Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe on the work table came to me from one of the estates that Jeff and I purchased in 2019. Jeff and I pick up many together at estates and on pipe hunts. Between us we pick up quite a few pipes for restoration. I try to work them into the restoration queue so that I can keep them moving. This next one is an interesting unsmoked NOS Billard bowl without a stem. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the bowl and reads Calabria in a gold stamped oval. On the right side of the bowl it is stamped Bruyere [over] Garantie. On the underside of the shank it reads W&R Diehl in an oval over Munchen. The stamping was readable and clear. The bowl was dusty and dirty but unsmoked. The rim top and edges of the bowl looked to be in good condition. When Jeff sent me photos before he purchased it I was interested in it. The bowl showed promise once it had a new stem. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he started the cleanup work. He took a photo of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the condition of the bowl and rim top. The top is beveled inward but it is very clean.Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar looked like around the pipe. The grain is mixed and there are a few fills in the bowl around the sides. He took photos of the stamping around the shank sides. It is clear and reads as noted above. I had not heard of the brand before so I did a bit of research to see what I could find. I googled the pipe assuming the brand was W&R Diehl from Munchen, Germany. I found the following listing on Google that took me to a bagged pipe from the Wilh and Rich Diehl Company. Here is the link to the site: (https://www.sportscards.com/item/superb-rare-hand-made-wr-diehl-vintage-naturell-estate-pipe-pipa-pfeife-tuyau/163334880617/). I am including the information on the site as well as a copy of a photo with the pipe bag included.
Here we have a superb and rare vintage “Naturell” briar estate pipe in the ‘bent billiard’ style, with an excellent grain to the briar. The pipe is branded “W&R Diehl” over “Munchen” on one side of the shank, with “Made by Hand”on the reverse, and “Naturell” on the underside. It comes complete in its original “Diehl” branded pipe pouch. I believe this pipe would have been custom made for W&R Diehl (a famous Munich pipe retailer)The second site it took me to was the company website of Pfeifen Diehl in Munich, Germany (http://www.pfeifen-diehl.de/pfeifen-diehl_english/philosophy.htm). I am including a picture of the Company workshop and a few screen shots of information on the site. Jeff had cleaned up the pipe to remove the dust grit. The bowl had a coat of varnish that gave it a shine. The bowl was raw briar on the inside and was clean. Jeff polished the band on the shank and it took on rich shine. I went through my collection of assorted stem to see what I could find that would work with the bowl. It had a slightly bigger diameter than the shank but it would work with a bit of adjustment. It was unused but the tenon had been turned previously and would still need to be turned down a bit more for a snug fit. I used a PIMO tenon turning tool to take the stem down. I did the first pass to get closer to the adjustment. The second pass cleaned it up for snug fit. The tenon fit perfectly in the shank of the pipe. The stem was not round with decidedly more vulcanite on the top and right side of the stem. I took the top and the right side down with a Dremel and sanding drum to match the underside and the left side. Once I was finished it was round again. The fit against the shank end was perfect. It was going to look really good once I finished sanding out the scratches left behind by the Dremel. I sanded the tooth marks and scratches out of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the newly fitted vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. This beautifully grained German Made W&R Diehl gold banded billiard with the newly fit taper stem is a great looking pipe. I buffed the bowl and the stem with Blue Diamond on the wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished W&R Diehl Calabria Billiard fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!