Blog by Steve Laug
Quite a few years back now, my daughters gave me this little Comoy’s Golden Bark Zulu as a birthday gift. They had dutifully hunted for the pipe and then picked it up at a local pipe shop. I loved the look and the shape of it as it reminded me of an older one that I had smoked from time to time. I loaded a bowl and smoked it just twice because the finish bubbled and blistered in the sandblast on the back, front and sides of the bowl. I talked with others about what to do and found out that really there was nothing left to do but refinish the pipe or return it to the shop. I looked into returning it to the shop but found that it was one of a kind so I kept it. I put it in the pipe cupboard and there it remained for many years. In the photos below you can see the blistering in terms of discolouration on the sides of the bowl. The underside of the shank had also faded and was significantly lighter than the rest of the pipe. Fast forward to several weeks ago. On Facebook I was following a conversation that Chuck of Stag Tobacco in Albuquerque, New Mexico was having with one of the Stokkebyes and found that they were talking about Comoy pipes. I wrote a real time question on the thread there and found out quickly that what I had in hand was an English Comoy and that it was significantly older than I had originally imagined. Somehow I thought it was made during the period when the Italians made the pipes during the Cadogan era. I was wrong it turns out. The stamping on the underside of the shank reads COMOY’S over GOLD BARK over the round COM stamp with Made in London in a circle with the in residing in the center of the circle. Underneath the circle is a straight line reading ENGLAND. Next to that stamping is the 87S shape number and then along the edge of the shank stem joint is stamped 004.
I decided then that it was time to address the finish on the pipe. I took a few close up photos to show the blistering of the finish to give you an idea of what I was working with. The rim also had a little darkening from the little bit I had used it and there was the beginning of a light cake in the bowl.To begin stripping the bowl I wiped it down with acetone on cotton pads and found that it worked to remove the finish on the high spots of the blast but left a lot of the shiny bubbly finish in the deep grooves. To deal with the bubbly finish in the grooves of the blast I used a brass bristle brush and then wet the bowl down with acetone to keep the surface wet while I scrubbed it with the brush. I finished removing the finish with more acetone on cotton pads until the finish was clean. I took a few photos of the pipe at this point to show the new look of the finish. The lighter colour of the shank was beginning to blend in better with the rest of the pipe. I gave the bowl a light coat of olive oil to highlight the red tones in the finish and then buffed it lightly with a clean buffing pad. I gave it a coat of Conservator’s Wax and buffed it with a shoe brush. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The colour of the blast and the look of the pipe exceed what I thought it would look like when I was finished. The grain on the pipe shows through the blast and gives the pipe a beautiful look in my opinion. Thanks Chuck for the impetus to get this pipe cleaned up. I am once again looking forward to using this pipe and enjoying the gift from my daughters. Thanks for looking.