Monthly Archives: July 2017

Restoring a Long Stem Mini Churchwarden Imperial 15 Prince

Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the worktable is a mini churchwarden prince shaped pipe. It has a delicate look to it and is very lightweight. It is petite with a length of 6 ¾ inches, height of 1 1/8 inches, bowl diameter of 1 ½ inches and a chamber diameter of 7/8 inches. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank Imperial in script with a flourish underneath. Below the flourish it reads De Luxe. On the right side of the shank it is stamped Made in London over England with a shape number 15. The next photos of the pipe show what it looked like before my brother did his clean up work.The pipe was in rough shape. The finish was worn and crumbling. There were some small sandpits on the bottom left and right sides. The underside of the bowl had a spot of glue and the remnants of something that the pipe had been glued to. I wonder if it had not been in a display box of some sort before being liberated and sold. The bowl had a thick cake but the rim had an overflow of lava on the top and the inner edge was damaged to the point that the bowl was no longer in round. There was an inner tube extending into the bottom of the bowl. The original slant on the tube was ruined and the end of the tube was chewed and damaged. The stem was oxidized and there were deep tooth marks on the top and underside near the button. The underside tooth marks had a small hole that broke through into the airway in the stem. Jeff took some photos of the bowl and rim to show the condition of both. You can see the cake in the bowl and the lava overflow down the sides of the bowl from the surface of the rim. The fact that the bowl did not have a flat rip to but a rather rounded/thin rim top allowed the flow downward on the bowl.The next photo shows the bottom of the stummel and the thick glue/paper coat that is stuck to that part of the bowl. It appears to me that someone had the pipe stuck to some fibre board in a display case of pipe shapes. Possibly, it was a shadow box of “dad’s” or “grandpa’s” and this one was a centerpiece. Following that photo are three different pictures of the inner tube that sat in the bottom of the bowl. The end on these is usually slanted with the longer edge sitting on the bottom of the bowl and the shorter edge ending at the entrance of the airway into the bowl.The bowl has some amazing grain running up the sides of the bowl and I am sure that underneath the debris that is glued to the bottom there will be some nice bird’s eye grain. The finish was worn but the grain popping through the grime.The stamping was readable but it was faint. Care would need to be taken in the clean up so as not to damage it further.The stem had some issues – there were deep tooth marks on both sides from the button forward. On the topside there were nicks mid stem and near the shank/stem junction. The button also seemed worn and there was a possible crack on the underside mid button.I have read different bits of history on the Imperial pipes and trying to put them together is an interesting puzzle. From Pipes, Artisans and Trademarks, by Jose Manuel Lopés’ I found that t he Imperial Tobacco Co. (Imperial Tobacco Ltd.) was founded in 1901 through the merger of several British tobacco companies. In 1902 it went into partnership with the American Tobacco Company to found the British American Tobacco Company. This information was also cited on

I looked further on Pipedia under The Civic Company This lead came from a price list/catalogue that I had found in researching information on an earlier Imperial pipe I was working on. Here is the link The Pipedia article says Civic was formed in 1921out of the Imperial Tobacco Co. (Fancy Goods Department) Ltd which was located in Fulham Palace Road Hammersmith. The article went on to give a bit more information on the The Imperial Company itself. It repeat that it was formed in 1901 but that it was formed in response to an aggressive take over raid in Britain by American Tobacco and involved the pooling of tobacco retail outlets including closely related items such as briar pipes. Here is the additional information that was not included in Lopés’ – in 1902 Imperial purchased the Salmon & Gluckstein retail empire, which included a section that finished briar pipes, originally made in France, for sale in Britain. It was this unit that became the fancy goods department within Imperial and, ultimately in 1921, the Civic Company. In 1928 Civic was a key element in the merger with other producers and retailers that formed Cadogan Investments, which still trades today.

I did some further searching on Google to try to pin down more information on the brand. I found lots of repetitive information in bits and pieces but nothing that added to what I already knew. I did find confirmation of the above information in a discussion on the pipesmagazine online pipe forum. It contained no new information but it gave the same data I had quoted above.

Jeff has established his own process of thoroughly cleaning pipes for me and he did not vary in his procedure here. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer and tidied it up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol and cleaned the exterior of the threaded bone tenon with a cotton swab and alcohol. He scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the grime and grit on the bowl. The top took some special work because of the heavy lava overflow. He scrubbed it with a tooth brush and the oil soap until he removed the majority of the build up. There was still some minor buildup that would need to be dealt with when I worked on the out of round bowl. I took photos of the pipe to show the condition it was in when it arrived in Vancouver. The grain really was quite stunning. I took a close up photo of the rim top and bowl, to show how well he was able to remove the buildup around those areas and down the bowl sides.He had soaked the stem in OxyClean so when it arrived it was clean and the oxidation sat on the surface of the stem. The tooth marks were very evident.The damage to the inner tube was visible and it was ragged and torn. I would need to rework it to smooth things out and restore the angle.I used a Dremel and sanding drum on low speed to sand and shape the angled end of the inner tube and remove the damaged areas. I put a slot on the tube end to match other inner tubes I have on hand and fit the bottom of the bowl once the stem was in place.The next series of photos show the process of repairing the out of round bowl. I used a folded piece of 180 and 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the inner edges of the bowl and repair the top edge. Once I sanded it smooth I wiped it down with a cotton pad and alcohol to clean off the sanding debris and darkening on the surface. There was still polishing to do but the major portion of the repair was finished. I repaired the two small sandpits on the bottom sides of the bowl with super glue and sanded them smooth with 220 grit sandpaper once the repairs had cured.With all the repairs and reshaping on the rim and bowl finished it was time to stain the pipe. I decided to use a dark brown aniline stain that I mixed 50/50 with isopropyl alcohol to make it more transparent. It will still have the dark stain in the grains but once I wipe it down and sand it with micromesh it will be a rich brown tranparent overcoat with dark highlights. I applied the stain with a dauber and flamed it with a lighter to set it in the briar. I repeated the process until I was pleased with the coverage on the bowl and shank.Once the stain dried I wiped the pipe down with alcohol on cotton pads to remove the thick topcoat and make the stain more transparent. It significantly lightens the colour at this point but the grain won’t stand out until I polish it with micromesh pads. I polished the briar, being careful around the stamping on the shank, with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each girt with alcohol and cotton pads. With the bowl finished I directed my attention to the stem. I cleaned out the damaged areas with a dental pick and sandpaper and filled them in with black super glue. The photos below show the repairs on both sides of the stem. The third photo shows the repairs further up the topside of the stem.When the glue had cured I used a file to bring the thickness of the repairs down to the surface of the stem. I used to do all this with sandpaper but figured out that the file actually sped things up a bit. I sanded the stem surface and repairs with 180 grit sandpaper after the file to smooth out the surface and remove more of the oxidation. I would need to sand it with higher grits to remove the scratching but it was at least getting better. I used a needle file to reshape the edge of the button and the top and underside surfaces of the button. I sanded the repairs smooth with 220 grit sandpaper and then polished them with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads. I took a photo of the stem at that point in the process and the oxidation showed up clearly in the bright light of the flash. I poured the Before & After Stem Deoxidizer into a flat container and put the stem in to soak while I worked on other pipes. I removed it from the soak after about 2 hours and polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish. It looked much better than it did when I put it in the bath. I decided to continue polishing it with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads and rubbed it down again with the oil after each pad. I gave it a final rub down with the oil and set it aside to dry. I polished the bowl and stem on the buffing wheel with Blue Diamond to take out the last minute scratches in the briar and vulcanite. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The pipe looks far better than it did when I started. The bowl looks round, the finish looks far better and the repairs on the stem though visible up close blend in well with the black of the vulcanite stem. The aluminum inner tube is shine and smooth with the reshaped angle of the tube looks like it must have when it left the factory. Thanks for walking with me through this refurbishing it was a fun one to work on. Cheers.



