Blog by Steve Laug
My brother sent me the link and photos of a pipe he was bidding for on Ebay. It was stamped Pipelane, Ltd. over Executive on the left side of the shank. On the underside of the shank it was stamped Imported Briar. I had never heard of the brand but I liked the look of the pipe. It looked to be in pretty good shape. The rim was dirty and the inner edge was scorched and burned at the back and the front right side. There was a band on the shank that appeared to be silver and it was oxidized. The stem seemed to have a light oxidation but was very clean. I looked for information about the brand online and found that some of the pipes with this brand name were actually made by Savinelli and bore the typical Savinelli shape numbers. A friend on Vancouver Island sent me a message on Facebook about a pipe he had with the same stamping. His pipe is called the Director. It bears the 604KS stamp and is a classic Savinelli Oom Paul. He sent me the photos below. It appears that the shop had pipe makers in Europe make pipes for them and stamp them with their shop name. Thus the shop brand pipes were made by others, which was not an uncommon practice in those days. (Unfortunately the one I have does not bear any identifying shape numbers so the maker remains a mystery.) I also found out that Pipelane Ltd. was created in 1961 and had tobacco stores in around the Seattle area. I looked up the stores and found two listed – one in Seattle and one in Bellevue. I called the phone numbers listed and the Seattle was unavailable –no matter when I called the number. I left a message so perhaps they will return my call. The Bellevue number was disconnected and no longer in service. The listing for the Seattle store shows that it is located at 3410 Arapahoe Pl. W. and their phone number was (206) 285-3510. I will continue to check and see if I can get a hold of anyone at that number but I am wondering if the company still exists.
The pictures below were the ones that caught my brother’s eye on the seller’s listing. It is a chunky pipe with a great rustication and a natural finish. The rim is smooth and there is a smooth band around the top of the bowl separated from the rustication by a single ring.
When the box arrived I took this pipe out to have a closer look. I could see the things that had attracted my brother to the pipe. I liked the look and feel of it. The finish was actually quite clean – not much grime or oils in the natural finish. The vertical grain of the pipe shone through the rustication and gave the colour of the pipe some variation. The rim was a little more burned than I had thought from the photos. The damage to the inner edge of the rim actually had broken through the briar and not just discoloured it. The band was stamped Sterling on the left side of the pipe. The oxidation would come off. There were some dimples in the silver as it seems to have been tapped to match the rustication on the inner edge of the band. The stem was in excellent shape other than the previously noted oxidation. The chunky shank and stem gave the pipe substance.
I took a close up photo of the rim to show the damage at the front right and rear of the inner edge of the rim. The burn is quite deep in both places. The double stepped down tenon with the rounded end is unusual. I don’t recall seeing one cut like this before. Perhaps this is a clue to the origin of this pipe. Anyone else seen one like this before? I scrubbed the briar with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the grime and then rinsed it under running water. I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer and used the second and third cutting head to take the uneven cake back to briar. I wanted the bowl clean so I could assess the damage to the inner rim edge and then address it.
I worked on the inner edge of the rim cleaning up the burn marks and beveling the rest of the rim to match the angles of the burn marks. The darkening to the rim would not disappear but at least I could give it a cleaner and more elegant look. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to increase the angle of the bevel. I sanded the bevel and the rim with micromesh sanding pads from 1500-4000 grit to remove the scratches and to polish the rim. It looked far better when I finished. You will see photos of the results at the end of the blog. I polished the sterling silver band with a jeweler’s cloth and removed the tarnish. I cleaned out the mortise and airway into the bowl with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. I sanded the surface of the stem to loosen the oxidation and remove the surface coat. I cleaned out the airway in the stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners and the steps on the tenon with alcohol and cotton swabs.
I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads to remove the scratches and the remaining oxidation. I gave it a coat of Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit micromesh pads and gave it another coat of the oil. I finished sanding with the last group of pads – 6000-12000 grit. I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry.
I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the wheel and then gave the stem several coats of carnauba wax. I gave the bowl a coat of Conservator’s Wax and buffed it with a shoe brush. I finished by lightly buffing the bowl and stem with a clean buff to raise the shine and then finished with a microfibre cloth hand buff. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is a beauty. Once again if any of you are familiar with this Seattle Pipe Shop be sure to let us know. Thanks for looking.