Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe on the worktable is another one 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 second pipe I chose to work on from the lot was a craggy looking Dunhill Shell Briar Prince. It had a beautiful sandblast on the bowl sides and shank. It had the Dunhill Shell Briar rich brown stain. The stem was badly oxidized with tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside near the button. The transition to the button was worn to almost an angle. 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 two 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 rugged looking Dunhill Prince appeared to be in great condition underneath the grime 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 stem was worn looking with a lot of deep oxidation and some tooth chatter and bite marks on both sides at the button. As mentioned above the button was worn. The danger of working on so many estates is the overwhelming desire to add yet another to my own collection. We shall see. Jeff took a photo 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. You can also see the grime down the sides of the bowl.The sandblast grain around the bowl sides and heel was quite beautiful. Lots of interesting patterns in the blast that would clean up very nicely. It was a beautiful pipe. Jeff took photos of the stamping on the underside of the shank. The stamping was clear and readable. It read FE on the heel of the bowl which is the marking for the Prince shape. That was followed by Dunhill over Shell Briar. Next to that it read Made in England with a superscript 0 after the D making this a 1960 pipe. The final stamping was a circle 4 followed by an S which gave the size of the pipe and the fact that it is a Shell Briar.Jeff took photos of the stem – first the White Spot on the top side and then the top and underside of the stem at the button. You can see the tooth damage to the stem surface and the wear to the edge and top of the button. I am once again including the tribute that Jennifer consented 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.
Once again 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 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 a photo of the stamping on the pipe – to capture the stamp in one photo. It read as noted above.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I worked it deep into the sandblast finish with a horsehair shoe brush. I find that the balm really makes the briar come alive again. The contrasts in the layers of the blast really stand 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 set the bowl aside at this point and turned back to address the damage on the stem surface. I used a needle file to redefine the sharp edge of the button and in doing so was able to remove much of the tooth damage. I followed that by sanding the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to blend the file marks and tooth chatter into 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 gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax 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 Shell Briar sandblast finish on this briar is absolutely beautiful and the shine on it makes the variations of colour really pop. 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. 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: 6 inches, Height: 1 3/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This is one that will likely go on the rebornpipes online store shortly. If you want to carry on the pipe trust of George Leghorn let me know. 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 who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next pipeman or woman.