I picked this old timer up in an antique shop near Vancouver, quite a few years ago now. When I got it the bowl was almost black and dirty. The rim had a good 1/8 inch of grime and tar built up so that it looked like a plateau top. The finish was so opaque that you could not see the grain through it. The stem was dirty and to be honest with you all, when I got it I had no idea it was a horn stem. I worked hard to get the oxidation off it and all I got was more of the brown tones coming through. There was tooth chatter on the top and bottom of the stem. The chatter was kind of white coloured. I asked several guys about the stem and they also did not even think about a horn stem. I had the pipe in my collection for about 5 years or more before it dawned on me that it was a horn stem.
This is a big pipe and it is elegant. It is 8 inches long and the bowl is a little over 2 inches tall. It is stamped on the left side of the shank Bruyere in an arch over Garantie. On the right side it is stamped St. Claude in script over Bruyere. Once I stripped it down there are a few visible fills in the briar but they blend in quite well surprisingly – no pink putty on this one. I cleaned the rim meticulously by hand with warm soapy water on a damp paper towel. I scrubbed it until it was clean. I then sanded the bowl to remove the varnish coat and grime. I had not learned many of the tricks I use now so it was one of the first old timers that I refurbished. I wiped the bowl down with Isopropyl alcohol once I had sanded the majority of the finish coat off the pipe. It took quite a bit of time to carefully wipe away the finish around the stamping without damaging that. The bowl was finally cleaned and smooth – I remember sanding it with 1200 wet dry sandpaper to finish. Then I stained it with a medium brown wood stain – I have no idea if it was an alcohol stain, it well could have been Watco Danish Oil for all I know!
The stem took quite a bit of work to sand it smooth. I cleaned it up twice. Once when I first got it and then again when I figured out it was a horn stem. It is a big piece of horn and quite pretty in terms of the sheen and depth of colouration in it. I used the method I spelled out in a previous post on polishing horn stems and it is like new. I sanded it with wet dry sandpaper up to 2400 grit and then buffed it with lots of carnauba wax. Later I used the micromesh sanding pads on it and really gave it a depth of shine. The pipe is a great smoking pipe and is definitely a sitting pipe. It is a handful. The first picture shows the finished pipe. I wish I had some before photos but this was found in the days I never thought of doing that. So all I have is finished photos. The next series of photos show the size of the pipe in comparison to a nice little bent billiard that is about a group three sized pipe. The grain is quite nice. Nothing striking in terms of straight grain but there are several spots with nice birds eye and then the rest is swirling grain that almost seems to have movement to it. The stem is multicoloured and has the old orific (round) airhole in the button.
When I saw this piece of tobacciana I had to add it to my collection. It is so unique that I have not seen another since I first laid eyes on this one. It is pipe loader. It is made of an outer case with a plunger inside and a scoop-like inner piece that is loaded with tobacco. I think the inventive character that made this envisioned scooping a load into the scoop portion and then inserting it into the part with the plunger. Once it is loaded it is put on top of the pipe bowl and the outer portion is pushed down over the inner scoop and the tobacco is loaded and tamped in the bowl. I have to say it is a bit of a fuss to scoop and plunge but it does work remarkably well and loads a perfect bowl of tobacco. It is made of brass and what looks like several shell casings. I am not sure if it is trench art but I have been told that it appears to be. The two pieces fit together perfectly well and slide easily against each other. It has the patina of aged brass but is otherwise very clean. It is something that sits in my pipe cabinet and is a great conversation piece with other pipemen but it is not something that anyone else is truly interested.
Any ideas from any of the readers? What do you think?
On a lark I restemmed a couple of my Missouri Meerschaum cobs a while back for a special pipe cleaning and polishing night hosted by our local Dunhill and Brigham Representative. He told us that if we brought our old pipes with oxidized stems he would buff them and polish them for us – no charge. Being a bit of a joker and handyman I scavenged in my can of stems and found two oxidized Dunhill white spot stems. These had just the right sized tenons to fit on a couple of old cobs that I had here. So with very little effort, I made them fit the shank. Just in case some of you are worried that I might have ruined them by trimming them back, I assure you that I did nothing to the stems other than clean them up a wee bit and then insert them into my cobs.
Thus armed I packed my trusty pipe bag – holds eight pipes. I included some other nice pipes that I wanted to have the benefit of having buffed but I also included the pair of Dunhill cobs. I waited for an opportune moment when the handy rep was at the buffing wheel. There was a lag in the number of gents coming to him for buffing work so I sidled over and handed him my good pipes first and he did a magnificent job cleaning and waxing them on his wheels. When he had finished them he asked if I had any others that I wanted him to take care of. I hemmed and hahed a bit and then said I had a couple but that they were very special and rare. I wanted to make sure that he would not damage them in any way. I emphasized the fact of their rarity by stating that in fact I had never seen or come across any like them in all the years I had been smoking a pipe.
With that I had hooked him and he turned off his buffer and looked inquiringly. I could see the look in his eye – full of questions. What kind of pipes could I possibly have that I was worried he would harm them? What could I have in my bag that I was slow to pull out and have him buff? I think he was a bit put out by my slow response. So now that I had him hooked I decided to work him a little bit and play with the hook. I began to spin the tale I had worked on earlier in the afternoon. I was enjoying every moment of this so I dragged it out a bit longer than necessary probably, but as I talked a small group of other pipesmokers had gathered around the wheel. We were all puffing on pipes of chosen tobaccos and everyone was interested.
I spun the tale of how I had come across these two special pipes in a cabinet at a local antique mall in Fort Langley, British Columbia. I had gotten the clerk to unlock the cabinet and carefully removed the pair from the cabinet. I looked each of them over carefully so as not to break them. After all I did not want to buy something that was worthless. Both pipes were a bit worn from wear and showed some charring at the rim but otherwise they were clean and seemed to be solid. The clerk said they were rare and who was I to argue as I had never seen anything like the two of them. The price for each was a kingly sum. At this point in my tale I looked at each of my listeners. But in particular I fixed my eyes on the buffing king. I wanted to emphasize the cost of these gems. Now my tale had captured the most dubious of them so I began to reel them in. I explained the stems and the slight oxidation that each had. I explained how they each had a white dot set in the vulcanite of the stems. At this point I am sure the buffing king was wondering if I had stumbled on a pair of early patent era Dunhills. All those listening to the tale know my proclivity for pipe scavenging and how I am pretty lucky in my finds. I honestly think that I had struck the motherlode of pipes finds.
The Dunhill Rep/buffing king was beside himself now. He wanted to see them now. He wanted to handle the two old timers and get a feel for their age and ply his skill in bringing the shine back to life on them both. But I wanted to set the hook a bit deeper so I continued talking about how I had carefully carried them to the cashier and shelled out the money for them. I talked of the deep shell finish on both and the almost amberlike brown of the bowls and shanks. Then as they were almost salivating I pulled the pair out of my bag and handed them to him with the bowls and shanks hidden in my hands. Just the two white spot stem poked out of my hands. I slowly and carefully opened my hands to reveal the treasure. I told him they were called Dunhillbillies. And with that everyone but him was just about rolling on the floor in laughter. They just shook their heads and few of them had choice comments for me. But the buffing king looked at me with a grimace and then he laughed loudly, shaking his head. I have to hand it to him as he did a great job buffing the pair. The pictures below show the twosome after his hard work. What do you think? Are they treasures or not?