Daily Archives: November 17, 2013

A Book Review – The Pipeman’s Companion by Ogden’s of Liverpool

74522My copy of this book was published by Interfocus Publishing, Bristol, England. It is marked a First Edition and dated 2000. The cover of this of my edition is seen to the left and is the publisher’s original illustrated card wrap cover [softback]. It contains 59 printed pages of text with colour illustrations and photographs throughout.

On the inside cover there is a dedication that reads: To Pipe Men Everywhere from Ogden’s of Liverpool.
Across the page from the dedication is a Welcome from the editors that reads as follows:

“The Pipeman’s Companion is an unashamed celebration of the pleasures of the pipe and pipe smoking. It is brought to you by Ogden’s of Liverpool – Britain’s leading pipe tobacco manufacturer, whose world renowned brands include Gold Block, Amphora and the best-selling St. Bruno. The Pipeman’s Companion is also an invaluable reference work that all discerning pipe men will want to return to time and again. We have attempted to cover every fascinating facet of the history and practice of pipe smoking, with the aim of enhancing every pipe smoker’s understanding and enjoyment of this most satisfying of pastimes – be they experienced by pipe men, or eager new recruits. Ogden’s of Liverpool, with its distinguished past, looks forward to remaining a trusted companion to pipe men for many years to come.”

A brief glance at the table of contents gives a clear idea of what is included in the pages of the book.
Chapter One – pages 2-11 – The Smoking Story, Five Hundred Years of Pipe Smoking
Chapter Two – pages 12-20 – The Tobacco Story, Blended to Perfection
Chapter Three – pages 22-33 – The Pipe Story, Crafted with Devotion
Chapter Four – pages 34-39 – The use and Maintenance Story, A Friend for Life
Chapter Five – pages 40-47 – The Ogden’s Story, Sweet Smell of Success
Chapter Six – pages 48-53 – The Antiques Story, Bringing the Past to Life
Chapter Seven – pages 54-57 – The World Story, Pipe Smoking Across the Globe
The Glossary – pages 58-59 – Pipe Smoking, Tobacco and Pipe Terminology

The book is a beautiful table top sized book filled with highly readable text and many photos of pipes, etchings, artwork and photos of antique pipe and tobacciana. The sidebars of each page are filled with historical pictures and short notes on all things pipe and tobacco related. These side bars run next to the main body of the text and are a pleasure to read by themselves. In Chapter Three there is a great photo spread and short side bar expanded over several pages about Bill Ashton Taylor and his Ashton pipes. It has some great photos of Bill turning bowls, filing stems and flaming stain on newly made pipes. Include are charts of pipe shapes and the anatomy of a pipe etc. The pipe chapter includes not just briar but also Clay and Meerschaum with some great photos of carving and shaping Meerschaum pipes.

Chapter Four on pipe maintenance is well written and includes material on pipe lighters, matches, pipe reamers and tampers. This chapter has charts on reaming correctly and on common pipe problems solved. It is interestingly written with a great wealth of information in the space of a few pages generously interspersed with colour photos of pipes and pipe tools.

Chapter Five is a history of Ogden’s of Liverpool from its beginning to the early years of the 2000’s. It is again richly written and there are some amazing photos included of tins from the Ogden Tobacco line as well as great photos of the factory and production floor. The side bars in this section continue the tradition of the previous chapters in including tidbits of information and historic photos and artwork. For instance there is a full page of advertisements and posters for St Bruno. These alone are fascinating.

Chapter Six is on Antique Pipes and gives a collection of photos of all kinds of pipes. There is a front spread of carved Meerschaum pipes that is beautiful. Some of the pipes are huge while others are delicate and unusual. There is for instance a cased set of a Victorian couple lying in bed – two pipe bowls inserted under the “Covers” with stems set in the cover of the pipe case.

Chapter Seven is a quick world tour through word and photographs of the state of pipe smoking. It is well written and captures the universal appeal of the pipe and tobacco.

