Daily Archives: April 26, 2017

A VIRTUAL PIPE HUNT – A new way to experience the joy of a pipe hunt


Blog by Steve Laug

To me there is nothing quite like the thrill of a pipe hunt to get my blood running. The anticipation of finding something that I had not found or seen before is always a prologue to the actual hunt itself. When I walk through the door of the “hunting ground” there is a new anticipation – what lies in store for me in the aisles and booths of the shop. I have found that some shops/malls are organized and have all of the tobacciana in one spot in the shop but the majority are not that systematized. Something about walking through a large or small shop with a focused objective makes the pleasure even more intense. When I find pipes – be it just a few or a box full – I get a solid rush as I work my way through the box and see if anything special is hidden in the lot. I have found Dunhill’s hidden in cans of junk pipes so I always work through the lot individually. I have to tell you that there are very few times that I come home from a hunt empty handed.

On Friday evening my brother Jeff called me from Montana. He and his wife had driven there to visit her parents. Along the way they had of course stopped at several antique shops and looked for pipes. In one of the shops he struck “gold”, the shop had a motherlode of pipes. He had talked with the owner and she told him she bought a box of pipes. He bought a few of them from her and then went back to the hotel and gave me a call. He showed me the pipes he had picked up and they were old ones. He had some nice pipes. He then told me the story and an idea he had.

His idea was brilliant really and quite simple. We both have iPads and use FaceTime to chat back and forth about pipes that he is looking at. He thought, why not bring the iPad to the antique shop and take me on the pipe hunt with him. That way we could look through the many pipes that were available in the shop and it would be like I was present experiencing the discovery of each one. We made a plan and set the time for the hunt. I was looking forward to checking out the place.

The next day after lunch my iPad showed that Jeff was calling on Facetime. I answered and in a moment I was inside the antique shop with him. We walked over to the corner of the shop where the display case was. The owner opened the case and Jeff brought out a rack of pipes at a time. He brought them to the counter where the iPad was sitting. He took each pipe out of the rack and we looked at the stamping on the shank and the condition of the mouthpiece and bowl. We looked at the stem material and determined what it was made of. We guessed the age as best as we could, given the brand and the style of the bowl and stem. We went through over forty pipes that way and spent the better part of an hour and a half.

He captured two photos of the iniside of the shop that showed what we saw when we were on FaceTime. They show a display case and the area where the pipes were in the store from two different angles. He gathered the pipes together and took them to his hotel room. He spread out the pipes on the bed and took some photos of the lot. There really are some unique pipes in the lot. I can’t wait to get them in Vancouver and work them over. There were many CPF pipes in the bunch that are different from others I have worked. The first is a photo that gives a big picture of the pipes we picked out from the shop.He also took some close up photos of sections of the lot. Here are those photos. They give you an idea of some of the unique pieces we found at the shop.The next two photos is a close up of the pipes on the left toward the top of the first photo.The next two photos show closer looks at the pipes in the middle and on the right side of the first photo. You can see from the photos that there are some interesting pieces that we found. I could not believe that we picked up 30 pipes and one case. There were 11 unique CPF brand pipes, 1 Manhattan, 1 Twisted shank horn stem, 1 Borlum, 1 Superior, 1 Hilson, 2 WDC, 1 Kaywoodie All Briar, 1 Imperial, 2 Italian Briar, 1 Hooker, 1 Stanwell Majestic,  1 London Thorn Drucquer pipe, 2 Meerschaums, 1 carved bulldog, 1 Seville, 1 Frank Bakelite and a RBC empty pipe case. He sent me a list of the brands on the pipes. I have grouped together to give a sense of what was present in the lot.

