Daily Archives: March 23, 2014

Looking Over My Metal, Nylon and Bakelite Pipes with Threaded Bowls

Blog by Steve Laug

It is funny how the number of pipes one has seems to grow exponentially. It is almost as if they are breeding in the drawers I keep them stored in. This afternoon I thought I would take out assorted metal stemmed pipes and then added the Nylon and Bakelite pipes as well. All of them have threaded bowls that are interchangeable within the brand of pipes. None of them are interchangeable with each other.

The first photo below shows my two Dr. Grabow Vikings. I have two of them and one of them I restemmed. They do not have any stamping on them but the base and the design of the stems matches other Vikings that I have had.
The next photo shows my three Falcon Bents. All of my Falcon pipes were made in England including the straight shank one in the second photo. The bowls are interchangeable among the Falcons but not on the Grabows. I have refinished all of the bowls. The second and third bowl below were unfinished when I bought them on Ebay so I sanded them and finished them.
The next photo shows my only Falcon straight. I have had many of these over the years and sold or gave them away. I refinished the bowl on this pipe as well.
The next photo shows a unique metal pipe – a Dr. Plumb Peacemaker – Made in England. This pipe has a very narrow shank from the top view but a wide shank from the side. The bowl is threaded and only fits the Peacemaker pipes.
The next two pictured below were made by Kirsten in Seattle, Washington, USA. The top one was a silver barrel and stem I picked up on Ebay. I carved and fitted the meerschaum bowl to fit the barrel. The second one is a Kirsten Mandarin. I bought this pipe in the 80’s brand new. It is a lightweight pipe and has a large diameter bowl. The stem is a thick Lucite and not particularly comfortable.
The next two photos show a two bowl Bryson metal pipe. I did a write up on the blog on refurbishing this old pipe. It was a challenge. The bowls are actually compressed briar dust – almost like particle board. The grain on the smooth one was a decal. The rustication on the other hides the nature of the material.

The pipe pictured below has a Nylon stem and base. The bowl is not briar but an alternative wood. It has the appearance of maple but I am uncertain of the wood. It is extremely lightweight. I wrote a blog post on the refurbishing of this pipe as well. If you are interested do a search for Nylon pipes among the posts and you can read about it.
The final photo shows some of my Bakelite Pipe stems and bases with interchangeable bowls. Three of them are made by WDC. I reworked the bowls and restemmed two of them. The Bakelite stem and base are hard and quite resilient. The bottom pipe in the photo has no name stamped on it and is a Bakelite bowl and stem. I have not seen one of these before and enjoyed refurbishing it.
These pipes hold a unique place in my collection. I find that I do not smoke any of them that often. The Falcons and Grabows are kept for their uniqueness and their place in pipe and tobacco history. I enjoy working on them. They tend to pass through my collection quite often. Today I have the ones pictured but they may well be gone in the months ahead and replaced by others. The Brylon and the Peacemaker are kept for their uniqueness and will probably remain with me. The Kirstens I smoke and enjoy infrequently but find that I pick them up several times a year to have the dry smoke they offer. The final photo of the WDC pipes and the Bakelite bowled pipe pictures pipes that will remain with me and not be traded or sold unless I find better versions of them.

Reflecting on My Collection of Rad Davis Pipes

Blog by Steve Laug

In my ongoing cleanup of my pipes in the cupboard I decided to photograph and take time to revisit another group of pipes that I have. This group is made up of eight very unique and distinct shapes. They come from another American Pipe Maker that I have collected pipes from – Rad Davis. Rad is well-known to most people and is a very creative pipe maker who is also a great human being. I have spoken with Rad several times in Chicago when I have attended the pipe show there and had great conversations with him. He is a gentleman and a pleasure to talk with. I have a number of unique smooth finished pipes that Rad carved as well as sandblasts and one rusticated pipe. The shapes vary from classic shapes to some very uniquely Rad Davis pipes. I thought I would take time to show them here and give my history with these pipes and a few words on their finish and stamping.

The first pipe in the group is a classic Rad Davis shape – a squashed or flattened tomato. The finish is smooth and flawless. The bowl is proportionally quite large in comparison to the shank and stem. The grain is well laid out with birdseye on the bottom of the bowl and in the curve of the rim down to mid bowl and on the top and bottom of the shank. There is also some flame grain around the sides of the bowl and on the sides of the shank. The stem is a green Cumberland and is inset into the end of the shank. This is a very comfortable pipe to hold and to clench in the mouth while doing other things. It is very light weight.

