Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe in the queue is a Charatan’s Make Canadian with a Double Comfort saddle stem. It came to my brother and me in the lot that included the pipe cabinet and 21 pipes. It has a beautiful sandblast finish on the shank and bowl. There is a smooth, crowned rim top and a smooth band at the shank end. The bottom of the shank has a smooth panel that has the stamping on it. It is stamped Charatan’s Make (over) London, England (over) 30120DC which is the shape number and the DC which marks a Double Comfort bit from the Lane Era. Once again is a nice looking piece much like the rest of those in this lot. It is a brand that I have worked on over the years. It is on the far right side of the first shelf in the photo below. I have circled it in red to make it easier to identify.Jeff took some photos of the pipe when he received them to show the general condition of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. It was dirty and worn looking. There was a thick cake in the bowl and heavy lava overflow on the rim top. The smooth rim top was hidden under the grime and lava coat so it was hard to know what was underneath in terms of damage. The sandblast is well done and really shows the grain. It is quite deep and rugged and the oxblood stain over black stain makes it really stand out. The stem is vulcanite and oxidized. There are deep tooth marks on both sides of the stem at the button edge and some scratching on the stem surface. The photos below tell the story and give a glimpse of the saddle stemmed Canadian shape. Here are two close up photos of the bowl and rim top to show you the thick build up on the rim and the heavy cake in the bowl. It is hard to see if there is any damage on the inner or outer edge of the rim. There is a thick cake in the bowl that is hard and rough. There appears to be some interesting grain underneath all the lava. The close up photos of the stem shows the damage to the top and underside of the bit in front of the button and on the button surface itself. The next photo shows the stamping on underside of the shank of the pipe. It is clear and legible.I decided to take some time to review my knowledge of the brand. I turned to the Pipephil website for a quick overview of the brand (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-charatan.html). I quote a short overview of the history from that site.
The brand founded in 1863 by Frederik Charatan. When his father retired in 1910, Reuben Charatan took over the family business. All the pipes were handmade until 1973. The brandname was overtaken by Dunhill in 1978 and sold in 1988 to James B. Russell Inc. (NJ, USA). During the period 1988-2002 Charatans were crafted by Butz Choquin in St Claude (France). Dunhill re-purchased Charatan brand name in 2002 and Colin Fromm (Invicta Briars, Castleford) follows up on freehand production…
…The “DC” stamping after shape # was introduced when Dunhill took control of the company in 1979. DC means “Double Comfort” saddle bit.
I turned to Pipedia for a bit more history of the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Charatan). I quote pertinent parts of the article.
…Charatan records indicate the DC (Double Comfort) bit was introduced in the 50’s, but some report seeing them in earlier production. Still others indicate they were introduced by Lane in 1960. Regardless, the DC bit is not an accurate way to date a pipe because many Charatan’s were made with regular and saddle type bits throughout the “Lane Era”.
I also read the translated article on Pipedia that was referenced in the opening article. It is entitled Dating of Charatans has been translated for Pipedia by Mathias Acciai. This study by Fabio Ferrara of Monterubbiano – Italy is based on more than 2000 old Charatan pipes he studied from the “Basciano stock” purchased by Mario Lubinski – Fermo. (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dating_of_Charatans). I quote in part.
…Things started to change in 1965 after Lane’s acquisition of the Ben Wade brand and related machinery. (Actually Lane acquired only few of Wade’s machines and not its entire factory in Leeds, that was destroyed during WW II).
Essentially Charatan acquired a brand, rather than a real pipe manufacturing business. Furthermore Lane commissioned some pipes to Preben Holm and Wilmer, for the Ben Wade brand. Charatan took part in this operation too since some Danish freehands were displayed in its catalogue (while the so called ‘seconds’ were marked Ben Wade).
In mid 1976 Charatan was acquired from Lane by Dunhill. That obviously resulted in some major changes until 1982, when Dunhill decided to shut down the historical Charatan factory in Grosvenor Street.
From this moment on all Charatan’s pipes have been produced by Dunhill in the Parker/Hardcastle factory in Forest Road, Walthamstow.
It is worth noting that the factory was in Forest Road and not in 32 St. Andrew Road, Walthamstow, where the Dunhill factory was located since 1982.
In 1988 Dunhill sold Charatan to J.B. Russell and the production was moved to France. For many this is considered Charatan’s dark period.
