When did Wally Frank Ltd finally perish?

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Well-known member
#1
I can't find a definitive corporate history for Wally Frank / Wally Frank Ltd.

Custombilt collectors refer to the end of the "Wally Frank Era" as 1998, but the final reference to Wally Frank that I can find on the internet is 1990. An advertisement in a local newspaper advertises Wally Frank private label cigars:
https://newspaperarchive.com/panama-city-news-herald-may-13-1990-p-116/

When did the NYC stores finally close?
When did catalog sales really end?

Lots of 1940s and 1950s Wally Frank catalogs have been scanned, but I've never found a 1990s one.
 

MLC

Foggy Fogey.
#4
@MLC? You are being summoned
I think Malcontent answered it.

I'm jealous that he got the catalogs for so long. I'm a dumbass and didn't start pipesmoking until 2010, before then I was a cigarette fiend who was clueless about true tobacco.

@Piffyr
You are being summoned!

Anthony is the man and has the real dope lowdown on Wally Frank so maybe he'll see this and jazz it up with some sweet history.
 

Piffyr

Well-known member
#5
The dating is fuzzy. Originally started in 1933, the company divested out of the pipes business somewhere around 1985-88. They continued to sell their own cigars until about '95. Finck Cigar picked up some of the assets from that, though I'm unclear about what exactly those assets were.

Wanna guess what the "W.F." stand for in Finck's W.F. cigars?

http://www.finckcigarcompany.com/products/group/category/w._f._natural

Until recently, they also sold a few pipe tobacco blends based on the old Wally Frank recipes, but they appear to all be gone now.
 

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Well-known member
#7
Over time, the publishing schedule for those catalogs went from bi-monthly to quarterly to bi-annually to annually. So, by the late '70s/'80s, there were far fewer of them being printed which results in far fewer of them to survive to the digital age.
Well, that's a start. Thanks so much for the Finck connection -- I ain't made that one myself.

Plainly, however, they were still being printed.

When did the stores close?
Who holds the last few years of catalogue in hand?
 

MLC

Foggy Fogey.
#8
Went looking around a little...

...two of my favorite resources are googbooks and Alt.Smokers.Pipe

Google Books can place concrete timelines etc
ASP is a wealth of firsthand info and a joy to read in and of itself

On googbooks I searched for the last appearance of WF,
it was in a book called The Wholesale Bargains & Freebies Guide from 1993
the entry:
Wally Frank LTD. 63-25 69th St. Middle Village, NY 11379 Phone 718-326-2233
In business for over 60 years, Wally Frank offers a selection of cigars, pipes, and tobaccos. Mail-order shoppers can expect savings of up to 50% on some brands

That was an active listing, meaning there is no doubt that WF was in business at that time because they wouldn't be listed if not.

I'm unsure about the various later mentions in the Brands and Their Companies books, one of which lists WF as late as 2007.

The 1992 edition of Ward's Business Directory of U. S.private and public companies had a few interesting tidbits listed:
Wally Frank Ltd. 63-25 69th St. (718)326-2233 Middle village, NY 11379
Sales: $10.0 million FY End: 8-31
Employees: 75
Type: Private
Founded: 1933
Import/Export sics): 5961 Catalog & Mail-Order Houses

A.S.P. has quite a few mentions of WF,
but this one is most relevant to our discussion:
circa 1998
https://groups.google.com/forum/#!searchin/alt.smokers.pipes/"wally$20frank"|sort:date/alt.smokers.pipes/qIOZu8uBs5w/80GopfP2ZGwJ

Trivia tidbit:
A Wally Frank shop is featured in a scene from the 1987 movie Outrageous Fortune --- the scene is too outrageous and risque to post here, but if interested look on yootoob for
Outrageous Fortune Jerry Zaks Scene - Bette Midler - Shelly Long
and it'll pop up.
 

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Well-known member
#9
The 1992 edition of Ward's Business Directory of U. S.private and public companies had a few interesting tidbits listed:
Wally Frank Ltd. 63-25 69th St. (718)326-2233 Middle village, NY 11379
Sales: $10.0 million FY End: 8-31
Employees: 75
Type: Private
Founded: 1933
Import/Export sics): 5961 Catalog & Mail-Order Houses

A.S.P. has quite a few mentions of WF,
but this one is most relevant to our discussion:
circa 1998
That address in Middle Village hasn't been nothin but a middle school annex for at least the last fifty years, judging from property records.

Perhaps Ward's Business had a PO box somewhere on 69th St and stuff got confused?

Like I said at the outset, I can't find reliable information about Wally Frank in the 1990s.
 

