% of the time, this is accurate.

Many different levels of pipes were offered by Jost's Pipe Shop.  From a 1950s catalog I have the following available:

Jost Old English DeLuxe:      $85.00
     These were typically of the highest quality briar Comoy had to offer.  See pictures below of a pipe I restored - came out looking like a champ.  Grain is stunning and the briar is flawless.  These are the grade you should look out for as they are great smokers.

Jost Old English Supreme:  (no pricing available)
    The majority of he Old English version pipes you see are marked Supreme.  These are stained in a darker color and are presumably from the same Algerian aged Briar as the DeLuxe brothers.  These are also of the highest quality available.

Jost Virgin Briar Supreme:    $35.00
     Don't see too many marked as Virgin Briar Supreme but you will often find "Supreme" Jost pipes on the second hand market (see above).  Excellent quality briar and displays the lighter toned finish of the DeLuxe above.  Grain is not as flashy or desirable as the De Luxe model.

Jost Thames Briars:                $25.00
     I've seen these offered as blasted / rusticated pipes and look quite nice.  Most of the smooth finish Thames pipes are riddled with fills.  Good smokers but not much to look at (smooth).  

Jost Sandblast Briars:             $25.00
     These are a great value.  The shop made sand-blasted pipes are usually quite large and snapped up very quickly by collectors.  The Comoy versions (with Jshape #s) are of excellent quality and typically rather small compared to the shop-made variety.  

Dukes Briars:                          $15.00
     These come up very rarely.  The two I've seen in recent years are rather small in size.  Smooth finish with light / honey stain color.  Not sure what the story is behind these.

Pictures of a Jost Old English de Luxe I restored and regrettably sold (this is from pipestud's relisting of the pipe):

Pictures of my Jost Author which is currently on e-bay (ending Easter Sunday):

This pipe is likely a Comoy Product.  No markings other than the Jost stamping so it's probably fairly old (40s?)  Great smoker and lovely shape.  Obviously this pipe has been loved as it shows some scratches on the bowl.  

Pictures and details of pipes to follows!

As always, if you have further information on the Jost Shop please feel free to contact me.  Pictures of the shop or recollections of the shop are always welcome!


  1. I have just purchased seven Jost's pipes on eBay. I am trying to locate someone who could give me some information about them. They all have identifying Jost's markings. Thank you. Dan Gillen

  2. Hi Dan...thanks for reaching out to me. I'm happy to help out best I can. If you could post pictures or send them to me via e-mail I will do my best. hross.andrew@gmail.com Congrats on the pipes! Seven of them is quite a score. I'm sure they will all be excellent smokers.

  3. 55 years ago I went in the shop where I was educated by Harvey. What a fine gentleman. Bought my first pipe there. Wish I could find their tobacco somewhere. Harvey recommended one of their light Virginias. The pipe I got their was an unfinished briar. Wished I would have saved it but I think I lost it while going to college .

    1. Steven, thank you for your input. Harvey sounds like a fine gentleman indeed. Wish more information / pictures existed of the shops and people but we have to rely on peoples input and recollections, like yours! Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Have most pipe hand carved made in france. Head with wings on side. Do you know-how much it may be worth

    1. Jackie, I'm not 100% clear on what you have. Is it a 'Jost' pipe from France? Some of the Comoy-make pipes were from France in the later years of Jost's Shop. Would be interested in seeing a picture. Haven't seen many carved figural pipes from Jost.