Daily Archives: August 5, 2012

Restoring a unique Peterson 10


I picked up this old Peterson shape number 10 at a flea market for about $12. This one needed cleaning inside and out as well as reaming. The finish was quite good. I just used a soft bristle tooth brush to get into the crevices. The shank had a crack in it so I banded it with a silver band. The bowl was caked and very narrow. I used a battery terminal brush and an old adjustable reamer to get inside of it. The stem on it was obviously not the original but a smaller diameter replacement stem that did not fit well. The shank had been sanded smooth but was not tapered to meet the misfit stem but it was perfect for setting the band. Before doing that I used some super glue to squeeze the crack in the shank together. I held it until it was dry. I then heated the band with my heat gun and pressure fit it on the shank. I flattened the bottom edge of the band to match the flat bottom where the stamping is. I fit and shaped a new stem. Once it was fit I bent it to a comfortable fit for the mouth. Then I sanded and polished it with my usual regimen of micromesh pads from 1500-6000 grit.

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History of BBB Pipes


Blog post by Fiona Adler, translation Steve Laug

I have been doing some research into BBB pipes for sometime now because of my own interest in the brand and I found an online article in French. (The original article was produced with the assistance of Fiona Adler. I want to thank Guillaume Laffly for giving me this new information on the origin of the material in French.) I have adapted the article below from a google translation that I did of the article on http://www.fumeursdepipe.net/artbbb.htm (I alone am responsible for the English translation and any errors probably are the result of my poor translation!)

Origin and history of Adolph Frankau and Co. Ltd.

Adolph Frankau arrived in London in 1847 and quickly grasped the opportunities which the enlarging tobacco market introduced. He started “Adolph Frankau and Co.” and began importing meerschaum pipes and tobacco supplies. The Company took a young 14 year-old boy, Louis Blumfeld under its wing. The Company quickly thrived and did so until the untimely death of Adolph Frankau in 1856. His widow decided to sell the company.

Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881), author of “Hero and worship of the heroes” came on the scene at this point. He recommended that the widow Frankau not sell, but rather that she should entrust the future of the company into the hands of young Louis Blumfeld, then 18 years old. Carlyle had to have had a very high opinion of the young Louis to make this recommendation, and his trust proved to be justified as Blumfield took care of the company with enthusiasm and bottomless energy. Louis quickly realized, as others had before him, the potential of the newly acknowledged pipes made of briar.

Louis Blumfeld developed important international trade relations from the beginning, and had particular success in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, Europe, as well as Switzerland and Denmark. The USA had never been an extraordinary market for the company, but nonetheless a subsidiary was opened in New York. His commercial strategy focused on the countries of British Empire. Just prior to 1914, Frankau & Co. was the sole agent for Ropp Cherry Wood pipes in the United Kingdom and its colonies.

While BBB is the most widely known of Frankau & Co. pipes the company also produced several other brands of pipes: Capt. Kidd, Fairway (” F ” in white; FAIRWAY / LONDON MADE / ENGLAND), Frankau’ s (London Made in England), Glokar, Major Daff, and Snap-Fit. It also seems that Ultonia and Nec Plus Ultra must be considered to be brands in full measure, in spite of the fact that they were introduced as being product lines under the label BBB. It would explain their absence in many of the BBB catalogues.

The necessity of making briar pipes in London became more urgent, that’s why, at the turn of the century, Frankau & Co. opened a warehouse and offices at 121 Queen Victoria Street, an export service at Upper Thames Street and a plant in 1898 at Homerton, High Street 112 (then 154). The Homerton plant lasted into nineteen-eighties when Cadogan regrouped its manufacturing activities to Southend-on Sea.

In those days, Frankau & Co. also produced calabash pipes. They used calabashes that came originally from Southern Africa. Supply of the calabashes became more difficult to maintain due to the growing demand for them. BBB set up a special department to make calabash pipes. They used meerschaum to make the bowl while some of their rivals used asbestos or plaster of Paris. The manufacture of calabash pipes survived until the war in1914/1918. The war destroyed the supply of calabashes from South Africa.

