Blog by Steve Laug
Not too long ago I was chatting with a friend in New York and he showed me an old unsmoked CPF pipe. He had picked it up and intended to clean it up for resale so I asked him how much he wanted for it and struck a deal. I love older CPF pipes and I really am a sucker for them as I have a small collection of them. This one rang all the bells for me with the unsmoked bowl, the gold stamp on the shank, the brass band and the P-lip style stem. He was pretty sure from his work that the pipe was from the time period of the 1910s and before 1920, which also made it attractive to me. He sent me the following three photos that really sealed the deal for me. He said from his research that the pipe came from the 1910s period before 1920. He picked it up from a fellow who said that it (along with other pipes) came from a clean out of an old retail building that used to be a pipe store in the 1940s. He packed the pipe and put it in the mail to me. It did not take too long for it too arrive on the other side of the continent. And when I opened the box and removed the pipe this is what I saw (it did not disappoint). It was a bit shop worn from sitting – nicks and grime on the finish and a loose band but very clean. The stem was not oxidized but the vulcanite had some small nicks in the surface. The stamping on the left side of the shank read Chesterfield in an arch over the CPF in an oval logo. The band had the CPF logo and some faux hallmarks. The stem read Chesterfield over the CPF oval logo on the topside of the taper. I took photos of the pipe when I received it. The bowl was raw briar and totally looked new and unused. You have to admit this is a beauty – I guess that is subjective but it is to me! I took close up photos of the bowl, rim top and stem to show the overall condition of the pipe. The bowl was pristine as noted above. The rim top had some small scratches and very shallow nicks. The shank ahead of the band was discoloured from the brass band and the band had turned to the left from its original centered location on the top. The stem looked really good – no oxidation. There were a lot of minute scratches in the surface on both sides and a little rounding of the shoulders at the stem/shank junction. The gold stamping on the stem top was faint but still present.The next photos show the stamping on the shank, band and stem. You can see that they are all quite clear.I wrote a piece on the background to the CPF brand earlier on the blog and include the link to that here (https://rebornpipes.com/2013/04/14/some-reflection-on-the-historical-background-on-cpf-pipes/). I quote a pertinent part of the blog below:
From my reading and research it seems to me that CPF brand was discontinued sometime in the 1910-1920 range. Again, turning to Bill Feuerbach I found that he notes the following, which pins down the time frame of the discontinuation of the brand more specifically, “I have a CPF Chesterfield in our office display that has a nametag from way before my time that says 1900 CPF Chesterfield. It looks like most other Chesterfields you’ve seen, including the military type push stem, except this stem is horn and not vulcanite. As far as I have gathered the CPF brand was phased out sometime around 1915.” Interestingly, he noted that the Chesterfield name and style was later introduced in the KB&B, Kaywoodie and Yello-Bole lines. He says that the 1924 KB&B catalog shows KB&B Chesterfields…
… From my research I believe that we can definitively assert that the CPF logo stands for Colossus Pipe Factory. The brand was purchased by KB&B sometime between 1884 and 1898 and that it continued until 1915. That time frame gives help in dating some of the older CPF pipes you or I might find. It can be said that prior to the dual stamping it is fairly certain that the pipe is pre-1884 to 1898. After the dual stamping it can be placed post 1898 until the closure of the brand line in 1915. CPF made beautiful pipes.
From that information I could see why my friend in New York put the date where he did. I would further refine his 1910s period to a time between 1910-1915. At any rate it is an old pipe to remain unsmoked for this long. That fact that it was found in a building that originally housed a pipe store that closed in the 1940s gives a bit of a clue as to how it remained unsmoked at least until that time period. From the closure of the store to 2019 the fact that it is still unsmoked is a bit of a mystery to me.
As I examined the pipe closely I could see a lot of pink putty fills. I took photos of the fills to show their number and placement on the bowl. These tend to irritate me and while some purists may question why I removed them I planned to do so. They were placed in such a way that they were directly in my line of site when I held the pipe in my mouth. They really needed to go. I took the stem off the bowl and the band on the shank came off very easily. I turned it to align it and then decided to take it off to clean up the shank end before I reglued it. I wiped off the old glue and sanded the shank end lightly with a 1500 grit micromesh pad to remove the glue debris. I would need to do a bit more work on it before regluing it but it definitely looked better. I also took photos of the mortise chamber to show what it looked like. It is almost a reverse calabash before those were spoken of, however the tenon filled the chamber completely and negated that function. One of the nice features of working on a NOS pipe is that the internals are very clean. I ran a pipe cleaner through the airway in the stem and shank just to remove dust. I did the same in the mortise with a cotton swab and the internals were finished. I directed my attention to the obnoxious pink putty fills. I picked them out with a dental pick to remove as much of the dried and shrunken putty as possible. It takes some careful work so as not to create more issues than I was trying to cure but it did not take long to remove the offending putty. (Note the band on the shank at this point – to be honest I am not sure why I put it back on. Perhaps to protect the shank end while I was working on the fills?)I wiped down the fills with an alcohol dampened cotton pad to remove the debris and filled them in with clear super glue. I used a dental spatula to apply fine briar dust on top of the glue and to press it into the fill area. When the repairs cured I sanded the patches down with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface of the briar. I sanded the spots smooth and they were already looking better than the pink putty they had replaced. I used a black sharpie pen to touch up the centres of the fills knowing that as I polished and stained the bowl they would blend in quite well. (Note to self: find a dark brown Sharpie pen.)I polished the repaired areas and the rest of the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the dust. I removed the band again after the first three pads and repeated the sanding on the shank with the first three pads. I decided to combine a Maple and Cherry stain pens to match the colour of the original bowl as much as possible. I colour with the lighter stain and then colour over it with the darker stain. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with a coat of Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the briar to clean, enliven and protect the briar. The old briar was dry and it drank up the balm. I also found that it allows me to blend the stain coats together and give an even finish to the bowl. I buffed the bowl with a soft cloth to raise a shine. I am liking how the pipe looks as this point in the process. I set the bowl aside and started working on the stem. The nicks and scratches in the stem were very surface so I decided to polish the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I finished the polishing with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I love these old CPF pipes. There is some serious thought that they were carved by European trained craftsman who were skilled pipemakers. They were brought to the US by the CPF Company to make pipes. Many of the shapes, bands and stems have the kind of workmanship involved that I really think there is truth to this story. This is little chubby billiard with a classic shape that reminds me of some of the BBB Ultima pipes that I have restored. The stem is a pre-Peterson style P-lip with the airway at the end of the stem rather than on the topside. It had a lot of fills that I have repaired and blended into the bowl for the most part. There are a few fills that still show but they are smooth and not pink. I polished stem and the bowl with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel carefully avoiding the stamping on the shank. 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 contrasting grain really began to stand out; it seemed to take on life with the buffing. The rich contrasting brown colour works well with the polished black vulcanite stem. The finished pipe has a rich look that is quite catching. Have a look at it with the photos below. The shape, finish and flow of the pipe and stem are very well done. The dimensions are Length: 5 inches, Height: 1 5/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. This one will be joining my collection as it fits in the CPF niche group that I have been building. The shape and feel in the hand is perfect. Now I have to make a hard decision – do I leave it unsmoked or do I load it up with some aged Virginia and break it in. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I restored and reworked this old billiard from 1910-1915. It is always a treat for me to work on a piece of pipe history especially when I have learned a bit of the story behind it.