Enlivening a Mysterious Old Knobby, Oval Shank Meer Bowl

Blog by Steve Laug

My brother Jeff, sent this old meerschaum to me from our virtual pipe hunt. It was certainly unique and would be an interesting pipe to fit with a new stem. It was meerschaum with no stamping or markings on the shank to help identify it properly. It had knobs all about the bowl and shank and there was a transition of colour from dark on the shank to lighter at the top of the bowl. The bowl was caked and there was an overflow of the cake to the rim top. It was dirty and worn looking. The threaded metal tenon was anchored tightly in the shank and would take some work to remove and possibly even then it would not come out. Jeff took photos of the bowl before he cleaned it up. The first three photos give an idea of the condition and the charm of the pipe to both of us. When he showed me the pipe in our Montana virtual pipe hunt I wanted to see if I could find a stem that would work with it. There was something about it that made me want to give it a new life. He took some close up photos of the rim top and the bowl that show the cake and the lava build up on the top. The bowl did not have too much cake but enough that it was hard see if the inner edge of the rim was still round and undamaged.Jeff also took photos of the sides of the bowl and the shank end to give an idea of the colouration of the bowl and show that variation of the colours up the shank and the bowl. The silver band was unreadable but it appeared that there were some hallmarks under the tarnish on the surface of the band. I could not wait to see what they told us. It really was a pretty interesting looking old pipe. Jeff cleaned up the pipe with his usual regimen of thoroughness. He reamed out the bowl carefully with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife and took it back as far as he dared. He scrubbed the exterior of the rim and bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove as much of the grime and dirt of age from the surface. He scrubbed out the internals with pipe cleaners and alcohol until they came out clean. He polished the band with soft scrub and a cloth until the hallmarks were visible.

When it arrived I wanted to see if I could find out about the maker of the pipe and try to date it if possible. I had a feeling that the band on the shank may possibly give a clue as to its maker. On the left underside of the silver band it is stamped A.F. &Co. in an oval. Following that maker’s mark it is stamped with hallmarks – an anchor, a rampant lion and a cursive lower case “f”. The anchor hallmark tells me that the band was done in Birmingham, England. The rampant lion is the mark for .925 Sterling Silver. The “f” stamp had great promise in that it might well give me a date for the pipe (or at least the band).

I looked up the date hallmarks for Birmingham and copied the chart in the photo below. There were two likely candidates for a date that had the lower case “f” stamp. The first was 1803 in a shield cartouche and the second was 1905 in a square cartouche with rounded corners (I circled both options in red in the photo below). Under a bright light with a jeweler’s loupe I could see that the cartouche was square with rounded corners. Now I knew that the pipe was banded with a Sterling Silver band in Birmingham, England in 1905.Now I wanted to see what the stamp A.F. & Co. in an oval referred to. I turned to the internet and searched for A.F. &Co. I was led to a Dictionary of Tobacconists, Pipe Makers, Pipe Mounters and Silver Hallmarks ( There I found the stamping that was on the band of my pipe. The difference of course was the BBB Diamond logo on the one below. The A.F. & Co. in the chamfered rectangle was the same. The site identified the maker as Adolph Frankau & Co. LTD – London and Birmingham, England. I have worked on BBB pipes that had the same stamping on the band so I am wondering if there is not some link to BBB even for this old meerschaum. There could very well be a connection. They were known for their gold and silver works and had been founded in 1902.Now I knew not only the date but the company who did the silver work on the bowl. Amazing the information you can find with just a little bit of work. To me it is these kinds of details that give a restoration of an estate pipe depth and add colour to their story. It is these details that drive me forward in my restoration of the pipes I work on.

I took photos of the pipe when it arrived to give an idea of what it looked like before I started working on it further. Notice the small crack in the shank coming from under the band. I would need to repair that so it does not spread further.I had a stem in my can of stems that was Bakelite and had some age on it. It had a regular push tenon but had an orific button on the end. It was in excellent condition and it would work well with this old pipe. I sawed the tenon off with a hacksaw and used the Dremel and sanding drum to smooth out the remnants of the tenon.The airway was too small for the threaded tenon so I would need to drill it out and open it up. Before I did that I used a pair of pliers and carefully removed the tenon from the shank of the meerschaum bowl. I decided to repair the crack on the shank at the same time. I did it quickly and forgot to take photos. I cleaned the area and picked it clean with a dental pick. I used a black Sharpie Pen to colour in the crack so that it would not stick out through the repair. I filled in the crack with clear super glue and smoothed it out with a dental spatula. The clear glue let the colour underneath show through.I measured the diameter of the tenon and used a drill bit the same size to drill out the airway in the stem. I marked the depth of the tenon on the bit and hand turned it onto a stationary cordless drill. I drill the airways by hand with no power so as not to drill to deep or too quickly and damage the stem. I used a tap to thread the newly drilled airway and coated the tenon with amber super glue and twisted it in place in the stem. I checked the alignment to make sure that everything was straight and set the stem aside to let the glue cure.I turned my attention to the rim of the bowl. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the inner edge of the rim and bring the bowl back into round. I polished the top of the rim with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads. I wiped the rim down with a damp cotton pad. I gave the bowl and rim a thick coat of Clapham’s White Beeswax Polish and set the bowl aside until the wax dried. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth and took the following photos of the bowl at this point in the process. (Notice in the photo of the bowl rim and the top of the shank how well the repair blended in at the band.) I noticed in the photo of the rim top and bowl that there was still some light cake on the walls of the bowl. I used my Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife and cleaned up the remaining cake. The bowl was not smooth inside.With the bowl basically finished at this point I needed to work on the fit of the stem. I have learned in the past that sanding the older Bakelite often removes some of the patina and colour from the material. I decided to do so anyway to get a more flowing fit between the shank and the stem. I used a Dremel and sanding drum to remove the excess material from the top, bottom and sides of the stem and sanded the fresh areas with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the scratches. The colour did change slightly – it is funny in that the colour on the stem transitions much like the colour on the bowl. I am hoping that with use and time the sanded areas will darken and match the rest 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 after each pad with Obsidian Oil. I buffed the stem and bowl with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to get some shine in the meerschaum and the Bakelite. I gave the pipe multiple coats of carnauba wax to protect and help with colouration. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine and hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I think it looks pretty good for its age. I am hoping that in my travels I will one day come across an oval amber stem to replace the Bakelite but until then this one will serve its purpose. Thanks for walking with me through the refurbishment of this 1905 pipe. I appreciate your reading my work. Cheers.

Burn through Repair – Salvage of a Worthy Stanwell Rouge 109 Sand Blasted Ball

Blog by Dal Stanton

Stephen, a friend visiting Bulgaria from Rainbow City, Alabama, and I were walking through the Antique Market in the shadow of Nevski Cathedral in center city Sofia, when I my roving ‘pipe eyes’ spied an unbelievably nice looking, hefty, handful of a sand blasted Ball or Apple shaped pipe waiting on a table gratuitously mixed with WWII paraphernalia, old Communist memorabilia, skeleton keys and an assortment of cork screws, lighters and want-a-be Rolex watches.  This pipe, though, was the real deal.  With Stephen by my side, I did my best not to lock my eyes on the prize.  Finally, after I gave serious non-interested examination of the seller’s other offerings, I picked up the pipe and gave it a cursory, equally, non-interested look over.  As I looked down into the chamber, I saw my opportunity.  There was daylight at the bottom of the chamber – a hole, my leverage for the negotiation.  A quintessential burn through.  With my index finger at the chamber floor, it was sharply wedged downwardly so that the wearing, digging and burning finally was more than the briar could handle.  Turning the pipe over in my hand I read the nomenclature stamped on the underside of the shank – STANWELL (barely visible in the blasted briar) [over] ROUGE 109 [over] MADE IN DENMARK.  The hefty sand blasted stummel received my initial attention, and then the vulcanite shank extension I had not seen too often.  I laughed after the seller gave me his opening volley.  At the end of the day, both Stephen and I were happy.  The deal struck for the Stanwell Rouge was very satisfactory given that the hole in the bottom of the pipe just would not go away no matter what the seller said.  As we headed to the Metro Subway, Stephen proposed that he become the next steward of the Stanwell after I tackled the burn through.  So, some time later, Stephen emailed me from Alabama, saying he was still interested in the Stanwell.  Now on my worktable here in Sofia, Bulgaria, the time has come to recommission him. Here are the pictures from my worktable.  I recalled that Steve had posted a blog by Bas Stevens, who, according to Steve, was one of the foremost authorities on Stanwell pipes (See: LINK HERE).  Bas Steven’s extensive list of Stanwell shape numbers and designers also included this Rouge’s shape 109, which is described as:  109. Flat, ball-shaped bowl, slightly bent, full mouthpiece.

I did searches on Rouge and I could not find a Stanwell listing for only ‘Rouge’ but ‘Royal Rouge’ was evident.  This listing has for sale, a ‘Royal Rouge’ 109 which is a smooth version described with information that matches the ‘Rouge’ in dimension with the difference of the briar shank compared to the vulcanite extension on my Rouge. Pipedia’s site links to Stanwell catalogues shows this 2008 9mm catalogue listing the 109 shape (2nd down on left) with others.  Rouge simply means ‘Red’ in French which is a good description of what the Rouge’s sand blasted stummel formerly revealed, as the ‘Royal Rouge’ exemplifies above.  The Danish pipe company, Stanwell, according to Pipedia’s article closed its doors in 2009 ending an interesting chapter of pipe history as the only remaining pipe manufacturer in Scandinavia.  The ‘Stanwell’ name moved to Italy where pipes were produced bearing the name since 2010.  The ‘Made in Denmark’ on the Rouge indicates that it was produce pre-2010 before the closing.  With a better appreciation for the Stanwell Rouge 109 before me, the first thing I do in his recommissioning is to put the stem in an OxiClean bath after putting petroleum jelly on the Stanwell Crown stamping to protect it. Before I tackle the repair of the burn-through the stummel’s heel, I like working on clean pipes because it helps with the assessment of needs.  I start by carefully reaming the bowl to remove the light carbon build up.  I say, “careful” because the floor of the fire chamber is dangerously thin.  The last thing I want is the floor to drop through!  For the gentle approach, I use the Savinelli Pipe Knife and work the sides of the chamber without reaching too deeply.  Next, I take 240 grit paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen and sand the chamber ridding it of more carbon and exposing fresh briar.  Finally, I wipe the chamber out with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol.  Using undiluted Murphy’s Oil soap, a cotton pad and a bristled tooth brush, I scrub the exterior of the sand blasted bowl working the brush well into the surface as well as the rim (pictured below) before starting the cleaning.  The surface had a good bit of grime.  The good news is the rim is in good shape – it still shows the blasted sculpting over it, though it is darkened. Now to the internals of the stummel – using pipe cleaners and cotton swabs and isopropyl 95%, I clean the internals.  Oh my.  This old boy I believe was like the old proverbial horse saying, ‘he’s been road hard and put up wet’!  There was no end to the gunk in the mortise.  I scraped it with straight edge files and small screw drivers, and with scads of cotton swabs – the effort was immense to clean the internals.  After some time, things would start to look up, I would scrape a bit more and it was like I was starting over.  Yet thankfully, eventually the tide turned.  The picture shows the aftermath.The stem has been soaking in the OxiClean bath and I take it out to reveal the raised oxidation on the stem.  The petroleum jelly is still intact covering the Stanwell stem Crown stamping, protecting it from the OxiClean process. I start by putting a disk between the stem and the shank to protect the stem from shouldering as I wet sand with 600 grade sanding paper to remove the raised oxidation.  Then, I had one of those ‘Duh!’ moments – the shank extension on the stummel is also vulcanite with a white acrylic divider.  Removing the disk, I treat the two together.  First, with the shank extension, I lightly use 240 grit sanding paper around the extension because it did not have the benefit of the OxiClean bath.  I do this to loosen the oxidation.  Then, with the shank and stem united I wet sand using the 600 grade paper, careful to protect the stem Crown stamping. With this completed, I look to the bit area with minor tooth chatter. Using 240 grit paper I sand the chatter out, following with 600 grit again, then finish off this phase of the stem’s polishing using 0000 grade steel wool over the entire shank and stem.  To try to remove any oxidation in the Stanwell Crown stem stamp, I use a MagicEraser sponge to apply a non-abrasive cleaner.  The pictures show the progress with the stem. With the stem completed up to the micromesh phase, I put it aside to focus on the stummel repairs.  I have been developing the plan since I first saw this incredibly desirable and redeemable Stanwell Rouge beckoning on the table in the Antique Market.  There are two main steps in the burn through repair.  The first is to patch the external presentation of the stummel using a putty created from CA glue and briar dust.  This patch will fill the hole leaving an external mound for eventual sanding and shaping aiming at blending with the sand blasted finish.  When the Briar Dust Putty is applied from the external side, there also will form an internal mounding as the putty presses through the hole.  This is good and desired.  This internal mound will form the primary internal encasing of the burn through area, which is extremely thin and therefore weakened.  This internal covering of Briar Putty will form the hole fill as well as the initial reinforcement of the chamber floor.  The second step is to augment this initial reinforcement internally by using JB Weld.  I first saw the use of this from Charles Lemon on Dad’s Pipes.  I will mix a batch of JB Weld and apply it on top of the patch area and rebuild and level the floor of the fire chamber, bringing the new floor almost up to the draft hole.  That is the theoretical plan – of course, the best laid plans are often…. You know the story 😊!

