Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe I chose to work on from Bob Kerr’s estate is part of his collection of Danish made pipes. I have worked on the restoration of others in this collection including a Stanwell Jubilee Shape 118 (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/08/11/another-bob-kerr-estate-a-stanwell-jubilee-1942-1982-shape-118/); a Stanwell de Luxe Shape 812 (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/08/10/back-to-bob-kerrs-estate-changing-up-and-working-on-a-danish-made-stanwell-de-luxe-812-billiard-regd-no-969-48/); a WO Larsen (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/01/13/restoring-pipe-17-from-bob-kerrs-estate-a-w-o-larsen-super-15-bent-stack/); a Danish Sovereign Bulldog variation (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/08/11/another-bob-kerr-estate-a-danish-sovereign-305-bulldog-variant/) and a Danmore Deluxe Volcano (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/08/20/restoring-a-petersons-dunmore-70-bent-apple-sitter-from-bob-kerrs-estate-2/).
To this list of Danish pipes I am adding the next – a Handmade in Denmark Stanwell Selected Briar Canadian 56 Regd. No. 969-48. Like the others it is part of Bob’s estate that the family asked me to clean up and move out to others who will carry on the trust that began with Bob. In the collection there were BBBs, Peterson’s, Dunhills, Comoy’s and Barlings as well many others – a total of 125 pipes. This is the largest estate that I have had the opportunity to work on. I created a spread sheet to track the pipes, restoration and sales. This job would take a fair amount of time to clean up. I could not pass up the opportunity to work on these pipes and help the family.
When I took the Stanwell Handmade Canadian out of the box of cleaned up pipes that Jeff sent back I could see that it was stamped Stanwell over the Regd. No. 969-48 over Handmade in Denmark on the topside of the shank and Selected Briar followed by the shape number 56 on the top side of the shank. It has birdseye on the sides of the bowl and cross grain on the front and rear of the bowl. The grain mixes on the heel and the shank. The finish was dirty like the rest of the pipes in this estate. There was a thick cake in the bowl with remnants of tobacco stuck on the walls. There was an overflow of lava on the rim. The top and edges of the rim were dirty. I could see a beautiful pipe underneath all of the grime and buildup of years of use. The stem was oxidized with tooth chatter on both sides. There was an S with a Crown on the topside of the taper stem. Surprisingly it had none of the deep tooth marks that I have come to expect from Bob’s pipes. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work on it. 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 edges look pretty good. Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish. You can see the beautiful swirls of the birdseye. There is a lot of dust and grime on the surface of the briar. Jeff took photos of the stamping on the top and the underside of the shank. The stamping was readable as you can see from the photos. It read Stanwell Regd. No. 969-48 Handmade in Denmark. On the underside it reads Selected Briar and the shape number 56. Jeff took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the tooth chatter, scratching and oxidation on the stem surface and wear on the edges of the button. The Crown “S” on the stem was in good condition. The crown was a little worn on the right side. I turned first to Pipephil’s site to get a quick idea of when this pipe was made by reference to the Regd. No. on the underside of the shank (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-stanwell.html). I quote what I found there. The “Regd. No.” stamping discontinued in late 1960s to very early 1970s.
I also turned to Pipedia’s article on Stanwell but it did not add any further information. It is a great read in terms of the history of the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Stanwell).
With that information in hand I knew what I was dealing with in terms of the stamping and the age of this pipe. I knew from the information from Pipephil that the Regd. No. stamping was discontinued in the late 60s to very early in the 70s. Most of Bob’s pipes were purchased between the 50s and late 60s so my guess is that this pipe fits that time frame. Now it was time to work on the pipe.