  1. CPF military mount Oom Paul
  2. CPF The Remington, French Briar, (Miliatary mount)
  3. CPF French Briar with Hallmarked band and horn stem. Filigree carving around bowl
  4. CPF Pullman with Horn Stem
  5. CPF Siamese with twin horizontal stems
  6. CPF Cromwell with twin vertical stems
  7. CPF Briar Bowl Sitting on Petals- Horn Stem
  8. CPF French Briar Bulldog with Horn Stem
  9. CPF French Briar with tarnished metal band and a Horn Stem (looks like mini-Wellington)
  10. CPF French Briar Horn Shaped Pipe with metal band and Horn Stem
  11. CPF Colon French Briar with Black Meer Bowl and Amber stem
  12. Briar pipe with twisted shank going into a twisted horn stem
  13. Borlum Italian Briar (Unbreakable Bit)
  14. Hilson Bolero, Made in Belgium, #8
  15. Superior with filigree metal band around shank and bowl- red bakelite stem
  16. Manhattan with Horn Stem
  17. WDC Monitor
  18. WDC Campaign with Briar unscrewable bowl
  19. Kaywoodie AllBriar 50B (All-imported Briar)- chewed off wood stem
  20. Imperial De Luxe, Made in London England (Mini-churchwarden)
  21. Italian Briar bulldog with red dot on stem
  22. The Hooker- with screw cap next to bowl on top of shank- Patented May 17,1910- Horn Stem
  23. Stanwell Majestic 64, Made in Denmark
  24. London Thorn, Drucquer & Sons, Berkeley
  25. Carved bulldog with yellow Bakelite stem
  26. Seville Filter, Imported Briar Italy
  27. Heavily Rusticated Italian Briar with wrong stem
  28. No-name Meerschaum Bowl and shank without stem- with spikes on bowl and shank, brown to black
  29. Large Meerschaum Capped Pipe with horn stem and cherry wood shank
  30. Frank Bakelite (EP Silver)
  31. RBC Genuine French Briar , Red-lined small Black Case

When Jeff returned home, he removed the stickers and tags from the pipe and laid them out on his kitchen table. The photos below give another look at the pipes – sans price stickers and tags. I would say we had a good day pipe hunting. I have never seen that many CPF pipes in one spot and the number of pipes of that age is unique as well. I think we will have to do some more of these virtual pipe hunts because it transcends borders and space and gives the experience in real time. The only thing missing to me was the actual handling of the pipes in person. The experience was really good and I was able to feel like I was in the shop itself as we looked at each pipe and discussed the pros and cons before buying them. You might consider this kind of pipe hunt if you have a good friend who enjoys the hunt as much as you do and has an iPhone or iPad. If you happen to try it out or have already done so in the past post a comment below. Thanks for looking.

 

 

 

 

