Blog by Steve Laug
The pipe pictured below is a Wimbledon Author. It is stamped on the underside of the shank on a smooth patch, WIMBLEDON over the shape number 810. The sandblast finish is craggy and the contrast of dark brown and reddish-brown give it even more depth. My brother took the following photos when he received it from the EBay seller. The finish looked to be in excellent shape. There were no worn spots on the bowl. The rim had some tars in the grooves but it was quite clean. The bowl had a thin cake but nothing too thick. The stem did not seat in the mortise properly and there was a gap between the end of the shank and the stem. The stem was oxidized though it had no tooth marks or chatter.I had seen the brand before but could not remember what I had read about it. I turned to pipephil’s site and found a picture of the same pipe – the same finish, the same stem logo and the same stamping on the underside. The site said that the pipe was crafted by Briarcraft as established by the stem logo. I have included a photo of the listing on the pipephil site.That led me to look on pipedia.org to do some digging on Briarcraft pipes. Here is the link: https://pipedia.org/wiki/Briarcraft. There I found the following information. I have included the part of it here that includes a reference to the Wimbledon line.
Briarcraft Pipe Company was very prosperous between 1920 and 1940 and their pipes usually feature a diamond shield logo. They also produced a line of seconds under the following names: Airo, Arcadian, Briarmeer, Smokemaster, Cavalcade, Hallmark, Sterling Hall, and Wimbledon (emphasis mine). They closed their doors in 1950. Briarcraft was started by Richard Kliethermes Sr. and located on Pipetown Hill Rd, Spring Valley, NY. It received its power from a dam on Hyenga Lake, later it moved to 66 Central Ave., Spring Valley, NY. At first it was housed in a 2 story frame building and later a 2 story stone building was added. Upon the death of RK Sr., business was run by Richard Jr, between 1920 and 1940 it was second in size to Frank Medico pipes. All the briar root was imported from Africa, with the start of WWII, imports stopped and a briar like root was imported from S. Carolina. Richard Kliethermes Jr. was the inventor of a pipe known as Smokemaster, which used a doubled up pipe cleaner in the bit to absorb tobacco juice. With the decline in business during WWII and the following 5 years it closed its doors 1950.
Jeff took the following close up photos to show the bowl and rim condition and the stamping on the underside of the shank. The third photo below shows the oxidation on the otherwise clean stem. Jeff did his usual great clean up on the mortise and airways in the shank and stem. He reamed the bowl back to briar and scrubbed the externals with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap. He rinsed it under running water. When the pipe arrived in Vancouver in the last box I received it looked like the photos below. There was some rim darkening around the inner edge of the bowl but the briar was solid with no crumbling or burning. The finish had lightened with the scrubbing but would be easy to bring back to the original colour.The oxidation on the button end of the stem was pretty light but on the tenon end was quite heavy. For some reason it rose to the surface and was almost white in colour.I wiped down the rim with some alcohol on a cotton pad to clean it up and prepare it for restaining to match the bowl. I stained it with a dark brown stain pen.The colour of the stain pen was a perfect match to the bowl.I wetsanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads to cut through the surface oxidation. I dry sanded with 3200-12000 grit pads to further polish it. I rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil after each set of three pads and with the final pad set the stem aside to dry. I took the following photos of the stem and in them you can still see the residual oxidation under the flash of the camera. I decided to use some more of the Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer and Fine and Extra Fine Pipe Polish and see if I could draw out further oxidation. I am still experimenting with the product to check out its effectiveness so this seemed like another good test. I rubbed it down with the deoxidizer and a paper towel and was able to remove even more oxidation from the stem. I was impressed by what it brought out of the vulcanite.I rubbed the stem down with the Fine and Extra Fine Pipe Polish and saw the shine on the stem increase and the oxidation disappear. So far so good.I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to futher polish it. The oxidation was gone. I gave the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem several coats of carnauba on the buffing wheel. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine on the pipe. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is a great looking pipe and one that has great feel in the hand. This one will also make its way to the rebornpipes store soon. If you are interested let me know – send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or a message on Facebook. Thanks for looking.