Cleaning up a piece of Pipe History – a Marxman Imported Briar Rusticated Bulldog


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table is a piece of American Pipe History. It is a well smoked Marxman Bulldog that came with the box, pipe sock and literature that was in the original package. The previous pipeman had even kept the $5 price tag that had come with the pipe. I don’t know it I would call it a pretty pipe but it is an interestingly rusticated classic Bulldog with worm trails around the bowl and shank and large spot of smooth briar as well. The pipe was very dirty with a thick cake in the bowl and some tobacco remnants from the last bowl smoked. There was some darkening and lava around the rim top and inner edge of the bowl. The rusticated areas have a lot of grime and debris ground into them but should clean up nicely. There are no visible fills around the bowl which is also a nice bonus. The finish looks good under the grime. The taper vulcanite stem is in good shape with some small tooth marks and chatter on both sides. It is lightly oxidized as well. Jeff took some great photos of the pipe, the box and sock as well as the price tag that came with the original pipe. He took it out of the box and took pictures of the pipe itself to show its general condition before he started his cleanup. Jeff took a photo of the rim top to show the thick cake in the bowl and the lava overflow all over the rim top. It is quite thick toward the back of the bowl. It is hard to know what the inner edge of the rim looks like until we remove the cake and the lava. While the bowl has a thick cake it interestingly does not go all the way to the bottom of the bowl. The last third of the bowl is raw, clean briar with no darkening. This means that the previous pipesmoker did not smoke the pipe to the bottom of any of his bowls.He took photos around the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition. You can see the grime in the finish and the worm trail rustication all over the bowl sides. He took a photo of the stamping on the left topside of the shank. You can see that it is clear and readable. It has the classic Marxman arrow logo over Imported Briar. There is no other stamping on the pipe.The next two photos show the condition of the stem. You can see that it is lightly oxidized and has some tooth chatter and marks on both sides near the button. There is also some wear on the button surfaces on both sides.I turned to the listing on Pipephil on the Marxman brand (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-m2.html) to gain some insight. The side bar noted that the brand was created in 1934 and merged with Mastercraft in 1953. I did a screen capture of the section and have included it below.I turned next to Pipedia to gather a more detailed history of the brand and see if I could find any information on this particular pipe (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Marxman). The brief article there was taken from Pipes, Artisans and Trademarks, by José Manuel Lopes. I quote a portion of that article below.

Marxman (Marxman Pipe Company) was created by Robert (Bob) L. Marx in 1934, when he was 29, and after he had worked for the William Demuth Company. His pipes were not outstanding because of the quality of their wood (probably Algerian), but Bob started making unique sculpted pieces, which brought the brand fame in the World of Hollywood cinema. Actors like Zachery Scott, Dennis Morgan, Jack Carson, Alan Hale, Joel McRae, and Ronald Reagan were some of the faces that appeared on the bowls. Bob knew how to innovate and took full advantage of marketing and press advertising in order to sell the brand–one of his slogans being “Relax with a Marxman”.

Bob also produced other brands, such as the “Bench Made”. The company lasted until 1953, the year in which it merged with Mastercraft, then the USA’s biggest pipe importer. Marxman Pipes Inc., was located at 27 West 24th St. New York 10, NY.

It is definitely an interesting piece of pipe history. It was also a pipe that had been sitting here since 2017 so it was high time to work on it. Armed with the brand information I turned to work on it. I opened the Marxman box and unpacked the pipe and the other things in the box. The photos below show what I found as I went through the box. Jeff had done a great job cleaning up the pipe as usual. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet reamer and cake from the walls of the bowl. He cleaned up any remnants of cake with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the interior of the bowl and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove the tars and oils. He scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime from the rim top. He worked on the rim edge lava and darkening with the soap and tooth brush. He scrubbed the inside of the stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior with Soft Scrub and washed it off with warm water to remove the cleanser. The pipe looked far better. I took photos of the pipe when I received it before I started working on it. I took photos of the bowl and rim top as well as the stem to show how clean they were. You can the roughness on the inner edge of the rim on the backside of the bowl. The bowl and rim looks much better without the thick lava and cake. The stem looked better. There was light oxidation and the tooth chatter and marks were very visible.  I took a photo of the stamping on the left side of the shank. The stamping is clear and readable and it reads as noted above.I took a photo of the pipe with the stem removed to show the overall look of stem, tenon and profile of the pipe. I noted that there was a small stinger apparatus that is removable in the tenon.I decided to start my work on the pipe by dealing with the damaged inner edge of the bowl. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the damaged area bring the bowl back into round. It came out really well.I polished the bowl and base unit with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I worked over the rim top and edge of the bowl with the pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each pad to remove the sanding debris.    I rubbed the briar down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my fingertips and a horse hair shoe brush. The product works to clean, enliven and preserve the even that material. The balm is absorbed by the briar and gives it real life. I buffed it with a cotton cloth to deepen the shine. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation and tooth chatter on both sides of the stem. I started the polishing of the surface with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.  I rubbed the stem down with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish – a red, gritty Tripoli like substance that is a paste. I rubbed it into the surface of the stem and polished it off with a cotton pad. I have found that is a great intermediary step before polishing with micromesh pads. I am not sure what I will use once the final tin I have is gone! I polished the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.  With both parts of the pipe finished, I polished the bowl and the 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 old Marxman Bulldog polished up pretty nicely. The rich browns of the finish and the grain came alive with the buffing. The finish on the briar works well with the polished black vulcanite stem. The finished pipe is a well-proportioned, well-made Marxman Imported Briar Bulldog. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This Marxman Bulldog will be going on the rebornpipes store in the American Pipe Makers shortly. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me on this older American Made pipe.

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