Blog by Paresh
The next pipe that I decided to work on is a classic Pot shaped pipe with a square shank that boasts of beautiful mix of straight and smattering of Bird’s eye grain all around the stummel surface. The flat bottom of the stummel, which also bears the stampings, makes it a perfect sitter. This pipe is stamped on the flat bottomed shank surface as “Barling” in script over “5264” over “LONDON ENGLAND” in block capital letters. The flat right side of the square shank is stamped “T.V.F”. The stampings are all crisp and deep. A sterling silver ferrule at the shank end breaks the monotony of the darkened stummel and the black of the vulcanite stem. The ferrule is stamped as “STERLING” over “SILVER” over “E.B” over “W.B” over the three hallmarks in a cartouche. There is a lion, a leopard head, and the lower case letter “c”. The leopard head identifies the city of the Assaying to be London, England. The lion is the mark for 0.925 Sterling Silver and the letter “c” is the date stamp. The trademark Barling cross adorns the top surface of the saddle of the vulcanite stem. The size, shape and feel of the pipe are solid to the touch. Barling’s pipe brand has been well researched and chronicled on pipedia.org and by Steve when he worked on many of Barling’s pipes over decades and thus, shall not waste time in repeating the information that is available. I too have carefully read and researched this brand as I do have many pipes that I have inherited and date this pipe as being a Corporate Era pipe. I have based my conclusions based on the following facts that I have read on pipedia.org (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Barling)
Early Corporate Era Nomenclature
A script Barling logo replaces the block “Barling’s Make” logo. Makes sense, no Barlings are making pipes.
The pipes retain the 4 digit model number introduced in mid 1962, but they also introduce a size 1, which means that there are 4 digit numbers beginning with a 1. The model number is placed right below the Barling logo.
The words LONDON ENGLAND are stamped below the model number. The “MADE IN ENGLAND.” Stamp is discontinued.
Ye Olde Wood and TVF have both been discontinued. They will return in the mid 1960’s.
The Corporate Era pipes all bear a script “Barling” logo with no apostrophe and no “s”. Since these pipes share the same markings as others manufactured as late as 1970 and beyond, it is difficult to distinguish which are made from Family Era materials and which are not. One clue is the absence of a TVF stamp. Initially, the TVF stamp was dropped, but it was back in use as early as 1965, if not earlier.
The hallmarked sterling silver band and cap helps in the dating with great accuracy and the first site that I visit is www.silvercollection.it
I browsed through the alphabetical listing of maker’s mark for E.B over W.B without frame and narrowed it down to as being Edwin Barling and William Barling. Here is the link to the information http://www.silvercollection.it/englishsilvermarksXE2.html
I captured a screen shot of the information that was available and have reproduced it below. Next I followed the link to the dating guide of the London Assay Office to date this pipe. I have included a hallmark chart for dating the pipe. I put a red rectangle around the letter for 1977. It is the same style of “c” and the cartouche that holds the letter stamp, matches the photo as well.http://www.silvercollection.it/englishsilverhallmarks.html
Thus, it is with certainty that I can now say that this pipe is from the Corporate Era with 1977 hallmarked year. Though not from the family era, the pipe still has the classic shape, draw and feels nice in the hand that Barling’s pipes are so famous for.