The book ends with a useful glossary of terminology. It covers pipe shapes, pipe anatomy, pipe repairs and types of tobacco and cuts of tobacco. It also covers pipe accessories and how they are used. It is a helpful list with short definitions.

The Pipeman’s Companion is a well written book that is a great read and visual display of all things pipe related. It is easily a book that could be read as you smoke your favourite bowl of St. Bruno’s or as you sit and read by the fire on a cold winter’s evening. It will provide hours of enjoyment and is a great refresher to the long time pipeman as well as important information to the new pipe smoker. It truly welcomes us into the world of pipemen throughout history. Well done Ogden’s of Liverpool for a well crafted book on the world of the pipe. Thank you for your work in producing this book.


A Book Review – Barling’s International Exhibition, London 1851 Pipe Catalogue

Blog by Steve Laug

Barling Catalogue
I purchased this facsimile/reproduction catalogue of 28 pages on EBay a bit ago. It cost approximately $20 USD and the seller had quite a few available at the buy it now price.

They printed a run of 200 copies and this one is 010 of 200. It is copyrighted by Jesse Silver. There is an email address included inside the cover should you want to order a copy of the catalogue noblebrush53@yahoo.com

Included with the catalogue is a print of the Barling’s Factory. The inside is nicely done and indeed looks vintage. The type is in two colours – a reddish brown and a black. There are also nice etchings of the various pipes. Each page shows four pipes, each one number and named. The names are quite catching. Here are a few for interest sake: The Goodwood, Birkenhead, Savernake, Aberdeen, Nymph, Bent Army, Corinthian, Sydney, Elegant, Trojan and Victorian. The names don’t always reflect the shape of the pipe but sometimes do as in the Bent and the Straight Army. Some of the short chubby pipes also have unique names: The Gordon, Sporting, Hunt, Jap are just a few of the names. The overall feel of the book is like a trip back in time to a simpler and quieter era. The catalogue opens with the words: these are just a few of the many shapes that are available in Barling’s Celebrated Pipes.

I wanted to include the opening page of the catalogue for your reading pleasure. It is a note from B. Barling & Sons, London and reads as follows:

“We have much pleasure in presenting our New Catalogue illustrating some of the principal shapes and specialties in our celebrated EB/WB Briar Pipes.

Our pipes being so well and universally known (without artificial aid of advertisements), we will not here dwell on their perfection, but would ask you to kindly peruse this book, which will no doubt introduce to you some new patterns.

If you are not already a smoker of our pipes, we hope that it will lead to your giving them a trial and thus testing their quality and workmanship, we ourselves being confident of your ultimate judgment and satisfaction.

Every department of our factory being under our own practical and personal supervision, ensures every pipe turned out by us coming under our direct notice. This fact, coupled with the excellence of the materials used in their manufacture, has given our pipes a reputation second to none in the smoking world, a reputation we firmly intend to maintain and strengthen.”

I find the introduction to the catalogue a fascinating read and one that has proven to be true even in our day over 150 years later. Barling’s Pipes are still seen as quality pipes that deliver a great smoke. I have Pre-transition, Transition and Post-transition pipes and though there are certainly differences in quality of workmanship in the later pipes they nonetheless are good smokers. The pages of the catalogue are full of information both in the form of the photos and shape names and numbers but also in the stampings on the pipes and the linking of certain shapes to others with a note on the size. For instance, the Hunt, No. 344 a diamond shank billiard, is a parallel shape to shape #324 which is larger and shape #566 which is smaller.