Piffyr

Well-known member
#10
The reply in that thread is a little misleading. Wally Frank never manufactured pipes. The pipes from the early years are almost exclusively made by Comoy's (I say "almost," but I've never seen one that wasn't). I assume that the factory mentioned was the Weber factory, which Wally Frank/Hollco-Rohr did hold a sizable stake in the operations of from the late '60s onward. This sometimes resulted in interesting Frankenpipes, such as Wally Frank pipes with Jobey Links and so forth.
 

MLC

Foggy Fogey.
#11
That address in Middle Village hasn't been nothin but a middle school annex for at least the last fifty years, judging from property records.

Perhaps Ward's Business had a PO box somewhere on 69th St and stuff got confused?

Like I said at the outset, I can't find reliable information about Wally Frank in the 1990s.
I lack the proper resources to do a definitive and accurate survey, so I can't really help.

Seems to be a frequently asked question but Google doesn't really have any answer.



I used to live in Athens Ga. and frequented the UGA library with my "outside borrowers" card.
I miss it tremendously, real indepth research can be done at such a place.


If you're close to a good library, there may be some answers found amongst the stacks, or the microfiche.

If you haven't seen it on Pipedia and are interested in a general history,
The Agricultural & Mechanical Gazette has a nice WF article
starting on page 5:

https://pipedia.org/docs/A&MG_V4_I1.pdf

.
 

MLC

Foggy Fogey.
#12
The reply in that thread is a little misleading. Wally Frank never manufactured pipes. The pipes from the early years are almost exclusively made by Comoy's (I say "almost," but I've never seen one that wasn't). I assume that the factory mentioned was the Weber factory, which Wally Frank/Hollco-Rohr did hold a sizable stake in the operations of from the late '60s onward. This sometimes resulted in interesting Frankenpipes, such as Wally Frank pipes with Jobey Links and so forth.
Thanks for the clarification.

ASP is fun reading and often has wonderful kernels,
but also lots and lots of incorrect information.

While bouncing around looking into Wallyworld, I noticed a 1936 Pipe Lore recently sold for $4.99 dammit I always seem to miss them!



Buster Briar is usually pretty damn funny too.



I wish there was a book that reprinted the full run of catalogs and offered additional history also.

I haven't looked at many of the later period catalogs and I was somewhat surprised to see that WF sold Larsen pipes.

 

MLC

Foggy Fogey.
#14
Yep. That was a really good deal. I'm quite happy about it. It's the oldest piece of WF literature I own and also the oldest I've seen. It's a nice peek into the '33-'36 period that I'm most interested in.
HELLYEAH!

I'm glad you got it man,
good deal indeed.

I noticed it was Vol. 1 No. 10.

Congrats on a nice score!

Also came across a listing for a 20 page Pipe Lore from 1935 --- dunno if they got the date right though?
Entry #33 here:
http://www.highridgebooks.com/cat65.pdf

Asking $30 though as usual per bookseller rates.
 

Malcontent

Well-known member
#16
The pipes from the early years are almost exclusively made by Comoy's (I say "almost," but I've never seen one that wasn't). I assume that the factory mentioned was the Weber factory, which Wally Frank/Hollco-Rohr did hold a sizable stake in the operations of from the late '60s onward. This sometimes resulted in interesting Frankenpipes, such as Wally Frank pipes with Jobey Links and so forth.
Thank you for that information. I have a natural, full bent WF that I purchased in ~85 that is devoid of markings on the briar. The pipe is nice briar except for a medium sized fill on the top outside of bowl. The stem has "France" on it. Never really thought about who actually made the pipe.

I remember the quarterly and semi-annual catalogs. Can't recall seeing an annual. I enjoyed reading through the catalogs and dreaming about being able to afford one of those high end $50 pipes.
 

Piffyr

Well-known member
#17
Thank you for that information. I have a natural, full bent WF that I purchased in ~85 that is devoid of markings on the briar. The pipe is nice briar except for a medium sized fill on the top outside of bowl. The stem has "France" on it. Never really thought about who actually made the pipe.

I remember the quarterly and semi-annual catalogs. Can't recall seeing an annual. I enjoyed reading through the catalogs and dreaming about being able to afford one of those high end $50 pipes.
I'm glad you found the information useful. I wish I could give you some help with the maker of your pipe, but I don't even try to untangle the knot of French manufacturers anymore. France gives me a headache.

I have two of the annual catalogs. I think they're both from the mid/late '80s. I'll have to wait until after the holidays to dig them up to confirm the dates. The holiday mess has invaded the archives.
 

MLC

Foggy Fogey.
#18
That address in Middle Village hasn't been nothin but a middle school annex for at least the last fifty years, judging from property records.

Perhaps Ward's Business had a PO box somewhere on 69th St and stuff got confused?
Was just now digging thru some old ephemera and came across something close to that addy as related to the Pioneer Pipe Company at least in the late 60's.
They had a WF connection but I don't know the details.