Daily Archives: June 6, 2013

Leonard’s Pipe Shop – Portland, Oregon.

Blog by Steve Laug

When I bought this old Leonard’s Sea Rock billiard on EBay I did a bit of hunting around the web to find out what I could about the brand. There was not a lot of information available but this is what I found out. I have edited it and added and adapted the material that I found on the web. I am unable to find who originally wrote this material. If anyone knows please leave a comment and I will acknowledge the work that person has done on gathering this helpful information.


The pipe I purchased is a shop pipe that came from one of America’s great old pipe shops – LEONARD’S PIPE SHOP which was located in Portland, Oregon, USA.The shop and the brand never was as famous as Peretti’s, Ehrlich’s, The House of Robertson, Bertram’s, Garfinkel’s, Drucquers or some of the other great names from the past, possibly because of its’ location. But in terms of stature among the world’s greatest pipe makers, Leonard’s had no equal. While some pipe shops catered to the rich and famous, served politicians or visiting emissaries,or made pipes for actors, entertainers or stars in one field or another, Leonard’s catered to the other end of the pipe chain – the all-important source of supply! The shop was founded by Arthur Leonard in 1936 who worked hard to establish close relationships with the world’s biggest and best pipe maker’s — Charatan, Barling, Sasieni, Kaywoodie and others.

In 1936, Kaywoodie was the most important name in pipes producing top-quality pipes and the most expensive pipes then available. So, it was natural for Arthur Leonard to establish a relationship with the makers of Kaywoodie. It is fairly recent that some of the greatest Kaywoodie’s ever made returned to the marketplace. For example the Leonard-owned Kaywoodie Magnums dated from the late 1930s which were displayed and ultimately sold by the family at the Chicago Pipe Show a few years ago. It will always be a question how they wound up in Portland, Oregon rather than New York, Chicago, Washington DC or the “hometown” of any of the other great pipe shops in America. The answer must lie in the relationships that Arthur Leonard established with pipemakers!

Another huge “GROUP 6” or “ODA” sized KW billiard also came on the market. It no doubt originated from a special order placed by Arthur Leonard. But the question with this pipe and others that Leonard’s had was who made it? As many collectors who visited his shop know (as well as those who have met the last generation owners, Lou and Betty Leonard) this was once one of America’s greatest pipe shops! It operated on the same corner location from 1936 through 1983 before moving to an uptown location for another six years. On display the Leonard’s had the longest and largest Kaywoodies ever made, unsmoked Dunhill Magnums and a host of pre-1900 Barlings! Arthur Leonard had established a powerful relationship with the great pipe maker’s of the last century and his shop retained the bounty of those relationships.

It is interesting that when the Barling family sold out, they called the Leonard shop and Arthur Leonard responded- – -buying every single Barling on hand at the time of sale so no inventory was acquired by the new owners (ending speculation that “Transition” Barlings were really older pieces acquired by the new owners)! Leonard did the same thing for the Sasieni family when they sold out! The Leonard’s Shop was perhaps the most well-known American smoke shop in Europe! The Leonard Shop ONLY carried high grades, so when the craze for meerschaum pipes occurred in the 1950’s and early 1960’s, (and the Turkish government restricted the exporting of raw meerschaum) the Leonard shop placed an order with Charatan for 50 meerschaum-lined Charatans! (At that time, the Supreme was the top-of-the-line Charatan! Imagine meerschaum-lined Selected’s and Supreme’s! Lou Leonard says that only about 35 were ever delivered and Charatan said they would make no more!)

I read that those who saw the Leonard’s display pipes at the Chicago Show a few years ago marveled at the quality of the uncirculated, unsmoked pipes. He had acquired the original Barling Meerschaum’s from a company that made Meerschaum pipes before making Briar pipes! The Dunhill Magnums were unsmoked in their original cases. The Kaywoodie Magnums were displayed in a specially made case. And the Sasieni’s, Charatan’s, Comoy’s and all the rest were pipes of historical importance. You see, Arthur Leonard nurtured his relationship with the supplier’s rather than the movie stars and politicians who bought pipes. In fact, Betty Leonard told stories about the vast inventory of pipes kept out of the public eye in a back room from which they were produced on an occasional basis to meet the needs of a specific customer’s request.

Like the other great American pipe shops, Leonard’s is gone. They closed their doors in 1989. Their inventory was slowly liquidated by the last family owners of the shop. It is sad that yet another piece of American pipe history is gone. It would be grand to have seen that back room filled with a huge inventory of beautiful old briars of renown. Ah well, we have to use our imaginations to enter that room now. As I go there in my mind, I load a bowl of good tobacco from Drucquer’s (another American Pipe Shop that is gone) in my Leonard’s Sea Rock and lift it in both of their memories.

ADDENDUM & CORRECTION: Please read the response below by Pete. He has added some great information that focuses and corrects some of the information above. Thank you Pete.

What’s the Story to be told by 3 Old Unsmoked Pipes without Stems?

I bid on these three pipes on Ebay based on the pictures I have included in this post. They were two different lots from the same seller in California. They were unsmoked according to the seller and as best as I could tell from the photos they looked at least very clean if not unsmoked. They arrived yesterday in the post and they are amazingly clean. All three are unsmoked and what I would label as New Old Stock. I am curious as to how they were separated from their stems and when this happened. They all came from the same seller and I asked what happened to the stems and was told that they were that way when they bought them. That is not a problem as I can easily restem them. They are all older pipes – my guess for the second and third pipe is that they came from the early 1900’s. Not sure about the BBB.
The first is a BBB Hand Made Dublin shape with an oval shank. In the photos the bowl looks dark, but upon examination it is unsmoked. It may have stain in the bowl that I will have to remove before it is smoked. The finish is very good with no fills. There are a few small scratches and dings that come from sitting unused for so long. I am guessing but I would say that the three and several others that the seller had all must have been kept in the same box for years. This one has a very clean shank mortise area so it should be fairly easy to match a stem to it. I am waiting on a BBB stem but in the mean time I have fit it with a vulcanite stem. I have to clean the stem up and finish the fit and the polish but it looks good.





The second pipe is a GFB calabash. It is stamped Premier on the left side of the shank and America on the right side. The band says GFB in an oval with 3 stars above that and Sterling underneath. The band was loose when it came. The photos made it a bit hard to tell what the size of the pipe was and also what the grain was like on it because of the lack of focus. When I took it out of the package I was glad to see that it was smaller than expected. The finish is great and the bowl is pristine. The shank and bowl are raw smooth briar. The silver was tarnished but the pipe was unsmoked. Like the one above it has some small scratches and dings from sitting in a box for so long. I am pretty sure this is an early 1900’s pipe. It is identical in shape to a 1912 BBB calabash I have here. The beauty is that I will get to break in this ancient old pipe. It is incredibly light weight. I worked on a stem for it last evening and have it fitted and the first stage of sanding and polishing finished. I will write it up when I am finished on the weekend.





The third pipe was a bit of a mystery to me. It is stamped with a gold filigree – REX in a script on the right side of the oval shank. It has a long shank and a factory fit silver band that is also stamped REX and Sterling. It too is unsmoked and very clean. Again like the others it has a few dings and scratches but otherwise is in good shape. There are several very small sandpits on it but they do not detract from the look and finish. I tried several lengths of stems on it before settling on an oval stem that would go on a Canadian. It looks right on this old guy. I can find out nothing regarding the REX stamping though my guess would be that it is an American made pipe. The seller noted that this one is an early 1900’s pipe as well but I got no response on how they know that. The look and feel of the pipe, the size and shape, the silver band all would argue for that age but there is no way to know for sure that I can tell. Do any of you recognize the brand? Some thought it might be an early Barclay-Rex pipe but I cannot find any back story that would make that certain. So for now the mystery remains. I will finsih polishing and shaping the stem over the weekend and then do a write up on the threesome. They are all beautiful examples of well made bowls.





With these three in hand from the same seller I am very curious as to their stories. Where did they come from? Who had them? Were they always without a stem? Were they purchased and set aside for a special time and then got separated from their stems? Did their stemless condition guarantee their not being smoked? Or maybe they came from a shop somewhere and the stems just were never put in place after they arrived from their makers. Who knows? All I know is that they will soon be put to the use they were intended for. I wish they could tell their stories. I for one would love to sit and listen. Wouldn’t you?

I just finished the initial work of restemming them. Here is a photo of the three bowls with their new stems inserted. A lot of work remains in terms of fitting the stems but the idea is clear from these photos.