A Medico VFQ Rhodesian with a Cumberland Stem


Blog by Steve Laug

My brother Jeff and I visited an antique mall that was in an old grainery along a railroad track not too long ago. We went through the display cases and booths on two floors and found a few pipes. This was one of them – an old Medico VFQ Rhodesian. I have been told that VFQ means Very Fine Quality and underneath the grime it appeared that this one may have lived up to the stamping. The stem is a Cumberland like material with swirls and striations in a mahogany coloured stem. In classic Medico style the pipe was made for their paper filter and had a hollow, adjustable tenon. The tenon has a split on both sides that can be expanded should the stem become loose in the shank.The pipe was in rough shape. The bowl was thickly caked and had remnants of tobacco in it. The rim top was covered with overflow from the bowl and there were some large chips on the top and inner edge of the bowl on the right side. The finish was shot with the top varnish coat peeling all over the bowl. The ring around the bowl was dirty but was undamaged.The pipe was stamped Medico over V.F.Q. over Imported Briar on the left side of the shank. It also was stamped with the shape number 76 on the right side. The stem bore the V.F.Q. stamp on the left side as well.The stem was oxidized, dirty and had tooth chatter on both sides at the button. There was an old paper filter still in the tenon and the inside of the shank and stem were filthy.When we got back to my brother’s place we reamed the pipe and scrubbed it down with acetone on a cotton pad to remove the damage finish. We scrubbed the mortise, airway into the bowl and the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. I took photos of the cleaned pipe when I finally brought it to my work table in Vancouver. (Notice the angle of the rim top on the bowl. It was not flat and the damage had left the front higher than the back.) The next two photos show the condition of the tenon and bowl when taken apart and the damaged rim once all the cake had been removed. The rim had damage all the way around but the biggest damage was on the rear right side where there was a large chip missing.The stem shows some wear in the next photos and the striations of colour are almost not visible due to oxidation.I decided to even out the height of the rim cap by carefully topping the bowl. Since the back side was higher than the front I was pretty sure I could remove most if not all of the chipped area on the rear right. I topped it on a board with 220 grit sandpaper and carefully leveled the bowl by applying more pressure to the rear of the bowl than the front and lifting the front edge off the paper as I remove the damaged and excess on the read of the bowl. It took some work to level the bowl properly and end up with an even top both from a vertical and horizontal view.I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to bevel out the inner edge of the rim to remove the remaining rim damage and clean up the appearance of the rim.I sanded the rim with a medium and fine grit sanding sponge and with 1500-4000 grit micromesh sanding pads to remove the scratches. I wiped the bowl down with acetone on a cotton pad to remove the remaining finish and stain on the bowl in preparation for matching the newly topped rim with the colour of the rest of the bowl. I did a more thorough cleanup of the mortise and airway into the bowl to remove all of the sanding dust and remaining debris that was there. I scrubbed it out with cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and alcohol. I also ran pipe cleaners through the airway in the stem and cleaned the mortise with cotton swabs.The bowl had many nicks and scratches. I sanded it with micromesh pads to remove the majority of them but decided to leave some of the deeper ones as beauty marks of the old pipe. In the photos the bowl looks pretty richly coloured but in reality it was faded and apart from the flash the grain did not stand out. I stained the bowl with a dark brown aniline stain, flamed it and repeated the process until I was happy with the coverage on the bowl. The look of the bowl in the next two photos is really odd. I think that it is a phenomenon of the flash because it did not look like this in person.I wiped the bowl down with alcohol on cotton pads to remove some of the opacity of the stain and make it more transparent. In the photos below you can see that it is lighter but still to heavy to show the grain to my liking. I buffed the bowl with red Tripoli, sanded it with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge, then polished it with 1500-2400 grit micromesh pads to remove some more of the dark stain and leave behind some nice contrasts in the grain of the bowl. The next photos show it after I had buffed it with Blue Diamond to polish it. I set the bowl aside for now and turned my attention to the stem. I have found that these Medico stems are not fully vulcanite and are a bit of a bear to polish. I have often been left to do the polishing by hand as the buffer can generate too much heat if I am not careful. The heat damages the material of the stem and forces you to start over. I sanded out the tooth chatter and marks on both sides of the stem and reshaped the button edges with 220 grit sandpaper.  The flow of the top of the shank to the top of the stem was interrupted in that the height of the stem at that point was higher than that of the shank so I sanded the top half of the stem to make that transition smoother.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 until I removed the scratches left behind by the sandpaper. I dry sanded with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil between each sanding pad to give the pads more bite and allow them to really polish the stem. Between the 4000 and 6000 grit pads I buffed the stem very carefully (you have to have a light touch against the wheel). I gave it a final rub down of oil after the 12000 grit pad. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed bowl and stem with Blue Diamond a final time. It really polishes the briar and with a careful/light touch can polish these older Medico stems. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine.The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. To me the stain goes really well with the polished Cumberland like stem. They play off each other very well. The contrast on the bowl raises the highlights in the stem and vice versa. This pipe will soon be on the rebornpipes store if you wold like to add it to your rack. It is very lightweight and comfortable in the hand. I think, judging from the condition of the pipe when I got it, that it will be a great smoking pipe, with or without the Medico filter.