Daily Archives: July 30, 2016

NOS Picadilly Brand Genuine French Rustique Briar

Blog by Steve Laug

My brother bid on a boxed set of pipes that was in a box covered with a green alligator pattern material. Inside the box was a yellow linen lining with a diamond logo on the inside of the lid that read Picadilly Brand Genuine French Rustique Briar Price $15.Pic1When he received it in the mail and opened it the set of pipes inside was not quite what he had expected. There was Redmanol or red Bakelite cigarette holder, a bent billiard with a Remanol or Bakelite stem with an orific button. The shank was stamped Real Briar over Made in France. The stamping was set with gold. The second pipe in the box was a billiard with a vulcanite stem that was notably newer in age than the bent billiard. It was stamped on the underside of the shank with 7118 Berkley Club over London Made. At the bowl end of the shank the word England was stamped in an arc. The fourth indentation which should have had a cigar holder held a Lovat stem from a screw mount shank. It obviously did not go with this set. Thus looking at the set we could see that the cigar holder and the straight billiard were missing.Pic2Not long after receiving the set in the mail he was scanning eBay and found another boxed set that bore the same gold filigree diamond on the lid. It was in a brown vinyl box with a linen coloured lining. The exterior and the interior of the box were in great shape. This one had both the straight and bent billiard and the cigar holder but was missing the cigarette holder. We talked about it and decided to bid on it. He won it and soon it was on his desk next to the other one.Pic3 Pic4He put the cigarette holder from the first case in the second one. He compared the bent billiards and kept the one that came with the second case. The entire set was new old stock. It had not been smoked and it was in great shape. The only issues were that both Bakelite stems were overturned and the surface of each bowl that faced upward was dusty in the grooves and crevices. The bowls were pristine. The cigar holder also was unsmoked though it had obviously been held between someone’s teeth as there were some tooth marks in the top and bottom side near the button. The cigarette holder from the first set was also unused. Putting the four pieces together in the second box gave a full unsmoked new old stock collection. We were excited.Pic5I took the pipes out of the case and lined them up on the work table. The rustication on both billiard pipes was dusty on the exposed side. The rims on both were clean but had some sticky substance on the surface. The Redmanol/Bakelite stems were both oxidized and dull. The stamping on both pipes was gold. The Bakelite stem on both pipes had been overturned. The straight billiard had a paper washer between the shank and the stem to try to compensate for the overturned stem. The surface of the pipe stems and the cigarette holder were all free of tooth marks or dents. The cigar holder was also dusty on the exposed side and the Redmanol/Bakelite stem had some tooth dents on both sides near the button even though the holder was unsmoked. The stem was also overturned on the cigar holder.Pic6I decided to work on the straight billiard first. I took photos of the pipe before I started working on it. You can see the paper washer between the stem and the shank. You can see the sticky substance on the top of the bowl rim.Pic7 Pic8I took a photo of the gold leaf stamping on the shank. The Made in France stamping is double stamped on the Made In portion. France was single stamped.Pic9The tenon was metal and it had glue or something that had been added to the threads to try to align the stem and shank. I removed the paper washer and threw it away. I picked out the glue in the threads with a dental pick. The mortise was threaded directly into the briar.Pic10I used a 1500 grit micromesh sanding pad to remove the sticky substance on the rim top. It was hard and tacky so the micromesh worked well to