New Life for a Canberra London Made Bamboo Carved Billiard

Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to us from an online auction out of Columbus, MI, USA.    It is a variation on a billiard with a square shank and square taper stem. The bowl and shank have been carved to look like Bamboo with the notches and growth nodules. It has a rich reddish brown colour combination that highlights the grain. There are a few small fills in the bowl that have been worked into the carving around the bowl so they are less visible. I have worked on a few Bamboo carved pipes throughout the years that have come from Spain but this one comes from London England. This pipe is stamped on the heel of the bowl and reads Canberra [over] London Made [over] Made in England. There is also a “C” in a circle logo stamped on the left side of the stem. There is a thick cake in the bowl and an overflow of lava on the back rim top. It appears that there is some damage to the inner edge of the rim in that area as well. The outer edge of the bowl looks very good. The square vulcanite taper stem was oxidized, calcified and had light tooth marks and chatter on both sides of the stem near the button. The pipe looks to be in decent condition under the grime. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup. He took photos of the rim top to show the cake and the light lava coat. It is another dirty pipe. He also captured the shape of the stem and the deep tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside of the stem near the button.      He took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the bamboo like carving and grooves in the briar around the bowl and the amount of grime ground into the surface of the briar.    He took a photo of the stamping on the heel of the bowl and it is clear and readable as noted above. The lines carved in the briar through the stamping are like the others carved around the bowl sides and add to the bamboo look. The “C” in a circle logo on the left side of the stem is also readable.   I turned to Pipephil to get a quick overview of the brand ( I was surprised to see the connection to the John Redman brand.I followed the link on the page to John Redman and did a screen capture of the section ( Listed on the last column was the Canberra line.I then turned to Pipedia for a bit more history on the John Redman Company ( The Canberra line is noted in the list on the page and there is a photo that also includes the same stamping as the pipe I am working on. I quote the list below below:

John Redman Ltd. and British Empire Pipe Co. Other lines include Aristocrat, Buckingham, Buckingham Palace, Canberra, Captain Fortune, Dr John, Golden Square, Redonian, Richmond (not Sasieni), Twin Bore. Former factory located at 3-11 Westland Place, Hackney, London N1 7LP

Now it was time to work on the pipe. As usual Jeff had done a thorough cleanup on the pipe. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the rim and the grime on the finish of the bowl. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He cleaned the internals and externals of the stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water and cleaned out the airway in the stem with alcohol. The pipe looked very good. I took a photo of the rim top and stem to show the condition. They cleaned up really well and the top of the rim looked very good. The inner edge of the bowl showed chipping and burn damage all around. The vulcanite taper stem had light tooth chatter and marks on both sides ahead of the button and on the button edges.     I took photos of the stamping on the heel of the bowl and the logo on the stem. It read as noted above.   I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. It is a carved Bamboo style square shank Billiard that looks great.Now it was time to do my work on the pipe. I started by working over the damage on the inside rim. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to give the inner edge a bevel to clean up the edges of bowl.  I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped down the bowl after each sanding pad.    I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The Balm did its magic and the grain stood out.  I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I started by “painting” the surface of the stem with the flame of a Bic lighter to lift  the tooth marks. It removed the majority of the marks. What was left behind after the flame, I sanded out the tooth marks on the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and started the polishing process with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.  I polished the vulcanite stem 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. The photo below shows the polished stem.  I touched up the “C” stamp with Paper Mate Liquid Paper. I pressed it into the stamped letter with a tooth pick. Once it cured I scraped off the excess with the tooth pick.  This carved Bamboo like briar Canberra London Made Billiard with a vulcanite taper stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. There are fills around the bowl that blend in nicely with the finish on the bowl. The rich brown stains of the Bamboo finish came alive with the polishing and waxing. The grain really popped. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Canberra Square Shank Bamboo Carved Billiard is a beauty and fits nicely in the hand and looks very good. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

2 thoughts on “New Life for a Canberra London Made Bamboo Carved Billiard

  1. Michael P Nilsen

    “Indeed, many Redman’s brands bear such toponomical signs: the “Golden Square” series comes from the Golden Square located between the Lower John and Upper John streets, “Dr. John” is the most probably related to the above mentioned John streets. There are also Canberra road and Canberra House in London (which might inspire stamping of the famous Canberra pipes) as well as Canterbury House (Canterbury series)”.

    The link below is provided by Very Keen On Pipes of the John Redman Ltd products Catalog approximately from the 1960s. A very rare finding!:

    This link is a direct JOHN REDMAN’S Catalogue description and photograph of the “Canberra Bamboo Pipe”:


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