Initial Visual Inspection
This pipe has a decent medium bowl size with chamber depth of about 1 7/8 inches and thick walls. The stummel boasts of some beautiful straight and mixed grains all around. The stummel is covered in dirt and grime of the overflowed lava and dirt accumulated over the years of heavy smoking and uncared for attention to cleaning and maintenance. There is a decent layer of cake in the chamber with lava overflow over rim top and a chip and charring to the inner rim edges. The stem is heavily oxidized with very minor tooth chatter in the bite zone on either surface. The pipe’s appearance, as it sits on my work table, does present an encouraging picture. Detailed Inspection Of The Pipe And Observations
The bowl has a wide rim with thick chamber walls and has a chamber depth of about 1 7/8 inches. The draught hole is at the bottom and center of the chamber and this construction should make this pipe a great smoke. The chamber has an even layer of hard cake. The rim top surface is covered with thick lava overflow and through this layer of lava a few dings can be seen over the rim top surface. The inner rim edge appears dark and I suspect charred inner rim edge in 12 o’clock, 10 o’clock and 6 o’clock directions (encircled in yellow). The outer edge too has a few minor dings, but is otherwise in pristine condition. The condition of the inner walls of the chamber can be commented upon after the cake has been taken down to the bare briar. The stummel appears solid to the touch all around and hence I do not foresee any serious damage to the walls in the form of burnout/ deep heat fissures/ lines or pits. The dark inner rim edges, in 12, 10 and 3 o’ clock directions, may be charred further than anticipated and the same will be confirmed after the surface has been thoroughly cleaned. I need to resort to topping the rim top in order to address the damage to the rim top surface. The faint ghost smells should reduce once the cake from the chamber is removed and the shank has been cleaned.The smooth stummel has a classic Pot shape with a chamber that is evenly broad right down to the bottom/ foot of the stummel. The square shank has a sterling silver ferrule at the end. The surface is covered in dust, lava overflow and grime through which one can make out the beautiful (predominantly) thin straight grains. There are a few minor fills in the briar surface; one at the heel and couple others in the left panel of the square shank (all encircled in yellow). The briar is looking lifeless and bone dry. For a pipe that has been so heavily smoked, there are surprisingly no dents and ding over the stummel surface. The mortise shows accumulation of dried oils, tars and gunk. Once the stummel has been thoroughly cleaned, any other damage or flaws (which I think there will be none) will come to the fore. I shall check the fills for softness once the stummel surface has been cleaned and refresh these fills if required. Thorough cleaning and rising of the stummel under warm water will highlight the grain patterns. Micromesh polishing will help in imparting a nice shine to the briar. The high quality vulcanite square saddle stem is so heavily oxidized that it appears brownish green in color! Minor tooth chatter can be seen in the bite zone with calcification at base of the buttons. The horizontal slot end is clogged with dried gunk. The trademark crossed Barling stem logo is sufficiently deep and needs to be highlighted. Overall, given the vintage of the pipe and the fact that it has been well smoked, the stem is in a pretty decent shape and with a little elbow grease, it should polish up pretty well. The Process
I started the restoration of this pipe by first addressing the stem issues. It has been my experiences that stem repairs and polishing almost always takes the maximum time in the complete restoration. I first clean out the stem internals using hard bristled and regular pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol. With a sharp dental tool, I pry out the entire gunk from the horizontal slot. To save on the pipe cleaners, I clean the stem internals with a thin shank brush and dish washing soap and finally rinsing it with warm water. Next, I addressed the deeper oxidation by sanding the entire stem with a folded piece of 180 followed by 220 grit sand papers. Once the oxidation was completely removed, I wiped the surface clean with Murphy’s oil soap on a cotton swab. I rubbed a little Extra Virgin Olive oil to hydrate the stem and kept it aside. I used a tightly folded piece of 180 grit sand paper to shape and re-define the button edge on either surface. The stem at this point in restoration is shown below. Thereafter began the arduous and time consuming process of sanding the stem with 320, 400, 600 and finally 800 grit sandpapers. I wet sand the entire stem with a piece of 1000 grit sand paper. I rubbed a generous quantity of EVO deep in to the vulcanite and set the stem aside for the oil to be absorbed in to the surface. All through the stem refurbishing process, I was particularly careful about preserving the stem logo of crossed Barling. This made the entire process a bit too tedious but it is always worth the effort as the vintage value and originality of the pipe is preserved. To bring a deep shine to the vulcanite stem, I polished the stem by wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. I wiped the stem with moist cloth after each pad. I rubbed a little quantity of “Before and After Fine/ Extra Fine” stem polish. This product developed by Mark Hoover helps to remove minor scratches from the stem surface while further eliminating what little oxidation that remained on the stem surface. I rubbed it down with Extra Virgin Olive oil to rejuvenate the vulcanite. The finished stem is shown below. I am pretty pleased with this appearance of the stem.With the stem refurbishing completed, I worked on the stummel by scraping the chamber with my fabricated knife to remove the carbon deposits from the walls. I also scraped out the lava overflow from the rim top surface. Once the cake was reamed back to the bare briar, I used a 150 grit sand paper followed by 220 grit sand paper to remove all the traces of remaining cake and also to smooth out the inner walls of the chamber surface. Finally, to remove the