Blog by Steve Laug
I have cleaned up a few Churchill’s pipes over the years and found them to be well made pipes. Several of the ones I have worked on were English-made pipes but the one on the table now is a French made pipe. I have a few hours to kill before I head to the airport and needing something a bit relaxing to work on. This pipe fit the bill for me. It is stamped on the left side of the shank with the word Churchill’s in old English script and underneath that it is stamped Black Friar over the shape number 407. The number makes me think it is a French made Comoy’s pipe. It is stamped on the underside of the shank at the stem/shank junction FRANCE. The pipe is a rusticated bowl with a contrast finish of dark and medium browns. The stamping on the shank is in excellent condition as is the stamping of the C on the Lucite stem. The finish is in good condition with little wear or tear and only showing the dust of sitting around in disuse. Jeff took the next series of photos before he cleaned the pipe and stem.From previous blogs I have written I remembered that the brand was named for a pipe shop in Norwich, England that was called Churchills of Norwich. They evidently had shop pipes made for them by various makers. I found the following information Pipephil’s Pipes,Logos and Stampings website http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-c4.html. I quote: “Churchill’s Tobacco shop is situated in St Andrew’s Street at the corner of Bridewell Alley in Norwich, England. The shop was next to a church and at the bottom of two hills, and that’s how it became “Churchill’s”. Former manager: John Elvin (retired on May, 31 2008). Current owner (2008): Keith Garrard.”
I then turned again to Churchill’s own website to see if I could find any more information. The site gave me some background information that adds colour to the history of a brand and makes it more personal for me. According to their website the shop is the last remaining specialist tobacconist in Norwich, originally standing at 32 St Andrews Street for over 23 years. http://www.churchillsofnorwich.com/index.php?_a=viewDoc&docId=1. The site also notifies the shop’s clients that Keith Garrard, who had a wealth of knowledge and was an avid pipe and cigar smoker himself, passed away on 23rd March 2012. His wife Coral continues to maintain the business in his honor.The bowl had a thick cake and an overflow of lava onto the top of the rim. The lava had filled in much of the rustication on the rim top. It looked as if the inner edge of the rim was undamaged but I would not know for sure until it was cleaned. The back of the rim had a much thicker coat of lava than the front side. The rustication patter on the bowl – top, bottom and sides is unique and the stain chosen makes it really stand out in contrast. The contrasting browns work really well with the golden swirls of the Lucite stem.The next two photos show the stamping on the left side of shank curling over on to the top of the shank. The third photo shows the stamped C on the left side of the stem.The golden swirled Lucite stem was clean other than having tooth chatter on both the top and underside near the button.Jeff out did himself on the clean up of this pipe. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer and smoothed the walls of the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. When he had finished, the bowl looks almost new on the inside (I actually don’t think it has ever been smoked to the bottom of the bowl as it is raw briar in the bottom third). He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim and shank with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the bowl, rim and shank. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. The lava mess on the rim and deep in the rustication was thoroughly removed without harming the finish underneath it. Once the grime was removed the finish actually looked to be in excellent condition I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work on it. I took a photo of the rim top to show the great condition it was in after the clean up.The stem looked really good other than the tooth chatter on both sides at the button. The chatter is hard to see in the photos but I was thankful that none of it was too deep.I once again used the Mark Hoover’s Before & After Restoration Balm on the briar. I rubbed it into the rustication on the rim, bowl and shank with my fingers. I wanted it to go deep in the rustication pattern to continue my test of the effectiveness of the product. As I have mentioned before Mark had said that the product can be used on briar or stems – whether vulcanite, acrylic or horn. He said it was designed to pull the dirt off of the briar as well as polish it. I figured this was a totally different type of finish that would once again put those claims to a test. He said that he had added some anti-oxidants to keep the briar from getting damaged from both UV rays and water. Once I had all the grooves and surfaces of the bowl covered I wiped it down with a clean cotton pad and then buffed it with a shoe brush. It seemed to work very well and I took the following photos to show the results. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the tooth chatter on the stem. I sanded out the chatter with 220 grit sandpaper until it was gone.It was time to polish out the scratches on the stem left behind by the 220 grit sandpaper with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and wiped it down after each pad with a damp cloth to wipe off the dust. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads and again wiped it down with the damp cloth after each pad. The polishing of the stem removed all of the scratches and the tooth chatter. Each photo shows it progressively getting a shine. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish the stem and lightly polish the briar. I gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and rubbed it into the rusticated finish. I buffed it with a shoe brush and then with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The variegated brown stained finish on the bowl and gold swirled Lucite stem combine to present a beautiful pipe. The dimensions of this pipe are Length: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Bowl diameter: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 inches. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I will soon be putting it on the rebornpipes store if you are interested in adding to your collection. It is a beauty and will serve someone very well. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or send me a message on Facebook. Thanks for looking.