The 1920s were not an easy decade for pipe producers. Frankau & Co was purchased by “Oppenheimer and Co. Ltd1”. Also during this decade Comoy’ s of London, Dr. Plumb and Loewe & Co. came under the control of Oppenheimer. The purchase of all of these various brands pushed the company to create “Cadogan Investments Ltd.2” at Cadogan Square, London, in the 1930s, to manufacture and sell its pipes. The plant at Homerton passed under the control of “Marechal Ruchon & Co.” (In 1970s, the plant took the name of “Fairfax Traders”), and continued producing BBB pipes in a traditional way. They finished pipes with a silver ring and stampings. However, BBB continued, as an independent company within the Cadogan Group. BBB concentrated on making a certain number of system pipes and on new finishing processes.

Richard Esserman thinks that Dunhill subcontracted the manufacture of stummels to BBB for the Bent Magnums until 1923. In fact, when the companies within the Cadogan group argued with one another, a new plant was established in Stratford, Carpenters Road. They also bought machines from Zuckerman as they were more efficient. The finishing workshops were closed, and pipes were finished in Aldershot and sometimes also in Shoeburyness.

In this era, it was a current practice in trade to give surplus stummels to other companies at agreed upon prices. Cadogan sold Rank I stummels to Dunhill, and bought Rank II, III and IV stummels from Dunhill. But they did not finish pipes for other companies: to sell Rank I stummels to Dunhill was more beneficial than making them into pipes!

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The BBB Logo

The initials BBB in a rhombus were quickly used as a symbol for the company, and that trademark was the first to be recorded when “Trade and Marks Act” took effect in 1876. Rather strangely, BBB registered under two numbers, numbers 39 and 40. In number 39, the acronym BBB in the rhombus (dates from deposit: January 1st, 1876; published on May 3rd, 1876 in page 21 of the Trade Mark Journal) for the class 341 (Tobacco, raw or fabricated and cigarettes), in number 40, a simple B for which no picture is available (the same references of store and publication) for the class 50 (fabricated Property from ivory, in bone, wooden, substantially plant or animal, pipes with tobacco, cigars and cigarettes (cigar and cigarette tubes). Note that Oppenheimer registered BBB again (number 39) for a new logo under the number 2288663 (December 20th, 2001; published on February 13th, 2002 in page 2634 of the Trade Mark Journal) for classes 14 (cases with cigar and cigarettes, soft packages of cigars and cigarettes, doors-cigars and cigarettes, all in precious metals) and 34 (Tobacco and products of tobacco, articles for smokers, pipes, tobacco pouches, door – pipes, lighters, equipment of cleaning for pipes, doors-cigars and cigarettes, cases with cigars and cigarettes, humidors). At the European level, Oppenheimer registered BBB under the number 002100907 (February 22nd, 2001, date of recording: October 7th, 2002), for classes 14 and 34 and under the number 0863111 for the class 34 (October 20th, 2005).

BBB Production

Some think that the first BBB pipes were imported, and that initials were intended to stand for Blumfeld’s Best Briars. Later these initials came to be understood as standing for Britain’s Best Briars.

At first, BBB produced two qualities of pipes. The one, BBB Own Make, became BBB Best Make, other pipes simply being stamped BBB. There are reasons to think that the Own Make was produced in fact in London (Reject pipes were stamped R). While simple BBBs were imported until the beginning of the 20th century. It is probable that the regular line of BBB pipes were imported from Saint-Claude, France.

The BBB collection followed along similar lines as other pipe producing companies during the second half of the 19th century. Shapes were similar to the popular models in vogue during that time with a predominance of bent pipes. Some of them had a silver ring. At the same time, BBB continued to deliver meerschaum pipes.

BBB was probably the first to offer pipes made to accommodate a paper filter. The Mackenzie, which was available in two qualities (Mackenzie, second brand of BBB, could have been produced in Republic of Ireland. Pipe stems were made of vulcanite). This technique dates from around 1900 as is stated in a letter dated from August 27th, 1891 from Mr. Morrel Mackenzie (1837-1892) in which he suggest that they make models with a longer stem. The Mackenzie brand survived into the 1960s.

