A member on the Pipe Smokers Forum recently acquired this Barling’s “Guinea Grain” pipe and I jumped at the opportunity to restore it for him. I don’t currently own a Barling’s pipe, but recent posts by brand authority, Jesse Silver, had piqued my interest. In conversation with Jesse about the pipe, he shared that “Guinea Grains are a higher grade designation and distinctive for several reasons. They’re the only Family Era pipes with a cursive “Barling’s” logo and they’re the only pipes that Barling also used oil in the curing process to bring out the contrast of the grain.” I enjoyed learning more about this fabled British pipe maker as much as working on it. I need to thank Jesse for his input and information. It is really wonderful to have such a brand authority available for comment. Since the pipe is stamped “Barling’s” in the possessive, Jesse dates the pipe to the 1940’s as a pre-Transition piece. The pipe is stamped EXEXEL, a size grade started in 1940. It also has a very faint “Reg” stamp and the letter “E”. Jesse tells me this is most likely the remnant of EB WB (Edward and William Barling), whose initials form the Barling sterling makers stamp and were used as part of the company nomenclature. Their initials were used on 1940’s era Guinea Grain pipes.
The pipe as I received it.
When the pipe arrived, it had heavy tar build-up on the bowl top and many dings and cuts in the briar. The stem was in relatively good condition with only surface teeth abrasions and no dents. Curiously, there was what appeared to be a pinhole near where the Barling’s Cross stem logo would be placed. There was no remnant left of the logo, even under magnification. At first, I thought the stem might be a replacement, but the button ends appears to have the distinctive ovalized and funneled button.
The bowl had a heavy caked which was reamed and then soaked with alcohol and sea salt. While the bowl was reamed a little out of round, the interior of the bowl was in relatively good condition. The bowl top had a number of scars and dings. I have been using Mike Gluklers method of soaking the tar covered bowl tops in just a millimeter or two of distilled water to soften the build-up. I removed it with a cotton cloth using the distilled water. There is some rim darkening, but I didn’t want to sand the rim and restain and think the patina fits the pipe
Using a dinner knife heated by a propane torch and a wet cloth, I went to work on the numerous dents and cuts. Some lifted out completely, others were minimized. I wasn’t able to do much about the chatter around the bowl rim. I suspect the previous owner knocked ash out of the bowl. Staying away from the valuable nomenclature, the bowl and rim was buffed with white diamond and several coats of carnuba wax. I gave the nomenclature area a hand-wax with Halycon pipe wax.
I put a drop of black superglue on the hole in the briar. After it was dry, I sanded off the worst of the oxidation with some 800 grit wet paper. I then moved to 1500 and 2000 grades wet paper and finally 8000 and 12000 grades of micromesh. I used a slim knife blade to hold the paper into the button crease to remove that oxidation. Then the stem was buffed lightly with white diamond and finally a plastic polish. The Barling’s stem has a unique feel to it, unlike my similar era Comoys or Charatan stems. The button air hole shapiong shows a lot of care was shown making the stem. (and also makes me think it is an original Barling’s stem).
And finally, the finished pipe.