Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe I have chosen is one that neither Jeff nor I remember picking up. It could have come to us through a trade for work on a pipe or it could have come from one of an earlier pipe hunts that either Jeff or I did. Either way, the long and short of it is that this is another pipe that we have no idea how it came into our hands. It is stamped on the left topside of the shank and reads faintly Selected[ arched over] Straight [over] Grain underneath that. The rest of the stamping is lost to overzealous buffing. While I was trying to figure out the stamping on it and finally was able to read the Selected Straight Grain stamp I remember that I had worked on several with the same stamp in the past and had come understand that they were Comoy’s made pipes. The shape definitely looks like a Comoy’s Canadian shape. It was a nice pipe that showed some extraordinary grain.
Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet pipe reamer and removed the rest of it with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water. I took photos of the pipe once I received it. I took a photo of the rim top to show the interior the bowl and the rim top and inner edge. The rim top and edges were quite damaged with nicks, dents, darkening and burn marks. The vulcanite tape stem is in decent condition with light tooth marks on the top and underside near the button. I took a photo of the top left side of the shank to try to capture the stamping that was there. It is too faint to pick up with my camera.I found a photo of the same shank stamp when I did a google search for Selected Straight Grain pipes. It perfectly matches the one that is barely visible on the pipe that I am working on now. It is faint but it is identical to that in the photo to the left.
I took the stem off the bowl and took a picture of the parts of the pipe to give a sense of the beauty of the grain on this pipe.Before I started my work on the pipe I wanted to double check the connection that my brain had made when I made out the stamping. I turned to a blog that I had written on the restoration of another Selected Straight Grain pipe (https://rebornpipes.com/tag/selected-straight-grain-pipes/). This is what I found.
…I did a bit of hunting online and read on Pipedia that these pipes were made by Comoy’s and were essentially “Specimen Straight Grain” (exceptional line of Comoy’s pipes). The Selected Straight Grain pipes were seconds to the Specimen line that exhibited some small flaw or sand pit. They were listed in the 1965 catalogue at $15 or $17.50 in Extraordinaire size.
I decided to begin my work on the pipe by addressing the damage to the rim top and edges. I topped the bowl on a piece of 220 grit sandpaper on a topping board. Once I had finished I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to rework the inner edge of bowl. It took some time but I was able to bring it back to a pretty clean condition. 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 carefully avoided damaging the already faint stamping. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for 15 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. It looks quite nice at this point. With that done the bowl was finished other than the final buffing. I set it aside and turned my attention to the stem. I polished it with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I used the pads to remove the tooth marks on the stem on both sides near the button. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I was just getting ready to post the final photos of the restored pipe when my daughter’s dog, Frankie came and climbed up on the desk top and laid down in front of me with his head on my arm. He has taken it upon himself to be my buddy when I am working on pipes.
With Frankie’s help I am posting these last photos of the pipe. This beautifully grained Comoy’s Made Selected Straight Grain Canadian is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The briar is clean and really came alive. The rich medium brown coloured stain gave the grain a sense of depth with the polishing and waxing. The grain really popped. I put the vulcanite 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 Selected Straight Grain Canadian is a beauty and feels great 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 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 26grams/.92oz. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. 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 pipeman or woman.