Daily Archives: March 24, 2019

The Restoration of the First of Jennifer’s Dad’s Estate Pipes – A Comoy’s Deluxe 78


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the worktable came from the estate of George Rex Leghorn. I received an email from his daughter Jennifer who is a little older than my 64+ years about whether I would be interested in his estate. My brother Jeff and I have been picking up a few estates here and there, so I was interested. Here is the catch – she did not want to sell them to me but to give them to me to clean up, restore and resell. The only requirement she had was that we give a portion of the sales of the pipes to a charity serving women and children. We talked about the organization I work for that deals with trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and their children and she decided that would be a great way to carry on the charitable aspect of her Dad’s character. With some great conversation back and forth she sent the pipes to Jeff and he started the cleanup process on them. Once he had finished cleaning them all he sent them to me to do my work on them.

The first pipe I chose to work on from the lot was a Comoy’s De Luxe 78 Military Bit Apple. It had some amazing grain on the bowl sides and shank. It had a Sterling Silver ferrule on the shank end that was oxidized and blackened. It had a badly oxidized stem with tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside near the button. There was a thick cake in the bowl and it was dirty and tired looking. It had been sitting in boxes for a lot of years and it was time to move ahead with the restoration. Jennifer took photos of the pipes she was sending. I have included the three she included from this pipe. When the box arrived from Jennifer Jeff opened it and took photos of each pipe before he started his cleanup work on them. This Comoy’s was a real beauty underneath the grime, tarnish and oxidation on the bowl and stem. The finish looked intact under the grime. The bowl had a thick cake that had hardened with time. The lava overflow on the rim could very well have protected the rim from damage. We won’t know what is under it until Jeff had cleaned it off. The silver work was tarnished but still looked classy on this old timer. The ferrule was undamaged with no dents of dings that are often found on these pipes. The stem was worn looking with a lot of deep oxidation and some tooth chatter and bite marks on both sides at the button. The overall look of the pipe made me think seriously about adding it to my own collection. Jeff took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the cake in the bowl and the lava build up on the edges of the bowl. It was thick and hard but hopefully it had protected the rim and edges from damage.The grain around the bowl sides and heel was quite beautiful. Lots of cross grain and birdseye that would clean up very nicely. It was a beautiful pipe.Jeff took photos of the stamping on both sides of the shank. The left side was stamped Comoy’s De Luxe and the right side had the Comoy’s COM stamp and shape number. The COM stamp is a circle with Made and London arching around “in” in the centre. Underneath it read England. The shape number is 78. I am not overly familiar with this line of Comoy’s and will need to do some work to get an idea of both age and value in the hierarchy of the lines.He also took photos of the stamping on the ferrule and the three circle inlay of the C on the left side of the stem. The ferrule read HC in a box over STERLING LONDON. There were no hallmarks on the silver so I could not use those to help date the pipe. The C inlay looked very good and did not show damage to any of the three circles. Jeff did not take photos of the stem at this point. It is so easy to miss some photos in the processing of pipes.Jennifer consented to write a short tribute to her Dad for the blog. She is also sending along some photos and an article that her Dad wrote for Jeff and me to be able to get a feel for him. When it arrives I will post the photo with the other blogs on his pipes and will add it to this one as well. In the meantime I asked her to also send me an email with a brief tribute that I can use until then. Here is her email to me.

Steve, I want to thank you again for accepting my dad’s pipes.  They were so much a part of my dad’s life that I could not simply discard them. But as his daughter, I was not about to take up smoking them either. *laughing* I think my dad would like knowing that they will bring pleasure to others.  I know that I do.

I’m not sure what to say about his pipes.   I always remember Daddy smoking pipes and cigars.

First a bit about my dad. Though my father, George Rex Leghorn, was American (growing up in Alaska), he managed to join the Canadian Army at the beginning of WWII, but in doing so lost his American citizenship.  He was fortunate to meet a Canadian recruiting officer who told him the alphabet began with “A” and ended with “Zed” not “Zee”, and also told him to say that he was born in a specific town that had all its records destroyed in a fire.  When the US joined the war my dad, and thousands of other Americans who had made the same choice*(see the link below for the article), were given the opportunity to transfer to the US military, and regain their citizenship.

After WWII, my dad, earned his degree at the University of California Berkeley and became a metallurgist. There is even a bit about him on the internet.

He loved taking the family out for a drive, and he smoked his cigars on those trips. (As a child, those were troubling times for my stomach.)

I most remember my father relaxing in his favorite chair with a science fiction book in one hand and a pipe in the other… Sir Walter Raleigh being his favorite tobacco… and the pipes themselves remind me of him in that contented way.  If I interrupted his repose, he’d look up, with a smile on his face, to answer me.

It seemed he smoked his Briarwood pipes the most, though he had others.  At the time, it was only the Briarwood I knew by name because of its distinctive rough shaped bowl.  And it was the Anderson Free Hand Burl Briar, made in Israel, which I chose for his birthday one year, because I thought he might like that particular texture in his hand.