The last change was in 2000, when Charatan was once again acquired by Dunhill and for a few months, the production was moved again to the Parker /Hardcastle site. This operation has to be viewed as Dunhill’s goal to give a new life to an old brand of the past, and the production of Charatans, Invictas, Simmons, and Hardcastles is taken over by Colin Fromm in Invicta’s site in Chatham. This information leaked during a recent interview with Marc Burrows, head of Dunhill’s shop in London’s Jermyn Street, who claimed that recent Charatans (from 2003) seem to be superior to those of the first Lane era!…
I quote a section of the article that helps me date the pipe I am working on.
…Pipes that belong to eras till the 1960 have the engraving ‘CHARATAN’S MAKE LONDON ENGLAND’ in two lines, the shape code is composed by numbers only. The X and the DC appear only on pipes after 1960…
This tells me that the pipe I have on the table came out after 1960. To try to date it further I moved on in the article. I found some help there from a section entitled, Identification of a fifth era pipe (First Dunhill era, 1977-1981).
Dunhill finally acquired Lane Ltd. in April 1976. To be honest this era should begin that year, however to clarify matters, knowing that during the first months everything changed in the production, I assume the beginning of this era to be 1977.
The characteristics of this era are close to the previous one, except for the absence of the LANE symbol (approx. ending of 1980).
In this very first period Dunhill didn’t change the production site and the original methods, making plans for the future, and the real revolution took place in 1982.
You may come across a pipe of the ‘old generation’, It is important to note that if the DC has been added later, it is often out of line with the shape code…
1) The mouthpiece is frequently double comfort, rarely saddle without the double comfort, never tapered. If the stem is not a double comfort but a saddle one, it is characterized by the letter X on the right of the shape code (e.g. 2502X), naturally in this case the letters DC are not displayed.
2) In the CP logo, the C enters the P (until approx. 1980)
3) Absence of £ on the shank (from the end of 1980 approx., this is because during the first period Dunhill kept the £, as Lane Ltd was property of Dunhill that could use its trademark)
4) Presence of the letter DC just after the shape number (e.g. 2502 DC) or of the letter X only if the stem is not a double comfort one
5) Presence of the writing “Made by Hand – In – City of London” (until 1979)
6) The pipes marked Chippendale are just a Belevedere series, On the mouthpiece, instead of the CP they display CD.
The Charatan’s Make on my work table has a double comfort saddle bit and has the DC code after the shape number. There is an absence of the L on the shank and “sings the praise of London production. The CP logo appears to match pipes from this period so I would date the pipe to the First Dunhill era, 1977-1981. That is getting the date a bit closer for me and is probably as close as I can get at this point.
Jeff reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the rim and the grime on the finish of the bowl of the pipe. He rinsed it off under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He was able to remove most of the lava build up on the rim top of the pipe leaving a clean rim. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the darkening on the surface of the rim toward the back of the bowl. There were also some small nicks in the surface of the rim. The inner and outer edge of the bowl looks really good. The stem photos show the oxidation on the surface of the Double Comfort bit and the tooth marks and the wear on the button surface on both sides. The top of the saddle is stamped with the CP mark and the underside bears a Regd No. that will be clearer in the next photos of the stamping.The underside of the shank has clear stamping with the name and shape number of the pipe. The underside of the stem also bears a Reg’d No stamp with the number 203573. The photo below shows the stamping on the shank and the stem.I started my cleanup on the rim top. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to remove the darkening and damage on the inner edge of the round rim top. I wiped the rim top down with a damp cotton pad to remove the dust. I polished the rim top with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the rim down after each pad with a damp cloth. I touched up the stain on the rim with a Mahogany stain pen and blended it into the grain. Once it dried I buffed it with Blue Diamond to spread it out. With the rim top cleaned and restained, I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the sandblast and smooth surfaces of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The following photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. The bowl and the rim top look good. I am very happy with the results. With the bowl finished I set it aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded the scratches and the tooth marks on the stem with 220 grit sandpaper avoiding damaging the stamping on both sides of the saddle. I cleaned off the surface with a cotton swab and filled in the tooth marks on both sides with clear super glue. I set it aside to cure for a few hours and when it had cured I smoothed out the fills with 220 grit and 400 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface. I filled in the stamping on the saddle of the stem with white liquid paper. I worked it into the grooves with a tooth pick. Once it dried it I scraped off the excess with the tooth pick and sanded the stem some more with the 400 grit sandpaper. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wetsanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I polished it with some Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra to deepen the shine. I wiped it down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry.