On the table – a Clipper High Class Briar Bent Churchwarden


Blog by Steve Laug

Over the past several years my brother Jeff has picked up some very interesting Churchwarden pipes. They have varied from classic shapes to Freehands. They have been anywhere from 7 to 10 inches long and have had straight, ¼, ½ and almost full bent stems. Each box he sends has at least one of these pipes – at least it seems so. In one of the recent boxes there was a beautiful little half bent Churchwarden. I have been keeping an eye out for one that I thought Paresh would like and this seemed like it was the one. When I showed it Paresh during one of our Whatsapp calls he fell in love with it and I added it to his box.

When Jeff received the pipe it was in pretty decent condition – dirty but really not too bad. The finish was dusty and dirty with grime worked into the lovely grain of the briar. The bowl had a moderate cake in it but the rim top was free of lava. The inner edge of the bowl was in great condition other than what appeared to be a small burned area toward to the front. That would not be clear until it was reamed. The rim top had some nicks and scratches as did the outer edge of the bowl. The left side of the shank was stamped Clipper over High Class Briar over IBERPIPSA. On the right side of the shank it had a square box with a pipe and puff of smoke as a logo. The underside at the stem/shank union it had the shape number 512. The stem did not seat in the shank due to the buildup of tars and oils. At the shank the stem had two vertical dots on the topside. The stem had some deep tooth marks on both sides at the button. It was oxidized but in decent condition. Jeff took these pictures of the pipe to show its condition before he started his cleanup work. He took close up photos of the rim top and the side and bottom of the bowl to show the condition of the briar and the bowl. You can see the cake in the bowl and the slight burn mark toward the front of the inner edge of the rim. You can also see the small nicks around the outer edge of the bowl. The finish is pretty but quite dirty. He took a photo of the stamping on the left, right and underside of the shank as well as the two vertical dots on the stem. The photos of the stem show the tooth chatter and marks on both sides of the stem near the button and the wear on the button itself.I did some research on the brand and found many different pipes that bore this stamping. They also seemed to have the name Swensson stamped on the shank as well. This link shows the same stamping with the addition of the Swensson name (https://en.todocoleccion.net/collectable-smoking-pipes/pipa-swensson-iberpipsa-car07~x111057347). Here is a second link that shows the box that the brand came in as well as a leaflet (https://en.todocoleccion.net/collectable-smoking-pipes/pipa-clipper-5740-iberpipsa~x33567017). I have included that photo for the information that it includes. There were other references to the brand with lots of photos of pipes in a variety of classic shapes. However there was nothing on either Pipedia or Pipephil that I could find. All of the examples of pipes bearing this brand that I saw were well made and showed beautiful grain.Armed with little bit of information that I could find it was time to start working on this pipe. Jeff had cleaned the pipe with his usual thoroughness – reaming the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaning up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the internals of the bowl, shank and stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior with Murphy’s Oil Soap to clean off the dust and grime on the finish. The rim top looked very good other than the small burned inner edge at the front of the bowl. The inside of the bowl itself looked great. The pipe had some beautiful grain all around the bowl and the cut of the briar maximized that. The stem was in great condition other than the oxidation and tooth marks on both sides near the button. I took photos of the pipe before I started working on it. I took some close up photos of the rim top, bowl and stem to show what they looked like after Jeff’s cleanup. The two different photos show the damage at the front inner edge of the rim from different angles. The stem was in good shape other than the tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button.I took some photos of the stampings around the shank to give a picture of what they looked like after the cleanup. I worked on the damage to the front of  inner edge first. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the burned area and bevel the inner edge slightly to minimize the damage there. I polished the rim edges – both inner and outer with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I worked on the nicked edges on the outside of the bowl to smooth them out. I polished the entire bowl avoiding the stamping with the pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. You can see the progress in the photos below.  I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the smooth finish of the bowl and the rim top. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the wood. Once the bowl was covered with the balm I let it sit for about 20 minutes and buffed it off with a soft cotton cloth and then polished it with a microfiber cloth. I took photos of the pipe at this point in the process to show what the bowl looked like at this point. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I decided to address the oxidation and the tooth marks on both sides of the stem ahead of the button. I sanded the tooth marks and chatter with 220 grit sandpaper and was able to remove them all. I sanded the stem surface with the 220 grit sandpaper and removed the majority of 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 the stem, button and blade 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 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 pipe turned out very well and shows the grain shining through. The contrast of the various grains – birdseye, flame and straight swirling around the bowl and shank looked good with the polished, long black vulcanite. This Churchwarden will soon be joining the other pipes I have boxed up for Paresh. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 10 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. I am looking forward to hearing what Paresh thinks of the pipe now. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. Addendum: I posted on Facebook Tobacco Pipe Restorers Group and asked questions about the brand. I received this response from Sam Vior, a member there:      Iberpipsa: Iberica de Pipas, SA it was founded late 1980’s and made several lines: Swenson, Everest, Clipper, Brio, Coral, Commodore. In Spain.

That led me to a page on Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Iberica_de_Pipas). I quote from that article in full.

“Founded in 1919, Iberica de Pipas is a company dedicated to the manufacture of pipes and gift items in wood. More than eighty years of presence in the market guarantee our products. Our accumulated experience has strengthened and allowed us to both continue making improvements and maintain the professional standards which our name inspires throughout the years.

In our effort to maintain client satisfaction, we offer an increased variety of quality products ranging from smoking to gift and home articles at an excellent price-quality relationship. Thanks to our professional standards and transparency, we can also manufacture any personally designed specialty items that our clients so desire. Contact us, we are eager to discuss how we can fulfil your needs.”

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