residual carbon dust, I wiped the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with 99.9% pure isopropyl alcohol. The inner rim edge was charred in 6 o’clock, 10 o’clock and 12 o’clock direction which have been encircled in yellow. I scrapped off the charred briar from these areas and now the chamber is out of round. The chamber walls are solid and in pristine condition with no heat lines/ fissures. I shall give the inner rim edge a slight bevel to get the bowl back to a perfect round and mask the damage. The ghost smells are considerably reduced and should be eliminated once the shank and mortise internals are cleaned. The rim top surface is still considerably darkened and would need to be thoroughly cleaned to know the exact damage to the surface. I followed up the reaming of the chamber with cleaning the mortise using cue tips, pipe cleaners and shank brush dipped in isopropyl alcohol. I scraped the walls of the mortise with dental tool to remove the dried oils and tars. The ghost smells are now greatly reduced and should be eliminated completely when the shank internals are cleaned with shank brush and dish washing soap. With the bowl internals clean, I move to clean the exterior of the stummel. I used a hard bristled tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil soap to scrub the stummel and rim top. I washed the stummel under running warm water with anti oil dish washing detergent till the stummel surface was clean. I simultaneously cleaned the shank internals with the detergent and hard bristled shank brush and dried it using paper towels and soft cotton cloth. I set the stummel aside to dry out naturally. As anticipated, this thorough cleaning of the shank eliminated the strong ghost smells from the chamber and now the pipe smells clean and fresh. The stummel surface has cleaned up nicely and the beautiful grain patterns are now on full display. The rim top surface has darkened and is uneven. I shall have to resort to topping to address these damages. There are two fills which appear to have softened and would need to be refreshed. I continued with the stummel repairs and addressed the issue of refreshing the two fills; one at the heel another on the left side panel of the square shank. With a sharp dental tool, I gouged out the fill in the left side panel of the shank and one at the heel of the stummel. Using the layering method, I filled these gouges with a mix of briar dust and CA superglue till the mound of the mix was slightly above the rest of the stummel surface. This helps in a better blending of the fill with the rest of the stummel surface while sanding and reduces the scratches caused by the use of a needle file as you have a correct perspective of the sanding that is required. I set the stummel aside for the fills to cure. Once the fills had hardened (which was almost immediately), using a flat head needle file I sand the fill till I had achieved a rough match with the surrounding stummel surface. I sand the fills with a piece of 220 grit sand paper to further blend the fills with the rest of the stummel surface.Next, I addressed the darkened and uneven rim top surface.I topped the rim top over a piece of 220 grit sand paper till I had a smooth even surface and the darkened surface was greatly reduced. The damage to the inner rim edge in 6 o’clock, 10 o’clock and 3 o’clock direction were also addressed to a great extent. I am very happy with the appearance of the rim top and rim edges at this stage of restoration. The charred surfaces will be addressed by creating a nice bevel over the inner rim edge. With a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and forefinger, I carefully gave a bevel to the inner rim edge and addressed the issue of charred inner rim edge. The rim top surface and the edges look very neat at this stage with the bowl in a nice round shape. Next, I sand the entire stummel with a piece of 220 grit sand paper to address the minor scratches and dings that would otherwise show after micromesh polishing cycle. This also helped in fine blending of the fills with the rest of the stummel surface. I am very pleased with the progress made thus far. I followed it by wet sanding the stummel with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads, wiping frequently with a moist cloth to check the progress. I also polished the sterling silver ferrule at the shank end with the micromesh pads to a nice shine. Next, I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” deep in to the briar with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful grain patterns displayed in their complete splendor. I further buffed it with a horse hair brush and gave a vigorous buff with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The dark browns of the fine straight grains spread across the stummel makes for a visual treat. It really is a nice piece of briar. The only cosmetic, yet important aspect that remained was to refresh the stem logo. I applied a coat of white correction ink over the logo and once dried, I gently wiped it with a cloth. The logo is now clearly visible.I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and polished the stummel and stem with Blue Diamond compound. This compound helps to remove the minor scratch marks that remain from the sanding and polishing. Next, I mount another cotton buffing wheel that I have earmarked for carnauba wax and applied several coats of the wax. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The finished pipe looks amazingly beautiful and coupled with the size, heft and the hand feel, makes it quite a desirable pipe. P.S. This was a project that I was looking forward to work on and research since the stampings on the stummel and that on the sterling silver ferrule, prima facie, appeared to be at a variance with each other. The stampings on the stummel pointed to corporate era made pipe whereas the E.B over W.B stamping on the sterling silver ferrule made me believe (incorrectly though) this pipe to be a Family era made. However, at the end of my research, all the stampings matched up perfectly. This pipe should make an interesting addition to collection of Barling’s pipe.
I wish to thank each one for sparing their valuable time to read through this write up and each one is my prayers. Stay home…stay safe!!