With over 125 pipes to clean from Bob’s estate I took a batch of them to the states with me on a recent visit and left them with Jeff so he could help me out. Jeff cleaned the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. This one was a real mess and I did not know what to expect when I unwrapped it from his box. 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. The finish looks very good with good looking grain around the bowl and shank. Jeff 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 also of the stem surface. I wanted to show what an amazing job Jeff did in the cleanup of the rim top. The rim top looks very good. The sandblast finish is very nice. The bowl looked very good. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the lack of tooth marks and the remaining oxidation on the stem surface. One of the things I appreciate about Jeff’s cleanup is that he works to protect and preserve the nomenclature on the shank of the pipes that he works on. The stamping on this one was very faint to start with so I was worried that it would disappear altogether with the cleanup. He was not only able to preserve it but it is clearer than shown in the earlier photos. I took some photos to show the clarity of the stamping. I have noticed that many restorers are not careful to protect the stamping in their cleaning process and often by the end of the restoration the nomenclature is almost destroyed. I would like to encourage all of us to be careful in our work to preserve this as it is a critical piece of pipe restoration! Since this is another pipe Bob’s estate I am sure that some of you have read at least some of the other restoration work that has been done on the previous pipes. You have also read what I have included about Bob Kerr, the pipeman who held these pipes in trust before I came to work on them (see photo to the left). Also, if you have followed the blog for long you will already know that I like to include background information on the pipeman whose pipes I am restoring. For me, when I am working on an estate I really like to have a sense of the person who held the pipes in trust before I worked on them. It gives me another dimension of the restoration work. I asked Brian if he or his wife would like to write a brief biographical tribute to her father, Bob. His daughter worked on it and I received the following short write up on him and some pictures to go along with the words including one of Bob’s carvings. Once again I thank you Brian and tell your wife thank you as well.
I am delighted to pass on these beloved pipes of my father’s. I hope each user gets many hours of contemplative pleasure as he did. I remember the aroma of tobacco in the rec room, as he put up his feet on his lazy boy. He’d be first at the paper then, no one could touch it before him. Maybe there would be a movie on with an actor smoking a pipe. He would have very definite opinions on whether the performer was a ‘real’ smoker or not, a distinction which I could never see but it would be very clear to him. He worked by day as a sales manager of a paper products company, a job he hated. What he longed for was the life of an artist, so on the weekends and sometimes mid-week evenings he would journey to his workshop and come out with wood sculptures, all of which he declared as crap but every one of them treasured by my sister and myself. Enjoy the pipes, and maybe a little of his creative spirit will enter you!
Now on to the rest of the restoration on this Stanwell Selected Briar 56 Canadian! I decided to begin the restoration of the bowl by addressing the inner edge surface itself. There was some burn damage on the front inner edge of the bowl. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to bevel the edge inward to take care of the damage and thin the rim edge to its earlier dimensions. I followed that by sanding the rim top and edge with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads to blend in the stain and to polish the briar and remove the scratches in the surface of the bowl, heel and shank. I wet sanded with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped the bowl down between each pad with a damp cloth. I cleaned the briar with Mark Hoover’s Before & After Briar Cleaner to remove the debris left behind by the sanding of the rim top and to blend the repairs into the briar. I rubbed it into the surface of the briar and let it sit for 10 minutes. I rinsed the bowl off with warm running water to remove the product and the grime. The grain really began to stand out clearly. It was a beautiful piece of briar. I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface 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. Mark Hoover’s Balm is a product that I have come to appreciate and one I use on every pipe I have been working on. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I wiped the stem down with some alcohol to clean off any debris and then I used liquid paper to fill in the Crown S stamp on the top of the tapered stem. I applied it with a tooth pick and scraped of the excess with the same tooth pick. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to break up the oxidation. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to remove the scratching. It is starting to look good. I carefully worked my way around the Crown S stamp. You can see the worn portion on the crown to the right of the S. I rubbed the stem down with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish. I have a few tins of this laying around so I am trying to use them up. It does a pretty good job polishing the stem. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. Once I had finished the polishing I gave it final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. Once again I am excited to be on the homestretch with another of Bob’s pipes. This is the part I look forward to when it all comes back together, polished and waxed. I put the bowl and stem back together. I polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the briar and the vulcanite. 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 birdseye and mixed grain on the smooth finish look really good with the polished black vulcanite. This Stanwell Select Briar 56 Canadian with a Regd. No. was another fun pipe to work on thanks to Jeff’s cleanup work. It really has that classic Stanwell look that catches the eye. The combination of various brown stains really makes the pipe look attractive. It is another comfortable pipe to hold in the hand. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. If you are interested in carrying on Bob’s legacy with this pipe send me a message or an email. I have a lot more to work on of various brands. Perhaps one of those will catch your attention. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is an interesting estate to bring back to life.