Blog by Steve Laug
Once again my brother Jeff scored a beautiful and unusual pipe. It is stamped Clairmont on the left side of the shank. On the underside it is stamped MY PIPE and Handmade Italy. On the right side it bears the stamping 810 (it appears to be double stamped). The briar is naturally finished with no stain. There are some small fills on the shank extension and one on the left side of the bowl on the underside of the outer rim lip. They are small but visible at this point. The bowl had a slight cake in it that was uneven and there were some tobacco remnants on the bottom of the bowl. The top of the rim was dirty as was the rest of the finish. The Cumberland stem was in good shape but there were some light tooth marks on the top and underside next to the button edge. The slot in the end of the stem was rough and uneven. There was some red (maybe Tripoli) in the edges of the slot. I took the pipe apart and photographed the parts. The shank insert is pressure fit in the mortise of the bowl. It is a good snug fit with no looseness. The stem fit in the other end is also very snug and clean. The green dot on the Cumberland stem looks good. The tenon on the stem is integral to the stem. The finish on the stem is dull. While I really liked the looks of the pipe and knew it was Italian handmade I had no idea who made the brand. The stamping MY PIPE on the underside still has me mystified. I don’t know if the maker stamped it that way or if the first owner had it stamped that way. I will probably never know that but I wanted to know who made this pip as I had never seen this brand. Like always I begin the hunt for information at one of my favourite websites Pipephil’s Logos and Stamping site. It did not take long and I found the information at this link: http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-c5.html.
The site showed a nice looking full bent pipe with a Lucite stem that had the green dot on the top side just as the stem I had did. The stamping was the same in terms of the script Clairmont. The Sardinian Briar * stamp was not present on mine. I found out that the brand was created by Alberto Paronelli in the 1970’s. I found that the pipes were usually crafted by Tom Spanu. Both of those names were familiar to me so that help. I have one of Tom’s Olivewood pipes and love it. The link gave information on the name. It turns out that “Clairmont” is a Francization of “Chiaramonti” which is the birthplace of Tom Spanu.Now I knew that I was dealing with a 1970’s era pipe made by Tom Spanu and named after his birthplace. For me this solidified the connection to Spanu. It was time to work on his pipe. As I worked on it I wondered if the MY PIPE stamp on the bottom was stamped by Tom and this was one of his own pipes. I cleaned up the internals of the pipe, reaming the bowl with the Savinelli Pipe Knife and scrubbing out the airways from button to bowl with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. I scrubbed down the exterior of the bowl with acetone on cotton pads to remove the grime and oils that were dirtying the natural finish of the bowl and shank extension. I was able to get quite a bit of the rim darkening off this way. The crowned rim top is beautiful. I thought it was fitting to rub down an Italian natural finish pipe with a light coat of olive oil. I rubbed down each of the briar parts of the pipe and put it back together. The olive oil brought life back to the briar and the grain began to shine through. This is a beautiful piece of briar. I set the bowl and shank aside and worked on the stem. I sanded the surface of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the tooth marks and smooth out the flat surfaces. I sanded the end of the button to clean up some of the nicks and damage there. I also used a needle file to clean up the inside of the slot and smooth out the lines.I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads to smooth out the scratches. I dry sanded with 3200-12000 grit micromesh pads to progressively polish the stem and bring the depth of the Cumberland back to life. I buffed the pipe and stem with Blue Diamond on the wheel and then gave the entire pipe several coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to add depth to the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I like this one a lot so I think it will probably stay in my collection. Thanks for looking!