This pipe was a gift to me from a friend of mine. It was one that I had admired over the years when we got together and traded stories and tobaccos. One day as we were visiting he was telling me he was downsizing his pipe collection. Not necessarily in terms of numbers but literally in terms of size. He was going for much smaller pipes – group 1 and 2 sized pipes. This Rad was too big for him so he handed it to me in its pipe bag. Each time I smoke it I remember the moment of its gifting and thank my friend as I light the bowl.

The stamping shows that it was made in 2006. It is stamped as follows:
Hand Made
The second pipe in my collection is another signature tomato shape. It is not as squashed and has a more rounded look to it. The finish is smooth and flawless. The bowl is proportionally quite large in comparison to the shank and stem. This one has a rounded shank rather than the flared shank in the above pipe. Again the grain is well laid out with birdseye on the bottom of the bowl and in the curve of the rim down to mid bowl and on the top and bottom of the shank. There is also some flame grain around the sides of the bowl and on the sides of the shank. The stem is a classic Cumberland and instead of an inset has more of a Danish style saddle look to it. Where the green one was straight from the saddle to the button this one has a definite flare. This is also very comfortable to hold and to clench in the mouth while doing other things. It is very light weight.

I bought this pipe from one of the tables at my first Chicago Pipe Show. I remember walking around the show floor, overwhelmed by the sheer number of pipes available and feeling in a daze when I saw this pipe on one of the sale tables as an estate I had to have it. I took out the cash I had brought with me and bought it. In doing so I had purchased my first Rad Davis pipe. Little did I know that I would purchase others over the years that followed. It is a great smoking pipe and the reason that I have added others to my collection.

This pipe does not have a date stamp on it. It is stamped as follows:
Hand Made
The third pipe in my collection is a nose warmer billiard. It has a definite cant to the bowl and is very Danish looking in terms of the execution of the billiard shape. The finish is the same colour brown as my other two smooth Rad pipes and is just as well done with no visible flaws. The grain on this one is different. If you put a pinpoint in the bottom of the bowl the grain flares out to all sides and along the shank flowing from that point on the bottom of the bowl. The rim is chamfered inward slightly and gives the pipe a classic look. The stem is a Cumberland taper and is straight from the sides of the shank to the end of the button. It is also light weight and is a great smoker.

I remember when this one came up on Briar Blues website. I received the email notice that Mike had posted new pipes and went to have a look. I was taken by this little pipe and quickly made the deal. I have smoked it quite a bit since I purchase it and still reach for it.

It is stamped as follows:
Hand Made
The fourth Rad pipe I purchase was one of my favourite shapes. It seems that the ball/apple or Rhodesian has a big place in my collection. This beauty is the only rusticated Rad pipe that I have. It has a smooth band around the end of the shank, on the underside of the shank for the stamping and a smooth rim. The rustication while tactile and pebbly is also smooth. The two colour stain gives it a great look. The grain on the band and the rim just pops with the staining job. This one has a vulcanite stem that is a taper and very comfortable in the mouth. When the bowl warms as it is smoked it feels great in the hand. I purchase this one from a fellow on one of the online forums that I frequent. It is larger than the previous three pipes and is like Mark Tinsky’s size 4 pipes.

It is stamped as follows:
Hand Made
The thing that drew me to purchase this next pipe was the unique shape and finish. The shape is almost bulbous like the old seaweed bulbs that we used to use as whips when walking the Pacific coast beaches. There is something about the shape that grabbed me. The bowl almost sits on top of the shank. There is a ridge on the bottom of the bowl that goes up into the shank. The shank itself is round and quite delicate. The finish on this pipe is also varied. The majority of the bowl is finished in similar brown tones as my other smooth Rad pipes. It has cross-cut grain running along the sides of the shank running into a beautiful weblike sandblast on the bottom of the bowl revealing rings and grain radiating from the centre of the bottom. The rest of the bowl has marvelous birdseye grain from the top of the blast to the tip of the rim. The stem is Cumberland with a tapered saddle bit with a flare toward the button. I believe I purchased this one on EBay for a decent price. Its style, though not for everyone, certainly grabbed my attention and still does. I can easily get lost in the grain and the sandblast as I am smoking it. Thanks Rad for making this unique beauty. I have not seen another one like it!