I begin by taking another close picture of the external hole area as well as the floor of the chamber, with a pipe cleaner inserted to mark the gap the new floor will need to fill.  This marks the starting point.  The second picture below does not reveal the depth, but I estimate a good, 3 to 4 mm between the hole and the draft hole level.  I clean the stummel external surface with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol.  The pictures show the prep. Using an index card, I mix briar dust and Hot Stuff Special ‘T’ CA Instant Glue (thicker) with a toothpick to form a putty.  I’m shooting for the thickness of molasses so that the putty will not run and spread but stay where I apply it.  When the putty reaches the viscosity I desire, I apply the putty to the hole pressing it through until I achieve sufficient mounding on the inside.  As I press the putty through with the toothpick, the putty spreads out a bit more than I desire.  I use an accelerator on the inside and outside to cure the putty more rapidly.  I take pictures to mark the completion of step one.  It will be tricky filing and sanding on the sand blasted surface, but not impossible with patience.  As I reflect further, a different approach that may have lessened the mounding on the external side would have been to apply the putty internally and pushed it through…. The approaches for smooth briar and blasted briar may not be the same! Next time. I’m back to the worktable after a day’s work and unfortunately, in the back of my mind the application of briar dust putty to the external surface as I did yesterday, has blossomed in my mind into a colossal blunder!  In my mind, I picture the way I should have done it and it was perfect – in my mind!  But, I have a salvage plan coming together, also in my mind and my hope is that my blunder might spare others from the same fate 😊.

Before I work on the salvage plan coming together in my mind, I will complete the floor build-up using JB Weld.  One of the difficulties that I’ve thought about is a delivery system – how to get the JB Weld mixture to the chamber floor where it’s needed and not smeared on chamber walls trying to place it.  I’ve come up with plan of using a plastic bottle nozzle as the delivery system – load the mixture in the nozzle and force it down with a dowel rod and cotton swab.  It looks like it should work. I also insert a pipe cleaner into the airway to protect the draft hole from being clogged by the JB Weld.  It also helps me know where the floor should be.  The mixture sets up in about 4 minutes after the Hardener and Steel are combined.  Thankfully, everything works as hoped.  I take pictures through the process. Regarding the external surface patch mound, I realize that with a sandblasted surface it will be very difficult to remove the entire patch mound by filing and sanding as is the method with smooth briar.  This will damage the blasted briar surface.  After doing research on the internet, I discover that acetone dissolves CA glue.  Acetone is the primary active ingredient in nail polish removers.  What I’m hoping is a salvage plan; I begin by filing the patch mound down as far as possible without impacting the surface briar terrain. I then apply acetone to the remaining patch mound with a cotton swab to dissolve the surface overflow of the patch.  I work the briar dust patch with the cotton swab and gradually the surface patch begins to loosen and dissolve.  I’m encouraged.  I continue patiently, allowing the acetone to set its own pace.  The putty patch dissolves toward the center and leaves ridges which I scrape with my fingernail.  At the end of the process, I am relieved – it works. Not only did it work, but the blending is incredible!  I cannot see where the hole was without very close scrutiny.  The blunder becomes a teachable moment and a bit more experience for future restorations!  The pictures tell the story and I’m thankful a disaster was averted with this Stanwell. The next day, after several hours of curing for the JB Weld, I look at the new rebuilt floor of the chamber.  I rub my finger over it and it, as expected, is flat.  I want to introduce a slightly bowled chamber bottom.  To do this I employ the round grinding stone attachment which I mount on the Dremel.  I will remove just enough of the JB Weld floor to create this bowl.  With the speed at 40%, I start in the center with a circular motion creating the initial rounding.  I gradually expand it outwardly by moving it in circular motions.  This works well.  Afterwards, I use 240 grit paper to sand it more and wipe the bowl out with a cotton pad and alcohol to clean the chamber.  Done.  Later, near the end of the project, I will coat the chamber with a mixture of activated charcoal dust and sour cream that will form a hard base for forming a new cake for the bowl.  Bowl repair officially complete.  Yes! Before I address the Rouge’s stummel finish, I continue the sanding and finishing of the vulcanite shank extension so it doesn’t get in the way. I reattach the stem and beginning with micromesh pads 1500 to 2400, I wet sand the extension and stem and then apply Obsidian Oil to the vulcanite.  At this point I realize that I have forgotten to clean the internals of the stem (again!).  Before moving on, I clean the airway and the 9mm filter bay – which really needed some cleaning.  With a ‘proof of cleaning’ picture taken, I follow by dry sanding the extension and stem with pads 3200 to 4000, then 6000 to 12000.  After each set of three, I apply Obsidian Oil to the stem and extension to revitalize the vulcanite.  While sanding, I notice that the stem is a bit loose in the mortise extension.  I will look at this later.  The stem and extension look good! Turning now to the Stanwell Rouge’s stummel, and it is evident that the historic color of this stout, blasted ball shape was in keeping with its namesake – red.  My sense is a deeper burgundy tone would fit well.  My plan is to use 2 parts Fiebing’s Oxblood Leather Dye with 1 part of Fiebing’s Black Leather Dye.  I want it on the darker side.  Let’s see what happens!  Taking a close look at the stummel, I probe around with the sharp dental tool and see that there’s bits of dust and residues in the crevices of the blasted texture of the briar.  I use a cotton pad and alcohol to clean the stummel, and I use a bristled brush as well to dislodge debris.  I then tightly wrap masking tape around the vulcanite extension so that the dye does not possibly impact it – in a note from Steve, he said that some vulcanite will absorb the stains, others not….  Better to be on the safe side.  I mix the dyes in a shot glass using a large dropper at 2 to 1, insert a cork in the shank as my handle – and then realize later that the shank extension works just fine as a handle.  I take a picture of the set-up.  I then warm the stummel with a hot air gun and then apply the 2 to 1 dye mixture to the stummel with a folded pipe cleaner.  I work the dye into the crevices – I want good coverage.  I then ‘fire’ the aniline dye and the alcohol immediately burns off and sets the dye pigment in the briar.  After a few minutes, I repeat the process and set the stummel aside to rest. With the stummel now resting, I want to freshen the Stanwell Crown stamp on the stem.  Using white acrylic paint, I dab a bit of paint over the Crown with a tooth pick.  After the paint sets well, I scrape the excess off gently with the flat edge of a toothpick which goes over the stamp patterns leaving color in the stamp.  It looks good.  I had noted that the stem was a bit loose when seated in the mortise.  As I slowly insert the stem into the mortise extension, it is properly snug until the very end – at home station.  The tightness is generated by the white acrylic divider garnishing the end of the extension.  This lets me know that the tenon has thinned only at the base – where it ties in to the stem.  I use Special ‘T’ CA glue and a manicure brush and paint a line around the circumference of the tenon base.  We’ll see if this tightens the stem a bit after the CA glue cures.  After several hours, I’m anxious to unwrap the fire crusted stummel.  With the surface being sand blasted, I use a softer cotton cloth buffing wheel on the Dremel instead of the felt wheel, that I use with smooth briar pipes.  The softer cotton wheel better navigates the textured blasted surface.  With the speed at 20%, I utilize Tripoli compound to remove the crusting and to begin the buffing process.  After a short time, I decide to up the speed to 40% and this works better with the cotton wheel.  I take a picture to show the unwrapping.  After completing with the Tripoli, I wipe the bowl down with a cotton pad and alcohol to blend the dye better.  Then, loading another cotton cloth wheel, I apply Blue Diamond compound to the stummel.  I am liking the very, very subtle oxblood reds tucked away in the contours of the 3-D grain of the sand blasted surface.  This was exactly the classic, smoking jacket effect I was aiming for.  I press on and after changing to another cotton cloth wheel, I apply carnauba wax to the stummel, shank extension and stem.   One last project.  I use a mixture of sour cream (or plain yogurt may be used) and activated charcoal powder to apply to the fire chamber wall.  When this mixture hardens, it provides a good foundation for a new carbon cake to grow – but the new steward needs to be gentle with this after the first few bowls, not scraping the chamber but simply using a folded over bristled pipe cleaner to rub the sides.  This will remove the needed leftovers but protect the walls.  Over time, a cake grows and life as usual!  After mixing the sour cream and charcoal powder to a non-running thickness (like mayonnaise), and inserting a pipe cleaner through the draft hole, using a pipe nail tool, I scoop the mixture into the bowl and spread it over the surface.  After spreading, I see that there is too much here and there as the mix thickened.  I would scoop a little out and spread again.  After it starts to dry, it is thicker.  It takes about 15 to 20 minutes for it to set totally.  I let it set for at least 24 hours before smoking the pipe.  The pictures show the progress.After the sour cream/charcoal powder mixture dries, I check the fit of the stem and shank extension after applying CA glue to tighten the fit.  The patch is too thick so I sand it down using 600 grade sanding paper until the stem slides into the mortise.  I fine tune the cleaning of the tenon and apply some Obsidian Oil to it.  I complete the restoration with a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to bring out the striking shine of this Stanwell Rouge.