It is thought that BBB was one of the first to call the pipes they had conceived with a long shank for a cooler smoke a “Lovat”. However, “Friedlands” could have adopted this name at the same time. Lovats appeared long before 1914 and were offered for sale by BBB in four different sizes, of which a series were stamped Highland. Colonel Henry Francis Fraser (1872-1949), Lord of Lovat, must have enjoyed the advertising of this shape made in his honour. It is still a popular shape at present. While BBB briar pipe shapes were similar to those of other brands, their models developed a very sought-after distinct character by the collectors. BBB earned the gold medal at the French-British Exposition in London in 1908 (Frank Bowcher, on 1864-1938) and at the World Fair and International in Brussels in 1910, the Medal of Godefroid Devreese (1861-1941). You can find pictures of these medals, notably on the advertising brochures of the 1950s and 1960s.

In this era the common practice was to set a pipe’s value by the material the stem was made of: ebonite, horn, amber, ambrolith etc. Also, price varied according to the size of the pipe. For instance, in 1914, the wholesale price of a simple billiard varied between 15 shillings and 22 shillings and 6 pence because of the size of the pipe and flock (no screw or tenon). Though this generally was true it seems that there were exceptions; for instance a Liverpool of five inches long with a stem in genuine amber had a wholesale cost of 12 shillings in larger quantities; the same pipe with a stem of ambrolith cost 19 shillings. BBB made different special series of pipes such as Chubby, Golfer, Dreadnought (probably named after different warships), Bellerophon (sic) and Cutty (small models). BBB offered some 20 lines of pipes that had different clever combinations of stems, finishing and decoration. Some of them had a silver ring. Around 1910, BBB Own Make pipes sold for 2£ 10 shillings while pipes only stamped BBB were sold for 5-6 shillings.

In the 1930s, the top pipe of the line was “BBB Best Make” with variants such as “Great Dam” and “Ultonia Thule”. The BBB Carlton, sold retail in 1938, was endowed with a complicated stinger system; the same system was also used on the BBB London Dry. The Blue Peter was not stamped BBB but BBB Ultonia, and BBB Two Star (**) was the stamping on lesser quality pipes. The calabash pipe was removed from the catalogues at this time, but some pipes with cases and some meerschaum pipes were still produced. Shapes of BBB pipe were typical of other companies pipes made in this era: half were billiards, some princes and bullcaps, bulldogs and some bents. It is also in this period that the inlaid metal BBB was put on more upscale pipes, while series of lesser quality had only the stamped BBB on the stem.

During the middle of 1950s and 1960s, BBB lines were comparatively stable. The top pipes of the line were stamped Own Make “Rare Grain”, followed by Own Make “Virgin”, Own Make “Walnut” and finally Own Make “Thorneycroft”.

Today, Cadogan uses Spanish briar for most of its pipes, and reserves the Moroccan briar for the production of high quality pipes. Before being sent to them for manufacture into pipes, the briar has been dried and cured for a time period of between 6 and 12 months.

To avoid any confusion about the ranking systems of their pipes in the Cadogan Group brands the company adopted a system of eight common ranks for all of its brands. Rank A is briar with nice grain, without any visible imperfections. Rank B has nice grain, but with some small black points and maximum of three sand pits which will be filled. Rank “Best Make” also has nice grain, with maximum of five small sand pits. The stummels with grain of variable quality and maximum six sand pits are ranked MB. The second rank pipes are of briar of mediocre grain but without defects or of nice grain but with up to eight fills or two big sand pits. The third, fourth and fifth ranks are given to pipes whose quality decreases proportionately.

