Bringing a Beautiful  Benaderet’s Smooth Poker/Cherrywood Back to Life


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table is a nice looking smooth finish Poker. We picked it up in 2018  from a fellow in Scottsdale, Arizona, USA. The pipe is a real mess with dust and grime ground into the finish on the bowl. There is a thick cake in the bowl and the rim top and beveled inner edge is covered in lava. The cake was so thick in parts of the bowl that it was hard to know for sure what the condition of the rim edge was under the lava. The finish appears to be a reddish brown or oxblood colour with dark highlights underneath. On the left side of the shank it is stamped Benaderet’s [over] Paramount [over] San Francisco. On the right side it is stamped Natural Grain [over] Made in England with the shank number 20 next to the shank bowl junction. The stem was oxidized, calcified and there were light tooth marks and chatter on both sides just ahead of the button. There was not any stamping on the stem so it did not have any identifying marks. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started working on it. I include those below. Jeff took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the cake in the bowl and the lava build up on the rim top and dust and grime in the finish. It was thick and hard and heavier toward the front of the bowl. Hopefully it had protected the rim and edges from damage. The lava is thick and scattered across the top and there is a buildup on the inner edge of the bowl.  The stem shows scratching, oxidation, calcification and light tooth marks on the stem surface and button. Jeff took a photo of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish – the grime and grit all over the sides and bottom of the bowl. Jeff took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank. It is very clear and readable as noted above.   From the Natural Grain stamping and the shape number on the shank I was pretty certain I was dealing with a Comoy’s pipe. The stamping Benaderet’s was a dead end and the shape number 20 seems to point to Comoy’s.

I did a quick google search for a Benaderet’s Pipe Shop and came on two good links. The first is from a post on reddit that included a quick bit of information on the shop being located in San Franscisco, California that closed in the 1970s. (https://www.reddit.com/r/PipeTobacco/comments/dzg3y8/any_info_on_a_benaderet_pipe_year_etc/ ). I quote:

Benaderet’s was a pipe shop in San Francisco that closed in the 70’s. Their house pipes were made by Comoys or Sasieni although smokingpipes had one made by GBD once. Good find.

The other link was to a blog (http://theothersideofthelizard.blogspot.com/2018/11/benaderets-pipe-shop.html). That blog gave the original address of the shop in San Francisco and the names of the owners of the shop.

Benaderet’s Cigarette, Pipe and Tobacco Shop
215 Sutter Street [Formerly at 566 California Street], San Francisco.
Owners: Robert and Edith Rashaw (Robert Rashaw: born 1916. Edith Edna Rashaw: born 1916.)

Store still extant in the late seventies. No longer there by the eighties. At one point, they had Egyptian cigarettes made for them. Their house pipes were usually by Comoys. There are also Benaderet Sasienis. More research required.

Quote: “Benaderet’s Inc. was California’s oldest pipe and tobacco store when it went out of business in 1980. Sam Benaderet was a tobacconist from New York City who came to San Francisco in 1915 to work at the Panama Pacific International Exposition. An immigrant to the United States from Turkey, Mr. Benaderet decided that he liked the West Coast’s Mediterranean like climate. After the Exposition closed, he stayed to open his own tobacco business. This new firm produced custom private-label cigarettes for men’s clubs. A lavish retail store was opened in the late 1920’s that quickly became a mecca for tobacco connoisseurs.”

So what I could find out about the pipe is that it is a pipe probably made by Comoys (The Natural Grain mark and the shape number points to this conclusion). It was made for Benaderet’s Cigarette, Pipe and Tobacco Shop in San Francisco, California. Since the shop went out of business in 1980 I now knew that the pipe was made before that time. Now it was time to work on the pipe.

This pipe was a real mess like many of the pipes we work on. I was curious to see what it would look like when I unpacked it. I was surprised at how good it looked. Jeff 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 on the bowl looked really good when I got it. The rim top looked much better and the inner and outer edges were looking good. He had cleaned the internals and scrubbed the exterior of the stem and soaked them in Before & After Deoxidizer bath to remove the oxidation. The stem looked very good other than the tooth marks and chatter in the surface. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked very good. I took photos of the pipe before I started my work on it.   I took photos of the condition of the rim top and stem before I started working. The rim top looks very good. The beveled inner edge of the rim is clean and look great. The bowl is spotless. The stem is clean and has light tooth marks and tooth chatter.     I took a photo of the stamping on the sides of the shank. It is clear and readable as noted above.I took the stem off the shank and took a photo of the pipe to show overall look of the parts. It is a nice looking piece of briar and the pipe will be a beauty.I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped it down after each sanding pad. I decided to leave the few scratches in the briar and they would not steam out and they were minor enough to leave.  There were some light spots around the bowl and shank that I touched up with a Maple stain pen to blend into the surrounding briar. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the finish of the bowl and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I find that the balm really makes the briar come alive again. The contrasts in the layers of stain really made the grain stand out. I let the balm sit for 15 minutes then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The bowl looks good at this point.     I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. It was in good condition and the light chatter and marks would be removed when I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads. I dry sanded it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down after each pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both fine and extra fine.  Once again I am the part of the restoration that I always look forward to – the moment when all the pieces are put back together. I put the Benaderet’s Cherrywood/Poker Paramount 20 pipe back together and buffed the bowl and the stem with Blue Diamond 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. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with the black vulcanite saddle stem contrasting with the colours of the bowl. The reddish brown stain on the Benaderet’s Paramount Cherrywood looks absolutely great. It is nice to know that it has a west coast tie to the San Francisco area and a long gone pipe shop. It must have been a fine smoking pipe judging from the condition it was when we received it. Have a look at it in the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 ¼ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 36 grams/1.27 oz. This is one that will go on the British Pipemakers section of the rebornpipes online store shortly. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next generation.

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