Daily Archives: March 8, 2014

Restoring a Briarmeer Rhodesian 175 ED that was Made in Canada


Blog by Steve Laug

I received an email from Andrew saying that he had a pipe he wanted to send my way. It was my kind of shape – a Rhodesian. He said that it was an odd pipe in that on the bottom of the bowl it had a slightly inset circular divot. The round inset was almost like a poorly made plug on the bottom of the bowl, or one that had shrunken with time. He thought that it would be a great challenge for me to do a repair on it. The stamping on the pipe shank was Briarmeer 175 ED Canada.
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The brand was one I had not heard of before. And since I am in Canada I wanted to try to figure out where the pipe was made and what the plug was about. The name seemed to suggest that it was a meerlined pipe or at least included meerschaum in some form or fashion. Yet when I emailed Andrew about it he replied that there was no meerschaum lining present in the bowl. Instead it was just a nice looking briar pipe with the strange, misfit looking round plug on the bottom of the bowl.

This would require some research to see what I could find out. I went online and searched for any information that I could find regarding the brand. I wrote to the trademark attorney who was listed as the representative of the brand and received a very cryptic answer that was not helpful at all. I did learn however that Briarmeer pipes were made by Briarmeer Pipes Limited, 226 Park Street, Brockville, Ontario. The business was no longer present at that address and did not show up in any Brockville Business Directories available online or through the Yellow Pages .I searched the Canadian, American and British patent sites hoping to find a patent registration for the pipe but was not able to find one. I found a trademark registration document from the US patent office that showed that the brand or trademark was registered in the US in 1973. The document pictured below gives that information as well as the Canadian Registration Number 180,805 and that it was registered in Canada on January 21, 1972.
Briarmeer US Trademark patent

Using these registration numbers I searched both the Canadian and US patent records but could find no patent information available. From the public records it appears that the Briarmeer Company went out of business sometime in the late1980’s or early 1990’s and the name became public domain.

I was able to find out through further digging that the pipe is a variation on what Kaywoodiedid with its famous Carburetor.Kaywoodie had drilled a hole in the bottom of the bowl and inserted a metal airhole to introduce air into the bottom of the bowl to enhance burning of the tobacco. In the Briarmeer the drilled out area in the bottom of the bowl was significantly larger.It had been drilled out and a meerschaum disk inserted in the resultant hole. The draw hole was to be perfectly centered at the bottom of the bowl. From what I could find out the idea of using the meerschaum insert came to a Canadian engineer about 30+ years ago. He reasoned that the meerschaum bottom of the bowl would allow for a drier and cooler smoke while the briar would be sturdier than the meerschaum for the walls of the bowl.Now I knew what the inset on the bottom of the bowl was and where the Meer portion of the Briarmeer name came from.

I decided to see if I could hunt down some photos of the pipe. I had not noticed them before and did not figure I would find many available. I was wrong. I found quite a few clear photos online that showed the novel meerschaum insert with clarity. In all of the photos it was clear that the insert sits inset into the bottom of the bowl and there is a variance in the external bowl bottom and the depth of the inset meerschaum disk. I have included four of the photos I found to show the insert in the exterior bowl bottom. Some of the photos show a new and unsmoked pipe and other show an estate pipe. All have the pipes show the same variation in the depth of the bottom of the bowl and the depth of the meerschaum disk.
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Briarmeer pipe bottom

I also learned that the American Company, Briarcraft who made the Smokemaster pipe also made a pipe with called the Briarmeer Acadian. The Briarcraft version of the pipe was a meerschaum lined pipe and was stamped with the Briarcraft logo, a B in a diamond on the shank and on the stem.However, the pipe I was gifted was not a meerschaum lined briar and it did not have the B stamp on either the shank or the stem. The stem appears to be original and the stamping on the shank clearly says that the pipe is Canadian made.