remove it. The rim surface was clean and undamaged when I was finished.Pic11With the pipe and tenon cleaned up I used a Bic lighter to heat the metal tenon. Once the glue in the stem softened I screwed the stem back in place and aligned the stem and the shank.Pic12I scrubbed the rustication of the bowl and shank with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush. I rinsed it under running water to remove the soap and debris.Pic13I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit pads and rubbed it down with another coat of oil. I finished sanding it with 6000-12000 grit pads, gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set the stem aside to dry.Pic14 Pic15 Pic16I lightly buffed the stem with Blue Diamond and gave it several coats of carnauba wax. I gave the bowl a coat of Conservator’s Wax and hand buff it with a shoe brush. I hand buffed the whole pipe with a microfibre cloth to raise a shine. I took a few photos of the finished pipe before moving on to the second one.Pic17 Pic18I worked on the bent billiard next. It had not been smoked and was clean. The stem was overturned. The gold leaf stamping was in great shape and was single stamped. The stem had an orific button and was made out of Redmanol/Bakelite. It was oxidized but in good shape with no tooth marks or chatter. The bowl was in great shape and still pristine new briar. The rim had some sticky material on the top the same as the other billiard. The rustication was in good shape but it was dusty on the exposed side.Pic19Pic20I sanded the rim with a 1500 grit microfibre sanding pad to remove the hardened sticky substance on the top of the rim. I scrubbed the bowl with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the dust from the rustication. I rinsed it under running water to remove the soap and debris and dried it off.Pic21I used the Bic lighter to heat the metal tenon until the glue in the stem was warm and then screwed the stem onto the shank to realign it. Once it was aligned I let it cool. I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and gave it a coat of Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit pads and gave it another coat of oil. I finished sanding it with 6000-12000 grit pads, gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry.Pic22 Pic23 Pic24I gave the bowl a coat of Conservator’s Wax and hand buffed it with a shoe brush. I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond and gave it multiple coats of wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad and then hand buffed the pipe with a microfibre cloth. I took the following photos to show the finished pipe.Pic25 Pic26I turned next to the cigar holder. It was in decent shape though it too had dust on the exposed side. The stem was overturned and there were some tooth marks in the surface of the Bakelite/Redmanol stem next to the button on the top and bottom sides.Pic27The inside of the holder was pristine and had not been smoked.Pic28I unscrewed the mouthpiece from the holder and cleaned up the threads with a dental pick and a tooth brush.Pic29I cleaned out the inside to remove the dust with cotton swabs and alcohol. I gave the threads a coating of clear fingernail polish. I wanted to build up the thread slightly so that the mouth piece would align correctly.Pic30I sanded out the tooth marks with 220 grit sandpaper. I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and gave the stem a coat of Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit pads and gave it another coat of oil. I finished sanding with 6000-12000 grit pads, gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry.Pic31 Pic32 Pic33 Pic34I gave the briar part of the holder a coat of Conservator’s Wax and hand buffed it with a shoe brush. I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond and gave it several coats of carnauba wax. I lightly buffed the holder with a clean buffing pad and then again by hand with a microfibre cloth. I set the cigar holder aside until I had finished the rest of the set.