I thought I was facing disaster with the burn through repair when I mounded briar dust putty on the external surface with no way of removing it without damaging the sand blasted briar grain.  Yet, I was bailed out by acetone.  Now, as I look at this Stanwell Rouge, I can’t believe I could see daylight through it and that most people would pass it by as a loss.  I’m glad to have restored it for his new steward.  I’m pleased with the subtle red – burgundy tones in the finish.  The hefty Ball shape is a distinctive presence in the palm and the sand blasted grain stands out well.  This Stanwell Rouge 109, Made in Denmark, is ready to go.  All my restorations benefit the work we do here in Bulgaria with the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Check out my blog, The Pipe Steward for more information about this, why I do what I do and other pipes I have for sale in the store!  Thanks for joining me!

Shank Rescue on a 1990’s Era Brigham 424 Bent Billiard

Charles’ repair on the shank is a classic repair of a serious flaw in the briar of a Brigham. Well done.


I have worked on a lot of Brigham pipes over the last year, and posted most of them here on the DadsPipes blog. I’m trying to maintain some sort of balance to my regular posts as to avoid becoming “the Brigham blog”, but I do love them and tend to buy them for myself whenever I come across one at an estate sale or antique market. The 424 Bent Billiard under discussion today, however, is not one of mine; rather, it was sent to me for refurbishment as part of a small estate lot purchased by a DadsPipes reader.

This classic Bent Billiard had clearly led an eventful life prior to arriving on my worktable. The chamber was heavily caked, to the point of choking off the airway, and a crust of lava covered the rim. The stem was oxidized, with thicker calcium deposits at the bit end.


It looked…

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A Lady’s Choice – WDC Milano Swan Neck Billiard

Blog by Dal Stanton

Is there a psychology in the choosing one makes when befriending a pipe?  A young Bulgarian lady, who also is a budding pipe lady, chose a pipe out of my ‘Help Me!’ baskets and boxes.  After looking at scores of hopeful candidates, there was only one – only one – that she held in her hands, looking at it and smiling. A beautiful, graceful, WDC Milano Swan Neck Billiard caught her attention, and it would seem, her affections.  Is there a psychology unfolding in the process, the evaluation, and the weighing of one pipe against another?  Or, is the process more like the lore of Harry Potter’s choice of one’s wand?  The young wizard does not choose the wand – the wand chooses his wizard.  Does the pipe do the choosing?

And is there any credence to the oft unspoken observation – do pipe stewards resemble their pipes like canine lovers sometimes uncannily resemble their 4-legged friends?  These observations come to my mind because intriguingly, the young lady who was claimed by the WDC Milano Swan Neck, shares, in some very remarkable ways, pleasing characteristics of this graceful pipe.

And then there is the ‘question’ of the ‘Pipe Lady’ more so than the ‘Pipe Man’.  A Pipe Lady lives closer to the social and cultural ‘edge’ when she takes her pipe in hand and enjoys a bowl of her favorite blend.  This picture I found somewhere on the internet (sorry, can’t cite!), I suspect would never be ascribed to Pipe Men.  Yet, a Pipe Lady looks at the three with a smile of agreement and a wink, while she is thinking, ‘You’ve got that one right!’This graceful, Milano Swan Neck stem comes from the William Demuth Company, established in 1862 – one of the oldest pipe manufacturing houses in the United States (Pipedia article).  The WDC Milano patent goes back to the 1920s with an example of the familiar WDC rhombus from the same WDC article in Pipedia (courtesy of Doug Valitchka).The eBay seller from Akron, Ohio, described the long dimensions of the Lady’s Choice WDC Milano:  Very graceful bent billiard! About 6″ long, bowl is 2″ tall, 1 3/8″ wide. ID 3/4″, depth 1 13/16″. From Pipedia’s WDC article, courtesy Doug Valitchka, a very nice example of what appears to be the same Swan Neck Billiard of the Milano line.From my worktable on the 10th floor of our flat here in Sofia, Bulgaria, I take these pictures to fill in the gaps. On the left side of the shank is stamped the traditional WDC rhombus [over] MILANO.  The right side is stamped the single shape number, ‘63’.  The chamber appears to have been cleaned to some degree and the carbon cake is very light.  The rim is sad.  It appears someone took a divot out of the internal lip trying to clean it or something.  The rim’s outer edge is beat up and I can see the vestiges of a bevel.  There is lava crusting as well on the rim surface and some hardened light stuff – the rim needs cleaning.  The stummel has few if any fills that I see – the grain of the tall bowl is impressive.  The stem has the WDC inlaid white triangle on the top.  Oxidation is present and the former steward was a clencher and chewer.  Both top and bottom of the bit shows deep bite dents.  The top button lip is dented.