The pipe from Andrew arrived and it was indeed one of my favourite shapes. The finish was a little dirty and the rim had some carbon build up. The stem was oxidized and had some tooth marks on the underside of the stem near the button. There was also a darkened spot like a burn mark on the underside of the shank near the insert. There were several fills in the grooves of the rustication but I was fairly certain that when I restained the pipe they would be hidden. The meerschaum insert looked to be in very good shape from the outside of the bowl. Inside was caked with a fair amount of carbon and the insert was not visible looking into the bowl.
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Upon closer examination it was evident that there was a crack in the shank on the right side that ran at an angle from mid-shank toward the back of the bowl shank union. The crack did not start on the bottom of the shank but rather started midway up on the right side of the shank and ended near the top middle of the shank. It was very clear under a lens that it was present. The next two photos, though slightly out of focus show the crack. It runs across the rustication pattern mid-shank.
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I cleaned out the crack with a dental pick to remove the buildup of grime that filled it. The grime was evident through the lens. Once I had it clean when I viewed it through the lens I used superglue to repair the crack. Fortunately the crack did not go all the way into the airway. I checked the inside of the airway with a penlight and it was smooth and flawless. The repair externally would remove the visible damage.
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I left the superglue to cure overnight and in the morning used the dental pick to clean out the grooves of the rustication and sanded the smooth portions of the briar surface with 220 grit sandpaper and then medium and fine grit sanding sponges. The photo below shows the repair after sanding and shaping.
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I wiped the surface of the bowl down with acetone on cotton pads to remove the damaged finish and enable me to blend in the patch when I restained the pipe. I scrubbed the rusticated rim of the bowl with the pads as well and was able to remove the carbon build up.
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I sanded the darkened area (burn?) on the bottom of the bowl to lighten it in preparation for staining. I wiped that area down with acetone on cotton pads afterward.
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I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and a medium and fine grit sanding sponge to remove the oxidation. I sanded the tooth marks on the underside of the stem near the button and was able to remove them.
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I wiped the bowl down a final time with acetone, being careful not to scrub the insert with it. Once it was cleaned off I stained it with a dark brown aniline stain applied with a cotton swab. I avoided the meerschaum insert as I did not want to have the stain penetrate the meerschaum. I flamed the stain and reapplied it. I flamed it again and reapplied it again. After the final flaming of the bowl I set it aside to dry.
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When the stain had dried I buffed it with White Diamond on the buffer to even out the stain and give it a shine. I also applied a coat of Halcyon II wax to the rusticated surface and hand buffed the bowl with a shoe brush. The next four photos show the bowl after the buffing and waxing.
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I worked on the stem with my usual group of micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads. I then buffed the stem with red Tripoli and White Diamond before going back to the work table and dry sanding with 3200-12,000 grit micromesh pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil and let it soak into the vulcanite.
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I buffed the finished pipe with White Diamond and then gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The meerschaum disk inset into the bottom of the bowl is an interesting touch. I look forward to loading up a bowl and giving it a test run very soon. At the very least this is a great piece of tobacciana that still leaves a bit of mystery unsolved.
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Restoring a Second Lumberman Deluxe Canadian by Comoys


Blog by Steve Laug

Andrew had a second LUMBERMAN DELUXE that he mentioned to me in a previous email when he sent me the other Lumberman to restem. He graciously gave the second one to me. In the photo below it is the one with the stem. It is slightly larger than the first one and also slightly longer as can be seen from the photo. It is stamped LUMBERMAN over DELUXE on top of the shank and on the underside there is no Made and London circle stamp. It is only stamped 309S. The pipe was in very good shape. There were no cracks in the long shank. There was one small sand pit in the top near the stamping. The bowl was slightly caked and the rim had some carbon buildup and many tiny pin pricks in the surface of the rim. The finish was dirty and had several sticky spots on the sides of the bowl. It was a gummy spot that seemed like the residue left behind by a price sticker. The stem was larger in diameter that the shank. It extended beyond the edge of the shank on both sides of the stem and also slightly on the bottom edge. The top edge fit well. There were also two tooth marks – one on top and on matching on the bottom of the stem near the button.
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Before seeing these two pipes I had not heard of the Lumberman brand so Andrew had sent along some information that he had found on the web regarding the brand. He had gleaned the information from a Mr. Can EBay listing. In the previous blog post on the first LUMBERMAN I included Andrew’s information. I am also including it now as a quick reminder of the provenance of the brand. That posting read as follows:

“This Collectible Briar pipe is unique, extremely rare Comoy’s 309XL – a classic Canadian Shape. It has the arched Comoy’s nomenclature stamped over Deluxe (just as it appeared in the early 1930’s) both of which were stamped over Lumberman. For anyone already familiar with the stamping of Comoy Canadians that is enough to recognize that this is a rare and collectible Comoy.”

“During its history, Comoy’s has had three distinct sets of nomenclature, though they became somewhat blended in later years. The earliest Comoy nomenclature either had no Comoy stamping or a scripted, signature like forward leaning Comoy’s beneath which were featured names instead of shape numbers. Few of those names (Like Leman, Naval, Adelaide, and so on) are recognized even by the most ardent collectors. Then after World War I when Comoy began introducing what is sometimes called their Old Nomenclature (featuring the Prima, as the Top of the line with other lines like the Old Bruyere, Grand Slam, Lions Head, Lumberman, Lumberman Special and so forth) and arched Comoy’s stamping was used. In the 1930’s the Prima gave way to the Deluxe as the top of the line Comoy. Then just before World War II newer nomenclature started to appear (like Blue Riband, Specimen Straight Grain, and so on) and the Deluxe was replaced by the Royal Comoy. That New Nomenclature expanded dramatically after the War and blended with the modern nomenclature today.”

