Blog by Steve Laug
Sometimes you are hunting for pipes in antique shops, antique malls or even thrift shops when you come on a box like the one below. I don’t know about you but my first reaction when I see a box like this one is to walk away. I have found that they are often empty or at best holding worn out pipe that is cracked, chewed or both and certainly one I don’t want. Well I have tried to instill that habit in my brother but he is a better hunter than me! He opens the boxes to see what is in them. Now, understand, I used to do that but I have gotten jaded over the years of finding next to nothing or worse in these old pipe boxes. He opened this one and found something he was not expecting. When he showed me the box on Facetime I fully expected it to be useless even though he assured me I would be surprised.He opened the box and showed me what was inside – well it was not a Sterling Hall Hand Made nor was it a useless worn out pipe. Instead it was a WDC Wellington that through the camera looked remarkably good. The finish looked good, the stem looked good, the nickel ferrule looked good. I was hooked. Okay so it is a Wellington I said – we have cleaned up quite a few of these system style pipes so I was still not that impressed. It so far appeared to be a nice looking old pipe in the wrong box. Heck, there was even a Sterling Hall pipe sock in the box along with the pamphlet included with every Sterling Hall pipe. He just laughed and held the pipe up to the camera and rotated it from side to side so I could see the grain and the stem. It looked really good. The grain on both sides was nice and from the front and the back it also looked good. The stem was shiny black and bore the WDC in a triangle under the Wellington logo on the topside. In fact it appeared to be almost flawless but I still felt that there was something that he was not telling me. What was it with this Wellington pipe he had found in the Sterling Hall box?Finally he turned the pipe bowl toward me. The bowl was unsmoked! It was unsmoked and clean! It was not worn or damaged or…. You know that feeling when you are looking at a New Old Stock (NOS) pipe? Yes he had found a new unsmoked old stock WDC Wellington in flawless condition. The fact that it had been kept in the wrong box had probably preserved it. There was no oxidation on the stem and it was like the day it had left the WDC factory.I honestly could not believe my eyes. I don’t think I have ever seen a unsmoked new Wellington in my life. It was a first for me and I have to guess that it will probably be the only one that I ever see. He shipped it to me in the last shipment of pipes and I took the pictures above to let you see what I saw when it arrived. I have also included photos of the brochure that was in the Sterling Hall box for your reading enjoyment. Look at the prices of the pipes and quaint descriptions of how to break in and care for a pipe. Look also at the variety of shapes that were available in the Sterling Hall line. These pipes were made by Briarcraft in New York and were one of their higher grade lines. Enjoy the read and thanks for walking with me in the unveiling of this pipe hunt find!