I had one more item to clean up. The cigarette holder from the other box was oxidized and dull. There were no tooth marks or bite marks in the Redmanol/Bakelite. There were a lot of scratches in the surface of the holder that needed to be polished out to remove them.Pic35I wet sanded the holder with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and gave the holder a coat of Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit pads and gave it another coat of oil. I finished sanding it with 6000-12000 grit sanding pads, gave it a final coat of oil and set the holder aside to dry.Pic36 Pic37 Pic38I buffed the holder with Blue Diamond on the wheel and then gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad and then by hand with a microfibre cloth. I set the finished cigarette holder in the case.

I put the pipes and holders back in the case and took some photos of the finished pipes in place in the case. It is a great looking set of pipes and holders and shows some age on it. I wish I could figure out who made it but so far I have not been able to find any information in my usual spots on the web. Thanks for walking with me through this refurb. Thanks for looking. If any of you have any information on the set let me know in the comment box below.Pic39


Another ‘Hole in the Wall’ Find – BBB Banker Bent Volcano

Blog by Dal Stanton

Last April, during one of my earlier visits to what I have affectionately named, ‘The Hole in the Wall’ antique store near the Zhenski Pazar (Women’s Market) in downtown Sofia, Bulgaria, my eyes locked on to a very handsome pipe that called out to me resolutely – “Take me home!”  The pipe was a slightly bent volcano shape, brandishing a broad flattened oval shank and stem that drew my attention.  In my small collection of pipes then, and even today, I have nothing like it.  After taking in the unique shape, the briar grain, obscured by layers of grime and old wax, gave me an internal ‘wow!’ that I carefully kept hidden from the shop owner who would see my excitement as potential greater profit for him – so I played it cool.  I looked at how the grain moves horizontally across the bowl and shank giving the appearance of a tiger pattern looking down on the shank.  Looking straight at the bowl the grain looked like horizontal flames terminating on the sides of the bowl with Birdseye patterns – I was anxious to work on this pipe.  The top of the shank was imprinted with the classic BBB diamond mark over Banker.  Underneath the shank had London, England over 739.  The stem top also had the white diamond BBB mark.  I also spied another pipe in the basket that looked like a good candidate to bundle with the BBB Banker, a French Jeantet Fleuron 70-7 which helped me negotiate 30 Bulgarian Leva for the pair – about 16US.  Not a bad deal at $8 a pipe!  The first picture is the Jeantet followed by the BBB Banker after I arrived home from the ‘Hole in the Wall’ with my newest acquisitions:Bank1 Bank2 bank3 Bank4 Bank5 Bank6 Bank7 Bank8 Bank9I found a lot on the internet about the BBB name.  The small blurb in Pipehill describes the evolution of the BBB moniker:

BBB: ” Best British Briar” is now a brand of the Cadogan Company (Oppenheimer group). American rights to use the brand name were sold to Wally Frank in 1980.

Founder of the brand in 1847: Louis Blumfeld. The oldest pipe brand name in the UK has been registered in 1876 (Blumfeld Best Briar).

Steve also posted a blog on the history of BBB pipes a few years ago using the French article:


I discovered that there are many BBB collectors and enthusiasts in my research.  Unfortunately, I could find nothing helping me to date or place my BBB Banker except some informed guesses comparing to the BBB stamps (pictured below) depicted in the French article Steve posted above which would probably date the Banker at the earliest in 1989 when the Cadogan Company consolidated manufacturing its various pipe lines at Southend-on-the-Sea, but more likely in the 2000s – not a terribly old pipe (Can anyone help me on that?):Bank10The condition of the Banker is generally good.  There is some cake build up in the chamber but I still want to ream the bowl down to the briar for a fresh start and to be able to make sure there are no problems lurking beneath – which I really don’t expect.  The rim has light grime and lava on it, but a significant wearing down of the front lip so that bare briar is exposed.  The stummel looks to be in good shape – I detect one fill underneath but it looks to be solid and will blend well.  The stummel grain is dulled and obscured by grime and oil build up.  The stem is in good shape – showing almost no oxidation, but has a tooth dent on the lower side of the bit.  I take a fresh close up of the rim to mark the progress.  I begin with reaming the bowl with my Pipnet reaming kit.  As I’ve become accustomed, I try to do the dirtier part of the cleanup on the 10th floor balcony adjoining our bedroom where my work-station is here in Sofia, Bulgaria.  Sometimes I wish I had a basement work area, but we do what we must!  I use only the two smaller blades of the four blades available to ream the cake down to the briar.  I follow the use of the reaming blades with 120 grit sanding paper to clean the cake further and finish with 240 grit on the chamber wall.  The bowl looks good.  True confession – while I was reaming the bowl my thoughts drifted off to a Savinelli reaming knife – on the eBay block, that I’ve had my eye on – one like Steve often employs.  There are still a few days left in the auction and I’m hopeful that I might add it to the arsenal!  I’ll let you know!  In order to get a better idea of the rim’s condition, I clean the external stummel with Murphy Oil Soap and work on the grime covering the rim.  I use cotton pads with undiluted Murphy’s.  I also employ a brass brush to work on the rim.  After the cleaning, I take the stummel to the sink and rinse it with cool tap water.  The pictures show the progress.Bank11 Bank12 Bank13 bank14Ok, for you who have years of restorations under your belts, here are some newbie musings – your patience appreciated!  At this point I realize I need to top the bowl to repair the front lip of the rim – it won’t take much but it is needed.  When one takes the rim down to the bare briar, I’ve learned that one also must have a plan for matching the hue of the old stain if one desires to keep the old stain tone matching the bowl.  I like the color scheme of the BBB Banker and I desire to keep it.  To keep it, I need to match the rim color tone with the rest of the stummel AND I need to address the very minor scratches and wear marks on the stummel surface BUT NOT sand it aggressively to remove the stain.  It is in some ways much easier to take the briar down to the wood with acetone and sanding and then apply new stain and voila!  New surface and color all blended and ready to go.  I know this situation calls for use of polishing compounds and such, which is a more passive approach to dealing with the surface – more opportunity to learn new things!  So, I move forward with topping the bowl with the aim of maintaining the current rich, deep red tones – we’ll see how it goes.  I took the BBB Banker to the topping board – 240 grit paper on a chopping block and rotated it on the paper in a gentle clockwise circle not applying too much pressure – letting the grit do its work.  To make sure I wasn’t leaning into the damaged lip area as I rotated, I eyeballed that the damaged area was untouched during the early rotations which meant the topping was true – I took a picture at this point (second picture).  I took off only enough to clear out the front lip problems.  I think it went well and the bowl looks perfectly round.  As I often like to do, to add a classy touch to the rim I bevel the inside lip.  I make the initial cut of the bevel with 120 grit sanding paper followed by 240 grit.  I’m satisfied with the bevel – not too much but just an accent.  I use micromesh on the rim from 1500-12000 to complete the rim repair preparing it for stain later.Bank15 Bank16 Bank17 Bank18 Bank19Now, the stummel surface.  I have questions rolling through my mind regarding how aggressive I can be to remove small scratches and wear blemishes but maintain the original patina of the briar as it came to me.  I elect to micromesh the stummel surface and leave the small blemishes.  I do not start with the coarsest pad (1500) but at 2400 – gentle approach (though the first picture below shows the 1500 it was not used).  I’m not sure this is the best plan but I can always back up to a more aggressive posture if I’m not satisfied with the results.  After a quick email with Steve, I feel better about the course of action.  I continue on the stummel with micromesh pads 3200-4000 and 6000-12000.  I am loving the briar grain popping out through the micromesh process – one of God’s small creations each piece of briar.  The pictures show the progress:Bank20 Bank21 Bank22As I put the stummel aside to work on the stem, I realized that I was so involved in working on the externals that I forgot that I hadn’t cleaned the internal of the stummel nor stem.  