It is stamped as follows:
Hand Made
The next pipe is a classic shape – a chubby shank pot. It has a marvelous sandblast finish that has been stained in such a way that the vertical grains in the blast are variegated while at the same time showing a ring grain that is highlighted by the blast and the stain. The blast is vertical on the bowl and the shank radiating from a birdseye blast on the bottom of the bowl. The rim is smooth with a slight bevel inward and there is a smooth band around the end of the shank and a patch for the stamping on the underside of the shank. The stem is Cumberland with a taper flowing out of a saddle. Well cut and comfortable in the mouth. I bought this one online through EBay as well and have enjoyed handling and studying the blast since the day it arrived. It is fascinating to look at and again I can get lost in the grain and patterns of the blast.

It is stamped as follows:
Hand Made
I don’t know what to call the shape of the next pipe. On one hand it is a brandy with an arched/domed shaped shank. On the other hand it could be an egg of some sort. Whatever the shape is called this one is a beauty. The blast is similar to the blast on the pot I spoke of above. The bottom is birdseye grain that has been blasted and looks like many tiny eyes looking out at you from the bottom of the bowl. These radiate out into straight grain up the side of the bowl and the shank. The ring grain is also visible across the bowl giving the blast a multidimensional look incorporating both vertical and horizontal patterns in the blast. There is a cocobolo end cap on the end of the shank that highlights the arched shape of the shank. It is sunk so that the Cumberland stem is inset into the cap. It look and feel is a lot like the green Cumberland stem on the squashed tomato above though it flares out from the saddle to the button. I bought this one on Ebay as well and could not wait until it arrived. It is just my size of pipe. It is just over 5 and ¼ inches in length with a slight bend to the stem. It sits well on the desk or table while I am working but is light enough to have in my mouth. The bowl is a group 4 sized bowl and holds a good amount of tobacco.

It is stamped as follows:
Hand Made
The last of my Rad pipes is one I bought directly from Rad as the Smokers Forums Pipe of the Year for 2008. It is a Poker/sitter with an angled base that holds it upright on whatever surface it is left on. The stem is vulcanite. The pipe is well-balanced and though I rock it –it always returns to the upright position. The sandblast on this one is just as well done as the rest of my Rad blasts. The rim and the bottom of the bowl are a blast birdseye while the sides of the bowl and shank incorporate the vertical and horizontal look to the blast that Rad achieves. It is a well made pipe with the taper stem fitting tightly against the shank and snuggly in the mortise. It has a stain that gives a variegated appearance in the light – red and brown hues seem almost to move in the light.

The stamping on this one is unique as it is the Smokers Forum Pipe of the Year. It is stamped as follows:
Smokers Forums in an oval
I have enjoyed Rad’s pipes since I smoked the first one many years ago now at the Chicago Pipe Show. I have added them over the years and from what I can see, will continue to add them as I am able. The only pipe of Rad’s in my collection that needs more attention is the Smokers Forum Pipe of the Year 2008. I have not smoked it as much as it deserves as it is not even broken in. I am going to have to remedy that.

Reflecting on my Dunhill Collection

Blog by Steve Laug

I am currently in the mode of cleaning up pipes in my collection. I have been polishing and giving them attention as well as taking the time to enjoy them by looking at them and handling each one. I have shown my John Calich and my Mark Tinsky pipes. This morning I am working through my Dunhills. As I went through them I have to say I am a bit surprised that I have so many of them. I figured there were a half-dozen or so but have never really looked at them all in one place. Laid out together there are eleven of them. I used to have a dozen I guess, but I sold one to a friend’s wife for her husband’s birthday – a 1973 Tanshell. So here are my eleven pipes.

The first group is the Shell or Shell Briars – I have five of them. They are beautiful sandblast pipes with a two-tone finish of dark and medium brown (or maybe dark brown with the high portions buffed lighter). The first of them is an old-timer. It is a bent billiard whose blast has been worn smooth over the years. I have had it dated to various times from mid 30’s to 1943.

The stamping is quite weak but under a bright light with a lense it reads as follows:
DUNHILL SHELL Made in England 3 (this three is the questionable issue – overstamped)
N52 PATENT NO. 417574/34
It is in good shape regardless of the age. The blast on the rim is worn but the stem is in good shape with minor tooth marks on the stem and the button surface. The white spot is darkened and appears to possibly be ivory though I am not sure.

