Daily Archives: July 9, 2015

Thompson Bent Meerschaum System Pipe – Peterson Shape 303

Blog by Steve Laug

Last week I was down in the US visiting my parents and had some time to visit a few of my old haunts for estate pipes. One of the locations was a gold mine of old pipes. Below are two poor quality picture of the lot that I found there. It included two old English made pipes with saddle stems that were tired but in decent shape, an older Danish Made egg, an older Jobey English made push stem sandblast billiard and a meerschaum system pipe that looked like a Peterson 303 shape to me.Thompson a

Thompson b It was scratched and dirty with oxidation and bite marks on the stem. The stem looked like a P-Lip but it is not – it has the airway in the end of the button rather on the top of it. The saddle flare is also different from a Peterson stem but the shape of the pipe certainly screams Peterson. It bears stamping on the stem that reads Thompson on the left side and Gt. Britain on the underside. The stamping is etched into the vulcanite. The nickel cap was oxidized and worn. The rim of the bowl was dirty and had tarry build up. The inside of the bowl was caked and dirty. The sump in the shank was filled with tars and oils that had crystallized and hardened. It was in need of some TLC.Thompson1

Thompson2 I reamed the bowl with a sharp knife to remove the cake back to the meerschaum. I carefully scraped it away so that I would not damage the inner edge of the rim.Thompson3

Thompson4 When I returned to my parent’s house I set up some newspapers and turned the kitchen table into a work table. I chose to work on this old warhorse first. I scrubbed the rim with a damp paper towel to remove the tars. I scrubbed it with saliva as well to break down the tars. I also scrubbed the bowl with the damp towel as well to remove the dirt and grime on the sides. The first bit of scrubbing took off the grime on the bowl sides and most of the buildup on the top of the rim. The second photo below shows the rim after the first bit of scrubbing.Thompson5

Thompson6 I sanded the bowl and rim with micromesh sanding pads. I started with 1500 grit and worked through 2400 grit sanding pads. It minimized the scratches on the sides of the bowl and also removed the rest of the tars on the rim.Thompson7 I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh and then rubbed it down with a light coat of mineral oil (thanks Troy) and sanded it with 3200-4000 grit pads. I carefully sanded around the etched/stamped letters on the stem side and bottom. I was able to remove the oxidation and calcification that was built up around the button.Thompson8 I scrubbed out the tenon end of the stem and the shank/mortise of the meerschaum bowl with alcohol and cotton swabs. I scrubbed out the bowl with cotton swabs and alcohol to remove the dust from the reaming. I then followed that by scrubbing the shank and bowl with pipe cleaners and alcohol.Thompson9 I set aside the pipe until I returned to Vancouver and then buffed the stem and bowl with White Diamond to polish both the stem and the bowl. I then sanded them both with 6000-12000 grit micromesh pads and then buffed both with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl a coat of carnauba wax to polish it.Thompson10 I used a liquid paper pen to fill in the stamping on the stem and let it dry.Thompson11 I scraped off the excess dried liquid with my fingernail and then buffed the stem with Blue Diamond to finish cleaning up the area around the stamping. The next two photos show the stamping on the stem.Thompson12

Thompson13 Once I had finished I buffed the bowl and stem with carnauba wax and buffed it finally with a clean flannel buff to raise the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the next series of photos. It turned out to be a beautiful pipe. I would love to figure out who made the pipe and wonder if there is not a Peterson connection based on the drilling and the shape. Does anyone have any information on the brand? Thanks for looking.Thompson14







Bullets, Sawdust, and Rhododendrons: The Story of the D&P Spartan

Blog by Anthony Cook

I love old pipes with stories to tell and I recently acquired a couple of very unique, American-made pipes that appear to fit that bill nicely. For those of you unfamiliar with the brand and the pipes (and I’m betting that’s the most of you), let me make the introduction. Meet the D&P Spartan… Spartan1 Spartans were made from 1942 until at least 1945. The majority of them were produced for distribution to U.S. troops overseas during WWII, but some were available domestically as well. The pipe pictured above is one that I acquired and it was probably made in mid-to-late ’43. The stem is made from maple, and although the bowl is stamped “GENUINE BRIAR”, that’s not really true. It’s most likely mountain laurel and possibly even rhododendron (they made do with what they had on hand when briar was tough to get during the war). The stamped patent number (2089519) on the side of the bowl refers to a method of curing wood with boric acid for better heat resistance.