“The use of the arched Comoy’s ended with World War II and was replaced after the War with a straight line Comoy’s (along with the now famous country of origin stamping of a circular “Made In London” over a straight line “England”.”

“Prior to World War II with manufacturing facilities in both France and England, Comoy had pipes made in both locations. Most were easily identifiable by their country of origin stamping. There were several versions of Comoy’s Lumberman made in France and/or England. (They might have been the dame pipe but with different nomenclature.) “The Lumberman” and “The Lumberman Special were made in both factories. But none had the arched Comoy’s stamping.”

“After WWII Comoy’s reintroduced the Deluxe, discontinued the arched Comoy’s and continued various versions of the Lumberman. Perhaps Comoy’s best graded Lumberman was stamped Lumberman Deluxe – but it had no Comoy stamping. Lumberman was always stamped over Deluxe.”

“Normally Comoy offered to Canadian sizes designated by shape numbers 296 and 309. The difference was in the length of the Canadians. The 309 shape was Comoy’s longest Canadian and the 296 was shorter. However, the extra long Canadians were upgraded with the additional stamping of XL and the very longest were sometimes stamped XXL. Either upgrade was rare.” – The above was taken from correspondence Andrew included when he sent the pipe to me.

The previous blog post can be found at this link: https://rebornpipes.wordpress.com/2014/01/29/repairing-and-restoring-a-lumberman-deluxe-canadian-by-comoys/

The difference between this pipe and the previous one was that the stamping on the underside of the pipe lacked the Comoy’s circle Made in London stamp and also bore the shape designation of 309 but instead of X or XL it is stamped “S”. It is larger than the previous LUMBERMAN but the stamping appears to be a bit of an anomaly.

The next series of photos show the pipe as it appeared when I received it from Andrew. There was slight oxidation on the stem and the stem was larger as noted above.
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I took several close-up photos to show the fit of the stem and how the sides and the bottom edge of the stem was larger than the diameter of the shank.
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I refit the stem and sanded the sides of the stem until it matched the shank. I also sanded the shank lightly in order to make a smooth transition between the two. I used 220 grit sandpaper to take off the excess vulcanite and bring the stem in line with the shank. At the same time I sanded the tooth marks on the top and bottom of the stem at the button and was able to remove them.
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I sanded the stem and shank with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge and then a fine grit sanding block. The refit stem is shown in the next series of four photos.
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I wiped the bowl and shank down with acetone and clean the stem and shank with isopropyl alcohol and pipe cleaners. I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer to take the slight cake back to the wood and even the buildup on the walls. It seemed to have a slight ridge of cake mid-bowl and I wanted the walls clean so that I could build up my own cake.
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I sanded the stem down with medium and fine grit sanding sponges and then used my usual array of micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with the 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded with the 3200-12,000 grit pads.
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I rubbed the bowl down with a light coat of olive oil and the stem down with Obsidian Oil. Once it had been absorbed in both places I took the pipe to the buffer and buffed it with White Diamond on the wheel. I gave bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and then buffed the pipe with a clean flannel buff to give it a finish shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The fit of the stem matches the lines of the pipe and the oiled finish gives the pipe a look that is fresh and new. It is ready for its new maiden voyage.
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ADDENDUM – I am copying this from the responses below so that it gets more readership.

Here is the info from the link Jacek supplied. Very helpful additional information. Thanks Jacek.
As many realize, Comoy is one of the oldest London Pipemakers with production started in France in 1825. Francois Comoy started making smoking pipes with his brothers in St. Claude, France in 1825. His son, Louis, took over the company and in 1848 helped guide it into the era of power-driven machines beginning what Comoy called a “Century of Progress.” His son, Henri, followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather and moved Comoy’s to Clerkenwell in the City of London in 1879, and thus began “Comoy’s of London.” And his son, Louis, was the last family member to run the company.

During its’ history, Comoy’s has had three distinct sets of nomenclature, though they became somewhat blended in later years. The earliest Comoy Nomenclature either had no ”Comoy” stamping or a scripted, signature-like (forward leaning) “Comoy’s” beneath which were featured names instead of shape numbers. Few of those names (like the “Leman”, “Naval”, “Adelaide” and so on) are recognized even by the most ardent Comoy collectors. Then after World War I when Comoy began introducing what is sometimes called their “Old Nomenclature” (featuring the “Prima” as “Top-of-the-Line” with other lines like the “Old Bruyere,” “Grand Slam,” “Lions Head,” “LUMBERMAN,” “LUMBERMAN SPECIAL,” and so forth) an ARCHED “COMOY’S” stamping was used. In the 1930s the Prima gave way to the “DE LUXE” as the “Top-of-the-Line” Comoy. Then, just before World War II newer nomenclature started to appear (like “Blue Riband,” “Specimen Straight Grain,” and so on) and the “DE LUXE” was replaced by the “Royal Comoy”. That “New Nomenclature” expanded dramatically after the War and blended with the modern nomenclature of today.