The recommissioning of this Lady’s Choice WDC Milano Swan Neck Billiard, begins by putting the stem into the OxiClean bath to work on the oxidation.  The second thing I do is toss the tubing that was hanging in the tenon.  If it belonged to this pipe originally, something is missing as the airway diameter of the tenon is much larger than the tubing.  On an interesting note, there is a patent number stamped on the tubular stinger.  I looked it up in Google patent search but found nothing that had bearing on pipes (PAT. NO. 5861 / IX – I think).Next, after spreading paper towel to catch the carbon dust, I use the Savinelli Pipe Knife to remove the little carbon left.  I follow with sanding the chamber walls with a 240 piece of sanding paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen. I then turn to cleaning the internals of the stummel using cotton swabs and pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 95%.  There’s a good bit of tar and oils in the mortise.  After some time, I decide to switch to a Kosher Salt and alcohol soak to finish off the internal cleaning and to freshen the stummel.Next, using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap I work on the external surface of the stummel and the rim with cotton pads.  I also use a brass bristled brush on the rim.  After the scrub, I rinse the stummel in cool tap water.  The condition of the rim becomes more evident.  I think I will be able to remove the large divot at 4 o’clock in the second picture below by creating an internal bevel on the rim after I lightly top it. I start with by topping the stummel using 240 grit paper.  I follow by creating an internal and external bevel around the rim.  After a few rounds of working on the bevels, I realize that the internal rim divot is too much for the bevel to erase.  I switch gears and mix some briar dust with thick CA glue and create a putty and fill the divot on the rim.  I spray it with an accelerator to shorten the curing time.  With a needle file, I file down the briar dust patch material until it’s almost flush with the briar.  I then use 240 and 600 grit sanding paper to blend the patch and finish the bevel on the internal and external edges of the rim.I then sand the stummel using a medium grade sanding sponge followed by a light grade sanding sponge.  I remove the minor nicks and scratches on the bowl surface.I then proceed to sand the bowl using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400, then 3200 to 4000, then finally, 6000 to 12000.  The process brings out the beautiful horizontal grain flows from the front of the bowl downward to encompass the heel.  Bird’s eye grain is sprinkled nicely on the stummel sides. With the day ending, I continue the cleaning and refreshing of the stummel internals using a Kosher Salt and alcohol soak.  I create a wick to insert into the shank/mortise by twisting and stretching a cotton ball.  I take a straight stiff wire to help stuff it deeply into the mortise.  With the stummel secured in the egg carton I fill the bowl with Kosher Salt (which leaves no iodine after taste) and give it a shank to displace the salt.  I then, using a large eye-dropper, put isopropyl 95% into the bowl until it surfaces over the salt.  I put it aside for the night.  The next morning, the salt and alcohol soak did the job well.  The salt had turned dark and pulling the wick out – the same was true of it.  I toss the expended salt and wick in the waste and wipe the bowl out removing leftover salt.  Then returning to the use of cotton swabs and alcohol, in only a few plunges down the mortise, the internals are clean.  Pictures show the cleaning process. The stem was soaking in an OxiClean bath to raise the oxidation from the vulcanite.  I take stem out of the bath and the oxidation was raised showing the normal olive-green color.  I then take 600 grit sanding paper and wet sand the stem to remove the oxidation and to work on the serious teeth clenching damage. After the 600 grit sanding, I give the stem a stiff buffing from 0000 grade steel wool.  Interestingly, I noticed it earlier but thought that it would go away with the OxiClean and sanding.  I see a small lighter (reddish?) dot on the underside of the stem (second picture below), almost below the WDC triangle mark but just off center.  I’m not expecting a ‘manmade’ mark there so I assume it’s a discoloration in the vulcanite.  I take a little 240 grit paper and go after it, but it remains for now.  Pictures show oxidation and post-oxidation sanding. The button area is in bad shape.  The former steward was a clencher par excellence.  Neither upper nor lower bit areas were spared.  The upper has deep bites and a ‘wedgy’ dent on the button lip.  The lower button lip is spared, but there is a ‘go to’ clench handle which is distinct.  I take pictures to mark the start. Focusing first on the topside, I use the heating method to see if I might hopefully tease out the concave dents.  Then the bottom-side.  Vulcanite, a form of rubber, amazingly will seek out its original disposition when heated as the rubber expands with the heat.  I light a candle and pass the bit-end of the stem over the flame in back and forth style.  I try not to cook the vulcanite, but simply heat it strategically.  After some time, using heat on upper and then lower, I take pictures to compare.  You can see the closing of the dents in the picture comparisons below.  I think there is a beneficial change, but there are still dents to repair.  Pictures 1 and 2 are before heating and after for the upper side.  Pictures 3 and 4 of the lower side – before heating and after.  I first use 240 grit paper on the upper bit.  I sand out as much as possible all the smaller dents. Through the years of clenching, the button lip has lost its distinction so using a flat needle file, I reintroduce the lip edge and then follow by sanding with 240 to erase file tracks and shape more.  I’m wondering if I can avoid having to rebuild the button lip.  I gently sand the upper button lip as well.  The tooth grip has turned into only a small dimple – good movement.  I sand gently to remove the dimple because I don’t want to lose too much button real estate.  The top looks great.  The only patch needed is the remaining large dent.  The topside filing, sanding and shaping progression is pictured below. Turning to the lower bit, again I use 240 grit sanding paper to sand out what can be removed and blended by sanding. The dent/clench configuration was minimized by sanding but I need to patch what remains of the surface damage.To prep the vulcanite for the patch work, I wipe down the upper and lower bit with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol.  I mix activated charcoal powder with Hot Stuff Special ‘T’ CA Instant Glue (extra thick) to form a putty which is like molasses in viscosity to apply to the damaged areas.  I use a tooth pick as my trowel and tamper and I apply more putty than needed – the patch mound allows me to file down gently to the surface of the stem to achieve a better blended patch.  I apply putty to the upper bit, and a dab on the small, remaining dimple on the button lip.  I spray it with accelerator to cure the putty.  I then do the same for the needed area on the lower bit.  The pictures show the patch progress. Using a flat needle file, I begin filing the patch mound on the upper bit until I’m very close to the vulcanite surface.  With the patch expanding closely to the button lip, I also utilize the flat needle file to separate and define the button lip.  When close to the surface, I switch to 240 grit paper to bring the patch flush with the vulcanite surface.  After I’ve blended as far as 240 paper will take me, I switch to 600 grit paper and then finally, 0000 steel wool which fine tunes the blending and each in turn erases the former’s scratch marks.  I take pictures along the way to document progress. At this point, not surprised, I see very small air pockets exposed on the patch area (see picture above).  Taking Hot Stuff CA Glue, thinner than the ‘T’ I used for the patch, I dip a toothpick into the glue opening to give a coat of CA glue on the toothpick.  With this wet glue, I paint the patch with a thin glaze of glue which fills the air pockets.  I give the glaze of glue a quick spray of accelerator to cure it.  I then take 600 grit paper followed by 0000 steel wool to blend and complete the upper bit patch work.  The micromesh sanding later will further blend the patches.Now, to the lower bit patch.  As before, I use the flat needle file initially, then 240, 600 and then 0000 grade steel wool working toward the vulcanite surface then blending.  Again, a few miniscule air pockets are revealed in the patch, and I repeat the same procedure as on the upper patch. Having been so focused on the button repairs, I almost forget (again) to clean the stem internal airway.  With pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol, I do that and it does not take long to clean.Putting the stem aside, I pick up the stummel.  I will use Fiebing’s Light Brown Leather Dye to add some unifying hues on this very attractive WDC Milano’s grain.  I like the lighter motif which is what the Milano’s picture included above courtesy of Doug Valitchka.  I wipe the stummel with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95% to make sure it’s clean.  I then warm the stummel with the heat gun after inserting a whittled cork into the shank to serve as a handle.  After the bowl is warmed, helping the briar more effectively to absorb the dye, I apply the dye liberally using a folded over pipe cleaner.  After the stummel is covered, I fire the dye with a lit candle which ignites the alcohol in the dye and sets the pigment in the grain.  After a few minutes, I repeat the procedure concluding with firing.  I then put the stummel aside to rest. While the stummel rests, the stem is ready for the micromesh pad cycle.  I wet sand with pads 1500 to 2400, then dry sand with pads 3200 to 4000 then 6000 to 12000.  After each cycle, I apply Obsidian Oil to rejuvenate the vulcanite, and my how it likes it!  The pop of a newly restored stem is wonderful to behold! The next day, I’m home from work, and it’s time to ‘unwrap’ the stained and fired bowl.  I mount the felt buffing wheel on the Dremel, which provides more abrasion to the surface, helping to remove the crust.  I used Tripoli compound with the Dremel set at 20% speed – slow because I don’t want to generate too much friction. Using the Dremel’s adjustment wrench, I purge the old compound off the felt wheel to clean and soften it.  I work the felt buffing wheel applying the abrasive Tripoli compound over the stummel.  I am not able to reach the bend curve between the shank and the bowl with the felt wheel.  I change to a cotton cloth buffing wheel again, only dedicated to Tripoli compound.  Each compound has its own dedicated Dremel buffing wheels.  With the cotton cloth wheel, I’m able to reach into the harder to get places.  I run the wheel over the entire surface.  I take a picture showing the completion of the ‘unwrapping’.  One of the helpful aspects of aniline, or alcohol-based dyes, is the ability to wipe it with alcohol to lighten the application as well as blend the dye.  I want to lighten this WDC Milano so I wipe it down with cotton pad wetted with alcohol.  I take a picture before and after.  Immediately after wiping down the surface, the surface clouds with the alcohol.  Then I remove the alcohol wipe clouding effect with Blue Diamond compound, with a cotton cloth wheel mounted on the Dremel at 40% speed.  Following the Blue Diamond application, the true ‘after’ picture is taken.  I also reunite the stem with the stummel for the Blue Diamond buffing.  Well, the third picture below represents the lighter ‘after’ picture, but I don’t believe the picture does justice to what my eyes are seeing.  The lightening and blending of the surface hue is showing off the grains quite nicely.  I’m liking it!  I think this, “Lady’s Choice” is going to like her choice too! I give the pipe a hand buffing with a felt cloth, not so much to buff up the shine at this point but to remove the compound dust from the surface.  The compounds are abrasives and the dust is the residue left over.  After this, I mount the Dremel with a dedicated cotton cloth buffing wheel, leaving the speed at 40%, I apply the carnauba wax evenly over the stummel and stem.  I finish with a hefty hand buffing of the pipe with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine more.

