Mr. Pickwick “Ashford” Restoration

By Al Jones

This pipe showed up on a thread on a pipe forum that I frequent and the forum member said it came from the grandfathers estate of a friend. He asked if it was worth restoring. As a Sasieni fan, I immediately recognized it as the iconic “Ashford” shape, which is the shape 88 in the Four Dot family and on this seconds line as a shape 1088. It had the football shaped “Made In England” COM that was used in the family era from 1946 to 1979. I’ve had numerous Sasieni 2nd’s lines come across my work bench, but not a “Mr. Pickwick”. I couldn’t find anything specific about this line, but in the Stephen P. Smith article on Pipepedia, he writes:

“Through the post war years, Sasieni added shapes and lines. While the Four Dot remained their most famous product, the company also sold lines of “seconds” under various names, such as Mayfair, Fantail, Olde English, and Friar. These were pipes made of good wood, but possessed of some flaw, usually filled with putty.” Shortly after posting this blog entry, a member of the forum sent me this 1939 catalog page for Mr Pickwick pipes.

I made a few comments about the pipe and volunteered to restore it for the owner (who was seeking a restoration). I don’t do many pipes besides my own these days, but some pipes are just a joy to work with and I knew that I’d like to have this one on my work bench.

The owner sent me the pipe and it arrived in great condition. It had the typical oxidized stem and a heavy cake in the bowl. The stem fitment was excellent and it had no serious issues. But I could see it held promise. Here’s the pipe as it was delivered:

I used a worn piece of scotchbrite to remove the build-up on the bowl top and it was then reamed with my Castleford set. The bowl had been carved a bit with a knife, but very solid. The nomenclature was strong. I soaked the bowl with sea salt and alcohol. The stem was soaked in a mild Oxy-clean solution

Following the alcohol soak and Oxy-clean soak, I mounted the stem and removed the oxidation with 400, 800, 1000, 1500 and 2000 grade wet paper. The P stem logo was faint, but ultimately, I was able to remove the oxidation and retain a faint semblance of the P. The stem was then buffed with White Diamond and Meguiars Plastic Polish. The briar had a few dings, most notably near the shape number. I used a wet cloth and an electric iron to steam out those dents and marks. There was some scorch marks on one edge of the bowl. I elected to diminish them with micromesh sheets and the bowl was buffed with White Diamond and Carnuba wax. I could have restained the bowl and possibly removed some of the dark spots, but I would have never been able to replicate the patina of age the bowl had earned. The owner agreed and we settled on that level of restoration.

Below is the finished pipe.



3 thoughts on “Mr. Pickwick “Ashford” Restoration

    1. upshallfan Post author

      I added that to my article, thanks Andrew! I didn’t think to check my Sasieni catalogs…I’m not sure why!


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