BBB Centenary Bullcap Restored


By Al Jones

I had never had a BBB pipe on work bench, but in the last month, I’ve acquired two. This one is a real curiosity. It is stamped as a “1847-1947 Centenary” pipe. Very little is written about BBB brand pipes. Steve posted a history of the brand to the blog several years ago, which can be seen in the link below. Beyond this piece, there is not much else available on the brand.

History of BBB Pipes – Reborn Pipes

BBB celebrated their 100th anniversary in 1947. They released a book on the brand, but it is rare. Someone shared with me that Vermont Freehand had reprints for sale. However I cannot find any reference to these “Centenary” pipes. I’ve found two or three that have been sold on Ebay, but the ads are old enough that the photos are no longer available. I posted the pipe to several pipe boards, but to date, I’ve received no answers on the history of this anniversary edition pipe. They did appear to come in different shapes. This one looks like the classic “Bullcap” shape. The pipe is a featherweight at 25 grams.

As you can see, the pipe was in relatively good condition. The sellers pictures were not very good and the pipe was advertised as having a box. Unfortunately, the seller made a mistake and there was no box. That was too bad, as the box may have contained some helpful information. The stamping is crystal clear. The stem has a “Hand Cut” stamp but no metal rhombus was shown. On receiving the pipe, there is a BBB rhombus stamp on the opposite side of the stem. The pipe came with a push fit stinger.

I used a worn piece of Scotch-Brite to remove the build-up on the bowl top, then finished it lightly with a piece of 2000 grit paper. After the build-up was removed, a nicely beveled bowl top was revealed. The rest of the briar was just about perfect. I reamed the pipe and soaked it with sea salt and alcohol. Following the soak, the briar was buffed lightly with White Diamond and several coats of Carnuba wax.

The stem had no bite marks, but was oxidized. Working around the stamping was going to be tricky. I cut two tiny pieces of masking tape to cover and protect them during this process. I started with 800 grit paper, than 1500 and 2000 grades. The then buffed with White Diamond and Meguiars Plastic Polish. I put some white, acrylic model paint over the logos. I let it dry for several days and then removed the excess. Unfortunately, the stamping is so shallow, that the white paint didn’t have much, if any effect. The beautifully shaped and detailed button definitely earn the “Hand Cut” stamp.

I’m not happy with the oxidized stamp sections, but I’m not sure there is much else that can be done.

If anyone has information about these “Centenary” edition pipes, please let me know.

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