The shape of the Spartans evolved during the course of production. The earliest were simply a wood block with a hole drilled for the tobacco chamber and another on the backside that the stem fit into. It’s very similar to the design of a cob pipe. Those were made from 1942 to mid-1943. I don’t have one of this design on hand, but Tim (oldredbeard) from the Dr. Grabow Collector’s Forum, graciously sent me a couple of photos of one that is in his collection.Spartan2

Spartan3 Notice that Tim’s pipe has the same patent stamp on the bowl as the one pictured above it. The patent was issued in March of 1943. So, this pipe is probably from one of the last production runs for this design.

Sometime around mid-1943 the design of the Spartan was changed. The new version was slightly less utilitarian and added a few aesthetic curves to the back of the bowl. It also grew a nub of a shank and utilized a patented (1888462) pressure fit for the stem. My mid-to-late ’43 Spartan is an example of this design.Spartan4


Spartan6 The design was again changed near the end of the war. I suppose the idea was to give it more appeal as D&P began to rely more on the domestic market. The new look was more traditional, but still rather roughly shaped. The paneled bowl received a few more angles, the shank was further extended, and the maple stem was replaced with one of vulcanite. The second Spartan that I picked up is an example of this design. It would have probably been made somewhere around late-’44 to ’45. I’m not aware of any further changes to the design, and in fact, I don’t believe that D&P continued to produce Spartans for very long after the end of the war.Spartan7



Spartan10 D&P was created in 1942 by David and Paul Lavietes. They were, respectively, the brother and father of Henry Lavietes who was part owner of the better known HLT located in Ozone Park, New York (Henry was the “H”). David Lavietes was also the inventor of the “Ajustomatic” stem fitting.

From the December, 1945 issue of Popular Mechanics

From the December, 1945 issue of Popular Mechanics

Originally, D&P was a sawmill and basically a supplier for HLT. They were located in Boone, North Carolina and purchased mountain laurel locally, which they then cut into blocks to be shipped to Ozone Park to be made into HLT pipes. I’m not sure, but I don’t believe that the D&P stamped pipes were ever sent to HLT. I think that they were carved in North Carolina. In 1944, D&P relocated the sawmill to Sparta, North Carolina and HLT relocated there soon after. In the early ‘50s, D&P became known as the Briarshop. They continued to carve blocks for HLT, although they were located in a different building and still regarded as a separate company. I’ve found no evidence that they ever again marketed pipes under the either the D&P or Briarshop names.

In 1953, HLT acquired the name and assets of the Dr. Grabow Pipe Company. The Briarshop ceased to be a separate company somewhere within the same timeframe and was rolled into HLT. The operation still produced stummels, but now they were doing it for both the HLT and Dr. Grabow brands. HLT has since ceased to exist, but Dr. Grabow pipes are still being made to this day in Sparta, North Carolina.

So, there you go. A couple of old pipes with stories worth telling. To me it doesn’t get much better than that.

I’d like to give special thanks to Dave Whitney and Tom Douglas for helping me put all of these pieces together. Sometimes, things get a little muddy out there in Sparta. Also, thanks to Tim for providing me with photos of a 1st-gen Spartan. You know where to reach me when you’re ready to let it go, Tim.

Late Breaking News Update!

Okay, not so late breaking, since the news is more than 70 years old, but here it is anyway…

Tom contacted me shortly after the write up was posted and told me that Appalachian State University has a yearbook titled, aptly enough, “The Rhododendron.” The 1942 and 1945 editions have D&P advertisements in them. Both of the yearbooks are available for viewing online here: http://bit.ly/asuyearbooks . I’ve cropped out the D&P ads and you can see them here:

1942: https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-VqKwuNNXRjo/VZ7dMvMyeVI/AAAAAAAABic/386oDL1_swE/s800-Ic42/asuyb1942-p133.jpg

1945: https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-7PyicjIL6nQ/VZ7dMzP2UqI/AAAAAAAABig/bM3Xw9a0poM/s800-Ic42/asuyb1945-p101.jpg

You’ll notice that the ’42 and ’45 ads refer to both Boone and Sparta. This leads me to believe that the Sparta location was part of the D&P operation from the beginning. When D&P relocated in ’44 it must have been a headquarters move only. The Boone location appears to have remained in operation after the move, but I have no idea for how long. I’m going to do some more digging around Boone and see what turns up.