Blog by Steve Laug
I have finished many of the pipes on my desk for refurbishing or repair and decided it was time to do something a little different that was a lot less work. I turned again to the group of 42 pipes that Jeff and I purchased from a pipeman who can no longer smoke because serious illness. It is a pleasure to be able to support this Brother of the Briar in this very hard season of his life. He had some beautiful pipes in his collection and with some work we will get them cleaned up and into the hands of other pipemen and women who can carry on the legacy of the briar.
The third of the pipes that I am working on is a large Comoy’s. It has an octagonal shank that is a really nice touch. The bottom of the bowl and shank are flat so the pipe is a sitter. It is stamped on the left side of the shank Comoy’s over Magnum over Supreme. On the right side of the shank it is stamped Made in over London England. It is a stunning piece of briar with beautiful straight, flame and birdseye grain around the bowl. The saddle stem is Cumberland and has a C inset in clear acrylic inlaid in the left side of the saddle. When it arrived at Jeff’s house and he opened the box he could see it was a beautifully grained piece of briar and an interestingly carved pipe. The pipe was dirty but there was no significant damage to the bowl or stem. The rim top had darkening and tars on the bevel of the inner edge. But it did not appear to be burned or charred. There was a thick cake in the bowl. The Cumberland stem was in great condition – just a little dirty and tooth chatter on both sides of the stem near the button. Overall the pipe was a beautiful and a dirty pipe that must have been a favourite smoker. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his clean up work. Jeff took photos of the bowl and the rim top to show the condition of the bowl and rim. You can see the light oil and darkening on the inner edge of the beveled rim top. You can also see the cake in the bowl and the tobacco debris stuck to the walls. Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish – the grime and grit all over the sides and bottom of the bowl. The overall dullness of the finish looks lifeless. It is a dirty pipe but the grain is absolutely stunning. He took photos of the stamping on the octagonal shank. It is both artfully and tastefully done. The stamping was very readable as noted above. It is a beauty! The Cumberland stem has an inset acrylic encased C inlaid on the left side of the saddle and is stamped faintly on the right side of the saddle with the words Hand Cut. He took some photos of the Cumberland stem surfaces to show their condition. There were not any tooth marks just some calcification and light chatter ahead of the button on both sides. I turned then to Pipedia to see what I could find out about this particular line of Comoy’s pipes. I read through the main Comoy’s page and looked at the page on dating the pipes by the stamping on both sides and neither one had any reference to the Comoy’s Magnum Supreme. I then turned to the article by Derek Green on Pipedia to see if there was any reference to the line there. Low and behold about half way down the article under the section entitled, The Names or Grades I found some information on the Magnum line. Here is the link to that page on Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/A_History_Of_Comoy%27s_and_A_Guide_Toward_Dating_the_Pipes#The_Names_or_Grades). I will quote from the section on the line below.
Extraordinaire. This designation was given to any pipe that was out of the ordinary in size or grain. The E/O was introduced in the 1930s, and “Extraordinaires” can be found with no other designation or also stamped, for instance, “Blue Riband” or “London Pride.” The 1936 advertisement lists the “Extraordinaire” at $13 to $23, and the 1965 catalogue also lists a “Specimen Straight Grain Extraordinaire” at $60, though I cannot imagine many of these were made! There seem to be two distinct-sized pipes that were called “Extraordinaire.” The very large or Magnum-sized variety are unique and were given shape numbers in the 800 series. My 1939 panel example is 803 and is 9 inches long, with a bowl 2 3/8” high and 1 ¾” wide. I understand that BBB, Comoy and Dunhill made these Magnum-sized pipes in the 1920s and 30s and that Dunhill purchased the bowls for their Magnums from BBB when they started producing them in 1921. Other Extraordinaires are somewhat larger than a Dunhill LBS, for instance 6 ½” long with a bowl height of 2” and 1 ½” wide. These are given normal shape numbers and are illustrated in the 1965 catalogue.
The Extraordinaire was reintroduced in 1979 as the “Extraordinaire 1,” which was priced at $100 in the 1979 catalogue in a light natural finish, and the “Extraordinaire 11,” a light two-tone walnut finish. Neither of these was as large as the 800 series.
Magnum. As mentioned above, the 800 series are “Magnum” sized, but I also have one pipe that is stamped “Magnum,” with the shape number 802 and is the same shape and size as my Extraordinaire 802. It dates from the 1960s, and Comoy’s may have used this name as a marketing exercise to supersede the 800 series. The name Magnum was re-introduced by Cadogan in the 1990s, but these were not really magnum sized.
From the site I determined that the pipe in my hand was most like made during the Cadogan time frame as it does not bear any shape number. It is large but I do not know that I would call it a Magnum sized pipe. That would make it a pipe from the 1990s which also goes along with the interesting acrylic encased C that is inlaid in the Cumberland stem.
Now I had the information I wanted to know on the brand it was time to begin to work with it and clean it up. It really is a beautiful pipe.
I am getting more and more used to Jeff cleaning up the pipes before I work on them. So much so that when I have to clean them it is a real chore! This pipe was dirty just like the other ones in the collection. 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 looked really good once it was clean. There was no damage and the grain just popped around the bowl. The rim top was bursting with birdseye grain and was beautiful. He cleaned the stem internals and scrubbed the exterior and the result looked very good. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it was impressive. 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. It was a real beauty. The layout of the pipe absolutely captured the birdseye grain on the pipe. I also took close up photos of the stem to show condition it was in. It would not take a lot of work – just sanding out the light tooth chatter and polishing with micromesh sanding pads.I took photos of the stamping on the left, right and underside of the shank. The stamping reads as noted above. I polished the bowl and rim with worn micromesh sanding pads. I sanded it with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped it down between pads with a soft cotton cloth. You can see the progress in the shine as you go through the photos. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the finish of the bowl, the rim top and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I find that the balm really makes the briar come alive again. The contrasts in the layers of stain really made the grain 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 way the pipe is looking at this point in the process. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded the light tooth chatter on both sides of the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both fine and extra fine. I finished by wiping it down with Briarville’s No Oxy Oil and set it aside to dry. This was another fun pipe to work on since Jeff had done the heavy work in cleaning it. Once I was finished I put the Hand Cut Cumberland stem with a Delrin tenon 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 grain just pops and is almost multidimensional it is so deep. The pipe polished up really well. The polished Cumberland stem seemed to truly come alive with the buffing. This is a big pipe and it feels great in my hand and I am sure that it will feel even better radiating the heat of a good smoke. It must have been a fine smoking pipe judging from the condition it was when we received it from the pipeman who we bought it from. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 ½ inches, Height: 2 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2 inches, Chamber diameter: 1 inch. This is one beauty that is eye catching. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store shortly. If you are interested in adding it to your collection email or message me. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next pipeman or woman.