1Adolph Oppenheimer started an import/export company in 1860, and his brother, Charles, joined the company later that year. Adolph retired in 1870 and moved to Germany, where he became British Consul then Consul general, letting Charles take the control of business. Louis Adler, who was the brother-in-law of Oppenheimer, became a colleague when Adolph left the company. Both brothers did not have heirs, so the ownership of the company passed to the family Adler. By 1870, the company imported GBD pipes into Great Britain from Paris. The association of Oppenheimer with GBD was such a success that in 1897, Oppenheimer became the sole agent of the French company. Five years later, the French owners of GBD, Marechal Ruchon and Co., merged with A. Oppenheimer.

2Cadogan’s slogan, “Pipemakers Since 1825” refers back to the first clay pipe which Francois Comoy fabricated in 1825. Cadogan’s pipes were fabricated in numerous places disseminated around London and to Saint-Claude, but with the purchase of Orlik Pipe Co. In 1980, Cadogan regrouped the entirety of its manufacture in the new plant of Southend-on-Sea, plant especially constructed for pipe making industry. Cadogan continues to fabricate GBD, Comoy’s of London, BBB, Dr. Plumb, Loewe and Orlik pipes (since 1980). They also make Kaywoodie pipes for the British market and have recently agreed to make Sasieni pipes for James B. Russell.
I have attached a few pictures of some of my BBB’s. I love these old pipes and have quite a few.

New Life for an Old Barling


I have often written on the blog that good refurbishing begins with observation of the work at hand. I never fail to spend time looking at a pipe and noting areas of concern before I work on it. That is probably why it is pretty simple to record the work I have done on the pipe after the fact. In the old Barling bent, who’s refurbishment is recorded in the following post, I chose to post the notes from my observations. Enjoy!

At Smokers Forums a friend and I have exchanged ideas and thoughts through pm’s, emails and phone calls for several years now. Our talks have covered much ground but seem to also involve at least a fair amount of chatting about refurbishing estate pipes. A couple of weeks ago he contacted me with an idea of somehow collaborating on a refurb. He had an old timer he wanted me to look at and talk over with him. It came in the mail and I gave him a call with what I saw as I handled the pipe and took it apart. The list below gives some of my observations about the pipe as I checked it out carefully.

  1. The band is crooked and turned on the shank. It may take heating the band to it to loosen it.
  2. The silver hallmarks are an anchor, lion and a shield. The shield should have a letter in it to identify the year but it is worn away. The band is made in Birmingham, England, and it is Sterling Silver. As for the year, the best I can do is estimate; it lies within a 20 year period – 1876-1895. We would need to check the dates on Barlings made in the 1800s, to see when it fits into their history. That could narrow it down. It also may be an aftermarket band that was added to repair the shank.
  3. The only stamping is Barling in script. I cannot see an “s” on it and certainly no apostrophe. That should also help date it. The tail on the “g” hooks or curls under several other letters.
  4. The divot in the bottom edge of the shank, for lack of a better word, is not a worn spot in the shank – interestingly once I cleaned the shank I lined up a pipe cleaner in the centre of the divot and it is perfectly aligned with the drilling of the airway. With the pipe cleaner in place (think drill bit) the divot is gone and the walls are all equal. I am thinking this is the divot that is often found in Oom Paul or bent shapes to drill the airway straight to the bowl. I am going to give that a bit more thought before I step in with a repair to the shank. I may get away with building up the tenon instead.
  5. The bowl is in very good shape. I cleaned it out and the walls are all sound and the bottom of the bowl is also sound – no sign of damage to the briar; though the airway comes out a little high on the side of the bowl. I may need to smoke a cigar to make some pipe mud to raise the bowl bottom a bit!
  6. There is a little damage to the front outer edge of the rim but it has been rounded with time.  The inner rim was damaged by a reaming with a knife and is slightly out of round. I have already remedied that with sandpaper.
  7. The design of the tenon is very interesting. It is almost a reverse funnel (think inside of a funnel). The curvature at the tenon and step down is such that it provides a bit of a cooling chamber in the sump of the pipe almost like those new fangled calabash things that are hitting the market now.
  8. The vulcanite is very hard and does not seem to show any oxidation. I have seen that before on these old timers – they use a very good quality of rubber and maybe less sulfur in the mix to vulcanize it. Not sure but for some reason they hold the black colour without any browning.
  9. The stem has a few tooth marks – 2 on top and two on the bottom. Some minor tooth chatter as well.
  10. The silver band is also angled like it was put on crooked after it was misaligned. The hallmarks should be on the side but seem to be on the top.
  11. It appears that there is a crack in the shank that was repaired and then banded.

