Blog by Steve Laug
The fourth pipe, #19 of Bob Kerr’s Estate is part of my continuing desire to change things up a bit with my restoration of the pipes in the estate. This pipe is a well-made “The Guildhall London Pipe” bent billiard. I think this one was one of Bob’s favourite shop pipes. It is the perfect shape to have hanging out of your mouth while your hands are busy with something else – like wood carving. It was one of the dirtiest pipes I have worked on from the estate but underneath the grime and the lava on the rim there was something redeeming about it. I will be going back to Bob’s Dunhill collection eventually. I wanted to continue the change and nice bent Comoy’s Made Guildhall pipe fit the bill for me. It is stamped with The Guildhall over London Pipe on the left side of the shank. On the right side of the shank it is stamped with the familiar Comoy’s COM stamp Made in London in a circle over England. The shape number is at the bowl shank union and reads 214. The stem is a tapered bent with the three silver bars on the right side. These are often on The Guildhall pipes and the Everyman pipes. The grain looks good under the dirt and shape on this one is well done. I took photos of the pipe before I started my cleanup on it. I turned to Pipephil’s site to get a quick summary of the brand. The photo of the stamping on the pipe and the three bars on the stem came from that site (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-g6.html#guildhall). It confirmed what I already knew regarding the Comoy’s connection on the brand. The shape number on the pipe in the photo above is different from the one on my table but the placement of the stamp is the same.
I turned to Pipedia to gather some background on the pipe and to see if I could possibly arrive at a date for its crafting (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Comoy’s). The site states clearly that The Guildhall London Pipe was a seconds line made by Comoy’s. The picture below comes from the site and gives a good sense of what this pipe looked like when it left the factory as well as linking it to the Comoy’s brand.I took some close up photos of the rim top and the stem to show what I was dealing with. It appeared to me that the Guildhall London Pipe was actually in pretty good condition underneath all of the grime and lava. The photo shows the cake in the bowl and the thick buildup of lava on the back side of the rim top. You can see the cake in the bowl in the first photo below. The stem was dirty and oxidized with tooth mark and chatter on the top and underside for about an inch ahead of the button. There is also calcification up the stem about an inch.I took a photo of the stamping on both sides of the shank so you can see what it looked like when I examined it. It is clearer and more readable on the left side than the right but with a light the stamping is visible.With the identification of the pipe as a Comoy’s made second I was not going to get any help dating it. My guess is that it came from the same era as the rest of Bob’s pipes – sometime in the 60s or 70s.. I thought it would be good to read about Bob again just to keep his memory alive as you read about his pipes.
I asked his son in law, Brian if he or his wife would like to write a brief biographical tribute to her father, Bob. His daughter wrote the following tribute to her Dad and it really goes well with the belief of rebornpipes that we carry on the trust of the pipe man who first bought the pipe we hold in our hands as we use it and when it is new we hold it in trust for the next person who will enjoy the beauty and functionality of the pipe.
Brian and his wife included the great photo of Bob with a pipe in his mouth. Thank you Bob for the great collection of pipes you provided for me to work on and get out to other pipemen and women who can enjoy them And thank you Brian and your wife for not only this fitting tribute but also for entrusting us with the pipes. Here is his daughter’s tribute to her Dad.
I am delighted to pass on these beloved pipes of my father’s. I hope each user gets many hours of contemplative pleasure as he did. I remember the aroma of tobacco in the rec room, as he put up his feet on his lazy boy. He’d be first at the paper then, no one could touch it before him. Maybe there would be a movie on with an actor smoking a pipe. He would have very definite opinions on whether the performer was a ‘real’ smoker or not, a distinction which I could never see but it would be very clear to him. He worked by day as a sales manager of a paper products company, a job he hated. What he longed for was the life of an artist, so on the weekends and sometimes mid-week evenings he would journey to his workshop and come out with wood sculptures, all of which he declared as crap but every one of them treasured by my sister and myself. Enjoy the pipes, and maybe a little of his creative spirit will enter you!
I reamed the bowl to remove the cake on the walls and the debris that still remained in the bowl. I used a PipNet pipe reamer to start the process. I followed that with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to clean up the remaining cake in the U-shaped bottom of the bowl. I sanded the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel. It smooths out the walls and also helps deal with slight damage to the inner edges of the bowl. I cleaned up the rim top and removed the thick lava coat on the back top side of the rim. I used a pen knife blade the edge of the Savinelli Fitsall knife to scrape away the high spots of lava. I used a Scotch-Brite sponge pad to scrub off the remaining lava on the top of the bowl. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to take off a stubborn spot on the left side of the rim top toward the front.I polished the rim top with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. Each successive pad brought more shine to the rim top. I wiped the rim down with a damp cotton pad after each sanding pad. The shine develops through the polishing. I scrubbed the bowl and rim with some undiluted Murphy’s Oil soap and cotton pads. I rinsed it under running water to remove the grime and soap. The bowl looked significantly different when I had finished scrubbing it. The rim pretty well matched the rest of the pipe after scrubbing. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the finish of the bowl and shank as well as the surface of the rim top. I worked it into the surface with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the wood. I let the balm sit for about 20 minutes and buffed it off with a soft cotton cloth to polish the bowl. I took photos of the pipe at this point in the process to show what the bowl looked like at this point. I cleaned out the internals of the bowl, shank and found that the bowl had a Peterson style sump that was absolutely filthy with tars and oils. I cleaned the airway into the bowl and the one in the stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until they came out clean. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the light tooth chatter on the surface of the vulcanite with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper and worked on the spotted oxidation on the surface. I followed the 220 grit sandpaper with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to minimize the scratching. The two papers combined did a pretty decent job of getting rid of the tooth marks and chatter as well as the oxidation.I polished the stem with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish to take out the oxidation at the button edge and on the end of the mouthpiece. I also worked hard to scrub it from the surface of the stem at the tenon end. I polished out the scratches with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. Once I had finished the polishing I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I put the bowl and stem back together. I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the briar and the vulcanite. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The smooth finish on this ¾ Bent The Guildhall London Pipe 214 is very nice and I can only find a few very small fills in the surface of the briar. They blend in very well. It is quite beautiful and it has some amazing grain around the bowl – a mix of cross grain, birdseye and flame. The contrast of swirling grain looked good with the polished black vulcanite. This Guildhall will soon be joining the other pipes that are heading off to India to join Paresh’s rotation. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. This is the 19th pipe from the many pipes that will be coming onto the work table from the Bob’s estate. There are a lot more pipes to work on from the Estate so keep an eye on the blog to see forthcoming restorations. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. I am having fun working on this estate.