At least two of his pipes, he inherited from his son-in-law, Joe Marino, a retired medical laboratory researcher (my sister Lesley’s late husband)… the long stemmed Jarl (made in Denmark), and the large, white-bowled, Sherlock Holmes style pipe.  I believe Joe had others that went to my dad, but Lesley was only sure about those two.

The Buescher, corncob pipe my older sister Lesley bought for Daddy while on one of her travels around the States.

A note on the spelling of my sister’s name…

My dad met my mother, Regina, during WWII and they married in Omagh, Ireland.  My mother was English and in the military herself.  The English spelling of Lesley is feminine, and Leslie masculine, in the UK… just the opposite of here in the United States.  I guess my mom won out when it came to the spelling of the name.

I’ll send you photos of my dad soon, along with his WWII experience story.

Jennifer

*https://www.thestar.com/news/world/2013/10/22/the_americans_who_died_for_canada_in_wwii.html

I turned to my usual sources for information about the De Luxe line of Comoy’s and found nothing on the pipephil website. On the Pipedia site there was nothing clearly written identifying the brand but there was a page from a Comoy’s Catalogue advertising Specialty pipes from Comoy’s that included the De Luxe (https://pipedia.org/wiki/File:Comoy-Specialty.jpg). I have included a screen capture of the page for you to have a look.It describes the De Luxe as being available in 14 Army styles in walnut and sandblast finishes. These fine pipes have their beauty enhanced by heavy gauge sterling silver bands hand fitted by silversmiths. It is also available in Blue Riband and London Pride on special order. So it seems that it is a specialty item and a beautiful one at that. Does anyone know anything else about the line?

Jeff cleaned the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. He was able to get most of the oxidation off of the silver ferrule as well. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the rubber. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked very good. I took photos before I started my part of the work. I took some close up photos of the rim top and stem surface. I wanted to show what an amazing job Jeff did in the cleanup of the rim top and the great condition it was in under the thick lava coat. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the tooth marks and chatter in front of the button on both sides.I also took some photos of the stamping on the pipe – both sides of the shank and the Sterling ferrule. You can see the three part C in the stem as well. The ferrule is loose and will need to be glued in place again. You can see in the third photo below that it is on the top of the shank instead of aligned on the left side with the stamping on the briar.I decided to repair the tooth marks on the top and underside of the stem so it could be drying while I worked on the bowl. I cleaned the tooth marks with a cotton swab and alcohol and dried it off. I filled in the deep divots with black super glue and set the stem aside so the repairs could cure.I turned my attention to the bowl. I painted some white all-purpose glue on the shank end and carefully pressed the ferrule onto the end of the shank. I turned it on the shank to align the HC Sterling London stamp on the ferrule with the Comoy’s stamp on the briar shank. I let the glue dry on the ferrule and once it had set I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth. The grain really began to stand out. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I find that the balm really makes the briar come alive again. The grain shines through and really stands out. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The pipe really looks good at this point. I am very happy with the results. I used some silver polish to remove the remaining oxidation on the Sterling Silver ferrule. I rubbed it in with a cotton pad and polished it once it had dried. It took some time to polish out the scratches in the silver and give it a shine. I followed that up by polishing the ferrule with a jeweler’s polishing cloth. The photos show the shine.I set the bowl aside at this point and turned back to address the cured repairs on the stem surface. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to blend the repairs into the surface of the rubber and also to remove the oxidation that remained after Jeff’s cleanup. I polished it with 400 grit sandpaper to smooth out some of the scratching that was left behind by the earlier sanding.I polished 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 the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine polishes. I wiped it down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the bowl and polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I carefully worked around the Sterling Silver ferrule so I would not damage it. 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 grain on this briar is absolutely beautiful and the shine on it makes the grain really shine. The pipe polished up really well. The wax and the contrasting stain on the bowl made the grain just pop on the briar. The polished black vulcanite seemed to truly come alive with the buffing. Comoy’s really captured this shape in a way that no one else has in my opinion. The pipe is perfect in my hand and when it warms with smoking I think it will be about perfect. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This is one that will remain in my collection. Once I figure out the value of the pipe I will make a donation on behalf of Jennifer’s Dad to the organization that I work for. It is a pipe like no other Comoy’s that I have seen before. I want to carry on the pipe trust of George Leghorn. Thank you Jennifer for trusting us with his pipes. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. Remember we are not pipe owners, we are pipemen hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next pipeman or woman.