Chuck and I talked through this list a bit on the phone and then through pms on Smokers Forums and he left it to me to see what I could do with the old pipe. Here are some pictures of the pipe when it arrived. The finish was pretty much gone but there was some great looking grain underneath. The issues I pointed out above will be clearly visible by looking at the photos in the first series of three. All of the external issues are visible in these photos.

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Once the stem was removed from the pipe several other issues became apparent. The biggest one that we discussed was the way the mortise was worn and out of round. You can see the dip or divot in the bottom of the shank that makes the mortise almost oval. Inside the mortise you can also see the tar buildup where the step down end of the tenon sat. It has the reverse of the shape of the step down. Where it had a curved shoulder between the tenon and the step down, the mortise had the reverse. The tars were built up to the point that the tenon step down sat firmly in place. The rest of the tenon was loose in the mortise as years of use had worn away a part of the mortise. The question we were left with once the pipe was cleaned was how to address the wear in the mortise and tighten up the fit of the tenon. The options were two:

  1. Build up the inside diameter of the mortise – this could be done by inserting briar and redrilling it or by using a build-up of glue and briar dust.
  2. Build up the outer diameter of the tenon – there are several ways of doing this including the use of clear nail polish or superglue applied to the tenon and then sanded to fit correctly.

Each method had a few issues involved in using them.

–          To build up the mortise with an inserted piece of briar would be difficult in that the mortise was no longer round and once the mortise was redrilled the walls of the briar plug would be very thin. Also the stem itself was cut to fit the out of round shape of the shank and mortise so it would have to be reshaped.

–          To build it up with glue and briar dust would work but be a bit hard to control the amounts and if it was built up too much removing it and sanding it would be difficult to control.

–          To build up the tenon with nail polish is a temporary fix and would need to be repeated over time and use. To use the superglue is more permanent but are there any long term effects from the use of the glue on the inside of the pipe. Even if, as in this case the tenon is not in contact with the mouth. The glue would only be used on the upper portion of the tenon and not on the step down portion.

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Chuck and I discussed these options and issues and he left it to my judgment to choose one. I thought about it and laid aside the pipe for the night and came back to it in the morning. I examined the tenon and mortise once again to get another view of the problem before I worked on it. I inserted a pipe cleaner at the angle of a drill bit from the shank through the airway to the bottom of the bowl to see where the edge would land. The drilling of the shank matched the notch in the bottom of the mortise. It had been enlarged due to the age of the pipe and its use but it matched exactly. This influenced my decision where to go with the repair. Once that was decided it was time to work on the finish of the pipe and the internals. I dropped the bowl in the alcohol bath to let it soak and remove the grit, grime and old finish. I was hoping that the soak would also loosen the glue on the band so that I could turn it into the correct position on the shank. It soaked for about an hour and a half while I did other things. I removed it from the bath and laid it on my work table. The pictures below show it before I dried it off.

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I steamed the dents on the top and also sanded out the remnants of them on the surface. I wiped down the bowl with acetone to remove any remaining finish on the bowl. I picked the thick tars in the sump of the shank and tapped out the crud that came loose. It took a lot of detailed picking to get the surface free of the build up. I then cleaned out the sump of the shank with many cotton swabs until they were clean. The picture below shows the pipe after the cleaning and wiping down with acetone. The second picture shows the rim with the dents removed and the roundness of the bowl restored.