Before working on finishing the stem I decide to use the retort to clean the internals.  Last time I used the retort, an alcohol saturated cotton ball was launched from the bowl during the process.  I was gun-shy of the retort to begin with when I first acquired it – the launch didn’t help.  Notwithstanding, I unwrap the retort, get out the vodka, and proceed to let the retort do its work.  The pipe was surprisingly clean.  After two retort cycles, I finished off with cleaning the internals of stummel and stem with Qtips and pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol.  I think it’s better to clean internals earlier in the process….Bank23 Bank24 Bank25Now to the stem externals.  Earlier, I applied black super glue to two significant tooth dents on the underside of the bit (visible in picture above).  I use 240 grit sanding paper to remove the excess super glue removing traces of the dents as  well as file marks after using a needle file to fine tune the shape of the button. There was very little oxidation on the stem or teeth chatter so I proceed to wet sand with micromesh 1500-2400 and apply Obsidian Oil to the stem.  I follow by dry sanding using 3200-4000 micromesh pads and then the same with 6000-12000 and apply Obsidian Oil and set the stem aside to dry.  I’m pleased with the vulcanite ‘pop’ – that wet reflective look is great.Bank26 Bank27 Bank28 Bank29Well, I mentioned earlier that I was hopeful to add a Savinelli pipe knife to my tool box.  Steve speaks highly of this tool and has increasingly put it to good use in his restoration work.  He also posted a blog describing it when it arrived on his work table in Vancouver.  When I saw one on the block in the eBay’s estate pipes in tobacciana listings a few days ago, I decided to watch the auction and see if I could snag it – it seemed to be calling out to me: “I want to live in Bulgaria!”  As you would guess, others were watching too.  I’m thankful that my bid was sufficient and my new Savinelli pipe knife will be delivered to my daughter and son-in-law who live in Denver.  They will carry it with them to Bulgaria (along with some other supplies I’ve ordered including 32 oz. of Lane BCA Cavendish tobacco which I discovered with great enjoyment on my last trip to the US) when they visit in September!  My son-in-law had no problem agreeing to find space in the suitcases when I bribed him with sharing bowls together of the Lane BCA!  So, I’ll look forward to their arrival for the additional reasons that they will be packing new supplies and my new pipe knife!Bank30The BBB Banker slightly bent volcano is now in the home stretch.  After topping and sanding the rim with micromesh, I left the rim the bare wood until I finished the sanding of the stummel. I did this so that the stain I would eventually apply to the rim would be more closely matched.  Using an Italian brand stick, I applied a dark Mahogany stain to the rim and before it dried, lightly wiped it with a dry cotton pad to remove uneven stain application – the first two pictures below show before and after application of the stick.  I’m very satisfied with the match up of stummel and rim and am anxious to finish the stummel.  Living on the 10th floor of a former Communist block apartment building and with my work station in my bedroom (shared with my gracious and understanding wife!) space is at a premium.  My Dremel high speed tool is my workhorse when it comes to the polishing wheel.  Starting with a felt wheel, I first purge the engaged wheel by using the flat edge of the Dremel’s metal tightening wrench against it.  This softens the wheel and rids it of residue Tripoli caking from previous jobs.  With the newly purged wheel, I begin the final polish of the BBB Banker applying Tripoli to the surface addressing the minor pits and scratches on the bowl surface that I did not sand out aggressively to guard the beautiful patina of this piece of briar.  Bank31 Bank32 Bank33Finished with the Tripoli and Blue Diamond, I change to a cotton cloth wheel for the Dremel and apply several coats of carnauba wax.  I use the slowest setting for the Dremel and keep a continuous circular rotation over the briar surface – oh my, does the grain pop!  I cannot say exactly when this pipe was made, but if it’s been since 1989, someone employed by Cadogan Company’s Southend-on-the-Sea pipe making plant did an amazing job with the choice of this piece of briar and the volcano shape it became.  The grain is beautifully showcased in horizontal movements laterally across the stummel so that one can see the horizontal flame grain facing the stummel straight on and then move to the sides of the stummel and see the grain emerge in Birdseye perspective and swirls.  In the beginning I described the top-down view of the broad, flattened oval shank as reminiscent of tiger fir to me – now as I look at it zebra also comes to mind.  Another example of the beautifully showcased briar grain in the Volcano shape is the broad landscape of its underside – from across the broad shank to the front lip of the volcano base, runs a robust dissecting flow of grain that is majestic from my vantage point.  Yes, I confess, I’m a briar grain junkie.  Its beauty reminds me of its Maker.  With my last application of carnauba wax on stem and stummel, I change to a clean cotton cloth wheel and buff the entire stummel and stem.  Then I give the BBB Banker bent volcano a brisk buffing with microfiber cloth to bring out the richness of this briar even more.  I’ve enjoyed this restoration and look forward to loading the BBB Banker with its first bowl of tobacco in my hands.  Thanks for joining me!Bank34 Bank35 Bank36 Bank37 Bank38 Bank39 Bank40 Bank41 Bank42


