Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe on the work table came to me from one of our estate purchases. 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. The next one is classic shaped Bulldog with a mix of grains around the bowl. It was stamped on both sides of the shank. On the left side it is stamped Royal [over] Falcon. On the right side it has the shape number 237 next to the bowl shank junction and to the left of that it has Made in London in a circle [over] England COM stamp. The finish was dirty with dust and grime ground into the bowl sides. There was a thick cake in the bowl and lava overflow on the rim top. The vulcanite stem was oxidized and had tooth marks and chatter ahead of the button on both sides. Jeff took photos of the pipe to show its general condition before he did his cleanup. As I mentioned above the exterior of the pipe was very dirty – grime and grit ground in from years of use and sitting. The rim top was covered with a coat of thick lava that overflowed from the thick cake in the bowl. It was hard to know what the rim edges looked like because of the lava. The stem was dirty, calcified and oxidized with tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside of the stem at the button. Jeff took photos of the sides and the heel of the bowl to give a better feel for the condition of the briar around the bowl. The next photos show the stamping on the sides of the shank and it is very readable. It reads as noted above. You can also see the Falcon head logo on the left side of the stem. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank, Royal over Falcon as pictured to the left. On the right side it is stamped Made in London in a Circle over England. Next to that is stamped shape number 157 which is a Comoy’s number. In checking on Pipephil’s site on the Royal Falcon brand (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-r6.htmlit) it is clear that the pipe is definitely a Comoy’s brand. The stem has the same logo as Phil shows on his site though the pipe in hand has much fainter stamping.
I turned to Pipedia’s article on Comoy’s pipes and scrolled down to the section on seconds and the brand is listed there (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Comoy%27s). There was also was a photo of a Comoy’s made Royal Falcon on the site. Underneath it is written the following: Early Comoy’s Royal Falcon with circular Made in England stamp. Thin pencil shank pipe. 1930’s? The pipe I am working on is stamped with the same Made in England circular stamp.
From the above information I knew that I was working on an early Comoy’s made Royal Falcon. Perhaps as early as the 1930s!
Jeff cleaned the pipes with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. Once he finished he shipped them back to me. The pipe was a real mess when he got it and I did not know what to expect when I unwrapped it from his box. I was surprised to see how well it turned out. 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 scrubbed it with Soft Scrub and soaked it 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 a lot better. I took photos before I started my part of the work. I took some close up photos of the rim top and the stem surface. I wanted to show what cleaned bowl and rim top looked like. The rim top shows some damage on the outer edge of the bowl on the right front and on the inner edge at the top of the bevel and rim top. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the tooth chatter and marks on the stem surface. I took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank and it is clear and readable. It is stamped as noted above. There is some staining around the shank end. I removed the stem for the shank and took a photo of the bowl and stem to give a picture of what it looked like. It is a classically shaped British Bulldog.Now, on to my part of the restoration of this Comoy’s made Royal Falcon Bulldog. I decided to clean up the damaged rim top and inner edge of the bowl. I lightly topped the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper. I cleaned up the inside of the bowl edges with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. Once I was finished the edge looked a lot better. I polished the top of the bowl and the entirety of the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping the briar down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. 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 and shoe brush to raise the shine. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I used a Bic lighter to “paint” the surface of the stem with the flame to lift the tooth marks on both sides of the stem. The heat lifted most of the tooth marks. I filled in the remaining tooth marks with clear super glue. Once the repairs had cured I filed them flat with a small file. I sanded the repaired areas with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth and blend them. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. Royal Falcon, Falcon Head logo on the left topside of the saddle stem was worn and would not hold any touch up material. I would not be able to preserve or restore that stamp. I polished the vulcanite 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. I left a little oxidation around the stamp so as not to damage it more. This Comoy’s Made Royal Falcon 237 Bulldog turned out to be a great looking pipe. The mixed stain brown finish on the pipe is in great condition and works well with the polished vulcanite saddle stem. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and 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 Royal Falcon Bulldog 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: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe was 38g/1.38oz. If you are interested in carrying on the pipe man’s legacy with this pipe send me a message or an email. I have 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.