Blog by Steve Laug
This is the final pipe of the lot of pipes I received from the pipe man in Eastern Canada who picked up an amazing lot an auction. The kind of price he paid makes me envious! This one is an older Loewe and Company graceful and diminutive pipe. It is stamped on the left side of the shank with L&Co. in an oval. On the right side of the shank it is stamped Loewe over England W.
When I received the pipe I took the following photos of it to give you the big picture of this tiny pipe. The stem was in good shape but had the most oxidation of the lot that was sent to me. There were small tooth marks and chatter on the stem near the button on both sides. The finish was dirty but in decent shape. The rim was worn and there were some dents and dings on the top surface. The inner edge of the bowl was slightly out of round. Someone had reamed the pipe back to bare wood but the internals were very dirty. I took a close up photo of the rim to show its condition. The finish was worn on the rim as well as darkened and dented. You can see the damage to the inner edge of the bowl as well.The next two photos show the oxidation on the stem. It is hard to see the tooth chatter and marks but they are present and will need to be dealt with.I also took some photos of the stamping. While not perfect you can read the stamps quite well and see the details that I mentioned above.Knowing that the rest of the pipes that I have cleaned up from this lot came from the 1930’s there is a good chance that this one did as well. While I have a few Loewe’s in my own collection I have never done any research on the brand and know very little about them. I figured now was a good time to learn. I Googled and found the cakeanddottle website listed below. It has some amazing information on Loewe pipes and I have included that information here for ease of use.
Loewe is my favorite pipe maker. How to rank them in terms of the many great London made pipes of their era? For me in the simplest of subjective terms, Loewe pipes from before the Civic era are like Comoy’s, but even better. After Civic took over in 1964 I suppose the quality of Loewe was very comparable to a lower end GBD, which means they were still ok pipes but not up to previous standards. But those earlier pipes…to me they’re just as good as it gets.
A shape catalog that is very, very English, outdated by today’s standards for all but the most ardent Anglophile. Stems that mirrored the fantastic cut of a Comoy’s hand cut stem, with the added bonus that the earlier pipes had stems using a softer vulcanite. Almost rubbery, like Charatan Double Comfort stems, or for a modern comparison, like the very soft ebonite Dolly Wood cuts Ferndown stems from. The one modern Dunhill I have that doesn’t have a Cumberland stem has a similarly nice, soft vulcanite stem. Just a joy to clamp between your teeth.
There is not a ton of material around on these great old pipes, and there aren’t too many of them to be had compared to the other English marques from the period. One thing I’ve noticed is most of the old Loewes you see look rode hard and put up wet, which tells me that their owners loved them and smoked them, which is the highest praise any brand can gain.
The following is an outline for placing your Loewe pipe within an approximate range of years, gained from what little I’ve found on the web and the experience I’ve gained from buying them.
1856-1920 early Haymarket era
dating via hallmarks on pipes with silver
1920-1955 middle Haymarket era
L&Co. (in oval)
Loewe London W.
underside of shank
shape name Made in England (encircled) this may just have been on export pipes
*Prior to 1955 Loewe had no series, stamping only the shape name on the underside of the shank. I have seen one Military marked with the series name Haymarket, which does not appear in any Loewe literature I’ve seen and could have preceded the introduction of series names for a brief period.
**Loewe had three special grades, in descending order, Extra Grain, Straight Grain and Special Grain. These grades superseded the shape name on the underside of the shank. These were Loewe’s finest pipes and produced in very limited numbers. These grades continued either up til or into the Civic era. They are the Loewe equivalent of Comoy’s Specimen, Selected Straight Grain and Blue Riband series. I do not know whether these pipes were made prior to 1955 or only from 1955 and on.
1955-1964 late Haymarket era
L&Co. (in oval)
Loewe London W.
underside of shank
***the original three series are introduced in 1955; Centurion, Original and Old English.
I’ve seen Haymarket era Loewes with and without a bevel on the rim. Similarly, the tenon of Haymarket era Loewes can have a step in it or be straight. It does seem that all later pipes have a step in the tenon, but I have seen pipes that were clearly Haymarket era both ways.
In the case of Extra Grain, Straight Grain and Special Grain pipes, there was no shape name on the underside of the shank. These pipes featured the grade and an encircled Made in England underneath instead.
1964-1967 early Civic era
L&Co. (in oval)
Loewe London W.
Tricky because the stamping is exactly as late Haymarket era pipes. We have to look for the new series names on these pipes to know they’re from this period, but that doesn’t always work because Civic continued to produce Originals and Centurions during this time.
