Restoring a Made in England Cumberland Acorn

Blog by Steve Laug

The stamping on the next pipe that crossed my work table was faint but it read Cumberland over Made in England. There is no shape number and no other name on the pipe. There is nothing Cumberland about the pipe as far as I can tell – the stem is black vulcanite and appears to be original. The finish is sand blast and quite nice though there are some sand pits in the bowl that are quite large and have been filled in. The rim and bowl are in good condition. The stem was badly oxidized and had a few tooth marks but otherwise clean. Like I said nothing Cumberland about it. I looked on Pipephil’s site and as expected nothing with this name other than Dunhill. I looked at Who Made That Pipe and they list it as UNKNOWN. So the mystery remains. I have no idea who made this nicely shaped acorn but I know that it was made in England. Anyone have any ideas?

I received a comment on the blog and on my Facebook page both confirming what I asked regarding the maker of this pipe. Al Jones (upshallfan) and Dan Chlebove both figured it was made by Charatan. I did some searching online and found a Charatan Shape Chart on Al Pascia’s website. Sure enough, the shape was on the chart. It is the Salisbury Shape 173. Dan noted that it was an older one because it did not have the Double Comfort style bit on it. I think that the scar on the front of the bowl and the sandpit on the back make it a Charatan Reject. Thanks for the information gentlemen.My brother took the photo above and the ones that follow to show the condition of the pipe when it arrived in Idaho. The finish was very dirty and there was a lot of grime and dirt in the grooves of the sandblast. There was significant tar and darkening on the rim top and edges. The bowl had a thick cake and it had overflowed onto the rim top. The stem was lightly oxidized and very dirty with the slot almost closed off with tars. There were tooth marks and chatter on both the top and underside of the stem near the button and tooth damage to the sharp edge of the button on both sides.The next photo shows the cake and the overflow on to the bowl top. I have found that generally this kind of buildup protects the rim top as well as the inner and outer edges from damage.The next photos show the interesting sandblast finish on the bowl from various angles. Looking past the dirty finish it is an interesting blast. The first photo below shows the sandpit on the front of the bowl but future photos will give a better view of that spot.I have included both of the next photos because together they give a clear view of the stamping on the underside of the shank. The first one show the CUMBERLAND stamping though the Made in England stamp is blurry. The second is the reverse. The shank is stamped on the curve of the shank so it is hard to get a clear photo of both at the same time.The close up photos of the stem surfaces show the tooth marks, chatter and damage to the edge of the button on both sides.Jeff did his usual thorough cleanup of the pipe. He reamed the bowl and cleaned out the internals – mortise, airway in the shank and stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the briar with Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove all of the grim and grit in the finish and clean out the areas around the sandpits. He rinsed the briar under running water and dried it with a soft cloth. He soaked the stem in OxyClean to bring the oxidation to the surface and remove the grime. When the pipe arrived in Vancouver it certainly looked different than it did when we picked it up. I took the photos below to show the condition of the pipe when I brought it to the work table. The finish looked amazingly clean. The rim top looked better without the tars and buildup. There was some darkening on the rim top but the edges of the rim looked very good.The OxiClean had done the job and the oxidation was on the surface of the vulcanite stem. It was pretty green. I dropped it in the Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer to soak for 24 hours while I turned my attention to the stummel. The “Harry Potterish” scar (flaw/sandpit) on the front of the bowl was quite deep but it was not cracked. To me it took away from the overall look of a nice sandblast. There was also a round sandpit on the back side of the bowl on the left toward the top edge that also needed attention. I used a brass bristle brush to scrub out the remaining debris in those areas. I filled them in with clear super glue to blend them into the surface of the briar better. When the repairs had cured I carefully wiped around the edges with acetone on a cotton swab to remove the excess glue. I have found that the super glue repairs leave a shiny spot on the finish if you don’t remove the overage. To blend the repairs into the briar even more I topped up the repaired areas with black super glue. It would blend in better with the final stain that I was planning on using on the briar. I cleaned up the areas with a cotton swab and acetone to remove any excess glue in the surrounding sandblast. I warmed the briar and stained it with a dark brown aniline stain. I applied the stain and flamed it several time until I had an even coverage on the stummel. I set the pipe aside for about an hour and worked on another pipe I have on the work table. When the stain had dried I wiped it off with alcohol on a cotton pad to make it more transparent and show some of the underlying grain. I like the contrast that happens in the finish when I wiped off some of the stain. Notice the repaired areas on the front and back side of the bowl. They blend in quite well with the darker finish. I gave the sandblast several coats of Conservator’s Wax and buffed it with a shoe brush to raise the shine. I really like the new colour on the bowl and find that the repaired areas really do blend in quiet well with the rest of the finish. It also blends in the darkening on the rim top and gives the pipe a richer new look. I took the stem out of the Before & After soak and dried off the stem with a rough cloth to remove the remnants of the soak and the oxidation that it had lifted. The next two photos show the stem after the soak. There is still some deep oxidation that will need to be addressed but it looks far better than it did when I started.I put the stem on the stummel and took some photos to get an idea of where I was at with the restoration. The pipe is going to look good once I am finished. I used some black super glue to repair the edge of the button on both sides of the stem. Once the repair dried I sanded the repairs and the rest of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to shape the button and to remove the remaining oxidation. I worked on the saddle portion of the stem carefully so as not to round the edges where it met the shank of the pipe. It was looking better but more work was necessary to bring it to a full shine. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and wiping the stem down after each pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished the stem with Before & After Pipe Polish to further remove the scratches left behind by the sandpaper. I dry sanded the stem with 3200-12000 grit micromesh pads to deepen the polish. I wiped the stem down after each pad and set it aside to dry after sanding with the 12000 grit pad. I put the pipe back together and polished it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I find that Blue Diamond Plastic polish really takes out the scratches in the vulcanite stems. I gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and polished it with a clean buffing pad. I hand waxed the sandblast bowl with a final coat of Conservator’s Wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the bowl and stem with a microfiber cloth. The darker stain blended the repaired sandpits and the darkening on the rim top into the rest of the finish. It turned out to be a nice looking pipe – its dimensions are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 1/2 inches, Bowl diameter: 1 3/8 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ inches. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store soon. If it interests you, send me an email to or a message on Facebook. Thanks for looking.


4 thoughts on “Restoring a Made in England Cumberland Acorn

    1. rebornpipes Post author

      I think you are right Al. I edited the blog to reflect the information Al led me too on the maker of the pipe. Cumberland was made by Charatan and in this case was probably a Reject.


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