Pinehurst Bakelite Zeppelin

Blog by Steve Laug

pine1aOne of the most unusual and unique pipes that my brother sent in this box of pipes was a pipe that was stamped PINEHURST in gold on the left side of the barrel. What made it unusual is not the fact that it was a Zeppelin or cigar type pipe but that it is made out of Bakelite. When I took it apart there is a diamond shape with a capital P stamped on the inside. The stem is vulcanite with a long tenon that fits into a mortise that is beveled inward. There is an aluminum nose cone with a single hole in the middle and in the Bakelite just below the cone are two parallel holes – one on each side. The Bakelite body of the pipe was scratched and the finish was dull. There were tooth marks on the top and bottom side of the stem and there some dried glue on the top of the stem near what would have been the shank. From what I can find out on the internet the pipe was made in the late 1920’s or early 1930’s. My brother took the following photos of the pipe before he cleaned it. The first two give a clear picture of the pipe as a whole.pinea1 pinebThe next two show the oxidized aluminum nosecone and the stamping on the left shank side of the pipe.pinec pinedThe next three photos show the pipe taken apart. It is dirty but not too bad for a pipe of this age.pinee pinegThe last two photos show what the stem looked like when he received it in Idaho.pinehI was unfamiliar with the Pinehurst brand so I did some research to see what I could find out. I looked first to see if there was any information on Pipephil’s website. I have included the link if you wish to read the article he has in full in his section on odd pipes. It is written in French and is worth a read.

I am quoting a translated portion from that page pinpointing the information regarding the name: Pinehurst is the name of a city in Texas (USA). This stamping can take various forms and sometimes it is omitted. One possibility is put forward from looking at the logo that accompanies the stamp of some models. Inside the pipe there is a P in a sort of diamond shape that is characteristic of pipes made by Reiss-Prime Corp. called the “Premier”.

UPDATE: 12/26/21 I received and email from a reader name Susan Tyler about the Pinehurst brand it is definitely linked to the Reiss-Premier Corp. in West New York. She sent me some interesting articles on the make of the brand John D. Burger. She sent me the obituary for Mr. Burger that I have included below. Notice the link between Reiss Brothers Pipes of Chicago and the Premier Briar Pipe Company of West New York. Earliest mention of the Pinehurst Pipe was in 12-15-1921 in The Pinehurst Outlook (Pinehurst NC). See below…. Reiss-Premier donated the pipe to a lot of prize winners in different golf tournaments up until the early 1940’s. Thank you Susan for your help on identifying this maker.

There was not much more information on the web other than lots of discussions on the forums about the brand and almost all linked it to the previous site. However, I did find a listing on etsy for a Pinehurst pipe where the seller included some helpful information on the pipe that was being sold. Here is the link: I quote the first two sentences of the description because the pipe in my hand perfectly matches the one that he is selling. Very RARE 1st generation 1932 Pinehurst Bakelite Zeppelin Torpedo – Estate Cigar Pipe. This…unique smoking pipe is in incredible near mint condition. Age Circa: Early 1930’s.

When I received the pipe from my brother he had cleaned the pipe thoroughly. He had cleaned the exterior of the pipe and the stem with Murphy’s Oil Soap and rinsed it under running water. He had cleaned out the inside so that there were no tars or oils remaining. The aluminum nose cone and centre portion of the pipe which had a male aluminum threaded tenon that screwed into the female Bakelite thread portion were lightly oxidized but not damaged. He cleaned out the airway in the stem with pipe cleaners and alcohol. The stem had tooth marks and chatter on both the top and the bottom sides near the button. There was also some dried glue on the top of the stem. When my brother sent it to me I had not bothered to look at it. I did not take the time to look at it. Today when I was talking with him he said it was not briar and that he was a little disappointed. I took the pipe out of the box and looked it over – it was made out of Bakelite. There was no need to be disappointed as it was an old timer. I took the following photos when I brought it to the work table today.pine1 pine2The inside of the two parts of the barrel were very clean. There was no debris of tars and oils inside either half. When I took it apart I found some unique features of the Pinehurst Bakelite Zeppelin. In the stem half of the barrel there was a spring wire holding a clay filter disk in the shank. When I removed the spring wire I was also able to remove the clay disk filter. Behind the clay filter there was a rim that held it above three holes at the base – one on each side of the centre larger hole. The combination of the clay filter system and the gap between the end of the airway and the filter acted as a trap to cool the smoke before it is drawn into the mouth. The smoke was drawn from the front portion of the bowl around the clay filter where the moisture that could cause bite in the smoke dissipated on the disk. From there it was drawn through the four V-shaped openings in the clay disk into small gap between disk and the three air holes in the base where it was further cooled. The twice cooled smoke was then drawn into the mouthpiece and out the slot into the mouth of the smoker. It is almost like the chamber in a reverse calabash pipe of today or the cool smoking gourd calabash of time past.pineaThe outside of the two parts were dirty but the fit was perfect – no damage at the joint and the threads fit perfectly together. The threads on the inside of the Bakelite and those on the aluminum portion were in perfect condition. Once they were cleaned they fit together without any separation.pine3 pine5I took photos of the stem to show the condition it was in once it arrived. There was tooth chatter on the top and underside that can be seen in the next two photos. There was also some wear on the top and underside of the button itself. The mark in the first photo below that looks like a scar on the topside is dried glue – it was hard on the surface and sticky underneath.pine4I twisted the stem out of the shank of the Bakelite and was pleased to see that the there was no damage to the tenon. There was an inner bevel on the end of the Bakelite portion that made the stem and shank to fit snugly together.pine6The Bakelite was in perfect condition. There were no cracks or broken spots. I polished the Bakelite and the aluminum with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a wet cotton pad to remove the dust from sanding it.pine8 pine9 pine9aI sanded the tooth marks and chatter off both sides of the stem and the glue from the topside of the stem with 180 and 220 grit sandpaper. I cleaned up the top and underside of the button and the lines of the stem sides.pine10I 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 and after the final set gave it a last coat of oil. I set it aside to dry.pine11 pine12 pine13I buffed the Pinehurst Zeppelin with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish more of the scratches out of the Bakelite and to shine the vulcanite. I gave the entire pipe multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to give it a shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The Bakelite has a rich shine and you can see the varied colours of browns and black in the finished pipe. The aluminum shines with all scratching and oxidation removed. The stem looks new with a rich black polish to it. Overall the pipe is a beauty and from what I can find online it is a bit of a rarity. So I think my brother has no need to feel disappointed in this old timer from the 1930s as it has a rich heritage and if it could talk a long and interesting story to tell of its journeys to this point in 2017. Thanks for looking.pine14 pine15 pine16 pine17 pine18 pine19 pine20 pine21


5 thoughts on “Pinehurst Bakelite Zeppelin

  1. Ken Street

    I have a Pinehurst pipe in excellent condition that belonged to my father. He said that sailors smoked them onboard ship during World War II because they had no visible flame. They could be used in blackout conditions while cigarettes and regular pipes could not. I have absolutely no idea what it is worth

  2. William

    I agree with both Charles and Robert. Quite a find indeed and another amazing job. Thank you for showing us a look into the past as well as something to add to our treasure hunt list!

  3. Robert M. Boughton

    A brilliant restoration of a pipe that is, as Pipephil noted, ingenious. I still regret missing out on a chance to acquire such a pipe from Chuck before he moved, but maybe he still has it. Seeing this, I think his is its twin! Your attention to detail is astounding as always.


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