Blog by Steve Laug
My brother sent me this nice brandy shaped pipe. It has a Lucite stem that is a swirled black and olive or brown depending on the light. The bowl was in good shape with a light cake and some rim lava. There was a scratch on the left top of the rim top. The finish had a coat of varnish over the briar and it was cloudy and dirty. The stem had some tooth chatter and was dull. Otherwise the pipe was in very good shape. The only stamping on it is LONDON BRIAR on the right side of the shank.
I had not seen the stamping London Briars before so I did some hunting on the web for the brand and found that the brand was made by/for Gauntleys of Nottingham. They sold new for £31.95 Here is the link to their site: https://cigars.gauntleys.com/uk/offer/gauntleys-london-briar-pipes
I quote directly from the site:
Gauntleys London Briar Pipes – Our London Briar pipes have become very popular since we introduced them just a few months ago. Each is made from selected second briar blocks from one of the country’s largest and most respected pipe makers.
If the briar was flawless these pipes would sell for over £250. These are from briar with small flaws in the grain or needing small amounts of filler so are great value. The briar is some of the finest in the world and can be up to 80 years old.
Each pipe is hand made in a range of classic English shapes and comes in a number of finishes from Smooth Brown to Black (Shell Briar) Sandblasted.
If you are looking for a first pipe or something to use around the house or garden the Gauntleys London Briars are very affordable and smoke like an entry level premium briar. Each pipe comes boxed with a silk bag.
Here is the state of the pipe when I brought it to the worktable today. There is not a fill or a flaw that I can find in the briar. It is a light weight and clean pipe. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the build up and scratches. I scrubbed the bowl with acetone on cotton pads to remove the varnish coat. There was some nice grain under the varnish coat.
I cleaned out the shank, mortise and airway with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe cleaners and cotton swabs came out clean. I scrubbed out the airway and the slot in the stem at the same time.
I used a light brown stain pen to stain the rim to match the bowl. I sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and then wiped it down. I continued to sand it with 3200-12000 grit micromesh to polish it.
I buffed the pipe and stem with Blue Diamond on the wheel and then gave them multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean flannel buff and then hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below.