This WDC Milano Swan Neck Billiard is a lady’s choice.  I hope she likes it.  It is an elegant pipe and showcases beautiful flowing grain.  I’m pleased with the button repair that blended very well – without knowing it’s there, most people would not see it.  The repaired rim also looks good – forming the beginning of the long elegant lines carried through to the swan neck stem.  Nice.  Each pipe I restore benefits the work we do with the Daughters of Bulgaria – helping women and girls who have been sexually exploited and trafficked.  For more information about this and pipes I have available, check out the store at The Pipe Steward.  Thanks for joining me! 

Another interesting piece of pipe history Manhattan Canted Dublin with a Horn Stem

Blog by Steve Laug

I have worked on at least two other pipes that I wrote about that bore the Manhattan stamp on the shank in the past few years. One of them was a cased, bent Bakelite Bulldog with a Lockrite Stem. It had a Bakelite Manhattan stamp on the left side of the shank. When I wrote that blog I could find no information on the brand. The second one was a cased Manhattan Bakelite Billiard. The shank and the case on this one both had the same identifying information. The inside cover of the case read Manhattan over French Briar over Bakelite. The shank read Manhattan De Luxe stamped on the left side. In researching the blog on that pipe, I found that a company in the US called the Manhattan Pipe Company made the pipe. There was no other information that I could find at that time.

We found the next Manhattan on the virtual pipe hunt that my brother and I did in Montana. It was an older pipe than the others I had worked on. It also had a horn stem. I would call it a canted Dublin shape (others may differ on that). It is a very lightweight pipe and was in fair condition. The finish was worn and peeling but the briar had very interesting straight/flame grain that flowed on an angle on both sides of the bowl and horizontally along the shank. The back and front of the bowl had a mix of birdseye and flame grain. I have included the photos that Jeff took of the pipe before he worked his magic on it. I thought it would be interesting to see if there was any new information online regarding the brand. Of course, I checked on the Pipes, Logos and Stampings – PipePhil’s site. There was a listing for Manhattan pipes but there was not any new information and what was there was inconclusive. I turned to Pipedia to see if there was a new article. I was surprised to find that there was one, I do not know if it was new or not, but I do not recall seeing it before. The article was called The Manhattan Briar Pipe Company. It is an interesting read so I have included the article in its entirety as well as the advertisement from 1913 that showed a Manhattan pipe. The interesting thing for me is that the pipe is the same shape and style as the one I have in hand. The difference of course is that mine does not have a silver band and there is a horn stem rather than a vulcanite stem.

1913 Manhattan Advertisement

The Manhattan Briar Pipe Co. was organized in October, 1902 by the American Tobacco Company, under an agreement with the owners of the Brunswick Briar Pipe Company, as a New York corporation. Its initial address was 111 5th Avenue, New York City, and the value of its stock in 1902 was $350,000.00. American Tobacco Company had itself been founded in 1890 by J. B. Duke through a merger between a number of U.S. tobacco companies, and was one of the original twelve members of the Dow Jones Industrial Average in 1896. It was commonly called the “Tobacco Trust”.

The majority of the stock in Manhattan Briar Pipe Company was immediately acquired by the American Tobacco Company after the company was organized, but the prior owners retained a controlling minority interest for some years. In October, 1906, however, the American Tobacco Company acquired the remaining shares of stock, and from that point on Manhattan Briar was the pipe making branch of American Tobacco. By 1911, however, American Tobacco had been dissolved in anti-trust litigation, and Manhattan Briar Pipe Co. became a separate concern.