Civic era Originals and Centurions can be identified by the step in their tenons.
Sometime during the Civic era, the three series were expanded to six, with the addition of Standard, Spigot and Mounted series. I have also seen several Civic era Loewes stamped with the series Great Britain, but I’ve never seen it mentioned elsewhere. I do not know how long the original three series continued to be stamped on shanks and it’s possible there are Civic examples but I haven’t seen one.
In addition, the collector familiar with Haymarket era pipes will instantly see and feel the difference in quality these early Civic era pipes present. Think of these pipes as transition period Barlings, ok but nowhere near up to previous standards.
1967-1978 late Civic era
three digit shape numbers instead of shape names
1978-present Cadogan era
****dating via hallmarks on pipes with silver
three digit shape numbers instead of shape names as with late Civic era pipes
The Lucite and Filigree series were introduced during the Cadogan era.
These pipes also have the Comoy’s encircled Made in England, a dead giveaway for Cadogan Loewes.
****Les Wood did all of the silver work for Cadogan from 1979 to 2007, and Loewes with silver bands made during this period received hallmarks, facilitating easy dating . The inclusion of hallmarks was at the request of Cadogan, as Les does not hallmark his own pipes or the work he’s done for Dunhill, Ashton and Upshall.
During the Haymarket era Loewe produced seconds under the stamping Haymarket pipes. These had two digit shape numbers and look to be a nice quality second, comparable to how close Royal Sovereigns were to the Orlik propers they were second to.
Later, I believe during the Civic stewardship, Loewe produced seconds under the Beefeater stamp. These turn up more frequently and you see them on eBay from time to time.
As more or better info becomes available, I will edit this post, and please, if you note anything incorrect contact me so I can make the necessary changes.
I also read a thread on the Pipes Magazine forum regarding Loewe’s pipes. I quote a section of the discussion that was written by Al Jones who writes on rebornpipes.
Capt: check with Mike (CakeandDottle) over on the SmokersForums, he is the Lowe expert. From what I’ve read on his posts about Loewe the Haymarket era pipes are the most desirable. Here are some Loewe tidbits Mike passed to me. Your two-digit pipe shape is consistent with a Haymarket pipe.
- Haymarket era pipes do not have three digit shape numbers.
- Will have L&Co on right side of shank, or underneath on blasts.
- Will have Loewe London W on left side of shank.
- Will have L&Co stamped on right side of stem.
- Can have Original, Centurion or Old English stamped under the L&Co.
- Can have Extra Grain or Special Grain stamped on underside of shank, along with Made in England encircled.
- Can have straight or beveled rims.
- Will have a “feel” to them that lets you know you are holding a pipe that is way above average, even by London made standards. Grain is generally even better than Comoy’s equivalent grades.
- Will have substantial looking and feeling stem work.
- Will not have fills.
Another site is http://pipepages.com/loewedan1.html
From the collected information above, I can safely say that I am dealing with a Haymarket Era pipe. It has the L&Co logo in an oval on the left side of the shank. It has Loewe over London W stamped on the right side of the shank. There is not a shape name or line stamped on the underside of the shank. The stamping matches the description that given by CakeandDottle under the 1920-1955 Middle Haymarket Era. This would put it in the same time frame as the other pipes that I have restored for the Eastern Canada pipe man.
I reamed the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to clean up the inside of the bowl. The bowl had already been reamed and there were only slight remnants of a cake in the bowl.With the bowl clean I used a 1500 grit micromesh sanding pad to smooth out the rim and take off the carbon buildup on top. It also worked to take off the scratches in the briar.I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to clean up the out of round rim and bevel that were present. It did not take too much sanding and it looked as good as new.I used a dark brown stain pen to touch up the rim. The colour of the stain was a perfect match to the colour of the stain on the bowl. I stained the bevel and the top of the rim.I cleaned out the inside of the mortise and the airways in the shank and the stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. The pipe was quite dirty in these areas and took a bit of scrubbing to get the grit out of the airways.I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation and the tooth marks and chatter. Several of them were quite deep so I “painted” the tooth marks with the flame of the lighter to lift them to the surface of the stem. They all raised to the surface and a bit of sanding smoothed out the damage.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. I set the stem aside to dry. I buffed the pipe and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish the minute scratches that still remained in the vulcanite and the finish of the briar. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine and then hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. This evening I packed the pipes and sent them Express Post back to the pipe man in Eastern Canada. I am hoping he enjoys his “new” pipes and adds them to his rotation. Cheers. Thanks for looking.