The next two are Birth Year Pipes for me. They are both made in 1954. The first one is a Canadian that I picked up on EBay. I had been looking for a birth year pipe for quite a while and contacted Mike Hagley regarding one. I had heard he might have one that I could purchase. He sent me the link to this one on EBay. It was not in good shape and had a stem with a missing white spot. I bid and won the auction. I sent it to Dave Wolf at Walker Briarworks for cleaning and repair. Dave did a great job cleaning it up and repairing the stem for me. I have had it for quite a few years now and enjoyed smoking it on my birthday. The ultimate pleasure was smoking this 1954 Dunhill Canadian with some 1954 Dobie Four Square Green on my 54th birthday a few years ago.

The stamping on this one is:
EC F/T DUNHILL Made in England 4 with a 4 in a circle and an S
SHELL BRIAR Patent No. 417574/34
It is in great shape since Dave worked on it. The finish is beautiful and the blast has a mix of birdseye and cross grain. There are some deep craggy places in the blast and the blast on the oval shank is also well done. It is one of my favourite pipes in the collection.

The second birth year pipe is a billiard. I bought this one on EBay as well. Its condition is good. The finish on the bowl and shank is excellent and the blast is deep and craggy. Somewhere along the way I believe someone topped this pipe so it has a smooth, restained rim. One day I may send it out and have the rim reworked to match the rest of the pipe. Or maybe one day I will attempt it myself. The time just has not been right for me to do either one. The stem is in good shape with a few small tooth marks on the surface. It is also a pleasure to smoke. I find though that the smooth rim just makes me reach for it less than my other birth year pipe.

The stamping on this is:
K F/T DUNHILL SHELL Made in England 4 with a 4 in a circle
Patent No. 417574/34
The fourth Shell in my collection is moving into another decade. I have two Shells from the 1960 era. The first one is a Billiard that is in good shape. The finish on the bowl and shank is excellent though this pipe is nowhere near as craggy as the 1954 billiard. The blast is nice but not deep. Like the 1954 billiard this one has seen some work on the rim. It appears to have been lightly topped so much of the blast on the rim is gone leaving behind a few deeper spots. I found this pipe in a Value Village Thrift Shop (Rummage Shop) in a display case and bought it for the paltry sum of $12 CNDN. It has some ripples on the top of the vulcanite stem and some tooth marks on the underside.

The stamping on this one reads:
60 DUNHILL Made In 4 in a circle and S
The last Shell is bent bulldog shaped pipe from 1966. It is actually one of my favourite Dunhill shapes. I have one in almost the exact shape that is stamped Parker. This pipe has an amazing deep blast that hearkens back to the earlier blasts on the Shells. The finish is in excellent shape with even the rim showing the blast. The diamond shank with a flattened bottom transitions nicely into the stem. The stem was in excellent shape, or at least I thought it was when I bought it off of Ebay. When I received it the top and sides of the stem were oxidized and there was a light tooth mark on top. When I turned it over there was a bite through on the underside next to the button. I cleaned it up and repaired it with a black superglue patch. The pipe stem looks quite clean and new now and there are not any bite through marks or tooth marks.

The stamping on this one reads:
P DUNHILL Made in 4 in a circle and S
I have one Tan Shell in my collection. It is a little group 1 sized billiard with a saddle stem. I picked this up in an Antique Mall in Washington State. It was hidden stem down in a jar of old Dr. Grabows that were in rough shape and a few old corn cobs. I saw the sand blast and the shape and colour and could not believe it. I took the pipe out of the jar and sure enough it was a Dunhill. The price on it was $10 – an unbelievable deal. It was clean and the finish was slightly soiled. The rim had some darkening but the bowl was clean. The stem has a great fish tail look to it and was only oxidized. I have smoked this one quite a bit since the day I found it and it is a great smoking little pipe. It is on the small side for me but I reach for it for a quick smoke.

