Blog by Steve Laug
There are certain shapes that Stanwell just nails – they get them absolutely perfect. There is nothing that could be done to make the shape even more stunning than it is. The shape 180 is one of those shapes for me. It is a Dublinesque freehand with a conical bowl, an oval shank and stem that has a short saddle before flowing into the blade. According to a chart by the late Bas Stevens this shape was designed by Tom Eltang (https://rebornpipes.com/tag/shape-numbers-and-designers-of-stanwell-pipes/). It has the appearance of some of the Eltang’s that I have seen. In a write up for a Stanwell 180 sandblast pipe on smokingpipes.com Adam Davidson says this about the shape: “I would bet that this Stanwell shape was designed by Tom Eltang, who has designed quite a few for the company over the years.” So having known Bas Stevens personally I can confirm that it is definitively an Eltang designed pipe. (https://www.smokingpipes.com/pipes/estate/denmark/moreinfo.cfm?product_id=101503)
My brother Jeff found this Stanwell in an antique shop in Astoria, Oregon. It was on consignment by a widow who was selling her pipe collector husband’s collection. He bought a few of the pipes from her consignment and this is the first I have worked on. He took the following photos of the pipe to show what it looked like when he found it. It was truly a mess but looking beneath the grime he had found a gem that only needed some TLC. The grain on this pipe is truly stunning and the lay out of the pipe follows the grain amazingly well. He took some close up photos of the rim and the underside of the bowl to show what it looked like up close. The rim was pretty tarred with overflow from the cake in the bowl. The bowl had a cake but obviously it had been trimmed back somewhere along the way. The pipe smelled strongly of aromatic vanilla tobacco and would take some serious cleaning to bring the briar back to neutral.The cross grain on the underside of the bowl is quite stunning. It would only stand out more once the pipe was cleaned and polished.The stamping on the pipe was on the underside of the shank near the stem and was sharp and clear. It reads Stanwell over Made in Denmark over the script of Majestic. Further up the shank toward the bowl it was stamped with the 180 shape number.The stem was oxidized and had tooth chatter on both sides. It seemed to have some calcification around the button. None of the marks looked to deep so it had some promise. The Crown S Stanwell logo on the topside of the small saddle portion of the stem was in excellent condition.My brother reamed the bowl and cleaned the internals of the shank and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. He scrubbed the exterior of the pipe and stem with Murphy’s Oil Soap and was able to remove the build up on the rim and also on the stem. The finish was in very good shape under the grime on the bowl. There appeared to be a dark spot on the left side of the bowl. The next four photos show the condition of the pipe when I received it from my brother. He was able remove the build up and calcification on the stem. You can see from the photos below that other than oxidation the stem was very clean.I worked on the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation and reshape the button edges. It did not take too much work to get the oxidation that was on the surface of the stem.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each set of three pads. After the third set of pads I gave it another coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I used a dental pick to clean out the slot in the end of the button. There was some build up in that area that had hardened. I ran a pipe cleaner through the stem and used cotton swabs and alcohol to clean out the inside of the shank and the airway to the bowl. I polished the exterior of the rim, bowl and shank with micromesh sanding pads using 1500-12000 grit pads.I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish the vulcanite and the briar. I gave them both several coats of carnauba wax and buffed with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. You can see from the photos of the left side of the bowl that I was able to remove the darkened spot on upper portion of the bowl. The rich finish and the comfortable shape of the pipe give the Majestic stamping on the shank a well-chosen appellation. Thanks for walking with me through the restoration.