Manhattan Briar Pipe Co. had started operations in 1905 in Jersey City, New Jersey, having taken on a lease for a ten year period in 1905, and maintained a factory at Marion, New Jersey, where the pipes were made. By 1913, former American Tobacco pipe department chair John Glossinger was the president of Manhattan Briar Pipe Company, and began a significant advertising push for high grade pipes, using the slogan “Don’t spoil good tobacco by using a poor pipe”. It appears from cases having appeared on the estate market that Manhattan also sold meerschaum pipes, most likely rebranded articles originally made by European craftsmen.

After the expiration of the Jersey City lease the Manhattan Briar Pipe Company maintained offices and a factory at 415-425 Greenpoint Avenue, Brooklyn, New York beginning in 1915, evidently under the direction of W. C. Bastian, who had been granted a patent for a chambered pipe stem otherwise seemingly identical to a Peterson P-Lip in 1910. An employee of the company, one J. Gianninoto, was granted a patent for a device meant to permit the emptying of a cuspidor without the mess in early 1918, and the company continues to be listed in local directories through 1921. In 1922 Manhattan Briar was purchased by S.M. Frank and merged into that company.

Further digging led me to a link on the S.M. Frank Co. & Inc. history page. Reading through the history of the company I found that S.M. Frank not only purchased the Manhattan Briar Pipe Company but also purchased WDC or William DeMuth & Company – two of the older brands that I enjoy working on. Here is the relevant section from the link: In the year 1900 Sam Frank Sr. started his own business, selling pipes and other tobacco items. His original office was located at 20 W. 17th Street, NYC. He was also closely associated with the sales staff of Wm. DeMuth & Co., selling their line of pipes. It was at this time that Mr. Frank first met Ferdinand Feuerbach and formed what would be a lifelong friendship. Mr. Feuerbach started working for the DeMuth Company in 1897 and by 1903 had become the production manager. In 1919, when Mr. Frank needed an experienced pipe man to run his pipe factory, located at 168 Southern Blvd., in the Bronx, he persuaded his old friend Ferdinand to join him. Mr. Feuerbach is credited with developing DeMuth’s popular Royal DeMuth and Hesson Guard Milano pipelines. In 1922, when S. M. Frank purchased the Manhattan Briar Pipe Co. the company incorporated.

That link led me to me to some further information including an advertisement and a shape chart on Chris Keene’s Pipe Pages I have included them here with acknowledgement to Chris Keene. I always enjoy reading the old copy of these advertisements as they take me back to place where the pipe was an acceptable part of the life. Of course, this influx of information makes me wonder what I was looking for the last time I did a search for this brand. It seems some days you put in the right search parameters and hit the jackpot and other days the wrong ones leave you with nothing. I now knew more about the brand than I ever imagined when I began the hunt. I am pretty sure that my pipe was made in the era between 1900-1910. It is roughly from the same time period as the C.P.F. pipes that were in that lot.The bowl had a thick cake that had flowed out of the bowl and on the rim top. The inner edge of the rim appeared to be damaged but I would know more once I had it in hand. The next series of photos show the bowl from a variety of angles to show the condition of the finish and the grain around the bowl sides and bottom. The pipe was stamped on the left side of the shank MANHATTAN and there was no other stamping on the pipe.The horn stem was in decent condition with tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside near the button. There was also a small hole that was on the underside of the stem – it did not go all the way through the stem into the airway but it was present. The bone tenon was in good condition and the alignment of the stem to the shank was perfect.My brother Jeff has established his own process of thoroughly cleaning the pipes that he works on for me. This one was no exception, it was cleaned thoroughly. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer and tidied it up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol and cleaned the exterior of the threaded bone tenon with a cotton swab and alcohol. He scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the grime and grit on the bowl. He scrubbed the rim top with a tooth brush and the oil soap and was able to clean off the lava overflow. I took photos of the pipe to show the condition it was in when it arrived in Vancouver. The grain really was quite stunning. While the MANHATTAN stamp is legible on the left side of the shank it is quite faint. I took a close up photo of the bowl and rim top after my brother had clean it up. The rim top was in good condition, the bowl was clean but the inner edge of the bowl showed a lot of damage and looked like the same knife that had been used to ream the other pipes in this lot had done its work here as well.His clean up on the horn stem had revealed that the small hole I had noted on the photos above was indeed present and was a small separation between the fibres of the horn. Fortunately this is a simple repair but the repair always shows.Since the stem was clean, the repair was simple. I filled in the tooth dent on the top side of the stem near the button with clear super glue. I sprayed the repair with accelerator so that I could repair the split on the other side. I filled that split in with the same clear super glue, sprayed it with accelerator and took the following photos.I sanded the repaired areas with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the excess and blend it into the surface of the horn. I worked over the entire stem at the same time to smooth it out and remove some of the nicks and marks on the surface of the horn.Since I was already working on it, I decided to continue and polish the stem before moving on to the bowl. I polished it 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 pad to give more life to the horn. I gave it a final coat of oil after the last pad and set it aside to dry. The repair on the top of the stem disappeared into the horn while the larger split on the backside was smooth but more visible. I set the stem aside for its final polish on the buffing wheel once I finished the work on the bowl. I began by polishing the rim of the bowl with a 1500 grit micromesh pad. My purpose was to see if I could remove some of the darkening or if I would need to top the bowl. I was happy to see that the pad cleaned it up and no topping was necessary. I used a folded piece of 180 and 220 grit sandpaper to work over the inner edge of the rim and smooth out the rough spots. It did not take too much sanding to even things out and bring the bowl back into round. The next three photos show the process of the rim repair. I decided not to stain this pipe because the briar was so nice in its original form. I chose instead to polish the rim and bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit sanding pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad to remove the sanding dust. The briar really began to shine as each successive grit of sanding pad was used. With the bowl finished, I put the pipe back together and took it to the buffing wheel. I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond, being careful not to damage the already faint stamping on the left side of the shank. I gave the pipe multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine and give depth to the finish. The completed pipe is shown in the photos below. I love the way the rich striations of the stem play against the red of the buffed and polished briar. This is a beautiful pipe. Thanks for walking with me through the process.


NOS Heritage Antique #72 Canadian

I have always had a fondness for the Heritage line of pipes that were put out as upscale pipes to go along with Kaywoodie pipes. Troy has done a great job on this new old stock and the information he includes is worth the read. Thanks Troy.

Baccy Pipes

I was able to find this NOS ( New Old Stock)  Heritage Antique #72 Canadian just recently.
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This is a pipe that has been on my bucket list for a while. After picking up my Heritage Heirloom 02 poker ( the pipe I use on my Baccy Pipes header ) exactly 2 years ago this month I started looking for a nice Heritage Antique to go with it. A #72 ( Kaywoodie shape) Canadian was my first choice. Luckily I was able to find this one for a very reasonable price. I would have paid more than double the price or most likely pass on it if it was on EBAY ,ETSY or a big name pipe shop.

Here is a brief history of Heritage pipes in case you are unfamiliar with them.

In May of 1960, S. M. Frank started a subsidiary company called Heritage Pipes. The Heritage pipes…

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