The stamping on it reads:
576 F/T DUNHILL Made in 1 in a circle and T
TAN SHELL England 3 and slightly lower and offset 4
The date stamping makes me think that the pipe was made in 1963 and stamped or issued in 1964. I am never sure about the meaning of the double date numbers. I remember reading though something along what I mentioned above.
I have two Root Briar pipes both from 1961. The first of those is a large billiard that I purchased on Ebay with a burned through in the bottom of the bowl. Because of the damage it was very cheap. When it arrived I drilled out the burn through and repaired it with a briar plug. I have written about that repair on the blog earlier. The finish other than that burn through was in good shape with some cross grain on the sides of the bowl and birdseye grain on the front and back sides. The stem was clean except for some tooth marks on the top and bottom of the stem near the button. The pipe cleaned up well and is a good smoking pipe.

The stamping is on both sides of the shank. It reads:
On the left side:
On the right side:
Made in 4 in a circle and R
England 1

The second Root Briar is a 1961 straight shank bulldog. I picked this one up in a trade. It is a beautifully executed pipe. Dunhill makes some stellar bulldogs. The finish on this one was in excellent shape when it arrived. It matches the finish on the billiard exactly. There was some rim darkening but no serious damage to the rim. It has a mix of grains with nothing that truly stands out. The stem was in excellent shape with slight oxidation but no tooth marks or chatter. It is another great smoking pipe.

The stamping is on both sides of the shank. It reads:
On the left side:
On the right side:
Made in 4 in a circle and R
England 1

The next pipe is a bit of a mystery. It does not have any date stamping on the shank. The shank is also repaired at the factory as the stamping goes over the shank splice. The shank is a separate piece of briar from the bowl. A response by Jacek Rochacki on a post I wrote yesterday on the addition of a shank extension made me think that possibly this pipe was made during the war years when briar was hard to come by. The factory thus spliced together two pieces of briar to make this pipe. The omission of the date stamp is still a puzzle so I may never know when the pipe was made. I have written previously about this pipe on the blog. It is a straight stemmed prince shape. It is definitely not one of my favourite shapes. I picked it up at an Antique Mall in BC quite a few years ago now. The seller had it priced at $20 Cndn so I did not ask questions and bought it immediately. The bowl finish was worn and the rim was badly beaten. I steamed the rim, topped it lightly and reshaped the bowl accordingly. The stem was in excellent shape with little oxidation. There were minor tooth marks near the button on the top and bottom sides of the stem.

The stamping is deep and legible on both sides and reads:
On the left
On the right
Made in 4 in a circle A
England (no date stamp following the D in England)
The last two pipes in my Dunhill collection are more current production models. The first is a bent Rhodesian with a Shell finish. This one does not have the old characteristic rich contrasting stain on the blast. It is stained black. It is well executed and comfortable to hold. The shank and the stem are on the chunky side, which I like. It is a nicely made taper stem. I bought this from a pipe dealer in Washington who had close out stock that he was moving.

It is stamped:
3108 dunhill in an oval Shell Grain over Made in England 01
The stamping dates this pipe as a 2001. I smoked it quite a bit and it is a great size for putting in my jacket pocket when I am out on a walk about.
The last pipe is an Amber Root apple. I loved the finish on this one when I saw and had to have it. I purchased it from the same dealer as the little Rhodesian above. It has a reddish finish and some stellar grain. The sides of the bowl and shank have straight or flame grain. The rim, top of the shank and the underside of the bowl and shank have beautiful birdseye grain. The stem is well made and comfortable. This pipe is also a great size for the pocket and smokes well.

It is stamped on both sides of the shank.
On the left it reads:
3101 dunhill in an oval
On the right it reads:
Made in England 05
The stamping makes this a pipe made in 2005. As such it is the newest Dunhill pipe in my collection.

That is my entire Dunhill collection as it stands today. It spans a large part of history from either 1937/1943 to 2005. It has pipes with a variety of Dunhill finishes – Shell, Shell Briar, Tan Shell, Root Briar, Bruyere and Amber Root. Each pipe in itself is a well made factory pipe. The earlier pipes have some stunning blasts and finishes while the two newer ones also have some beautiful finishes that are unique to the newer lines. I cannot say that I am a Dunhill fanatic but having these pipes in my collection make me a small time collector that is for sure. I think the thing I enjoy about the Dunhill pipes is that they can generally be dated to a period of history. As one who enjoys knowing that kind of detail regarding the pipes I smoke I have to say that I am drawn to them. To this day I continue to check the display cases at thrift shops and antique malls in hopes of finding yet another old Dunhill. But I guess that finding four of them that way is not to bad a record.