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.When 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.Not 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. He 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.I 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.I 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. I 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.The 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.I 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.With 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.I 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.I 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. I 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. I 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.I 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.I 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. I 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. I 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.The inside of the holder was pristine and had not been smoked.I unscrewed the mouthpiece from the holder and cleaned up the threads with a dental pick and a tooth brush.I 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.I 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. I 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.I 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. I 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.