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After thinking through the options on the shank and the mortise situation I decided that the best way of dealing with this old war horse was not to build up the mortise and cause problems with the fit of the stem and shank but to work on the tenon on the stem. I had read elsewhere of the use of super glue to build up the tenon so I gave it a coating. The best way I have found it to work for me is to drip it on the tenon and turn it as it drips. The fluid thus gives the entire tenon an even coating. The first two pictures below show the tenon after the application of the layer. Once it was dry the tenon was obviously too big so I sanded it, while repeatedly checking for the fit. The third picture shows the tenon as it is now – a perfect snug fitting stem on the Barling this morning!

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To highlight the beautiful grain in the pipe I used a brush dipped in black stain to follow the grain patterns on the bowl. I applied it with an art brush to give it a good coverage. Before applying the stain to the bowl I warmed the briar to open the pores in the wood to receive the stain deeply. The pictures below show the bowl after staining with the brush. It looks odd and actually less than charming but the process works as will be seen in the next series of photos.

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After stain dried I sanded it with a fine grit sanding foam that allows me to follow the curves. I was careful around the faint stamping on the shank. Here is the pipe after it has been wiped cleaned with Isopropyl alcohol after sanding. The grain is highlighted well. The final picture below shows the grain on the front of the bowl.

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I set aside the bowl for awhile and dealt with the tooth marks on the stem. After steaming them to raise them I sanded with 240 grit sandpaper to remove the remaining signs of the tooth marks and the tooth chatter. I then sanded with fine grit foam sanding pads to work out some of the scratches in the surface.

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I did some more sanding with the micromesh sanding pads on the pipe bowl to get the black stain tamed a bit so that when I put the overstain on it would show through but not dominate. I wanted to get a stain on the pipe that fits the older Barling pipes that I have here so I thinned down some oxblood stain for the overstain. I applied it and flamed it. Then I took it to the buffer and with a light touch removed the excess and left a nice top coat of rich reddish brown stain with the black shining through to highlight the amazing grain on this old pipe. The three pictures below show the pipe with the stem on but the stem was not finished as it still showed some of the browning of oxidation.

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From there I removed the stem again and sanded it with 400 and 600 grit wet dry sand paper and water. I finished the stem with 1500-6000 grit micromesh pads dipped in water to give bite to the sanding disks as I polished it. The way I use the micromesh is to dip it in water and then sand, dip again and sand again through the various grits until I am finished and the stem has some depth to its blackness. I coated the stem with several coats of Obsidian Oil and then a coating of wax by hand.

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I put the stem back on the pipe and took it to the buffer. I buffed the whole thing with White Diamond and then cleaned the silver band with silver polish and polished the entire pipe with multiple coats of carnauba wax.

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GBD Tapestry 9438 Re-boot


Earlier this year I refurbished a GBD 9438 in Tapestry finish and vowed never to touch a chair-leg stem again. That pipe proved to be a wonderful smoker and is a frequently used pipe in my rotation. A few weeks ago I found the identical pipe on Ebay and won the auction. This second 9438 was in a little better shape and the stem was not nearly as oxidized. The Rondell appeared to be damaged.

The bowl was in terrific shape, with very crisp nomenclature. There is an “E” stamp just at the end of the stem. If anyone has an insight as to what that means, please comment. The bowl was lightly reamed, then soaked with Everclear and sea salt. After the bowl was soaked, I buffed the briar with some Tripoli, White Diamond and finally a few coats of Carnuba wax. The briar is in really nice shape and the polished top is unmarred.

My attention then went to the stem. From the Ebay picture, I thought a piece of the brass rondell was missing. But that proved to be only grime. These rondells now appear to be unattainable, so I was pleased to discover this. The stem was soaked in an oxyclean solution. It was then cleaned with 2000 grit wet paper, than the last few grades of micromesh. After sanding, I buffed the stem with white diamond and then plastic polish.

I’m very pleased with the finished pipe. The briar a bit nicer than my first 9438 Tapestry. I bought it with the intention of giving to a family member as a Christmas gift, but now.….

Perspective of the pictures makes it appear the pipes are different sizes. However, they are identical in size. The tenon on the recent addition is curiously a bit longer than my first 9438.

Before:

The fisnished pipe and some shots with the sister 9438 Tapestry:

Al Jones aka “Upshallfan”