Restemming and Restoring a Made in Denmark Apple

Blog by Steve Laug

I got an email from a fellow in Dawson Creek, British Columbia asking if I would be willing to work on a pipe that he had that was one of his favourites. It was an apple that he really liked and he liked the patina on it as well. This is what he wrote to me: Sir, I have a pipe in need of your skills. I was visiting City Cigar on a trip to Vancouver and William recommended you. I’ve inherited a pipe from my dad that needs to be refurbished. I wish to add a new curved stem. The old stem’s very loose. I will mail, or ship the pipe to you, as I live in Dawson Creek, BC. Once we discuss price & details. After leaving City Cigar, I was left with the impression that you’re “the guy” for the job.” 

I asked him to send some photos of the pipe and give me a look at the pipe. The next two photos are the ones that he sent to me. The saddle stem looked like a replacement to me. I had him send the pipe to me for a closer look.apple1When it arrived I could see that my assumption about a replacement stem was correct. Whoever had added the new stem had sanded the shank and removed half of the stamping on the shank. I could read that it said Made in Denmark and that there were no other stampings. The shank was significantly lighter in colour than the bowl. The rim was dirty and had a chip out of it and its top was damaged. There was some concrete rash on the back side below the chip where the bowl had been knocked on concrete.apple2 apple3I took a close up photo of the bowl top to show the extent of the damage and the uneven cake on the bowl sides. I also took photos of the stem and shank junction to show how the shank had been sanded to meet the stem diameter.apple4

I also took a photo of the back side of the bowl showing the horizontal line across the bowl. That line was a large fill that bulged and stuck out the surface of the bowl.apple5The bowl was covered with a thick grime and sticky material. I wiped it down with a cotton pad and alcohol to remove the grime and get back to the finish. The grain really began to shine through once I had removed the gummy buildup. The left and right sides of the bowl showed some nice birdseye. The front and back showed cross grain that ran along the top and bottom of the shank. The birdseye ran along both sides of the shank.apple6I topped the bowl on a piece of 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damaged portions of the rim.apple7I sanded the backside of the bowl to smooth out the bulging fill that ran across the bowl.apple8I sanded down the outer edge of the rim to remove the rim damage and also the burn and darkening on the edges. I scrubbed the bowl down with acetone and cotton pads to remove the finish so that once it was clean I could blend in the lighter portions with the rest of the bowl.apple9 apple10The owner wanted a new stem for the pipe so I went through my can of stems until I found one that would fit. He wanted a taper stem and the one I found would suit the bill. He also wanted it to have a slight bend in the end. This sharply tapered stem would make that an easy fit and fix. The stem was slightly larger in diameter than the shank so I would need to reduce it to match.apple11I took off the excess vulcanite with a Dremel and sanding drum. I worked on it until it match the shank diameter.apple12 apple13I took it back to the work table to hand sand it. I used 180 grit sandpaper and took back the excess stem material.apple14I sanded the stem further with 220 grit sandpaper until the transition between the stem and shank was smooth to the touch. I heated water in the microwave until it was boiling and put the stem in the water to soften it enough to put the bend in it. I bent it just enough to give it a jaunty look.apple15 apple16I used the medium and the dark stain pen to touch up the shank. The combination of colours matches the rest of the bowl colour.apple17 apple18I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads to begin polishing it and to begin to remove the scratches. I rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit pads and gave it another coat of oil. I finished sanding it with 6000-12000 grit pads and gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil. I set it aside to dry.apple19 apple20 apple21I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel and polished the briar and the stem. The polishing took out the last of the scratches in the vulcanite stem. The fill on the back of the bowl blends in perfectly now and it is smooth to the touch. The transition from the stem to the shank is also smooth. The slight bend in the stem works well with the pipe. It is finished and ready to go back to Dawson Creek. Hopefully the owner will enjoy the new stem and the virtually “new pipe”. It still carries with it the memories of his dad giving it to him. It still as some of the marks of its story but the look and the feel of the pipe are better than when we began the journey. Thanks for looking.apple22 apple23 apple24 apple25 apple26 apple27 apple28 apple29