The use of the ARCHED “COMOY’S” ended with World War II and was replaced after the War with a straight line “Comoy’s” (along with the now famous Country of Origin stamping of a circular “Made in London” over a straight line “England”).

Prior to World War II with manufacturing facilities in both France and England, Comoy had pipes made in both locations. Most were easily identifiable by their Country of Origin stamping. There were several versions of Comoy’s “LUMBERMAN” made in France and/or England. (They might have been the same Pipe but with different nomenclature.) “THE LUMBERMAN,” and “THE LUMBERMAN SPECIAL” were made in both factories. But NONE had the ARCHED “COMOY’S” stamping!

After World War II, Comoy reintroduced the “DE LUXE,” discontinued the ARCHED “COMOY’S” and continued various versions of the “LUMBERMAN”! Perhaps Comoy’s” best” graded “LUMBERMAN” was stamped “LUMBERMAN DE LUXE” – – – but it had no “Comoy” stamping. ”LUMBERMAN” was always stamped over “DE LUXE”!!!

Now look at the stamping on this Comoy Canadian – – – the ARCHED “COMOY’S” is stamped OVER “DE LUXE” (just as it would have been on a “Top-of-the-Line” Comoy’s De Luxe” in the early 1930s! In addition, that stamping is OVER “LUMBERMAN”!!! This Canadian is the only one I have ever seen with such stamping(s)!!!

Comoy offered truly elegant Canadians that were always perfectly shaped, light weight and fitted with “wafer thin” mouthpieces that are easy to hold in the mouth. Of course, they came in different lengths and finishes.

Normally, Comoy offered two Canadian sizes designated by Shape Numbers 296 and 309. The difference in the length of the Canadians. The “309” Shape was Comoy’s LONGEST CANADIAN, and the “296” was shorter. However, EXTRA LONG Canadians were ”upgraded” with the additional stamping of “XL” (creating a “309 XL”) and the very longest were sometimes stamped “XXL”!!! Either upgrade was rare, and this exceptional Canadian is stamped “309 XL”!!!

So looking at the title of this description one would expect to see a long, sleek Canadian of special length. It is not! It is a mere 6 3/8” LONG which is barely longer than average for most pipe makers!

The grain is not exceptional nor is the size (although the Bowl is a large Dunhill Group 4/5 Size which is larger than most “average” Canadians). But the Pipe has a HAND RUSTICATED RING around the Rim as well as a small HAND RUSTICATED “ARROWHEAD” or “TRIANGLE” on the bottom of the Shank! Both are unusual for any Comoy and ensure that this Canadian is UNIQUE (if only because no two rustications are identical).

Combining these features, you are looking at an EXCEPTIONALLY RARE, UNIQUE COMOY “LUMBERMAN”!!!

We cannot be certain of a date for this Comoy. It is an ARCHED “COMOY’S” over “DE LUXE” which dates it from the early 1930s. It is also a “LUMBERMAN” with a COMOY’s 3-PIECE “C” LOGO in the Mouthpiece dating it to the post-World War II timeframe; and it has the newer Country of Origin stamping which did not exist before World War II. So it would seem that this Comoy Lumberman/Canadian most likelydates from the late 1940’s which would seem to be the most reasonable time for such a Pipe to appear.

As the pictures reflect, this Canadian remains in PRISTINE CONDITION! The STRONG NOMENCLATURE confirms that! There are NO chips, dents or scratches to detract from the exterior finish. NO varnish, lacquer or shellac has been used to improve the appearance of the Pipe for the pictures (and temporarily fill scratches and toothmarks). And, NO coating has been applied to the inside of the Bowl to hide cracks, heat fissures or even burnouts. The Pipe shines as it did when it left the factory in London over 60 Years Ago!!!

This Canadian measures 6 3/8″ LONG with a Bowl 2″ TALL!!! The nomenclature is crisp and clear: “COMOY’S [arched and over] DE LUXE, LUMBERMAN, MADE IN LONDON [in a circle and over] ENGLAND, 309 XL”. The Famous Comoy’s 3-Piece White “C” Logo is inlaid in the Bit. So what you are viewing is an EXCEPTIONALLY RARE, and COLLECTIBLE COMOY CANADIAN!!! The fact that it is in PRISTINE CONDITION with particularly STRONG NOMENCLATURE makes it worthy of consideration by those desirous of accumulating a special Comoy collection!