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Life for a Knute of Denmark Freehand


Blog by Steve Laug

Once again I chose to work on another interesting pipe from the Michigan lot – a really nice Knute of Denmark freehand with great grain. The finish on the bowl is smooth around the sides and shank with a patch of rustication on the heel. The rim is plateau and the shank end has a horn extension. It is another totally unique pipe and different from any of the other pipes in the collection. The stamping on the pipe is on the underside of the shank just below the stem/shank extension junction. It reads Knute of Denmark and the stamping is coloured white. Knute of Denmark was a brand carved by Karl Erik and also used by Ben Wade. The stem is fancy turned vulcanite and has some damage around the button area on both sides. This is another nice looking piece much like the rest of those in this 21 pipe Michigan pipe lot. The Knute I am working on now is on cloth at the bottom of the rack. It is the second pipe on the left and I put a red box around it to make it easy 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. Like the rest of the pipes from the Michigan collection this pipe was dirty and well used. There was a thick cake in the bowl and lava overflowing onto the rim top. It was hard to know if the edges of the bowl were damaged or not because of the cake and lava. The flow of the pipe into the long horn shank extension is well done. The horn shank extension has a small split on the right side that extends from the end about ½ inch up the horn following the striations in the horn. The vulcanite stem is oxidized and has some calcification at the button. There are deep tooth marks on both sides of the stem at the button edge and some wear on the button edge itself. There appears to be a small crack or chip on the bottom right side of the button but it is hard to tell. There are also scratches in the vulcanite where it looks like someone scraped off some of the calcification. The photos below tell the story and give a glimpse of the large freehand. Jeff took a close up photo of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. The rim top had some thick lava overflow and some darkening. The thick lava on the rim top made it hard to know what the inner and outer edges of the bowl looked like. There is also a general accumulation of dust in the finish on the rest of the bowl and shank.He also took photo of the right and underside of the bowl and shank to show the interesting grain on the bowl and the rustication on the heel. The finish is very dirty but this is another beautiful pipe.Jeff took a photo to capture the stamping on the underside of the shank. The photo shows stamping as noted above. The stamping on this pipe is clear and readable.The next 3 photos show the stem surface. They show the tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. You can see the chipped areas on the button surface. The stem is dirty, oxidized and has a yellow cast to it. 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 plateau rim and the grime on the finish of the bowl. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He was able to remove the lava build up on the rim top and you could see the great condition of the bowl top and edges of the rim. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation. I took photos of the pipe before I started my work on it. I took close up photos of the rim top to show the condition of the plateau and the condition of the stem. The rim top had a washed out appearance and you could see the black stain deep in the crevices of the plateau. It would need to be darkened to be true to the original. The inner edge and the outer edge of the rim look really good. The stem photos show the tooth marks and the damage to the button surface on both sides.With this pipe there were a lot of little issues that needed attention before I could really start polishing and enlivening the bowl and shank. I decided to start with the split in the horn shank extension. It was at the spot where the horn changed from dark brown to a cream colour. I have drawn a box around it in the photo below. In examining the split I could see that it was starting to delaminate at that point. This is one of the draw backs with using horn. As it dries out it can start to split like this one had. I cleaned out the split with a cotton swab and clean water to remove the debris. Fortunately the split was neither deep nor wide so it would be a pretty straight forward repair. I filled in the gap with clear super glue to bind and stabilize the horn stem. Once the repair had cured I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper and 400 grit sandpaper to smooth it out. Polishing it later when I polished the briar would take care of all of the scratches.The second issue I decided to address was the washed out looking rim top. I used a black Sharpie pen to darken in the rest of the plateau. I worked it into the crevices but did not worry about covering all of the plateau. I was good with the spots as they would give some variation once I polished and buffed the rim.With those repairs done I polished the bowl and shank with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped down the bowl and shank with a damp cloth after each pad to remove the dust. The grain really began to pop and the horn took on a beautiful shine. The photos tell the story. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the plateau and the smooth finish of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I also worked the balm into the horn shank extension. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The pipe really looks good at this point. The horn and plateau look like they must have when the pipe was first sold. I am very happy with the results. With the bowl finished I set it aside and turned my attention to the stem. I cleaned out the tooth marks on both sides of the stem with a cotton swab and alcohol. I filled in the tooth marks and rebuilt the button edges with black super glue. I set the stem aside to let the repairs cure. Once the repairs had cured I used a needle file to flatten out the repaired areas and redefine the edge of the button. I filed it until the patches were smooth with the surface of the stem. I used a folded piece of 240 grit sandpaper to blend the repairs into the surface of the stem. Once the surface was smooth I sanded out the scratch marks and started the polishing of the stem with a folded piece of 400 grit sandpaper. I wiped the stem down with a damp cloth and took the following photos.In the spirit of Dal Stanton, I thought I would add a photo of my study and work table with me polishing the stem and enjoying a bowl of Virginia in a Tinsky Coral finished Rhodesian/Ball shaped pipe and enjoyed it while tackling the stem. As I am relegated to the basement for my work area I have no mountain scenery photos to add! I tip my hat to Dal’s balcony view!I polished 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 the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad and gave it a final coat and set it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the bowl and polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. 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 stain on the bowl made the grain just pipe on the briar. The polished horn and black vulcanite seemed to truly come alive with the buffing. The finished pipe is a beautiful freehand that has some resemblance to Ben Wade pipes but also the unique look of a Karl Erik. It is large and feels great in the hand. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 7 inches, Height: 2 1/2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 1 inch. I will be putting this one on the rebornpipes store sometime in the days ahead. It may well be the kind of freehand you have been looking for. Let me know if you are interested. Thanks for walking through the restoration of this with me it was a pleasure to work on.