After the main shapes portion of the catalogue the pages turn toward specialty items such as Crocodile and Morocco cases which are noted to be “unsurpassed for durability and finish” and can be obtained for any Barling pipes as a Single or a Companion case. There are several pages o of pipes with unique covers – with shapes from flat to domed, with hinges and with chains holding them in place. These are truly beautiful looking pipes. Something I was unaware of was that Barling’s made Meerschaum lined pipes as well. They show three examples with a note that they can be made for any shape of Barling’s pipes. I had to laugh at the note (so contrary to much I read today on the forums regarding meer lined pipes) that “Our Meerschaum Lined Pipes we can recommend for cool and sweet smoking. They are suitable for hard smokers and also for those who do not like briar…”

The catalogue ends with what for me has become a bit of a wish book – Specialties in Companions and Cased Amber Briars. These are the beautiful cased singles and pairs of pipes – one with a vulcanite stem and one with an amber stem on matching pipes. Others have a bent pipe and straight pipe with a military bit with two sets of stems – vulcanite and amber. Some have stem extensions made out of albatross wing bone and others have three pipes in a case. These cases are the Crocodile and Morocco cases spoken of above. The economy of size and shape make these great pocket cases for the pipes they contain. I am forever on the prowl for a set like these to add to my collection.

If you want to have a piece of history in the form of a catalogue that gives you a real feel for a time long gone you could not do better than pick up a copy of this facsimile. It is a treat for the Barling’s pipe collector and smoker and would also be a great piece for anyone who wants a nostalgic glimpse at the past.

A Book Comparison: Confessions of a Pipeman – 2nd Edition by Gary Schrier

Confession of a Pipeman CoverThis is not as much a review as a comparison of the first edition to the new second edition of the Confessions of a Pipeman by Gary Schrier. I have reviewed the Confessions, first edition on the blog previously and the review still stands. The book is truly a good read and will provide you an opportunity to pause and reflect on the hobby and lifestyle of being a pipeman. I enjoyed the second edition as much as the first. The link below will take you to the review of the first edition. https://rebornpipes.wordpress.com/2012/05/30/confessions-of-a-pipeman-first-edition-gary-b-schrier/
Gary released the second edition of his book, Confessions in September 2010. According to the advertisements on his site this edition has 50% more content than the first, 24 chapters and more illustrations, now all in color. This new, expanded edition, Schrier gives the pipeman more of that irreverent, much-needed counsel on being a better pipe smoker. I decided to do a bit of comparison for the sake of deciding if the purchase of the second edition would be worth the cost.

I checked out the website to see how Gary was marketing the book and how much that would help in explaining the additions and justify purchasing the new edition. The site has the following quote: “Not a “how to” book, but a lifestyle guide. As a cautionary note, I will warn the easily-offended and politically-correct person that this little book throws punches, though I believe all of them are above the belt. I hope you find my views amusing and thought provoking and that you enjoy reading my words as much as I enjoyed struggling to cobble them together professional-like. This book is unlike anything the pipeman has seen written about his treasured passion of the pipe, tobacco, and how he is to get on with it. For the beginner and knowledgeable alike.With a foreword by Marty Pulvers.”
The book sells for $20 and can be ordered directly through Briar Books Press. The web address is http://www.briarbooks.com/

I read the original edition of the book when it first came out and thoroughly enjoyed it. It delivers exactly what Gary promised. It is a book of essays that is interesting, amusing and provocative. Gary has no qualms about stating his opinions on the topic at hand regardless of whether he is the only one holding them. I find his approach refreshing and stimulating. I laughed as I read the book and more often than not found myself agreeing with his assessment of things. There were points in the book I found thought provoking even if in the end I did not agree. It is a great read. So after reading the press and doing some research on the two editions I decided to pick up a copy.

I made the chart below to compare the two editions and to clearly show the additional material and give you an idea of what is in the book. The first column is the material in the second edition while the second column is that found in the first edition. I know it is the opposite of what you would expect but that is why I am noting it for you. I further highlight the new material by the blue cells on the chart. These show the essays that were added in the second edition. These include the new Preface and the following essays/chapters: Dunhill is Dead – Long Live Dunhill, Cavendish, Heart of Hearts, What Others Have Said, You Might Be A Pipeman If and What If You Should Die. These chapters and the edits to the previous chapters make the purchase of the second edition worth the price – especially if you enjoyed the first edition.

Thanks Gary for the work you are doing making pipe books available and accessible to the well read pipeman. I for one greatly appreciate the work you are doing.


A Dr. Grabow Special Rhodesian/Bulldog – A Makeover

The last of the pipes from the Ebay lot below was the one in the bottom left corner of the photo. It was stamped Dr. Grabow over Special over Imported Bruyere on the left side of the shank. The finish was a varnish or polyurethane coat over the briar. It was bubbling and crackling. There was water damage on the edges of the rim. The briar itself was in good shape with no dents or roughening on the rim. The rim was slightly darkened but no dents or dings. The bowl was slightly out of round from poor reaming but very workable. The stem was a mess with chew marks on the top and the bottom for about an inch up the stem from the button. The stem was made of nylon and not vulcanite. The tenon was a push style and not a screw in stem. There was a shovel like stinger in the end of the tenon. The stem was loose in the shank and there was significant debris and buildup in the shank and in the stem. The second photo below shows the pipe as it was in the pictures from the seller.


I took it to my worktable this evening and went to work on it. I took the stem out and began to sand on the bite marks on the top and bottom of it. The next series of five photos show the progress of smoothing out the stem by sanding. I began with 220 grit sandpaper and worked up to a medium grit sanding sponge. By the fourth and fifth photo the bite marks are gone and some sanding scratches remain that will need to be worked out with micromesh sanding pads. I recut the edge of the button on the top and bottom with a needle file to clean up the angles. That is also visible in the last two photos. I also removed the stinger and cleaned it with 0000 steel wool and then polished it with micromesh sanding pads.





While I worked on the stem the bowl had been soaking in an alcohol bath to help loosen the varnish or urethane finish. My plan was to remove the finish totally and sand and restain the pipe once it was cleaned and sanded.



The alcohol bath softened the finish so when I dried it off the finish was cloudy. I have found that with this kind of finish I can use acetone on a cotton pad afterward to further remove the softened finish. The next two photos show the bowl with the finish removed. There is some nice looking birdseye grain coming through. Once the briar was clean I reglued the metal decorative band back on the shank and let it dry.


I sanded the bowl with the medium grit sanding sponge and then with 1500-2400 micromesh sanding pads. The next series of four photos are a little out of focus but the cleaned surface of the briar is visible and the grain that was underneath the finish is quite nice. I was also able to remove the water marks/damage that was along the outer edge of the rim and down the side of the bowl in the process of the sanding. I also cleaned out the shank with cotton swabs and Everclear. I did the stem as well and cleaned until the cleaners and swabs came out clean and white.




While the glue dried I worked on the nylon stem. I was able to remove all of the tooth damage. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 micromesh sanding pads and removed the majority of the scratches left behind by the sanding sponge. I continued to rework the stem with these sanding pads until all of the scratches were gone and the stem began to take on a shine. (Photos 1-2 below show a top and bottom view of the stem).


I dry sanded with the remaining grits of micromesh sanding pads from 3200-12,000 grit. The stem took on its original shine. The next series of four photos show the stem as it moves through each level of polishing.




I wiped the bowl down a final time with acetone on a cotton pad to remove the sanding dust and grit. I dried it carefully and then it was ready to stain. I decided to use a linseed oil and medium walnut stain on this pipe. I felt it would make the grain show well and give the bowl a good protective coat. I applied the stain and wiped it off, reapplied and wiped it until I got the coverage I wanted on the bowl. The next series of four photos show the stained bowl.




I buffed the bowl and shank on the buffing wheel lightly with Tripoli and then with White Diamond to give it a shine. I then buffed it with carnauba wax and gave it several coats to protect the wood. I did not buff the stem on the wheel as the nylon heats too quickly on the buffing wheel and melts. I have made a mess out of more than one nylon stem. It does not seem to matter how light a touch I use the wheel and the nylon stems do not work well together. I gave the stem a coating of Obsidian Oil and rubbed it into the stem. I then hand applied several coats of carnauba wax and hand buffed the stem with a shoe brush and a soft cotton cloth. The finished pipe is pictured below. All in all it is not a bad looking old Grabow. It is clean and should smoke very well.